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Ken Smith vs Fender vs Warrick vs MTD

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by wilson4th, Dec 2, 2000.

  1. wilson4th


    Dec 2, 2000
    The smith was the first choice,anniversary BSR JJ5($2300)or the BSR5M w/custom options($2600).A very close friend of mine suggested a Tobias over Smith. He says Tobias has a better tone than a Smith.Second choice MTD 535($2600).Third choice the classic"you can't go wrong with a Fender"American jazz 5-string Deluxe($850),the cheapest of the four which is a good thing,but I would spend the money for a Smith or a MTD.Forth choice Warrick Thumb bolt-on 5-string($1400).I can't decide.My last decision was the MTD but,I haven't checked into what type of deal I could get on one.They list for $3500 I'm tryin to get one for about $2600-$2700.I've played on them all except the MTD.My review is this:Smiths-Versitile;Fender-classic growl with maple finger-board;Warrick-it has it's own mean growl plus it's versitile.I play mostly gospel so it has to get through the organ and a full chior.I'm open for suggestions.
  2. gilfarias

    gilfarias Guest

    Can't comment on Warwick. but I'm familiar with MTD, Smith, and Fnder Jazz 5.

    Go for the MTD, even if you have to save $ for a few months. I own one and they're worth it. Be sure to order the neck/body wood combo that results in the sound/tone that you're looking for.

    The Fender Jazz 5 is OK. The B string is not as focused and punchy as the MTD. A little muddy actually. this is probably due to the lack of an angled back headstock and the distance between the nut and tuning key. I hear " more angle back and longer distance from nut to tuning key" = tighter punchier, clearer, B string sound. The Jazz 5 has neither, but it is cheaper.

    For a good price on MTDs, try Glenn of Austin Basstraders: astromaven@prodigy.net. He's a dealer, and he'll give you a good deal.

    Just MHO.
  3. maestrox


    Oct 8, 2000
    You have picked 4 basses that sound *totally* different. Instead of focusing on price and which you can get a deal on, I think you should choose based on the tone you like and are looking for. In addition, neck shapes are pretty different, as are scale lengths (the MTD is 35", the others 34"). No matter what the magazines say, 35" does not guarantee better tone...I've heard great 34" B strings and lousy 35" (and vice versa). It's what they do with it...

    The Fender will sound like a Fender...and J-basses are a good all-around bass. The Warwick has a particular sound ("piano-like" is the usual description), but the neck is rather bat-like. I don't find that Warwicks are especially versatile, but the do get a tone that I like. The MTD has a *very* particular sound (somewhat depending on the woods, but every MTD I've played still had "the sound"). I don't care for it, but it does sit well in a mix. The Smith has yet another particular tone, but it doesn't sound at all like an MTD. Smith's are very popular with R&B/Gospel players, so you might want to consider that...there is a reason for it. I think one thing is that the Smith tone sits well with lots of voices (ie choirs). For funk, it also has a particular mid-range honk that sounds great (at least to my ears).

    So my advice is to try and play the basses (ideally with your rig or equivalent) and let the tone/playability determine. If you're thinking of spending $2500+, screw the reputation and what others say is "better". Let your ears decide...
  4. Wes I AM

    Wes I AM

    May 27, 2000
    Tampa, FL
    Warwick. Thats what i'd get. I'd probably go with a 4-string neck through, tune it down to C and save an extra grand rather than get a 5-string which, after tuning a 4 to C, would really only have that 1 extra low note. Anyway, Warwick.
  5. virtual.ray


    Oct 25, 2000
    If you're tempted by MTD,you ought to check out the new offshore models,the Grendel,the Beast,and the K5.The 1st 2 are made in the Czech Republic and the 5 strings list for $1695 and $995.The K5 is made in Korea and lists for $629.95.They are all well made and sound very good.
  6. Some great quality instruments are coming from The Czech Republic and Korea. However, Bass Frontiers reviewer Mike Dimlic seems prejudiced against anything made there. Check out the "quality basses made for under $1000" thread and see for yourself. It's best to judge for yourself than to listen to a magazine review!

    [Edited by Mr. Dead on 12-02-2000 at 10:58 PM]
  7. virtual.ray


    Oct 25, 2000
    What I said was based on having spent a minimum of 2 hours playing on each of them at a shop that has all 3 in stock.I bought the K5 last week,it has a passive Music Man style pickup,35" scale and wide fretboard.Yum!
  8. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    I think you will be most satisfied with a Smith bass. I own 2 of them and they really do sound great and play very well. I've owned 2 Warwick basses and sold them both. I had a Streamer Stage 1 and a Thumb (neckthru). They were nice instruments but not in the same class (IMHO) as the Smith, Pedulla and Fender basses that I prefer.

    I've a friend who has an MTD 6 and I don't like it as much as the Smith basses. I do not like the feel of a wenge neck or fingerboard and the tone of the bass was just not my thing (it may be yours, however).

    Your best bet is to play some basses and buy the one that "speaks" to you. My preferences are just that-mine! They are correct for me and may not be correct for you.

    Good luck!

