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Ken Smith's? Over-rated and over-priced?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bass Case, May 26, 2000.


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  1. Bass Case

    Bass Case

    May 20, 2000
    Just wondering what you guys thought about Smith's. They look and feel good, but is it worth spending $4K+ on a bass. To me, it's like owning a BMW. They don't perform that much better to excuse the cost, so owning one is like a status symbol.
    Eric
     
  2. Ken Smith does make some lower-priced basses. If I was gonna buy a Smith, though, I'd save up and go for the top of the line. When you talk about "Is 4K worth it?", well again that's a question of the marketplace.. the price has been set and if it's worth it to you, then it's worth it. I can tell you from having played a number of Smiths of varying ages that what you're paying for is exceptional craftsmanship and top-notch materials, and in the long run, I would say those things are well worth it. A bass that's well-built is going to perform better and require less maintenance.

    [This message has been edited by Dave Siff (edited May 26, 2000).]
     
  3. TonyS

    TonyS

    Dec 13, 1999
    USA
    Basically, I see it the same way.

    It's been my experience that once you cross the 1000.00 to $1500.00 (street) price point, the differences in instruments is not enough for me to justify the price of a "Boutique" bass.

    On the other hand if money is not an issue ... why not?, some of those things are works of art.

    Tony
     
  4. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i think some ken smith basses look like boat paddles.

    just my opinion.



    ------------------
    john

    strings! strings! i need more strings!
     
  5. PB+J

    PB+J

    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    I had a ken smith four, and I had a long tour of the factory. I think the bolt ons (not the burner series) are an excellent value--extremely well made, well thought out, easy to play. The contsuction is just top-notch. The neck-thrus come with a level of attention to detail that's fantastic, but i think you're mostly paying for a lot of fancy wood, and it's not worth it to me.

    I sold my BSR4j becasue I wanted a five string and the Smith didn't get quite the tone I wanted for soul and R+B. It was a little too much mid-cut

    For under $2000, the Smith BSRJ series is a great value

    PB+J
     
  6. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    The mid cut sound is where the Smiths lose me. They sound great when I'm playing alone but I like low mids and don't want to (actually refuse to) have a bass I "have" to tweak my amp for, live. If it doesn't sound great in the mix with my amp flat, I don't want it.
     
  7. Bass Case,
    Go to this web site; Members.Home.Net/krystalklear. Check out the gallery. You'll see what I've been playing for the past 4 and a half years. Paid $2960.00 for it at Chuck Levins Washington Music. Sounds great whether we're playing soul, mo-town, funk, classic rock, dance, church music, what ever!!!!!!
    If you're in a band that takes its music seriously, been playing a long while, then make the investment in a top-of-the-line instrument. It may be the last bass you will ever need or buy! But then again I'm working on the wife to let me get the 7 string Elite!!!!! Looks like another trip to Perkasie, Pa!!
    Take care!!!!!!
    Chuck

     
  8. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    hey chuck

    if you are serious about getting a custom 7 string, before you drop $6000 - $8000 for a ken smith 7 string, check out conklins. not the groove tools, although they are pretty nice, but the custom shop models. every neck is hand made, every body hand carved, any custom electronics/pickups/synth/string spacing/scale length/body style, along with the cool "melted tops" wood designs. made to your specs and most likely about 1/2 the price that KS is quoting on his site for his 7 strings.

    don't get me wrong, i've tried a ks 7 and thought it was very nice, but not $6000 nice. that's about as much as i paid for this :

    [​IMG]

    in fact, along with the doubleneck, i have 4 custom conklin 7 strings and 2 custom conklin 8 strings, and none of them cost near that much.

    if you would like to check them out:
    http://lordonly.net/lotxtjt1.html

    besides, bill conklin has made more 7's than any other maker, easily, since '92 (i got my first in '93) - from my experience over the past 7 years, conklin necks are the best i've ever seen and played on. they don't float or drift, and hold a tune through all kinds of humidity.

    i have no affiliation with conklin guitars, just a very satisfied customer [​IMG], and i thought i would share.


    ------------------
    john

    strings! strings! i need more strings!

     
  9. Gel

    Gel

    Mar 26, 2000
    Tauranga, New-Zeland
    You really like that double neck don't you [​IMG]
     
  10. Brooks

    Brooks

    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    That double neck is the only one I have ever seen that doesn't look like two basses (or guitars) stuck together. Awesome design.
     
