Looking for a Six String Smith Alternative? Roscoe?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Damian Coccio, Oct 22, 2006.

  1. Damian Coccio

    Damian Coccio

    Feb 7, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Fodera Guitars
    Hey Folks,
    Ive always been a follower & admirer of TB forums, the knowledge base and experience here is huge and when I need it this is where I go!

    So here is my dilema. I am a relatively small guy with small hands who is insisting playing fingerstyle on a six string bass. Ive had Smith BSR6EG for about 5 years I guess. Its a great bass with amazing tone (especially in the high registers) that always inspires me. After 30 min or so of playing I always get alot of left wrist fatigue, I think becuse the neck is so wide. I have tried modifying position, pressure and action on the bass without success. I used to have a very comfortable peavey cirrus which had decent tone, but sold it to get the smith.

    So here is the question: does any body have experience with Smiths and their tone that can suggest a more comfortable (tighter string spacing) six that has great tone. Im now looking into Roscoes and it felt pretty comfortable, but I dont want to sacrifice that fat, warm smith tone. I wish Ken Could make me the bass I speak of! Any input is much appreciated.

  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Inactive Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Are you using 1-2-4 or 1-2-3-4 fingering on your left hand below the 12th fret?

    1-2-4 usually fixes that problem and helps with your speed, accuracy and cleanlyness as far as fret noise goes.
  3. Damian Coccio

    Damian Coccio

    Feb 7, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Fodera Guitars

    Hi Ken, Nice to see you are here for support! Enjoyed the visit earlier this spring and still loving the BRS4GN I picked up; total butter to play, no wrist issue there.

    Back to the six: My fingering varies 1234, 124, 123, etc, however, I am using it mostly to play alot in the upper registers; chords, melodies, etc. Below the 12th fret, the B string is kinda off limits, unless I flat finger, due to my wrist having to bend which I try to avoid as much as possible.

    Any body have advice on getting hold of a six with tighter string spacing? Probably not looking to replace the smith, because something tells me the tone just isnt going even similar on another bass...
  4. Groovin


    May 25, 2006
    Wash, D.C.
    IMO, your not going to get a "Smith" tone from any other bass... BUT having said that you can get a great tone with better erg for you from several other companies.

    I also have very small hands and from my experience, my Kinal or a Roscoe are the most hand friendly basses made. The necks are a very small profile on both and you can customize the string spacing on either model. I eventually will be adding a Roscoe to my collection for the same reasons you mention. Good luck.
  5. Joe BassPlayer

    Joe BassPlayer Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    The only 6 string Ken Smith I've played was at a music store. It was definitely wider than a Roscoe 3006 but I was still impressed at how well it played.
    I've owned 3 Roscoe 3006 basses and IMO they have the most playable 6-string neck out there.
    I bought the first one and kept it for about 4 months (just long enough to start feeling comfortable with it). A few months later I started missing the 6 and thought maybe I gave up on it too soon so I took the plunge again.
    They say history repeats itself and it did, 2 more times!
    In the end the 6 string just wasn't for me as I just don't use the high C enough to justify one. I really dug the sound of the Roscoe 6 though. IMO the added mass of the neck phattens up the tone.
  6. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    JMHO, but I don't think going from a 34" Smith to something 35" would help your wrist fatigue. Maybe a 33" would help.
  7. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    The can be a lot of reasons for left wrist fatigue. It could be the width of the neck, but you should be able to make the needed adjustments. Maybe you could show us an image of your playing position; or even better, a video (if that's possible).

  8. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Look at some of the nicer Ibanezes. I don't think their spacing is a close as it used to be, but I know the one Gerald Veasley uses has very close spacing. A Peavey Cirrus has close spacing and sounds very close to a Ken Smith, the build quality is comparable also IMO.
  9. Sean Baumann

    Sean Baumann Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2000
    Livin' in the USA
    Maybe Ken can make you one with narrower sting spacing? I think you'll have equal, if not more, issue w/ the Roscoe. I had alot of trouble reaching the first fret on my LG-3005. Sounded awesome, but just didn't fit me well at all. I find the SKB body style even more uncomfortable. The newer century may work out better for me though.
  10. Damian Coccio

