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Ken Smith tone woods question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by vision, Feb 25, 2008.


  1. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    I'm wondering which component of the woods on a Ken Smith is the biggest factor in determining the tone. On the high end Smiths, it seems that there is just as much wood on the top and back as there is for the core...so which is most important?

    For example, two of the wood combos I see most on Smiths are maple top/back with walnut core, and walnut top/back with maple core. How would these wood combos differ from each other? Or are they more alike than different?
     
  2. mongo2

    mongo2

    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    To me the composition of the neck is more important than the body.
     
  3. odin70

    odin70

    Dec 26, 2007
    ..and even more: youre fingers.
     
  4. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    I'm asking this question specifically about Ken Smith basses, where the neck composition is a constant (I believe the fingerboard is also a constant - ebony.)
     
  5. jzbass6

    jzbass6 One Nation Under A Groove

    Vision,
    This site may help you with understanding the tone qualities of the different wood. It may give some idea fo what the combos would sound like.

    http://www.warmoth.com/bass/options/options_bodywoods.cfm
     
  6. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    Thanks. I'm not asking about the tonal qualities of the woods, I am specifically asking on Ken Smith basses which is more important in the body woods - the top and back or the core.

    In most basses, the core would be most important, but with Smith's I notice that there is just as much wood on the outside "bread" of the sandwich as there is in the "meat" of the sandwich.
     
  7. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    Here's a visual example...what would be the difference in tone between this maple/walnut/maple Ken Smith:

    [​IMG]

    and this walnut/maple/walnut smith:

    [​IMG]

    any Smith players out there with experience with the different wood combos?
     
  8. Fretlessboy

    Fretlessboy

    Nov 29, 2007
    St Augustine Florida
    Endorsing artist GENZ BENZ/HERCULES STANDS/XSonics
    realisticly, you should call Ken and talk to him about it. He is a wealth of knowledge and can explain it with a user friendly explaination. My Smith's sound great but are boring by nature of fancy woods.

    PICT4687.



    IMG_1037-1.
     
  9. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Of all of the neckthru Ken Smiths I've played, they all sounded about the same. Walnut body, flame maple body, even a bubinga body...all really close. The constant was the neck, fretboard, and electronics. Not much difference at all. Just imo.

    On the bolt-ons, I have no idea since I'm not a big fan of his bolt on basses.
     
  10. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    +1...I've played a few Smiths and noticed the same thing pretty much (although I've never played different wood combos back to back). It seems like the Smith tone is mostly in the pickups and pickup placement (big humbuckers placed closer to the bridge).

    I'm just wondering if there are any differences I should be aware of when buying a Smith. My main bass now is an MTD 535, and with MTD's the wood combos make a HUGE difference in the tone of the bass. I'm guessing that with Smiths the wood used will make at least some difference.
     
  11. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    Are there any Smith guys out there that can answer this question?
     
  12. joelb79

    joelb79

    Mar 22, 2006
    Lansing, Michigan
    When you have a bass with that consistent of a core, the reverberations that would be present in the sides will effect the tone very little; about as much as a different top on a bass would with any other bass.

    Your biggest difference in the formula will be pickups and their placement and voicing.
     
  13. Sean Baumann

    Sean Baumann Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2000
    Livin' in the USA
    I've played few, and I do detect a small difference based on the core wood (if you have 3 piece wings). To me, I find the maple a touch brighter, the walnut a bit more growly, and the mahogany to be a bit fatter overall. Again, these are subtle. I've only played a hand full of these, and never in a band context except my BSR5J-MW.

    If I were to buy a new Smith, I would probably go with a maple core or maybe even bubinga core (though I have never played one).
     
  14. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    This is what my gut says, but I do know that on basses with thick tops that wood choice does affect the overall tone of the bass, and the high end Smiths have both thick tops and thick backs.
     
  15. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    Your Smith is the walnut model you got from Mike isn't it? If so I played that bass and it KILLS!!! :bassist:

    The wood descriptions you use match what I've heard in Smiths. I know I want some combo of maple and walnut, in other words a tonal combo of bright and growly, so I'm trying to figure out which recipe would be best for me - walnut/maple/walnut or maple/walnut/maple.
     
  16. Sean Baumann

    Sean Baumann Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2000
    Livin' in the USA
    Probably just decide on looks, you won't really notice in a mix anyway.

    Thanks, yeah, this is Mike's old Smith.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. mongo2

    mongo2

    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Yeah, I know. Each piece of wood is different so it doesn't change my answer. Any differences in tone would most likely be due to the different necks used.
     
  18. Barkless Dog

    Barkless Dog Barkless to a point

    Jan 19, 2007
    I always loved his walnut faced basses. However I saw a band in NY and the guy had a Smith 5 string, it had to weigh close to 18 pounds or felt like it. Sounded great though.
     
  19. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    Yep that bass is SWEET! Perfect mix of the Smith sound with the jazz bass sound...
     
  20. bottomzone

    bottomzone

    Oct 21, 2005

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