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Best wood for Ken Smith basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Robin Ruscio, Apr 2, 2004.

  1. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    Just curious what any of you felt about the best woods for tone were on the Ken Smith basses. I own a BSR 6 GN with maple top/walnut core and BSR 5 MW with a walnut body and maple center block. I've tried out only a few other smiths with the laminate bodies and was wondering what those of you out there felt was the best wood combos were, perhaps some of you have been lucky enough to try out many types. I've been told the maple top/walnut core is hard to beat, and have been thinking about getting a GN with a walnut top and maple core fretless as sort of an inversion of what i already have, but perhaps someone has a better suggestion. I know this might be regarded as a personal preference, but the more i've talked with luths, players, and makers, the more convinced i am that traditional tone woods are the way to go. Just yesterday i was able to compare several Surine basses with various wood tops on mahogany bodies (alongside Scott Surine, the designer) and we both were in aggreance that zebrawood is pretty lousy but that maple, walnut (when coupled with something else, i'm not so sure about it on my MW without a core), and mahoghany are still the best woods. I liked a surine fretless with coccobolo. I've not been impressed with lacewood on a tobias. There's a KS fretless on ebay with bubinga/maple, but i've never played anything with a bubinga top!

    BTW, just ordered a Sadowsky 24 fret 5 string with and alder body, caramel burst quilted maple top, blackk hrdwr, ebony board with abalone inlays, and J pickups in the traditional position (which roger just started offering after jason newstead had one made).
  2. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I've owned 4 Smith basses. a 6mw with a black walnut top and maple core, a 5gn with maple top and walnut core and currently i have a 5eg with walnut top and maple core. The bass i have on order is walnut top with walnut core and maple contrast lams.

    To me the maple walnut combination or walnut/walnut combination cannot be beat. I agree with you on the use of traditional tone woods.

    Some of the burls and spalts look interesting but I certainly do not want a bass built from rotting wood or one with a top full of epoxy.

    I'd stay away from mahogany. IMO just a little too mushy sounding.
  3. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    Sounds like you have the same idea i did, with one bass with a maple/walnut top/core and another walnut/maple. Do they sound the same? Do you notice any difference from the EG with the extra laminates from the GN?
  4. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    Also, i know what you mean about the spalt/burls's. When i was at the surine shop yesterday, they were worried about some sort of burled wood top they had in, they just kept saying it wasn't going to hold up, but that's waht the guy wanted . . .
  5. I own two Smith's, each CRV-Pro's with 5 piece bodies. My favorite of the two has Flamed Bubinga on Mahogany with a Mac Ebony board. My other, and a very close second, is Cocobolo on Mahogany with a Morado board. I have played many Smiths, and have owned a few others, but these two have been my favorites. Although I can't say that there is a bad Smith bass out there, my least favorite has been the ones with the Maple bodies for whatever reason. I'm sure it was more out of coinsidence than anything else.
    As far as traditional tone woods go, I think there is a lot of merrit to that, but you can't base your decision on that alone. The bottom line is that you have to play the bass that sounds right to you. I'm definitley a big believer in that. Wood varies so much from piece to piece that it's hard to say for sure that a bass will sound a certain way just by wood combo's alone. Carey Nordstrand once said that while at Suhr I believe, they made three basses cut from the exact same pieces of wood with the exact same options and electronics, and each one had a totaly differrent sound. So knowing that, to me you just have to try what works for you and go from there. Hell, you may find a Zebra top bass that totally moves, I know I did, a few times!
  6. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    I agree with Halftooth, it's about the individual bass.

    Two months ago, I bought a very nice maple/mahogany Smith BT4EG from a player. It looked good, the price was right, but it didn't give me goose bumps (I prefer the walnut tops and back). He called me two weeks later and insisted that I sell the bass back to him. He has the bass now and I doubt he'll let it out of his sight again.

    Moral of the story--it's also about the individual person.

    This is the bass:
  7. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    i agree with both of you but it's kinda hard to play a bass that is for sale on the other side of the country... you know what i mean.
  8. MikeBass

    MikeBass Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Royal, Oak, MI.
    I owned and sold (like a complete ass!) an CR5G twice!!

    I kick myself and said when, not if, but when, I order another one it will be a copy of that on.

    Flame maple top and back with a mahognay core. Man was that the combination.

    God I miss that bass.

    Heres a shot in the dark.
    Anyone have/seen an old (early 90's- at the time I believe Ken Smith said it was the 6th one made) CR5G??
    Kinda beat up, a large spot under the G string from my finger and a spot above the front pick-up from my thumb. The 2 band EQ with gold knobs (three knob set up-vol, blend, stacked bass/treb).
    If you remove the rear control cavity cover it's dated 1/8/?? and singed by Ken.

    I would damn near kill to have that one back.

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