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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.
Street $499 - Michael Tobias Design - mtdkingston.com