Ken Smith Tone-Is This Video the Magic Bullet
I've seen some questions historically regarding what makes the Ken Smith tone so unique. Is it the pickups/placement, the preamp, construction, etc. I came across this video apparently from a TBer who recently sold a Smith. According to his description of the bass, he replaced the Smith preamp with a Glockenklang.
When listening to this video, I noticed the characteristic low-mid-forward vibe of the Smith is gone, replaced by what seems to be a more mellow, perhaps more crisp and articulate sound. However, you hear when he plays on lower notes toward the headstock that the Smith vibe is still somewhere in there, though not as prevalent. I think it sounds good. Does this hint at the fact that much of the Smith vibe is in the preamp as opposed to pickup placement? Does this video negate some of the strong opinions that the Smith pickup placement is the biggest tone factor? I would not have expected what I perceive to be a really noticeable difference in tone. Personally, I find this is rather revealing. Thoughts?
If you subsitiute a Ford engine for a Chevy engine you will get two different sounding engines. Both move the car but sound somewhat different from each other. Same with preamps. The Glock has different circuitry than the Smith pre. Pick up placement has to do with how and where the pickups recieve the string vibrations. In the video its a little difficult to hear that much because of the reverb and the style of music he is playing. Either way, the Smith preamp has its own characteristic sound just like an OBP3, Sadowsky, EMG, or any other manufactured preamp. The Smith pickups are humbuckers (made by Kent Armstrong). Put the complete Smith circuitry in an MTD and you will have a Smith sounding bass. Follow ??
My old Gibson Tobias 6 string had the same problem and I nearly broke my right arm trying to get a good, full, but articulate tone out of it.
If they moved the bridge PU towards the neck about an inch, that would totally transform the entire bass.
Get your fill of Ken Smith tone here:
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in response to the OP, yes, it sounds a little less obviously Smith like, but retains much of the same tone. I prefer the Glock pre here vs. the Smith, though the Glock is still in the same Modern, hi- fi, lots of high end tone we hear so much of in modern designs.
I would love to hear a smith with a different pre, moved pickups, and different ones at that. Then maybe we would be able to tell what's in the woods and construction. Perhaps Nord DC's and Pope pre, but that ain't likely to happen unless someone gets the router out since Ken will not change his design.
I suspect some of the tone is still related to ken's use of many laminates on his higher end basses (which makes it sound more compressed from my conversations with him) and lots of pretty heavy woods, like maple, which is often prominent and part of the sound. If you are a believer in tone wood.
I owned 7 smiths in the past, FWIW.
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