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Ken smith owners: To taper or not to taper, that is the question

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Robin Ruscio, Oct 27, 2004.

  1. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    I've got two smiths, a 6 Gn and a 5 fretless TN. I've recently jumped from the stainless steel side of the fence to nickel, for two reasons:

    1. I'm generally going for a darker tone. my slapping and playing with a pick is minimal. I'm mostly playing jazz, r&B, reggae, pop, and hip hop (darker sounding bass tones)

    2. I've had problems with my fingers getting torn up by strings, and nickels seem much smoother.

    So naturally i've been using smith burners with the taper cores, as KS recommends.

    Things were fine until I started experimenting with strings again on my sadowsky jazz 4, and discovered i really like DR nickel strings (sunbeams, but i want to try the lo rider nickels next) . Now part of me is itching to try DR’s on my smith as well, but Smith bridges are cut so that they require tapered B, E, A’s and D’s. I’d have to open up the saddles a bit, but once that’s done their no going back. (I don’t think DR offers tapers). For the record, I tried D’addario XL’s and Smith Burners on my sadowsky too, all med gauge.

    I think tapered B’s are a good idea, but don’t really care about the other strings- this is what my super smart luth has agreed with me on, too.

    So I was curious if any other smith players have abandoned their tapered saddle pieces in favor of something else. Blasphemous, I know. Perhaps someone has DR’s on their smith and can testify, or perhaps someone regrets changing their saddles. Speak up!
  2. maurilio

    maurilio Musician - Owner Mo's Shop & MBD - Tech Nordstrand

    May 25, 2003
    Redlands, CA
    Endorsing artist: Nordstrand - Genzler Amplification - Sadowsky - Dunlops Strings
    Hi there,
    I used to own a BSR 5 few years ago and I remeber I tried different type of strings. There was absolutely no problem with regular one, they sounded all very good with clarity and sustain, without modify the bridge.
    Hope this helps.

  3. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    It's not hard to replace a saddle.

    Also, I've found that Burners may not be quite as bright to start off, they retain their original sound for longer than steels.
    And, they are never harsh...even when you first string em on.
  4. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    i would actually not descrive my ideal string as "bright" at all- that's why i'm thinking of getting away fro smith steel and burners. Smith told me a set of saddles would be around $100.
  5. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I use TaperCores on all of my basses.
  6. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    Yes Don, but haven't you at least thought of trying something else? I love everything KS does, but it's not like they make these strings there in PA . . .
  7. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I have tried the non taper core strings and I just prefer the feel of the Tapercores. To me they seem to have slightly less tension than the non taper cores.

    i know they are not pa made. I've tried many many kinds of strings and I just like these best. They are lively and they last.
  8. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    DR does make tapered strings, but only Hi Beams.

    Are you sure you'd have to alter your saddles? I've switched between tapered and normal string on a few basses, and never had to do anything permanent to the bridge. It doesn't take much of a slot in the saddle to keep the string in place, unlike what's ususally needed at the nut. Going from a tapered to a non-tapered, you'll probably need to lower the saddle height a tad and adjust the intonation.

    I'd at least give the un-tapered strings a try without cutting your saddles first. You should at least be able to decide if they're "keepers" or not, then you can cut your saddles if necessary.
  9. I say whichever string you choose, stick with the tapors on the Smith. I had a non tapor set on one of my Smiths, and it was a mistake. I put the Custom Tapors back on right away.
  10. Other way around for me. I hate tapered strings because they always seem out of tune higher up the neck on the B and E strings. No problem with non taper strings on my KS, although I did have to file down the screw a bit sticking out from under the low B bridge.

    DR LoRiders work well for me.
  11. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    yeah, i think i'll try them without cutting and then only cut if necessary. I found out DR lo rider nickels can come in a tapered B, I think that will help.
  12. flat five

    flat five

    Sep 1, 2004
    Robin, how did the non-tapered strings work out?
    Also, has anyone ever tried the TI Jazz Roundwounds on a Smith Bass?
  13. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    Funny you should ask, just got my smith's back yesterday from my luth, who cut the bridge saddles open. I went with D'addario XL's with a tapered B, which i'm very happy with as an overall string. i've had them on my sadawsky for month and am absolutely convinced they're the best string for me.

    I could tell however that the vibrations from my non tapered strings were continuing well over the saddle, it could be felt and heard to my ear. I set the intonation aproximately and then put a little pressure on the string in front of the bridge to create a nice bend in the string, that helped alot. This is something i do every time i change strings and it helps to stabalize the intonation.

    I think the tapered b is essential, i wish that i could get tapered e's and a's in the d'addario, but it's not the most important thing to me in a string overall.
  14. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    I used to own a BSR5GN and a BSR5MW (hope I got that right, basically a bolt on version of the neckthrough BSR5GN). Anyway, I tapered out the B & E strings on both of them. I bought the Smith basses, I did not buy into the notion of being locked into using ONLY his brand of strings. I can make up my own mind regarding that - I don't need Ken Smith's help.

  15. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    I liked the non-tapered on my neck through BSR5.
  16. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    I had DR Highbeams on my Smith up until tonight. I just installed a set of Smith Taper Core Med-light-5 44-125. I'm going to stick with these for now.

    - Better fit on a Smith than other strings
    - The ball ends are larger than most
    - Silk ends fit perfectly in the post hole
    - Tension is great
    - Tone is perfect

  17. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    Does this mean you might want those smith strings i have for sale after all?
  18. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    Do you have any S-Steel Med-light-5 44-63-80-102-125 sets?
  19. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    I tried a bunch of dif. strings on my BSR-J and the Lo-Rider steels have more punch and a stronger fundamental than any of the Smith strings I tried. I like the Smiths, but the DR's are just alot more forward and have a stronger note center. I've got Hi-Beams on right now but will go back to Lo-Riders.

    I didn't modify the saddles any to accomodate.

    Of course, I swapped out the Smith J PU's for Nordstrands so I'm a heretic already. The bass does sound absolutely terrific.

  20. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    I have steel, but they're med, not med light. That is what KS resommends- i changed strings, but I don't think i would ever mess around with gauges . . .