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Ken Smith Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JRBrown, Aug 19, 2002.

  1. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    Got GAS! I'm after a Ken Smith 4-string bass. I've heard varying opinions as to what to look for to get that KS vibe. Most say stay away from the lower end KS basses and some say stay away from the KS bolt-ons. I'm not looking to buy the top of the line KS bass (unless the price is right), but I do want a "real" KS. Where do I draw the line? Please post pics if you got them.
  2. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    "The lower priced Smiths are good basses but simply not in the class with the ones up the line."

    Thanks, but where is the line between upper and lower class? Bolt-on versus neck-thru is not an issue (unless that's where the line is).
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    I have that exact same model in the bolt-on version, and I have no complaints. The neck-throughs by Smith that I played were great, but I didn't feel they were as punchy. Just my opinion, which should be taken with a grain of salt since I'm mostly a doghouse guy...
  4. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    I've got a Ken smith dove tial forsale, 4 string.

    Its a great soundng bass. I've also had and have one BO. It so happen to be a great sounding smith. I've had a number of smith's in the past and can say that there are good ones and bad ones. For some reason there seems to be about an equal amount of one verse the other. You would think that there would only be few bad smith's verse good smith, but a good smith is like a good fender jazz bass. You have to play a room full of them to find the good one. Not sure why, maybe the combination of woods with the smith preamp.

    The smith prea,p is very distinctive sounding and can get muddy quick! I think that with walnut body cores and some other woods not greatly known for the tone quality the smith can get real dark and muddy.

    Everyone has the own opinion, but this is mine and many other smith owners and haters.

    Thanks and good luck with you search.

    on my smith 4 string I need $1100!
  5. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    I have to admit that I had Mark build my J5 with walnut because of a walnut Smith 5 that I played @ GC. That thing SMOKED!!! If I had the loot, I would've gotten it.
  6. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    Thanks for the input. I think everyone agree's that builders and dealers and individuals would all help in suporting talkbass and the reason behind its intention.
    I think everyone will agree that wood tones are all personal and everyone has their own view on how tones react and with respect to multi and single lam. woods.

    I'm sorry if my response of personal experience bothers some as well as those conveyed to me. I think research of other owners might show opinions that agree and disagree with mine.

    Its tuff to say that every instrument sounds great becuase no matter who the builder is there are instruments that fall short of others.

    Thanks for the suport on talkbass!

    I will address some things mentioned above, and in no way is this to start a word war, but as mentioned to fill in some gaps that might have been missed.

    Yes I am a dealer and in no way hide that. Its noted in my personal information.

    (quote by KS)
    "You failed to mention to people that you are in the business of buying and selling used Basses. These are Basses you have bought used to resell. They are not new Basses that you have purchased from our factory. The condition of a Bass used is at the mercy of the owner and his up keep. Any used Smith Bass that we have ever restored or repaired left our shop in good or better condition than when it was new."

    I would have to correct you that I have had a few New Ken Smith's inctock in the past. No they did not come from the factory, but from another dealer of yours. I don't think they would be considered used although I did always post them on the used forsale page not to mis-lead anyone! I also think a used instrument in mint condition should not be stated as an instrument not expected to hold up to your standards. I've actually played and owned Smith's that where 80's models that sounding amazing. Actually I tend to like the older 2 band eq Smith's better (personal preference)

    As for the walnut issue, please take note I mentioned walnut core. You replied with walnut top and maple core. Totally different instrument in sound. I wasn't refering, that the color has anything to do with tone, I'm not sure where that might have come from. Even in the quote, you quoted me saying walnut core! Walnut is a dark color while the tones is a muddy harsh and not clear sounding wood. Add that to the Smith lowend midrange sounding pickups and it can cause for a very tuff instrument to hear in the mix.

    I hope this fills in some of the gaps that might have been missed.

    If dealers like my self aren't allowed, then weeding closet dealers and builders out would be the next step. This would sure make newsgroup bare becuase 25%+ on hear are closet dealers some refer them as (people that buy, sell & trade).

    I also do carry new instruments, though most are custom ordered and not always held instock.

    I also don't carry every popular name in the business becuase I am very particular on the instruments I sell. There for I am not swayed to my response on issues like this. I think you can get a better idea about instruments from people that don't sell something new to make money!!!!!!

    Same goes for asking other individuals that have owned alot of instruments. They might not be dealers or closet dealers, however you define that. But someone who loves to buy, sell and trade basses to own different one. No crime in that.

    I also realize that buying an selling used instruments does not place money in your pocket, which in the same respect you attacked me on the used smith idea one might point that out.

    Thanks, and I carry no hard feelings. I did feel some clearification was needed. And I do appreciate KS posting. I think it pointed out both points!!

  7. RS


    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    Ouch, KS put the wood to you BB!
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    For the record I've played a ton* of Smith basses over the years. I've played some that blew me away and others that just seemed nice. I've never laid hands on a "bad" one. Never seen a bad neck or bad frets or anything more than scratchy pots as far as electronics. I'm not looking for any free Smith gear, this has just been my experience. I have seen some pretty serious playing wear on the bodies... most likely from lots of playing;)

    I always make a distinction between something that I didn't like and bad... most cases they're two different things. For example, I don't typically care for a certain brand of bass but I've heard excellent music being made on them.

