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Ken Smith wood questions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by waytoodeep03, May 2, 2006.

  1. waytoodeep03

    waytoodeep03 Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2005
    Frisco, Texas
    I would like to know what makes "Smith" wood different and so special than the wood in lets say a Cirrus? If they both are maple for example what makes the tone so different? Isn't wood just 'wood'? What makes one wood better than the other wood? Is wood smith uses marinated in something over time?
  2. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    I went through the photo tours, but it didn't really help me much.

    WayTo, there is an interesting discussion about wood happening at http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=245824.

    I have heard some amazing Ken Smith basses and I've wanted to own one, but the number of models and wood choices are overwhelming to me. I worry that I'd order a lemon, so I've just admired Smith basses from afar (Alaska).

    All the Fodera choices are almost as confusing. Is there a chart or something somewhere to help us make sense of it all for Ken Smith Basses?
  3. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Keep in mind that each piece of wood, even of the same species is different. Tighter grain will result in a different sound than a loose grained maple, and the overall construction will add to the tone, and overall, a good portion of the Smith sound comes from electronics, I'd say.
  4. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    I am glad you said what you did about Smith sight unseen, that's very reassuring, but I could NOT disagree with you more about Ken Smith's website sorting out the models.

    I am in the market for a 6 string bass and I saw an old John Patitucci video where he played a great sounding 6 string bass. I went to the Ken Smith site to learn about it and WHOA! It is one of the busiest and least helpful websites I've visited, which is saying something because most bass makers sites are poor and lag very far behind other industries. I could find out how Ken Smith did in a golf tournament, but I sure couldn't find out what the string spacing of a 6-string bass is.

    As far as model confusion goes, the best I can make out there is a Burner, an MS model, the Fusion MS, the BSR GN, BTG, Black Tiger, BSR Elite G, BT Elite G, BSRB, the Black Tiger Elite and a Fusion 25th anniversary model, a J Series, a J-G model, a J-MW model, a J-C model, an M Series, an MW Series, a P&V Series, a PE&VE Series, a CRVE model, a BSRPE model, a CR model, a CRMW model, a BSRMW model, and a CRV model ... (which I thought was a Honda).

    If there is a sensible branding plan with Ken Smith, it cannot be found on his website. It's a good thing his day job is bass making and not web design.

    And he sure does seem to make great basses though, and his strings are my favorite bass strings.
  5. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Wow, and my model list didn't even include your screen name: BSR6P! Who knows how many models there are and what they all mean?!
  6. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    I agree that the ken smith site is lacking in quality and so does the sadowsky site for that matter. I read that roger said a good chunk of his business comes from the internet (or possably over seas orders Im not sure which) If this is true for ken as well (which it might not be) you think a decent internet site would be a given.

    Anyways at least he has that guide to the sounds of different woods that he uses. Which is somewhat helpful. Although I believe the only way to become more familar with the sound of woods is through playing and listening. Rather than research.
  7. Ken Smith needs a website redesign bad. The interface is nightmarish. The Sadowsky site seems fine to me, but the Smith site looks like it's trapped in the late-90's geocities/angelfire page-builder aesthetic.
  8. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    There is no way one can describe taste, smell, feel or Beauty. What people usually do is call or email us for answers and get their questions answered directly as best as possible and promptly as well. There is no 'exact' sound for any species of wood. There are variations in everything but by talking to the customer we can steer him in the right direction. As fas as specs go try the 'SPECS' button on the home page of the website. http://www.kensmithbasses.com/options.html

    As far as how I did in a Golf Tournament, you had to did pretty deep to find that.

    Yes, the website is BIG and can be confusing but, we do alot of things and there is no easy way of maping it out. If lost, just call and we can even walk you thru the pages you need to see or send links thru Email. As far as the JP Smith Bass, it was 1985 when he got it. We don't make the exact same Bass anymore but a simple call or email would have gotten a quick answer and direction inot what similar models we make today.


    His Bass was a stock BT at the time with Walnut and Maple and an Oil finish. I talk to people every day and help them thru the models and woods. What you think is bright my be tight or mid sounding. What is deep for some may be muddy to others so it's important we understand what you think is what.

    Different models have different woods for tone matching and or economics. If you have a question you can't find the answer to easily, just ask me here or thru email or call us.

    Currently we have over 1,100 visits a day on average 24/7 throught the entire month. Some days it's 800 visits (weekends) and some days it's over 1,500. We don't get too many complaints but do get a few calls for help to find what they need so we must be doing something right.

