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Ken Smith information needed

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Jan 28, 2002.

  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    After almost a year of saving, researching and planning, I have finally saved enough money to purchase a high end 6 string bass. The bass I fell in love with about a year ago was a Ken Smith 6 string neck-thru, and it's the front runner at the moment. List price on the bass I played was about $2400.

    I have a couple of questions which you kind folks up here in BGland are likely to be WAY more likely to help me with than the guys downstairs in the castle:

    1) How much should I be able to expect to talk down a shop owner on price for this bass (sorry, I don't have the specific info on the axe with me...I'll post the model number later)? Are there some online resources I can check as references for what these basses are going for in other places?

    2) In that price range, what other 6's might I be looking at that compare favorably with the Smith? I've tried a Cirrus 5 and wasn't crazy about it, but have never played a 6 string one. Are there other brands I should be looking at that I don't know about?

    3) Last, I live in Louisville, which has a buttload of music stores, but only ONE that carries any kind of selection of high-end basses. If anybody knows of any place within a couple of hours of here (120 miles or so) that has a good selection of upper end stuff that I could actually go see in person, that would be great.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Yes, I read it, and it kind of sucks. But I didn't fall for Mr. Smith personally, I fell for one of his basses. And I'm one of those that tends to follow the heart, fingers, and ears in these matters. Having said that, I would also like to thank you for bringing that thread to my attention. All information is good when doing research. :)
  3. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Is the bass new, Chris? That list price sounds low for a neck through. Do you want to play the bass before buying? Interested in a used Smith?

    If you're interested in a used Smith, they're a much better value than a new one. Smith's are nice and they're the only basses that truly sound like Smiths. OTOH there are a bunch of options out there depending on what you want and your budget. On the high quality end there's Elrick, MTD, F Bass, Zon, Modulus, Peavey, etc.

    If you're interested in less strings (a five) there's even more possibilities.
  4. well on the plus side I didn't hear any negative comments on his product , except strings, in that whole theread.

    happened upon this the other day

  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    I know the owner of that Elrick. He said it's an excellent fretless. So far, judging by my exposure to Elricks (played a few, own one custom NJS semihollow fretless 5) I wouldn't doubt it.
  6. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Standard dealer discount I've seen on Smiths is 30% off list. If you ask for a quote from bass specialists (Bass Central, Bass NW), they may be able to do you 5% better.

    As for other boutique 6-strings: I'd consider Mike Kinal and Matt Pulcinella. They're up-and-comers with good reputations and good prices (for now). MVP Pedulla, F Bass, Elrick and Zon do good sixes for around $2000.

    Fodera, MTD and Spector do good multistrings, but they're a bit more expensive for comparable features.
  7. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    As Brad mentioned, $2400, seems WAY low for a neck through Smith. Maybe that was the actual asking price, but it certainly wasn't list. If you can buy a new, neckthrough Smith for $2400, I wouldn't worry too much about talking the seller down, as he is already giving you a KILLER deal.

    Take a look at http://www.kensmithbasses.com

    On his site, Smith posts the list prices as well the average street price of his basses. Street is what you should expect to pay new. Based on the information at his site and the new Smiths that I have seem for sale, I'd say he is pretty close.

  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I would have (and did) considered a 5 as a stopgap measure, but I really want the high C string, and I kinda want the low B as well. Also, I'm only looking at fretted basses....I figure if I want a fretless sound, I'll go with DB. :)

    Thanks for the reply. I'm quite ignorant when it comes to BG gear these days.
  9. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    Chris, I own a Ken Smith BSR6 GN (neck-through). It's a 2000 and I bought it used from L.A. Bass Exchange for $2500. If the bass you're interested in is new, you can be sure it's a bolt-on.

    FWIW, I love my Smith 6 and will probably keep it forever. OTOH, I have a Modulus Quantum 6 that gets almost as muich action on my gigs--it's a fantastic instrument, too.

    I've owned an Alembic Epic 6 which I disliked (in fact, the other Alembic I owned was a Custom 5 fretless and I didn't like it, either) due to the fact that it weighed a ton and had the worst case of neck-dive I've ever seen.

    The only other 6 I've ever owned was a Cort Artisan 6 and it was not in the same class.

    I really don't see how you can go wrong with a Smith. Good luck.
  10. Chris, I play Carvin 6s both because I like them quite a bit and because I can't afford the things I absolutely luuuuuv. But from time to time I get the urge to go play a lot of stuff. Of what's out there, I've really liked Elrick and MTD 6s. Sukop and Modulus, not so much. The Cirrus 6 didn't do as much for me as it has for many others here, but it's well made, reasonably priced, and worth a look IMO. I used to have a Smith 4 and loved the way it played and felt but found the PUs unsatisfying (maybe exacerbated by the bubinga top I had).

