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KMD 5 vs G&L Tribute 5-string???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dgce, Jul 22, 2005.


  1. dgce

    dgce

    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    Ken Smith Design 70's model (maple board/ash body) 5 string looks really really nice but I’ve never actually tried one. But I also dig the G&L Tribute 5s with maple board (blueburst, baby!) as well and I've actually tried a few out.

    So, has anyone out there done and A/B testing on these models? Which would you recommend?

    thanks,

    r
     
  2. DavePlaysBass

    DavePlaysBass

    Mar 31, 2004
    CO
    The necks will probably feel very different. The KSD is a 35" and the G&L is a tight 34". Sort of like a P-bass neck with 5 strings. You probably need to play them standing up to make an educated choice.

    I owned a G&L for a while and I would bet they will have a lot more different tones but none of the G&L tones are a jazz bass tone if that's what you like (and I do). I look at the G&L as a sort of Stingray, sort of P bass, sort of Jazz bass but sort of its own thing. The KSD will most likely sound like a modern J bass.

    I would also consider a 60's KSD. If you are a slapper teh 70's seems logical, if you are a finger player, alder and rosewood are worth checking out.

    Dave
     
  3. i vote G&L
     
  4. dgce

    dgce

    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    Thanks a lot Dave. I did not consider the varying scale lengths here. I figure the low B string will be more happening with that 35” scale on the KSD. Then again the G&L (34”) does have a string through body option.

    I'm in western Mass but I get down to NYC from time to time. I think I need to plan a trip to Manhattan's West 48 Street (guitar heaven or hell depending on how you look at it). I'm sure I could find both models there if not in the same shop.

    I'm a G&L man and own an ASAT bass. I think the Tributes have great bang for the buck and I'm familiar with the preamp/pickup set up. But, gezz, those KSDs looks so classy. I haven't tried one but I get the sense that they're real quality axes with great attention to detail. And though I'm sure the 60's sunburst/alder model is nice, I'm really partial to the 70's axe. Some photos have shown the 70s KMD with really nice grain. I like ash married to a maple board.

    Okay, so next stop, W48th Street, NYC. Then again, could there be ANYBODY out there who’s tried both out?

    r
     
  5. zac2944

    zac2944 Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    I own a KSD (BTW, it's not "KMD") 70's 5 string, and I have played regular american made G&L basses. It's not quite the A/B you're looking for, but if the Tributes are anything like the real thing than it might be worth comparing. The G&L that I have the most experience with is the 2500, the one with the 2 pickups.

    Tone: Both basses have there own tones that are fairly different. The KSD has a sparkle to the high end that IMO gives it that characteristic 70's jazz sound. I think it sounds a lot like Marcus Miller's tone. I love the KSD for slap. When you really dig in with finger style on the KSD it has a nice "bark" to it. The G&L is not as bright, but much fuller sounding. For fingerstyle is has more growl than the KSD. You can slap on the G&L. I prefer a classic jazz-bass slap tone, but the G&L isn't bad, it's a thicker slap tone.

    Feel and playability: The KSD is a big bass. Not only is the scale longer, but the rest of the bass feels equally larger than your standard Fender 34" scale jazz bass. I personally like it. I am able to play 3-4 hour gigs with it and not get fatigued. The G&L feels smaller and is a very comfortable bass. I never gigged with the G&L, just jammed on it at a friends houes a bunch of times. I never had any playablilty issues with it.

    If and when you get to play both basses I think that you will quickly favor one of the other. Both are great basses, but have a different feel and tone.
     
  6. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    It is actually a KSD and not kmd....(Who is 'M' ? :cool: ).. But as far as the 60s or 70s for Slap.. Please don't eat with your eyes!! You must taste the difference between the Two models if at all possible. The 60s will have a bit more sustain than the 70s and more sweetness as well. The 70s has more bite and dryer sounding due to the Ash/Maple combination. The 70s is the favorite by looks but don't discoun't the 60s until you have compared them both. Also, try to do the demo with a similar Amp to the one you own soundwise. This will cut down on suprises down the road...If you can only try out one of them and you like what's in your hands, go with it.

