MTD Kingston Rubicon 6-24 and Rubicon 6-22 Reviewed

Michael Tobias is a legend in the bass world, and for good reason.
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KINGSTON RUBICON 6-24

Michael Tobias is a legend in the bass world, and for good reason. A lot of people don’t know, however, that he makes great guitars, too. The 6-24 is a rock-solid workhorse that packs much more than meets the eye.

Picking up the Rubicon, I was struck by its solid feel. The neck’s satin finish is smooth and inviting, and the compound radius makes for comfy chording and bending over its entire range. The sustain and resonance was impressive even without plugging in … always a good sign.

I fired up the 6-24 through a Fryette Sig:X into a Fuchs Buzz Feiten-designed Vintage 2x12 cab. Right away I was greeted with a punchy, lively bridge humbucker tone with just the right balance of snarl and brightness. The neck pickup delivers the full warmth you’d expect with plenty of clarity. I’ve always like the middle position on 24-fret dual-humbucker guitars. Moving the neck pickup bridgeward to accommodate the two extra frets makes for a beautiful two-pickup sound and the 6-24 has that in spades.

The 6-22 comes with a Graph Tech ResoMax bridge, the Buzz Feiten Tuning System, and series/parallel switching for great sustain, intonation, and sonic flexibility.

The secret weapon on the Rubicon lies in the two mini-toggles, which allow you to switch between series or parallel operation on either or both humbuckers. This is an incredibly cool feature. It allows you to get a much wider range of sounds than is typically possible with this pickup configuration. Switching the bridge humbucker to parallel results in a slightly brighter, lower-output tone, but unlike splitting the coils, going parallel does not increase hum. The neck pickup sounds particularly hip in parallel, and the two-pickup tones are complex and detailed. Then, of course, you have the option of running one in series and the other in parallel for even more choices. It’s a great alternative to coil-splitting and a welcome addition to this guitar. The well-voiced Volume and Tone knobs provide additional sonic flexibility.

Secret weapon #2 would have to be the Trem King whammy system that our review 6-24 came with. The Trem King purports to finally have cracked the code on a floating trem that doesn’t sag when you bend—or break—strings. It’s an ingenious setup, with the bridge plate secured to the body, the saddles secured to the plate, and all the movement coming from the tone block inside the body cavity. It really works, with a smooth action when depressing or raising the bar and lots of range in both directions. Monster string bends result in virtually no pitch change on the other strings, making pedal-steel licks and oblique bends a breeze. There is a “ka-chunk” when you go through the zero point, so a Brad Gillis- esque vibrato that goes both above and below the note has a different feel than on a Floyd. To be fair, though, I’ve never encountered a “trem stop” device that doesn’t do this. (At press time it was announced that future 6-24s would be available in two models, one with a Floyd Rose trem and one with a Wilkinson VP trem.) One thing that made us a little nervous was the fact that there is a ground wire soldered to one of the trem claws, and extreme uptrem movements caused the claw to move quite a bit, potentially endangering that solder joint. All of our whammy abuse caused no problems, however.

In a nutshell, the Kingston Rubicon 6-24 is an incredibly well-thought-out, flexible instrument at a fair price. The combination of toneful (and quiet) electronics with a slick vibrato setup adds up to a great choice on stage or in the studio.

KINGSTON RUBICON 6-22

If you don’t need a whammy bar (and you can get by with 22 frets), check out the 6-22. This is essentially the same instrument as the 24, but with a Graph Tech ResoMax wraparound bridge in place of the vibrato bridge. Our test model has a super-solid feel and an impressive ring. The electronics are the same as on its frettier sibling, but because the neck pickup is in a different spot, the various combinations of bridge/neck, series/parallel, etc. have their own personalities. In terms of playability and fit and finish, the 22 is every bit as impressive as the 24.

Kudos to Michael Tobias for giving guitarists a taste of his awesome bass-building chops. He has put a unique spin on two-humbucker solidbodies and the instruments reviewed here should be on any guitar shopper’s short list.

MODEL

KINGSTON RUBICON 6-24
CONTACT mtdkingston.com
PRICE $899 street

SPECIFICATIONS

NUT Synthetic, 1 11/16" wide
NECK One-piece maple w/asymmetrical carve, 25.5" scale
FRETBOARD Maple w/compound radius
FRETS 24 medium jumbo
TUNERS Enclosed die-cast, black chrome
BODY Alder w/maple top
BRIDGE Trem King vibrato
PICKUPS MTD bridge and neck humbuckers
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, 3-way selector, individual series/parallel switches
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario, .010-.046
WEIGHT 7.24 lbs
BUILT China
KUDOS Surprisingly big range of sounds. Great playability. Excellent vibrato system.
CONCERNS Potentially vulnerable ground wire.

MODEL

KINGSTON RUBICON 6-22
PRICE $799 street

SPECIFICATIONS

NUT Graph Tech Tusq, 1 11/16" wide
NECK One-piece maple w/asymmetrical carve, 25.5" scale
FRETBOARD Maple w/compound radius
FRETS 22 medium jumbo
TUNERS Enclosed die-cast, black chrome
BODY Alder w/maple top
BRIDGE Graph Tech ResoMax
PICKUPS MTD bridge and neck humbuckers
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, 3-way selector, individual series/parallel switches
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario, .010-.046
WEIGHT 6.84 lbs
BUILT China
KUDOS Surprisingly big range of sounds. Great playability. Impressive sustain.
CONCERNS None.

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