    By the way, I haven't played Golf in over a year!
  9. Ken, please, redesign the site! The beauty of your work deserves better delivery!
  10. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I like it. It is doing great for us just as it is with huge growth in visits. See for yourself; http://kensmithbasses.com/stats/

    What is it that you find difficulty with on the website?
  11. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004

    Thats the whole problem with the internet and its descriptions and reviews of instruments/amps/woods etc.
  12. Well, it's a little counter-intuitive that you have to scroll down the entire page for mixed batches of information. It might be a little sleeker if you could condense the design by making it a little more horizontal with text as opposed to images for links. The backdrop as well is a little loud with the quilted maple. While I like the featured wood column on the bottom, it pops too much. There's also a ton of things to click on. Again, if it could be a little more condensed, it would be easier to navigate. I think you could also attribute the growth in site popularity to positive word of mouth on your instruments.
  13. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    Lol just like sound aesthitic isn't the easiest thing to describe. However the website really pops out. Not in a good way. Sort of like how I'd pop out if I was wearing a lime green suit with bright orange shoes. Maybe harsh on the eyes is a better description.
  14. todd 4ta

    todd 4ta

    Apr 3, 2003
    I've had about half a dozen Smith basses over the last few years, and I'll agree - none of them were lemons. Not even close!

    First, you may want to think about whether you prefer to go bolt-on or neck-through. I've had both, and have a slight preference for the bolt-on. To my ears, they are a little punchier and are a little more affordable at the same 'level'.

    For neck-throughs, I've had a few BSR5GN's

    For bolt-ons, I've had BSR5M's and BSR5MW's, and right now I have a CR5MW (CR=Chuck Rainey body shape).

    I've decided I like the mahogany core, with either a walnut top & back (1st choice) or maple top & back (2nd choice).

    I'm sure there are plenty of other great body wood combinations, but I feel the mahogany provides a really good solid foundation.

    I think of the Smith product line like a family tree with two main trunks: bolt-on and neck-through. On each trunk are all the branches for each model or level of bass. A couple of years ago, I was also a little overwhelmed by all the models, but after I started trying to decide what I wanted it began to make more sense.
  15. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    These are good suggestions; I agree with them all. And frankly, the growth of your site is DESPITE its design, not because of it.

    Ken, maybe it is unfair for me to comment on it because in my previous life (I retired a year ago at age 43) I was a fairly successful web professional with a couple of very hard to get nationally recognized awards... but just as your background allows you to notice more about the basses of your competitors than I'd ever notice, my background in web design and usability allows me to notice things about other people's work that they may not. Here are a few REALLY SIMPLE examples of what I mean... (I'll put each of the three as a separate post).
  16. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    THE FOLD - A newspaper is laid out so that what the publisher most wants its customers to see is "above the fold" on the front page. This is a design concept for websites as well. The most important things you want your customers to see should be immediately visible without scrolling at all. Look at Modulus's website. I hate that they force you to listen to a bass when you visit the site (that should be an option you click rather than get force fed it), especially since I don't really care for the tone of that bass, but Modulus has really done a nice job of presenting its information above the fold.
  17. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    CLEAN and ORGANIZED - Your site has far more information on it than Modulus has, which is all the more reason to keep its presentation clean. Just as more paperwork needs a good filing system, the more you want to post on the Internet, the more important the taxonomy of the website. Look at the clean look of Michael Tobias's site and Roger Sadowsky's site. Their clean presentation exudes a professional perception. Unfortunately, both sites lack a consistency of navigation. Lee Barker's site is actually one of the better organized bass maker sites; because the user interface is consistent from page to page.

    And as much as you love wood, the wood backgrounds are far too busy for a website and need to go.

    The opposite of your site might be Roscoe's. In fact, Roscoe's may well be the worst bass maker's site I've ever seen. Sure, its front page has a clean look, but after that there is practically no useful information to be found.
  18. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    ORGANIZED FOR THE CUSTOMER - Who are you customers and what do they want when they go to your site?

    Fodera's site is clean and pretty, and doesn't force us to do too much scrolling below the "fold," but it is very graphics intensive and would load too slowly for someone who doesn't have a broadband connection to the Internet. Normally, I'd call that poor design, but you know what? Anyone who can't afford broadband, can't afford a Fodera, so in the end I'd say that Fodera designed their website knowing their customer.

    I love how Lee Barker's site has sound files (mp3s) so that we can get an idea as to the character of the basses.

    And while I don't care too much for the novice appearance of George Furlanetto's FBass site, at least they alphabetized all their links on the front page to make it easier for the customer to find the sought after link.

    Perhaps the best organized site though, is Modulus again.

    Good online merchantes don't tell the public what they want them to know, they present what it thinks its customers want to find out.

    [FONT=&quot]Anyway, these late night ramblings could have been presented better, but hopefully you see my point anyway. There is a LOT that could be done to improve your site, and the improvements can be done [/FONT]
  19. mike sancho

    mike sancho SANCH

    Feb 10, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I worry that I'd order a lemon,

    I don't think that's a concern. Ken inspects every bass that leaves his shop. I've never heard any horror stories about his basses in terms of the guitars themselves. He builds Killer instruments! Call them and talk with them about the woods you're thinking about. If you know what sound you're looking for they will take care of you. Even if you don't know they can help you with the wood choices.
  20. DougD

    DougD Bassman7654

    Sep 19, 2002
    North Las Vegas NV
    for me the site is information overload. these days people like it straight and to the point. now thats not to say that i wouldnt walk barefoot over broken glass to get a ken smith bass. ya know?

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