The Saratoga’s neck pickup is punchy,
yet subdued, smooth, and natural. The
bridge pickup sometimes sounded a little
thin when I turned the tone knob up to
any significant extent. But this lack of girth
translated to a high-mid definition that
would have a place in any funk outfit. With
the tone rolled almost all the way back,
however, the bridge pickup was more at
home, with just the right combination of
bite and smoother sounds that would make
it at home in a rock or pop situation.
Overall, the Saratoga is surprisingly
capable of spanning tonal spectrums.
Fundamentally it’s not quite as round in
tone as I would prefer, but it’s rarely out of
place, regardless of style. With a little experimenting,
you can dial in a solid sound
that suits your style. My favorite tones were
derived by using the neck pickup—usually
dialed up to 10—with the bridge volume
and tone knob at the halfway point. It
proved to be the Saratoga’s sweet spot in
terms of warmth and attack for my fingers.
It’s worth noting that when I ran the
Saratoga direct through my recording rig,
the bass was exceptionally quiet—probably
thanks in part to a shielded pickup compartment—
and I couldn’t help but think
that this bass would be right at home with
a bassist or guitar player in need of a good
recording bass that won’t break the bank.
The MTD Saratoga proves that lower
sticker prices don’t necessarily mean a less-playable
bass. It has a distinct character and
personality even if it falls short of delivering
vintage J-bass tones. And its mix of familiar
J-bass-style features and newer conveniences
like the Buzz Feiten tuning system add up
to an exceptionally practical instrument
and, at around $500, a great value. But
whether this is your first bass or an instrument
you intend to use regularly on stage
and in the studio, it’s a bass that can be useful
and inspiring for years to come.
you’re on the lookout for a wide-ranging,versatile, and value-priced bass.
you’re on the prowl for the most vintage-flavored tones possible.