    *that's right, I weighed all of them ;)
  9. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker Banned

    Jun 10, 2001
    I've owned several Smith's and my current Smith is the best I've ever played. It has a walnut core with coco bola top and is anything but muddy or harsh. It has a very clear, warm sound that has a natural round low end that I haven't heard on most Smith's I've played. I have yet to play a Smith that was anything less than great. I think they are some of the best recording basses around. Live, I've had one that didn't cut through well but that doesn't make it a bad bass. The style of music I was playing didn't fit the bass. No bass can fit everything. I've owned a lot of basses but seem to always go back to Smith's. Recently I've owned 2 Fodera's. They were great but after the thrill of actually owning a Fodera wore off, tonally there is nothing special to them. They played exceptional, though. Live they were pretty good, but in the studio I could not get a sound out of them. I plug my walnut/coco bola Smith in and the right tone is there without any EQ.
    I've owned both bolt-on CR and several neckthrough's. They were all great but the neckthrough's had a significantly better B string.
  10. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I've played about a half a dozen at Bass Central. No complaints here! Not my cup of tea, but only by a bit. It's very easy to see why people would spend their hard earned $$$ on these basses.
  11. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    I guess I should clarify, I in no way interned for good and bad to be taken as bad, the instrument suck and should be burned.

    I basically ment that I've played some that really sounded good and cut through the mix extremely well. Bad meaning that they didn't do so well and were very muddy.

    Same goes for a fender jazz, I've played some great ones, and I've played some that didn't sound good at all (bad), but they didn't need to be burned.

    Wanted to mention that before someone from fender jumped on here. I wasn't trying to compare the two by mentioning them, but people are fimiliar with the scenario.

  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    I didn't think you meant that bad.
  13. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    sorry, Brad

    my post came after yours, but I didn't mean it towards you.
  14. I own a Ken Smith BTG6 with a 5-ply body - maple/walnut/mahogany/walnut/maple...

    it plays effortlessly and sounds great. i've also played the ones that Mr. Smith mentioned with the maple core and walnut top and back, and to me they seem to be a bit more punchy, and definately more articulate in the upper mids, etc.

    muddy is an adjective that i would never use to describe a Smith bass. if anything these basses in general have a characteristic upper midrange bump along wiht a chrunchy character from the pickups wich makes them standout in a mix easily.

    muddy? hmm.
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Absolutely no problem, Brian. This is all about opinons and experiences. When I said "I didn't think you meant that bad", I meant that I thought you simply meant you found some Smiths you really didn't like, not that they were defective.
  16. mooseman


    Jul 24, 2002
    Chesterfield, VA
    As many others will say, I don't think you can go wrong with a Smith, regardless of it's price. I owned a BSR-Pro 5 from 1998 (mahogony wings, quilt maple top, quilt center block, 5 piece body w/ bubinga stringers) and have been totally impressed. The first thing to comes to mind that seperates it from other big name basses I have played is comfort and playability. The tone can go from the ultra-modern cut to bubbly and polite, and it seems to fit in every situation. Construction is great...I haven't had to adjust the neck in 4 years. The biggest change I've made is raising the pole pieces closer to the strings to make it a little more "raw" and increase it's sensitivity to plucking techniques. This is a great feature on this bass. It definitely takes on the "Smith" sound increasingly at high volumes.

    I've also been impressed with the Burner series. The attention to detail seems to be there, but the ones I have played didn't have the same "teeth" that my BSR-Pro can have, and I dig the natural finish better. A different voice, but a great deal for sure if you dig Smith's.

    JRBrown: my advice is to go with the nicest bolt-on you can afford, and to at least try what you don't consider a "real" Smith before you buy...in the end you will be all smiles.

    -Hunter :p
  17. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    Thanks. So are you saying that the Burner series is not the same as the BSR? For some strange reason I thought the "B" in BSR stood for "Burner". So what does "BSR" stand for? Bass Player Mag did a review of a Burner bass years ago and it faired just OK. So I'm thinking, "If all the new basses are Burners, which ones are the good ones?" They all basically "look" the same. Guess I'll go and relook at the Ken Smith web pages.
  18. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    If this is a thread about consistency, my $0.05 (Canadian) is that every one I've seen has been great. That's only aout 6 basses of course.

    They're not for me -I need a bass that hangs more vertically, and I find them a bit aggressive for the sound I prefer- but lovely nonetheless. One of my good buddies went through Fender, Dean, Tune, F-Bass, and several other basses in his search. What made him choose a Smith is the tour he got at the factory where was treated right. He found his baby.

    Gotta give Mr. Smith his props as one of the first exotic bass makers to gain mass acceptance for the 6-string.
  19. mooseman


    Jul 24, 2002
    Chesterfield, VA
    JrB: I'm not sure what BSR stands for. What I called "Burner" basses (which, judging from their site, don't seem to be around anymore) were at least partly built overseas. The ones I played had ash bodies, lacquer finishes, and the Burner's trademark black headstock. These are generally easy to find used. I hope I'm not spreading mis-information here...

    the Burner basses I commented on were along the lines of this bass:


  20. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    Thanks again. I visited Alpha Music in Virginia Beach last summer and I'm sure they had a new Burner Bass in their Smith stock. What ever the basses were, they were obviously well made and priced at over $2.5K , but had no high-end mistique. The Roscoe basses that hung next to them were priced the same and sported exoctic woods, finishes, etc. For some reason, I feel that when you buy the lower end smiths you're buying the name but when you buy the upper end Smiths you're buying what the name is famous for.

    So back to my original question. Where is the line that seperates buying the KS name and buying the KS vibe (workmanship, sound, playability, wood quality, etc.)