    There are all sorts of makers whose wares I've never actually handled but have found intriguing. I dunno if you're willing to take a flyer on something you've never had in your hands, but you could check out Dave Pushic (of course), Chris Stambaugh, Benavente, Roscoe, Hanewinckel (www.hanewinckelguitars.com), David King (www.kingbasses.com), and this UK maker, Shuker (www.shukerguitars.co.uk).
  11. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga

    you might want to consider yamahas into the mix - either the neck throughs or the pattitucci sig models. very nice, and can be found at a decent price.

    you might also want to consider giving bill conklin a call. you'd probably be surprised at how affordable a custom conklin would be, and how well it suits what you're looking for.
  12. Second this recommendation. They just slipped my mind, or I would have mentioned them too. The Patitucci signature model is particularly nice IMO.
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    One thing I've noticed about Smiths... the playabilty is usually exceptional. As was previously stated, you could get a nice used neck through for around $2500 or so. I completely understand wanting to play the bass first. I haven't been burned going the opposite route so that's why I do it.

    If the one you liked was retail price, I'd see how low they'd be willing to go first( just ask them what "they" want) ... if that wasn't low enough, I'd make an offer of 35% off, maybe more. With this economy you'd be surprised what some people are willing to take just to move a piece. I got my used MTD 635 6 string for less than the wholesale cost of a new one recently.
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Wow, look at all the replies...this is great! I found my reference card when I got home, and the bass was a BSR-6P. List was $3900, and the sale price was $2395. Yeah, it was new, but I'm still not sure if the bass was neck through or not (although I think that it was). Anyway, that sucker was gorgeous, and played like a dream. Also, it had a beautiful sound, very distinctive and punchy, which is perfect for me as I often like to play with free strokes on BG...it seemed that I could get a strong sound even with free strokes up by the fingerboard, which is very comfortable for my R.H.

    Chas - Thanks for the link. I'm a cyber idiot and couldn't figure out how to navigate the site at first, but I'll try again when I have more time.

    Boogie - do you have a link for the place you mentioned? I'm gonna be doing a lot of research on this, and any/all info will be useful.

    JT - I remember playing a Pattitucci model years ago that was the only other 6 I've ever liked, and Pacman assures me that I can't go wrong with one. I'll keep that in mind as a second option if I can't track down a Smith or something I like as well.

    Brad and JT - I'd consider buying a used bass if enough people can assure me that the quality control on the damn things is pretty consistent. I'd love to even see a Conklin 6 once in my life, but it hasn't happened so far. Don't get me wrong - I love Louisville, but it's not the greatest place for high end bass shopping. Chicago and Nashville are within about 5 hours though...is there a listing anywhere of big time bass dealers that I could check out? With $2500 at stake, I think I could manage a day-long road trip at some point to try before I buy.

    BTW, I called the store where I played the Smith I fell for, and it's gone....ah, $#1t. Well, that just gives me more time to daydream!

    Thanks again everybody.
  15. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Just checked out that Hanewinckel site, and the signature series basses are drop dead gorgeous. Of course, so are the prices...again, since I've never seen one of these, I'd be afraid to order one. Jeez, there MUST be a killer bass store somewhere around here...I'm starting to drool already!
  16. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City

    There probably aren't a lot of basses that are guaranteed great, sight unseen, but a lot of the ones mentioned earlier come darn close. As far as 6ers go Ken Smith neck-thru basses, MTD 635, Cirrus (may depend on the wood combo and your style), and Hanewinckel. I was REALLY nervous when I bought my Hanewinckel over the internet, never having seen one first hand, let alone play one. I couldn't be more pleased. It could easily be my ONLY bass if I didn't already have a serious addiction to Alembics.

    If you check eBay, there's a nice Ken Smith 6 on the board. Used MTDs are hard to find, but Bass Central and GGuitars are usually good for one or two. You could also check into their return policies.

    Whatever path you take, best of luck!!


  17. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    L.A. Bass Exchange is bassexchange.com. You may also want to check out bassalone.com in San Diego.
  18. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS

    I picked up a 94 Smith BT5G on Ebay early last year and the bass was killer the only problem it was the old body style that doesnt work that well standing up, about two months ago I did a straight local trade for a 99 BSR5GN which I like a whole lot more. Both basses played like butta. Like others have said, I think you'll get a whole lot more bang for your buck going used as opposed to new and buying off the net hasn't been a problem for me either.
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Chris - I too fell in love with a Smith 6-string at the Bass Centre in London - but as it was over £3,500 (add on half as much again for $) I knew I would never get it! :(

    I think people who have mentioned the Yamaha TRBs are right. What was distinctive about the Smith 6-strings for me was the wide but flat (back to front) necks and wide string spacing. When I was infatuated, the only other bass I found like this was an old (used) Yamaha TRB6P - these are neck-though, with exotic woods and piezo pickups in the bridge.

    So this was less then half the price and I bought it right away. The Patitucci model is nice but very different - bolt on - for example with different electronics - no piezos.

    Yamaha have recently re-introduced the TRB6PII and I tried a couple in London and they are excellent.


    I recently saw one of the best "electric" Jazz pros in Britain - Laurence Cottle - using a new 5-string equivalent! But the electric bass player who gets the best sound for my money is Dudley Phillips - who doubles on DB but plays a Ken Smith 6 String! ;)