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Advice on ordering a new Ken Smith Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Fender Will, Jan 23, 2003.

  1. Fender Will

    Fender Will

    Jan 2, 2001
    First thread I've ever started here........wow...its a long one, so please hang in there......

    I'm going to order a new Ken Smith BSR5MS (neck-thru). I have owned several Smith basses and sold them all because the string spacing was uncomfortably narrow (guess I'm a slow learner, eh?).....

    Anyway, Ken will make a bass with custom wide spacing, so I'm going to order another one with that option.

    Here's the deal.....of the 7 Smith basses I have owned, 5 of them, including my last BSR5MS were all Tiger Maple. I had a 5P that was Walnut/Avodire and a 5GN that was Zebrawood/Maple.

    The all maple basses seem to do it for me tone-wise. The 5P and 5GN mentioned above were my least favorite basses (they were also the only two I've owned with ebony fingerboards, with I think may be partly to blaim).

    So....now, the point is (I had to get here someday, right?), I'm poised to spend a LOT on another bass. Again, I'm weighing wood options......this'll probably be my last shot at another Smith, so I want it to sound great, but look killer also.

    The other KSB thread floating around in here has got me thinkin' about ordering my next bass with a Cocobolo or Morado top over Maple. Should I take the chance, or just go with the Tiger Maple? Will the top make that much difference in sound, or was I just hearing the difference between fingerboards (ebony, morado) on my last basses? I keep thinking that for a list of close to 5000, this bass should look a little fancy...

    Any suggestions really appriciated!:confused:
  2. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    My comments are more about cocobolo than KSBasses. I really like KSBasses, but I don't consider myself to be knowledgeable enough on them to add to what you already know.

    My 5 string Alembic is cocobolo/maple/mahogany/maple/cocobolo. The sound is incredible. It's the 6th Alembic I've owned and none of the others came near it in tone. It has a very complex sort of sound. Almost like a built in chorus type sound. The lows are thunderous and the highs are crisp but not brittle.

    My suggestion would be to talk to Ken Smith personally about his thoughts on cocobolo on his basses. He'll no doubt give it to you straight.


  3. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I would go for the coco top.
  4. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    It isn't just you! The only reason I don't own either a Smith or Music Man fiver is the narrow standard spacing.

    I would very much like to own a KS "wide" five. I'm very interested to know how yours turns out, please keep us informed. Good luck (but I don't think you'll need it!)
  5. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    both of my smith's have been maple core with walnut top. I love
    the sound of this combination. However, I am in a similar situation to yours. I am going to order a new fretless 6 soon and am contemplating a top other than walnut.
    So far, I am thinking of coco and Ebony.

    I haven't owned a bass that has had either for a top but have played many like this.

    Do you want a highly figured top ?
    If so, then get an exhibition grade quilt or flame. Or , my personal favorite, crotch walnut.

    Personally, for exotics, like I said, I'd go for ebony or coco. I am not a fan of morado tops - they are nice, just not for me.
  6. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    how wide is "wide" in your opinion ?

    I like the 18mm spacing on the 6.
  7. Fender Will

    Fender Will

    Jan 2, 2001
    Hey Guys.......thanks so far for all the help.......

    Fuzzbass...you should really check out the wide option. It's an extra $600, but money well spent, I hope. But, the caveat is that it must be a neck-thru bass.

    Godoze.....I am really uncomforatble on basses that have much less than the standard Fender 3/4 string spacing. More than that, it hinders my technique...

    I really dont think ken has ever made an ugly bass. Just for the money I'm spending, I'm debating trading a known tone wood (maple) for something pretty (coco). Dont know if that's wise or not.....
  8. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    FWIW, nut width is the issue for me: 1-3/4" fivers are too narrow (especially after playing some 1-3/4" fours). My preferred width is 1-7/8"... that silly little 1/8" makes a big difference to me.
  9. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Thanks... didn't know that!
  10. I would e-mail Ken about what you're looking for. I'm sure he'd give you some good suggestions.
  11. Hajime


    Jan 18, 2003
    I have both basses that have Morado Top & Cocobolo Tops. I can tell you Morado and Cocobolo, both wood have very strong character or taste. Well...
    Firstly, it seems 2pc & 3pc body wings have same character.
    And if you don't like mid range much, you can put Morado fingerboard istead of Ebony's. But this mid range is sometimes very important for me.
    Also Eastern & Western Tiger Maple have different tone. I believe Western Tiger Maple makes soft tone than Easter has.
    Ebony, Morado, Cocobolo & Bubinga makes wide range and lucid tone.
    And You will be able to think of weight of bass. Morado or Cocobolo Top and Maple Back bass is heavier than Bass of Tiger Maple solid body.
    How about putting Series/Parallel Switch? It makes deeper tone, it however loose upper register.
  12. Hajime


    Jan 18, 2003
    I prefer Morado or Cocobolo for fretless...