  11. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    gel : yeah, is it that obvious [​IMG] i guess i do pr it pretty often. i hope i don't sound like a broken record [​IMG], then again there _are people in the world who haven't seen it yet, so... [​IMG]

    brooks : yeah, i know what you mean. i actually drew the body and measured out the distances between the necks, where the upper horn should be, the size of the lower horn, and the cutaway on the back. one of the prime concerns when i did this was to make the doubleneck look like one bass, instead of 2, like you said.

    it's a statement to what an excellent craftsman that bill is that he was able to take my drawings and make such a killer bass. i had a few things that were not feasible or wise, which he corrected, while still keeping true to my desires, and the top design is just unbelievable to me, still, 3 1/2 years after i got the thing.

    i joke with him that i am going to come up with something that he can't do, wood wise.

    it's one thing to make the same bass over and over again, just with different woods and #'s of strings, it's another thing altogether to be able to make any body style someone wants, any # of strings, any pickup combination/configuration, fanned/parallel frets, etc.. i keep telling bill that he needs to put pics up on his web site that show all the wild instruments he's done. i've never seen another luthier who's done as many wild designs like bill has.

    ------------------
    john

    strings! strings! i need more strings!

     
  12. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    John - it scares me just to look at that thing! [​IMG]

    Brad - soooaaahhh, you just assume that all rooms are accoustically identical? [​IMG]

     
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Munjibunga:
    Brad - soooaaahhh, you just assume that all rooms are accoustically identical? [​IMG]

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    No..do you [​IMG]

    I had a conversation with a guitarist a while ago, he asked me about my rig. I told him what I used and he proceeded to tell me why it wouldn't work:

    Among other things you "have" to have EQ, 31 band being better than 10 or 11.
    You "have" to use compression otherwise you will sound "peaky".
    The "best" cabinet to use is a 4-10, preferrably Eden.
    All this from a guy who had never heard me play a note. Too funny.

    Here's what I use: Amplified Music Products BH-420 amp. It's about 400w @4ohms, has 4 band semi-parametric EQ, bass, treble and tone controls, a built-in limiter and biamp crossover. Of all of the controls the only one I use is the "Tone" control and I use it sparingly. No limiter, EQ set flat, bass and treble set flat. Really [​IMG]

    With the AMP I use a small 400w 15 cab and a small 210 with tweeter, set flat. I play any of my 11 basses through it and the "ONLY" bass I have to tweak the amp for is my Yamaha TRB6II, which is very light in the low and upper mids, much like IME the Smiths. I had to turn the Tone control towards bass and it sounded more to my liking but not enough. That's why it's on consignment [​IMG] I like the sound of the Smiths more than the Yamaha but, having tried a few live, realize they are not for me. Hey, it happens. They are, however, some of the nicest playing basses I've laid hands on.

    I've also been using an Ampeg B-100R for the last few months and keep it set with Bass and Treble at 5, the Mid controls at 3 and all switches off (except for Power, for you non-rocket scientists [​IMG]).

    I've played hundreds of rooms over the years with the AMP and 99.99997% of the time I don't have to touch it to get the sound I want. I use my basses and my hands. My experience has been that a good bass will sound very good with my rigs live. The exception being playing in a glass atrium with marble walls and a 60ft. glass ceiling. Nothing will sound good in that kind of slapback hell. Play quietly and hope the check clears [​IMG]

    So, who's assuming, Munjibunga [​IMG]
    I've played lots of Smiths...have you?
     
  14. Hey John,
    Damn!!!!!!!!!!! Impressive! Very impressive! From what I can tell from your picture, that's some beautiful wood working. My wife looked at the picture and wants to how heavy your bass is and who's your chiropractor?!?!?!
    What really sold me on the Ken Smith was the fact that Ken was more than willing to spend his time with a "week-end-warrior", as well as the pro!!! He made the wife & I feel very comfortable and welcome. Ken did take a phone call from Mel Davis about a string order, and apologized for the interuption! True, I was spending my money on one of his instruments, but just knowning if I have a problem, I can call Ken and get what ever is needed!
    John, with a bass like that, I'm sure the questions are endless from the people that see you playing it. Now I understand what you mean by your "strings" statement.
    If your ever in the Baltimore area, look up the band KRYSTAL KLEAR! Like to buy ya a beer!
    Take Care!!!
    Chuck
     
  15. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Chuck:
    Hey John,
    Damn!!!!!!!!!!! Impressive! Very impressive! From what I can tell from your picture, that's some beautiful wood working. My wife looked at the picture and wants to how heavy your bass is and who's your chiropractor?!?!?!


    actually, the doubleneck weighs about 30 lbs, but it isn't as bad as it seems. i wear it fairly high, and the weight seems to be more supported by my chest (and gut [​IMG] ) than by my shoulder. besides, i still get an adrenalin rush everytime i play it 3 1/2 years after i got it. i usually play about 1/2 our gig on it, and i usually don't feel it till about 4 hours afterwards.


