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Experience with Ken Smith's

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by newchibass, Apr 21, 2005.

  1. newchibass


    May 21, 2004
    I had the fortune of playing a BSR-MW 5 at a guitar center and was blown away by the sound and playability of the bass. So much so that now I want one - and may sell my lakland to get it. My question is: Would there be a situation where a Smith would be to aggressive and/or sonically present? Or rather, have any Smith users ever found it them to be too much in certain situations?
  2. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    A Smith is not exactly my first choice for a Bluegrass gig, and it isn't the most agressive tone for heavy metal, punk, or wave.

  3. newchibass


    May 21, 2004
    Good point. I'll have a p-bass for everything else. In any case, it fit's my style and musical tastes so I'm going to find a way to get one.
  4. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Rodent, this guy plays in Symphonies.. I think his idea of tone is slightly different than the average Rock-grass player.... Sry to interrupt..

    newchibass, is a Testore too much tone for an Orchestra?.. You can never have too much sound IMO.
  5. I would never(til now)use the words 'aggressive' & 'Ken Smith bass' in the same sentence. Mine fit into the mix(Gospel/praise & worship w/2-3 guitars, piano, keys, drums, percussion & 30-40 person choir & awful PA)so well it bordered on hiding. If it helps, the ideal bass for that situation has been my Jazz 5 w/passive pickups- I'm often asked to turn that bass down. If you like the Ken Smith sound, that's cool, & every one I've played was extremely playable & well made. I sold my 5 on impulse(somewhat regretfully)& my 6 looking for more versatility & wider spacing(NO regrets).

    Edit: Just read KSB's post- I think you actually could get a too-agressive-for-symphonic-stuff tone from a Ken Smith bass. A thousand pardons.
  6. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    I have an BSR-M 5-string and also an MTD 535. I’m torn to decide which one is my favorite, because they are quite different, yet they both bring different aspects of my playing out.

    Smiths have definitely a signature sound. I don’t think of them always as aggressive though. Dial in the neck pickup only with some older strings and you got a very nice, mid-rich, P-bass sound.

    Recording, the MTD always almost win because its got those sparkling highs and thunderous lows (with a more Fenderish sound) that a lot of producers are used to, but live, the Smith’s sound sits so much better, because the rich mid content.

    Also to consider is the playability of a Lakland and a Smith. They both will achieve great low action, but the string spacing (19mm Lakland / 18mm Smith) is a big factor, and also 35” scale (Lakland) vs. 34” scale (Smith), although Lakland are famed for their comfy design.

    Tough call. I would save up for the Smith and have both!
  7. More and more I'm getting compliments that my drummer and I sound like "one". Obviously we're getting tighter but I think it's the sound of my Ken Smith Burner that sits so well with the rest of the band. When I'm locked into the drums it's "one sound", but I do seem to punch out when I do a line or a lick. That, in my opinion is the best thing about the Smith bass. And the evenness across the neck in any playing position gives you so much control.

    I think it's the perfect bass tone. I run it 90% of the time both pickups blended 50/50 and leave it in passive mode. Warm, woody and even across the frequencies.

    If anything,... if i need to get a tone that's a little more aggressive I'll switch on the Bass Driver on my BOSS ME-50B with just a fraction of gain. More of a presence boost than a slight overdrive.

    My Lakland fretless is another story. Not bad and still a fine bass,..... but I'd really have to compress it to make it fit with my 5 piece rock band as well as the Ken Smith,........ and then if you compress your sound you give up dynamic control (ex: getting louder for the energy into the chorus of a song).

    Just my 2-cents
  8. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I think that Ken Smith basses are some of the most versatile on the market and are really capable of playing anything. I think people get more hung up on the classy appearance of Ken smith basses than the actual sound coming out of the speakers. I had a bolt-on six that was probably the best bass I ever owned. I got rid of it on an impulse and I have deeply regretted it ever since although my SR5 is a great bass. Getting another Smith and maybe a Sadowsky are my long term (5-10 yr.) goals.
  9. newchibass


    May 21, 2004
    A big thanks to everyone for the replies. A lot to think about here...I will definitely check out that video. In terms of the fingerboard I may want ebony and a slightly wider "p" spacing. In terms of the body I like the look of the CR series, but that BSR balanced beautifully. I thought the bolt-on sounded great with plenty of sustain for my tastes. I suppose my comments re: tone were somewhat reactionary in that I had played a number of fine basses in the store that day and then plugged in the Smith, with the same amp settings, and it was like WOW. The room lit up and everyone turned their heads; so big, fat and warm. Thanks again.

  10. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Have to agree with Bob-- the 18mm spacing at the bridge (which is unique to Smiths) is the perfect compromise between regular 3/4" (19mm) and the narrower 17mm.

    Moreover, I wanted to comment that the Smith sound is a lot more fundamental-rich, in other words, you can really hear the fundamental notes when playing live in the mix, and the sound is very organic (is in not having the harshness of some active systems). In contrast, other modern basses have incredible lows--which move a lot of air-- but usually beyond what is practical, and the mids content is not well controlled.

    I play in a 10-piece band and I use earplugs; hearing the fundamentals in the notes is sometimes the only way I really know what is going on and the only bass I have found lets my hear myself no matter what, is the BSR.

    Alright, enough praising. Is not like we are going to get a discount in our next Smith purchase . . .

  11. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    As my involvement in contemporary Christian and Gospel music grows, I have had the honor of playing several of Mr. Smith's astounding instruments that are owned by other bassist's in the events. All of the praises heard here apply, they are just amazing tone machines . Adaptable to just about any professional playing situation, with the possible exception of seriously hard core metal. It's just something about the tone and wood selection, makes you feel all good inside :smug:

    And newchibass, I see in your profile that you list Homer Mensch ... he was my teacher about a million years ago (very late 1960's) when I was in school in NYC, is he still around? Do you have any contact info on him? He was a tremendous influence on me ......
  12. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
  14. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Sorry to butt in again but when I hear Homers' name I must tell you a little known 'un-secret'!

    Back in the days when I was still playing Bass and doing Jingles I would run into Homer on occassion. Homer and his Gagliano is on the same jingle tracks with Me and the Earlier Smith Basses that I used to use before I retierd from playing in '87-'88. I also had the pleasure of working with Homer in a section in the studio as well. On occassion I would get a call for a Double Bass session as I was recommended by Homer.

    Ok... Thx guys.. back to business.... "No Comment" !! ..lol
  15. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    I agree with Bob. My BSR5MW and a jazz bass cover any sound I've ever needed. I find the Smith tone is too thick to get close to a jazz bass tone.
  16. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Hey, I don't mean to hijack the thread but I think this could be relevant...

    How would you guys describe the difference in sound between the BSR-M series and the BSR-J series?

    Does the J-series simply sound like a J-bass, or is there anything more? I guess a big part of my liking to Smiths is the sound those soapbars pickups (in their location closer to the bridge) produce.

    I wonder if the mid-richness is retained in the J-series. . .

    BY THE WAY, the 18mm spacing at bridge I think refers to 5- and 6-string bass only, not 4-strings, which must be regular 19mm spacing.
  17. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
  18. newchibass


    May 21, 2004
    Hi Ed, Yes Homer is still teaching and living in the city as far as I know. I have his info. somewhere, although as I remember he may be in the phonebook.
  19. KenToby


    Aug 15, 2002
  20. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    KenToby, you to post that bass and upload some soundclips too. That sounds like a wild bass!

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