Michael and Daniel Tobias

Famed electric bass luthier and son talk on what’s next for MTD

Exclusive video interview with FBPO’s Jon Liebman
February 10, 2020

By David Sands

Michael Tobias and his company MTD (Michael Tobias Design) are known for making custom basses and guitars of the highest quality. Tobias got his start as a luthier working at The Guitar Shop in Washington D.C. At the beginning of his career, he focused mostly on acoustic instruments, working on Martins, Fenders, Kohnos, Ramierezes, banjos, mandolins and harp guitars, and even a couple of sitars. 

In the late 1970s, he founded the electric bass guitar company Tobias Guitars. The brand, known for its neck-through construction approach to building basses, was purchased by Gibson in 1992. Tobias went on to launch MTD in 1994. With the assistance of his son Daniel and long-time friend and associate Charlie Knicely, he builds 10 instruments to order each month at his shop in New York state. MTD also sells a Kingston series of basses, made in China to Tobias’ specifications, and offers its consulting and development expertise to other manufacturers.

During a meet up at the 2020 Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, California, FBPO’s Jon Liebman spoke to Michael and his son about plans to have Daniel take over the business end of MTD, rare woods, acoustic ambitions and other topics.

Watch our interview with Michael and Daniel here!

See Jon’s blog, with key takeaways from this interview, here.

Comments on Michael and Daniel Tobias

  1. Keith says:

    Congratulations, Micheal, for blessing the bass community with some amazing basses for decades!

  2. Mike Haskins says:

    Great interview! As fsr as I’m concerned,historic since it documents the future of MTD from both Mike and Daniel.

  3. I met Michael Tobias in 1981. He had his own shop on Vine St. just north of Hollywood Blvd. building his own brand, Tobias Basses! I had been playing a four string ’65 Fender Jazz bass since 1965, which I modified by adding a Gibson EBO bass pickup near the neck of my Jazz bass. After a few visits to Michaels’ shop, he measured my hand, assessed the neck on my jazz bass, and built me one of his first five string basses. As you can see it’s body is Zebra Wood, with backing Maple, and neck through body maple with two strips of rosewwood. and of course, rosewood fingerboard. IT PLAYED LIKE BUTTER! It sounded even better than my Jazz bass which he used as the model. The sound was tremendous with the Bartolini pickups (jazz bass style) he added the thumbrest and I was of and running for the next four decades! Thank you Michael! , ( I still have the old Jazz Bass hanging on my wall )

  4. yankeeT says:

    I hD the privilege of using #1 during the pink floyd the wall live stage play in the mid 2000s. Every night for act 2. It weighs a ton but is a mighty weapon. The sponsorship was wonderful as well. What a great guy and memory for me.

    T. Starkey- Appalachian Highlands

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