MTD Kingston AG
A renowned bass guitar builder and a great bass player, already longtime friends, joined forces in 2010 to design a special, signature bass that bears both their names. The result is the new MTD Kingston AG 5-string electric bass.
Michael Tobias, the MT in Michael Tobias Designs, has been designing and building some of the world’s greatest electric basses for over 35 years. He started Tobias Guitars in 1977, sold the successful company to Gibson in 1990, and continued building basses for Gibson with Tobias/Gibson serial numbers until late 1992 when he moved into a consulting role. A year later he started his custom MTD line in upstate New York where he currently turns out just 10 handcrafted, custom instruments per month, including 4-, 5-, 6- and 7-string electric basses, acoustic basses and a few electric 6-string guitars. The Kingston line is manufactured in Korea to his exacting specifications.
Andrew Gouche (pronounced goo-SHAY), the AG in MTD Kingston AG, is a well-known gospel bass player. He has toured with bassist Larry Graham who played with the influential funk band Sly and the Family Stone from 1966 to 1972 and went on to front his own funk band, Graham Central Station, from 1973 to 1979. Graham pioneered the art of slap-pop electric bass playing which provides percussive and rhythmic elements in addition to the notes of the bass line. Andrew exemplifies that technique for today’s generation of bass players. Gouche’s other credits include performing with Gladys Knight, the “Empress of Soul,” and Chaka Khan, known as the “Queen of Funk.” In a nod to his exceptional abilities on the bass, he appeared on the cover of Bass Player Magazine in 2009.
Fans who have seen Andrew Gouche play this instrument live or in numerous videos have noticed that it seems to glide through his hands and makes some wonderful feel-good notes. In Michael Tobias’ own words, the AG “is a bright, sweet bass.” This amazing instrument is loaded with custom features and has received full approval from Andrew Gouche. It should. His initials are on it. So let’s take a look at what went into building this world-class bass guitar.
Tobias started with an alder body and burl maple top, giving the AG a great tone paired with a gorgeous look, courtesy of Mike’s personal design concepts. Then he added two MTD signature features: the Buzz Feiten Tuning System, making it possible to play in tune everywhere, and the ergonomically carved, asymmetrical, one-piece maple neck. This neck is thinner on the lower side than the upper for incredibly comfortable and fast playing.
A purpleheart fingerboard gives the neck Andrew’s favorite tone and feel combined with the visual impact of this exotic, imported heartwood. The MTD Kingston AG also has Michael’s patented Quick Release Bridge for instant string changes. And to top it all off, this beauty has a custom color finish that matches the purpleheart fretboard.
For a killer tone Andrew chose two special Bartolini Soapbar pickups, a proprietary design made for MTD by Bill Bartolini. These are the type of passive pickups found mostly in high-end basses. They are included in this model because the MTD Kingston line was designed and created to be able to provide premium features at an affordable price.
The MTD Kingston Andrew Gouche model, like Tobias’s handmade American models, has a 35-inch scale that makes it a perfect length for a better B tone on a 5-string. This is the ideal bass for extended-range playing. During Andrew’s video demonstration for the AG model he states, “The range is so broad I could hit that percussion thing.”
“The slap tone speaks for itself,” he adds, his words punctuated by the slapping and popping.
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