    Actually, they do not differ as much in sound as they do in looks.. Happy hunting.........Ken
     
  7. Alexander

    Alexander

    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I've tried both - when I was looking for a mid-priced 5 string, I looked at the two you mentioned alongside the Lakland 55-01. Had em all lined up in front of a DB750 at BassNW. I went with the Tribute. The two basses you are looking at sound very VERY different in my opinion, so it should be easy for you to determine the one you personally like the most. The KSD had that Fender-ish jazz bass vibe while the Tribute was much different. The KSD I tried was especially noisy for some reason and the hum was worse than on other jazz basses I've tried (though it could have just been the environment). The Tribute is a very aggressive sounding bass with very hot humbucking pickups - the tone is big, fat and growly with somewhat nasaly mids. Also is very tight and punchy. The highs aren't as clear as you would find on the KSD and I think the KSD's slap tone wins hands down. I think "simple is better" in most circumstances and initially found the Tribute's switches and knobs to be a bit cumbersome, especially when you add a parametric EQ, room dynamics, etc. There is a lot to play with, but once you get used to dialing it in, you find there are a lot of great tones in that bass. And the sound of the B is absolutley huge.

    I also liked the overall feel of the Tribute better, although the string spacing seems too tight for my taste (I'm mainly a four string player). Cannot remember how it compares to the KSD. As for construction, I would have to give it up to the KSD. All of the Tributes I tried had minor, yet obvious construction flaws (cracks in the finish or scratchy pots, mainly). I think these are known issues though and I hope G&L has taken steps to fix them. I actually went back to the store a couple of times to find one in inventory that I wanted to buy.

    I liked the fact that the Tribute used USA made electronics. The guys at BassNW (whom I trust) said you couldn't tell any difference between the Tribute and the USA made G&L. They are obviously very different in construction (I think the USA ones are beautifully done), but tonally very similar if not exactly the same.

    Anyway, I hope you find the bass that suits you the best.
     
  8. zac2944

    zac2944 Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    I have to agree with the two descriptions. They feel different and sound different. I bought a KSD because I wanted that Fender-ish type of tone. If you know what you're looking for it will be an easy decision. If not, close your eyes, listen, and go with what moves you. Sometimes you just have to play them.
     
  9. dgce

    dgce

    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    Wow, now this is what I call a happening thread when Ken Smith himself gives us a holler. Cool. And thanks a lot for the additional info (Zac, Dave, Alex). This really helps a lot.

    BTW, sorry about the misnomer (KMD). As it so happens, I have an old, downtrodden KMD 4x10 bass cab. Guess I bumped my head or something.

    Anywho, as I’ve been playing a G&L ASAT bass for 8 years or so, I’m quite comfy with the slightly confusing whistles and bells on their basses. The Tribute setup is just like the domestic models. Their pickups are the same as the domestic line as well but the hardware and preamp are imported. And yes, those humbuckers are definitely on the aggressive side (I like!). However, I’m concerned about the more cramped conditions on that 5-string board of the Tributes. With all the praise about the slap tone of the KSD, I take it slap feel is just as welcoming with a fingerboard leaves ya plenty of room to romp, no? This is quite inviting to a guy who’s never played a 5 string before. I have long fingers and reckon I can manage the 35” scale length.

    Well there’s no getting around it; I’ll hit Rudy’s on W48th Street in NYC. I’ve seen a 70s KSD 4 string in there about a year ago. With any luck they’ll have a 5 (and if I’m really lucky they’ll have both the 60s and 70s model—though it’s that 70s I’m really jones’n for—Marcus, Marcus, Marcus!!!). I’m sure Manny’s and/or Sam Ash will have the G&L Tributes though a side by side test would be nice. I’ll even have a look at the Lakland Skylines if they’re handy, but I must admit I’m quite set on either the KSD 70 or Tribute.

    You guys are the best!

    R
     
  10. Alexander

    Alexander

    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Let us know what you think once you've had the opportunity to take them for a spin! I didn't look at your profile before and so didn't realize you had the ASAT in your arsenal already. In that case, I would lean toward the KSD - I'm a Jazz bass guy personally and the Tribute compliments my MIA Jazz nicely. The jazz gets most of my time, but it is good to have a different tool in case the situation comes up.

    If I had a G&L already, I'd lean toward a 5 string jazz. If you're thinking slap especially and if you think the tight string spacing of the Tribute would bring you down, then that would push me toward KSD.