Phil Maneri’s

This Article Was Originally Published On: February 3, 2015 #Issue 15. 

The MTD Kingston Saratoga is an imported Jazz Bass copy under a venerable name plate that delivers great performance for its price point. Its $600 street price is very attractive, and you are getting a lot of bass at that price point. Much better than what I started on.

The lumber starts with a one-piece, slab-cut maple neck. It has a volute and a scarf joint for the peghead. The rosewood fingerboard has a nice dark figure. The body is made from basswood, and the overall weight of the bass is reasonable. The hardware has a modern finish, and is serviceable, but unremarkable. This bass is passive and very much a J-bass. It employs inexpensive pickups, pots and jack, but they are installed well, with full shielding paint. Overall, it’s a great mix of inexpensive stuff that together rises well above its price tag.

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The finish is a nice burst in polyurethane. Everything is reasonably well executed. The fret ends are a little rough. This sometimes happens if there is a drastic change in humidity, relative to when the frets were installed. There is a zero fret, which is unusual, but a good idea. 111×57 vs 100×45 remaining frets as it should be.

The bass is a now classic design with typical Jazz Bass appointments. It plays well and can adjust for the most part where you’d like to play it. What’s really great here is the bang for the buck. It’s an excellent starter bass that – for under $600 – delivers sound and performance you’d expect from something a little more expensive.

bass test
Kingston Bass

MTD Kingston Saratoga 5


Style:Double cutaway
Overall Length:45”
Body Dimension:20” long x 14" wide at lower bout
Body Contouring: Minor
Weight:8.5 lbs


Scale length:34”
Neck width at nut:1.762”
Neck width at 12th fret:2.722”
Neck width at joint:2.974”
Neck thickness at nut:.993”
Neck thickness at 1st fret:.818”
Neck thickness at 12th fret: .929”
Neck thickness at joint:1.001”
String spacing at nut:.333”
String spacing at saddle:.761”
Fingerboard radius:16“
Descriptor for neck shape:asymmetric flat D
Peghead break angle:14 deg
Bridge break angle:12 degrees
Afterlength at nut:1.6 – 6”
Afterlength at saddle:1.46”
Attachment:Bolt on
Pocket gap:.007”
Truss rod type/access:Double Action, body end
Fret count:21
Fretwire:100 x 45


Pickups:Dual single-coil, passive Jazz-style
Pickup location(s), from the 12th fret: 11 7/16”, 14 9/16"
Controls:Volume, volume, tone
Preamp circuit voltage:N/A


Body Woods:Basswood
Neck WoodsMaple (1-piece)
Body Finish:Gloss
Neck Finish:Satin


Strings:OEM D'Addario stainless steel roundwounds
Gauge:.045, .065, .085, .105, .125
Attachment:At bridge
Bridge/color:MTD Quick release / black chrome
Nut:Zero Fret with shelf nut
Tuners/color:Proprietary Gotoh-style / black chrome
Knobs/color:Metal / black chrome
Control cavity cover:Plastic


3 Lauren Ct
Kingston, NY 12401
(845) 246-0670
County of origin:China
Warranty:1 year
Price:List Price: $735.00; Street Price: $599.00
Options:4 or 5 string, fretted or fretless
Available colors:Trans Black and Tobacco Sunburst
Acquired from:Dana B. Goods
Dates:Summer 2014
Locals:Las Vegas, NV, Columbus, OH
Test gear:Gallien-Krueger Neo 212-II, Markbass F1 and Carvin BX 1500


1-5 (unacceptable to impeccable)


Features: 3
Tonal Flexibility:4
Ease of Use: 4
Ergonomics: 4
Tone: 3

In-hand Score 3.85average

On-bench Score 4.00average


Overall construction4
Wood choice4
Materials choice4
Fit and Finish of adornments3
Quality of finish work5
Ease of repair 4
Potential range of setup4
Balance on knee4
Balance on strap4
Overall electronic quality4
Solder joints, wire runs4
Quality for Price Range5


Low: Solid
Mids: Punchy and aggressive
Highs: Brilliant and responsive


Today’s bass players demand a big tone that cuts through and at an entry level price you get that tone with the MTD Kingston Saratoga.

Eastwood Bass