Fodera or Ken Smith?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by adambarringer, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. Fodera Emperor 5 Standard

    48 vote(s)
  2. Ken Smith Black Tiger BSR5TN

    36 vote(s)
  1. adambarringer


    Jan 14, 2014
    What would you get between these two?

    A Fodera Emperor 5 Standard or a Ken Smith Black Tiger BSR5TN?

    I'm not bothered about getting into low level detail because I know these are extremely different basses. Essentially they're both brilliant instruments but I can only afford one or the other and I'm really on the fence.
  2. michele


    Apr 2, 2004
    Without getting into opening a can of worms talking on subjects like craftmanship and customer service, I'd say the Fodera is more versatile and tonally neutral.
  3. beobass


    Nov 26, 2005
    Its all personal taste but I'd vote Fodera too. Smith's always feel too thin to me...
  4. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    I think with a lot of custom or bespoke products -- not just musical instruments -- the customer needs to ask themselves "Who do I want to do business with?" before they even begin to consider the specifics of the final product.
  5. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon. Supporting Member

    Regardless of how amazing the Fodera team is to deal with and many have had issues with Smith.... A Fodera would be more versatile IME.

    Unless you have to have that distinctive Smith sound, I would go Fodera.

  6. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    In terms of built quality or that of components.I guess that there is not much or anything in it.

    The rest is taste.
    Play both and decide then is what I'd do.

    The smith is neck through, right?

    I personally prefer bolt on basses and really dislike multilam necks.
  7. Kmrumedy


    May 12, 2004
    Montreal, Canada
    Interesting timing for this poll for me as I have been a Ken Smith owner since 1989 but am currently in the market for a Fodera.

    With regards to these two choices; you are comparing very different basses as you noted. Both steller instruments. The only one even comparison one can make between these two basses is the price point of these two models which I assume is a main criteria. You can choose just one.

    In this case because of price points you are comparing a top line Ken Smith to what some people consider (arguably) an "entry level" Fodera. Crazy when you think $5-$6.5K as entry. From what some members say in the a fodera club it is a great bass to test the Fodera waters.

    You can't go wrong with either bass. But I think some people are reading this poll as: "Would you rather have a Fodera or a Ken Smith?" ( Rather than comparing these specific two models)

    If it is just about brand; I think most would choose Fodera especially at this point and time as their popularity and build reputation are at a high. Great family feeling and customer service. And let's face it, admit it or not, there is a certain mystique and status that goes along with owning one. Even if that is not the owners thing or intent in buying one. It just comes with the bass.

    But if your poll is about these specific models without knowing what style of music you play. I would choose the Ken Smith without a doubt. Yes, they have a distinctive tone but if you live with these basses and spend a great deal of time with them, they too, like Foderas, can do pretty much anything you like.

    For me, if and when I go Fodera, I would rather spend the same money ( or save a little more) on an older used model that was a custom build.

    Again, both amazing instruments and quality builders.

    Good luck.
  8. Bassisgood4U

    Bassisgood4U Banned

    Jan 30, 2014
    If I were spending such an amount on a bass, reputation would have to matter. Smith has had some of his instruments made overseas, and some are pretty bad.

    I'd buy an Alembic with that much dough, anyhow.
  9. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I think you can only make an educated decision by playing each bass preferably on a couple of gigs to determine if the ergonomics and sound work for what you are doing. The bass also needs to be setup to your personal taste.
  10. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    The model described in this thread, is made in the USA.
  11. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I really don't get people asking "which bass" at this price level as if they wanted to know if they should get an SR505 or a MIM Fender. I'd expect this kind of buyer to know EXACTLY what each can give or if not find out!

    Personally I've never owned or played a Fodera. But I have watched Victor Wooten play one at a clinic! :)

    However I own a Ken Smith and I must say I don't play it a lot but when I do I'm always totally re-amazed at just how good a bass it is. I also own an Alembic and though it plays and sounds amazing, it has always had a host of minor issues some fixed by factory, some by me, some never fixed.

    And as for which bass I own I rate above all the rest, it would be my Modulus TBX. The others come very close but this one always comes out on top.
  12. jjk2007


    Apr 16, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Endorsing Artist: DNA Bass Systems
    Having played a few different high end instruments from both, and based on just those two builders, I would personally get a Smith. I've always enjoyed that Smith sound and liked the feel of his basses in my hands. But like Phil said, you really need to get out and try and play both brands for yourself. That's the only way you will really know.
  13. mikkoantt


    Jul 5, 2012
    Get Fodera. Best basses ever:)
  14. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    los angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    Based on my personal customer service interactions and quality of instruments I have laid my hands on, Fodera. Really not even close. But ymmv and can't speak for others. Smith does have a certain sound/vibe and if you get one that is sorted and you like, play it an be happy.

    btw, the Fodera Standards are not "entry level" in any way, shape, or form. They blow away any production bass I've built and many boutiques. However, they are not for everyone one - no bass is.
  15. adambarringer


    Jan 14, 2014

    I do know what each can give and I've gotten down to these two specific models after disregarding a lot of other great basses but I'm still undecided which of the two to go for hence the post to get some advice/opinions from the incredibly knowledgable TB folks. It's throwing up some interesting details and the poll is pretty close as well so far.
  16. enricogaletta


    May 21, 2011
    It depends from which purpose you would buy it.
    Without thinking definitely the Ken Smith. If I have to think to the use of the bass well, for a unique sound I will pick the Ken Smith, for a more versatile bass, the Fodera.
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  17. Bassisgood4U

    Bassisgood4U Banned

    Jan 30, 2014
    I caught that. What I meant was the overseas production of the Smith stuff hurt his reputation. That bothers me for some reason.
  18. iwearpumas


    Aug 12, 2011
    Middletown, NY
    I love these threads.
  19. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    For me, neither one. I'd get an MTD 534-24. Neck-through.

  20. blen dem

    blen dem

    Jun 22, 2001
    USA, Vallejo
    I've owned both and still have the Smith. However, to be perfectly fair I only had the Fodera ES5 for 48 hours (Bass Central trial period). It was advertised as 9.5lbs but when it came in it felt heavier. I weighed it and it was north of 10.5lbs. Not a big deal for some but when your 5'8 (maybe :)) and weigh a buck fifty that extra pound on a 2-3 hr gig standing up with 1 break is a deal breaker! This is not a diss on Bass Central, love them and 99% of the time they are accurate with the weight. For me the weight and semi large body style was too much to overcome. I will say that between the two IMO the Fodera was the more versatile bass. A total beast in any genre and the playability, insane. I returned it and traded my MTD 534 for a minty 2013 Ken Smith(Black Tiger)5TNV Vintage Body Style with a fellow TBer. BEST bass i have owned and although I still feel the Fodera was more versatile the feel, playability, 18mm spacing and it's natural "extremely vocal" voice of the instrument works better for me. Many say that a Smith has that certain sound ONLY a Smith can get and although I's versatility is criminally underrated. I play jazz, reggae, hip-hop, hawaiian/tahitian along w/RnB and it just SLAYS! Either one will be one helluva bass, great problem to have. Flip a coin & play the hell out of it!