    What really sold me on the Ken Smith was the fact that Ken was more than willing to spend his time with a "week-end-warrior", as well as the pro!!! He made the wife & I feel very comfortable and welcome. Ken did take a phone call from Mel Davis about a string order, and apologized for the interuption!


    that was the same thing that appealed to me about conklin. i first called over there, and bill conklin answered the phone, and talked to me for about an hour. then, after i got a catalog, he again talked to me about woods, pickups, and other things. i hadn't even sent him any money yet, and he was taking alot of time out to talk to me. i've really appreciated that approach from him, and the fact that he treats everybody the same. he doesn't charge me $3000 for a bass, and then give one away to some "pro" who asks for it. there have been a few pro guys who basically paid him their 20% to start their instrument, and then when the bass was done, they didn't want to pay anymore for it, since they were "pros" they should get it for 20% of his quoted price. those guys ended up without a bass.


    John, with a bass like that, I'm sure the questions are endless from the people that see you playing it.


    actually, believe it or not, 99% of the questions that i've gotten over the past 3 1/2 years (and 6 or 7 namm shows) have been

    1) how much does it cost

    2) how much does it weigh

    3) who is my chiropractor (believe it or not [​IMG])


    Now I understand what you mean by your "strings" statement.

    yeah, between my 2xneck, and my single neck 7 and 8 strings, i go through a _SH!T_ load of strings every few months. thank god i get them direct from markley, or i would be bankrupt. [​IMG]


    If your ever in the Baltimore area, look up the band KRYSTAL KLEAR! Like to buy ya a beer!
    Take Care!!!
    Chuck
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    wow, thanks for the offer. i tried your web site, but it didn't come up. i would like to check it out, so let me know when it is working.

    ------------------
    john

    strings! strings! i need more strings!



    [This message has been edited by john turner (edited May 29, 2000).]
     
  16. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    I've got three Smith basses and think they are certainly worth what they cost. I have a BT-6G, BSR-6P and a BSRJ5MW. They all record well and I can always get a great sound on a gig with the 3 band EQ.

    I'm sure that Smith basses are not for everyone but they are the ticket for me. I use Demeter and Alembic preamps with a Stewart power amp into an Eden 410XLT. Sounds great!
     
  17. Saint

    Saint

    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Dave Siff:
    Ken Smith does make some lower-priced basses. If I was gonna buy a Smith, though, I'd save up and go for the top of the line. When you talk about "Is 4K worth it?", well again that's a question of the marketplace.. the price has been set and if it's worth it to you, then it's worth it. I can tell you from having played a number of Smiths of varying ages that what you're paying for is exceptional craftsmanship and top-notch materials, and in the long run, I would say those things are well worth it. A bass that's well-built is going to perform better and require less maintenance.

    [This message has been edited by Dave Siff (edited May 26, 2000).]
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Couldn't have said it any better myself. I bought my BSR4M from Chuck Levin's a mere month ago and it is awsome. I don't understand the problem folks have with the tones on the Smith --maybe it's something with the J-series as opposed to the M-series.
    I tried out MTD, Alembic, Modulus, Tobias, multiple Warwicks, Stingray & Sterling, Spector, Peavey, PRS, G&L and others before I got my Smith. The Smith had by far the broadest range of sounds (passive & active), the most quiet, and was right up there with the Stingray for growl. In terms of slap, it had by far the best slap tones of any of the basses. And, while it was $1650 (w/ case & other goodies included), only the Music Man matched it in bang for the buck.

    As for looks, John T.'s bass is beautiful, but I love the look and feel of my Smith, too. I'll take the oil-rubbed wood look of my walnut & tiger maple, gold hardware, pao-ferro fretboard Smith (or my natural ash Ric 4003) any day over a cluncky, painted Fender!
     
  18. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Saint:
    I'll take the oil-rubbed wood look of my walnut & tiger maple, gold hardware, pao-ferro fretboard Smith (or my natural ash Ric 4003) any day over a cluncky, painted Fender!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    he11 yeah, on that one! i completely concur.

    personally i think the word "Fender" is Danish or German for "clunky" [​IMG]

    ------------------
    john

    strings! strings! i need more strings!

     
  19. John, try http://members.home.net/krystalklear
    If that don't work, E-mail me at cngruby@netzero.net
    and I'll have our web master e-mail you back with thw correct address!!
    Take Care!!!!!!
    Chuck


     
  20. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    hey chuck

    got through. your bass looks very cool - looked at the pics from new years eve 2000 - nice top, looks like walnut - very nice. much nicer than most of the ken smiths that i have seen, although i do like the way melvin davis's 7 looks. most smiths look like boat paddles to me, but that may on other body styles than yours - i like the bottom edge being sort of slanted (ala jazz bass) vs. the "straight" bottom edge (ala p-bass).

    anyway, thanks

    nice suit too. [​IMG], just kidding.

    ------------------
    john

    strings! strings! i need more strings!

     



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