  9. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000

    heya Wilson,

    I haven't played a Smith or an MTD but I happen to own a Warwick Streamer LX which I recived 4 days ago, I also played a few Fenders too.

    anyway, what made me get a bass made by warwick is the unfinished bodies (you can have ones with coloured oil finish or gloss too) and necks.
    also they got lots of nice touches like screw-less back plate and truss rod cover, back curve, push/pull knobs, brass frets (DA WARWICK TONE generats partly from there), exotic woods, fully adjustable string spaceing and some even come with recessed straplocks (mine didn't).
    all these are just bonus luxuries around the main attraction-->big rumbling fat tone!
    (I play flat now and don't hate my 60watt fender amp anymore!).

    some ppl just can't live with their blocky necks though so don't buy sight-unseen.

    overall what I heard the majority say is-
    Warwick: the Warwick tone, exotic woods, machine fabricated though and esoteric necks.
    Smith: best tone if you are to be a solo artist, laminations to die for, very "technic" neck.
    MTD: Bartolini!!!!, supposed to be the last bass you'll ever need (you might want to own a few of these though), built by Michael the man himself.
    Fender: mass produced slab bodied basses with 50's state of the art technology. (not even comparable to the three other brands).

    disclaimer: this is MY personal view, I don't own any of these particular basses (MTD 535, SMITH BSR J, Thumb 5, Jazz Dlx5). btw, don't listen to what your friend says, listen to what your ears and hands say.
  10. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    If you're looking in the $2000+ range, you can leave Fender and Warwick off your list; their cachet matches their value at around $800 for Fender and $1500 for Warwick. (Note: I think the Dolphin's overpriced). If you've got the money, Smith and MTD will bend over backwards to accomodate your needs. Personally, I find the Smith body shape to be an acquired taste, and the tone, as others have mentioned is best suited to smooth jazz and R&B. I'm not certain a Smith would be able to cut through a heavy rock band. Smith's workmanship, however, is unquestionably good with regard to his custom instruments.

    US MTDs cost a great deal, but the workmanship matches Smith's and the body shape is pleasingly conservative; it won't look out of place in any setting. The tone of the MTD, IMO, is somewhat more versatile than the Smith; in addition to the scooped fusion stuff, you can get a nice midrange bark that cuts through guitars. Compared with a loaded custom Smith, however, a similarly priced MTD appears somewhat pedestrian. If luxe looks matter to you, go with the Smith.

    In the approx. $1000 range, I think the Czech MTDs beat most of the competition in terms of looks, workmanship and tone. That's just me, though.
  11. maestrox


    Oct 8, 2000
    hmmm...I'll disagree on the workmanship comment...I've seen 4 MTD's and all of them had pretty sloppy neck pockets. Never seen a Smith that wasn't tight as a...well....damn tight. The MTD's were beautiful instruments, but I didn't think fit-and-finish was on par with either Smiths or Sadowskys I'd played.

    I will agree on the Smith having trouble in a rock gig. I'm in mid trade right now for a Smith (in the exploratory phase), and that is the complaint of the owner. But for funk/R&B/gospel and some jazz, the Smith is killin'. Not to say you can't play rock on a Smith...just that there are probably better choices. It just doesn't have the big fat bottom end.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I would agree with your friend - I found a pre-Gibson Tobias and it is quite simply the best tone I've ever heard - I just had to buy it there and then. I think Ken Smith basses are the highest quality "off the shelf" I've seen/tried in any bass, but I prefer the tone of my Tobias Classic V.
  13. If you are looking at spending up to $2500 and you can find one, i would check out an F Bass as well before you decide.
  14. ka-tet


    May 2, 2000
    Hey Nick. How would describe the tone of the BN6 you have in your profile? I have a BN5 and think it's the best bass I've ever played/owned. How does the 6 compare to the 5? I've owned Smith and Warwick and I must say I don't like either anymore. The Smith definitely didn't have the balls for the rock/blues stuff I've been playing. With the F's big, fat, natural sound it fits into any situation. I do like the MTD real well. When I was getting ready to get a new bass, it was between the MTD and the F. I chose F.
  15. Hiya ka-tet

    I too have owned a Smith and Warwick and IMHO the F bass blows them both away. It has the same fat tone of the 5's (I tried one as well)and is very versatile whether laying down a solid gut rumbling groove or soloing. It is also the best 6 string bass I have had for slapping. you can probably tell that I love it. The only other basses that come close for me are the Foderas (mucho more money!!).
    Lucky me I have two of them as well ;).
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well I know that Brad Johnson has had incredible luck with his collection of "bargain basses" and that John Turner is a "web tycoon"! ;) But how did you amass such a collection in the UK - where/when did you make your first million? :)
  17. I wish I could say I'd made a first million, but I haven't.

    I've been very lucky I guess.
    I have a day job in computers which pays pretty well and my house is paid up.
    I've also had the good fortune to find two US dealers on the web who have given me exemplary service. I'll mention them because I feel they deserve the plug -

    1. Beaver Felton at Bass Central
    2. Evan Sheeley at Bass Northwest

    The US pricing is very favourable even after taking account of duties and tax and I have always received pristine and well set up instruments from these guys.

    If you're interested there are pictures of my latest Fodera on the Yahoo Fodera bass guitars club. Can you believe this my wife bought me this for Xmas !!??

    The club link is as follows :-

  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I am interested - how much tax/duty did you have to pay on a bass? Is it a percentage thing? I still think I would want to try it before, but could be tempted if it works out a lot cheaper. Maybe - try as similar a bass as possible in London and then order from the US?
  19. I have always tried to find a similar bass to try before buying. You would normally be able to negotiate a trial period for the bass in any case.

    What makes the difference is that (in my experience) you rarely pay full list $ price.

    The tax thing works as follows :-

    A = Total Cost (including shipping)
    B = Duty Rate
    C = Taxable amount
    D = VAT Rate
    E = VAT Amount
    F = Grand Total

    A + (A * B) = C

    C * D = E

    C + E = F

    The details for rates and exchange rates are on the UK customs and excise web site.

    Usually you pay the suplier the cost of the bass and shipping. When the carrier brings the bass into the country they deal with all the customs stuff for you and either invoice you (FedEx) or you pay the relevant charges on delivery (UPS). Beware FedEx are the only people I have come across so far who DON'T charge for handling through customs by weight.

    Oh as a rough guide the duty rate is usually 3- 5 % and VAT is charged at 17.5%.

    I hope this helps.

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