    Damian Coccio

    Feb 7, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Fodera Guitars
    Hey Joe,
    Thanks for the thoughts. Im pretty sure its the small hands comb. with wide neck, becuase other six's didnt seem to cause the pains. Granted I can make the adjustment, but to reach the B and E strings I have to comprimise playing style an awful lot by flat fingering to keep my wrist straight. Even the upper registers have caused me some difficulty. Im pretty set on trying another six with narrower spacing. If the problem persists, im going to have to reevaluate how Im playing; I totally agree.
  11. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Inactive Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    From what I read here you say that the B is useless 'below' the 12th fret? Well in my opinion the Low 'B' is kinda pointless 'above' the 5th Fret. This is a Bass we are talking about, no? I think what you should get is a 5 string and tune it with a high C. The Basses we make are just that, Basses with extended range and not really intended as a 24/7 'guitar' with a deeper tone. The Low B string was not intended to be played up the fingerboard all the way like the G and D. The E string has always been a problem past the 12th fret anyway with magnetic pull/feed back from the pickups and intonation problems from this and the change in length as you 'choke' the string. The 'B' is equally worse from its thickness and pitch.
  12. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    Contributor- Bass Musician Magazine
    I've played basses where the B string sounded great up to the octave and beyond. Since I know they can sound good, I have come to expect that in a bass. I have also played some wonderful basses where that was not the case at all, and I never really know what to attribute that to.

    Why shouldn't you be able to play the B string past the fifth fret? The G on the B string has a very different sound than the G on the E string, and thats a tonal color that should be functionally available on a good bass. Like I said, since I've played a few basses where they did sound good and held good pitch up there, I have come to hold that as an expectation in a quality instrument.

    I would like to know what makes it work on some basses and not work on others though....
  13. Damian Coccio

    Damian Coccio

    Feb 7, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Fodera Guitars
    I agree, Im not trying to imply that there is a design issue here. I dont usually use the B below the 5th, 6th or 7th fret. What I am saying is that reaching the B and E strings is difficult for my small hands without significant bending of the wrist and problems. The upper registers are tough too if I stray from G, D and C strings.

    Now I have considered getting a 5 and tuning it eadgc; That makes tons of sense, but I have to give up the B. If I would have only done that when I bought the BSR4GN earlier this spring...

    Im not giving up on a six yet & I dont mind owning another if I find a really comfortable one. I couldnt ever sell my Smiths though.

    Thanks again!
  14. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    You can put an extender key on that 5-string high-C bad boy. I've often thought of going 5 string with a high C; but like you, I don't want to give up that B string.

  15. Vlasco


    Aug 23, 2006
    North Dakota
    You can try out a Tune twb63. The reason I bought the 43 and that I'll probably buy the 63 is that the necks are extremely thin, they're very cheap to buy, and sound far far better than their price range (800 I think). You just have to pay attention on the C string, it's a bit close to the edge. I believe that Sam Ash is their only retailer though, so if you don't live near one you're out of luck on that.
  16. I played a Ken Smith 6 string the other day at a music store for about half an hour and it was nice, but the action was a little high and i found it difficult to reach the higher frets. I would high recomend a dingwall 6 string, because the neck is thinner than the Ken Smith, and the playability is great
  17. malicous


    Apr 25, 2006
    Los Angeles
    How about a custom bass like a Nordstrand, with narrower spacing and a shorter scale length, with Smith piickups?
  18. Damian Coccio

    Damian Coccio

    Feb 7, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Fodera Guitars
    Thanks for everyones input, helpful as always. I decided to try a used Roscoe SKB-3006. I found A nice one in great condition. Should be here tomorrow. Since Im set on keeping the smith for now, the family just became one larger. Ill check back in with some pics and clips and a report on the left hand status!
  19. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Sometimes you're the dog, sometimes the tree Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Palm Coast, FL
    Good decision - keep the Smith! Best wishes with your wrist/hand issues.

    You might want to get a copy of the Peter Murray book on bass ergonomics and check your positioning.

    Dan K.
  20. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    I really like the Roscoe neck profile but the SKB is a bad design ergonomically. Not only is it a 35" scale (longer than your Smith) but it's a longer reach to the first few frets because the upper horn doesn't reach far enough. I can't see this being the answer. If Ken won't make you a custom bass with different specs (which I can understand) than you may want to look at Roscoe if you dig the one that's on the way. I'd suggest a 33" scale length with a 17mm string spacing. They can do it where you'll still have a great sounding B string. I will say that the first and most important thing to look at though is your technique. Where are you located?

    Abe Laboriel had his Tyler basses made with a thinner string spacing years ago because he was having trouble with his hands. I've read about other bass players that turned to 5 strings for the thinner necks because they were having issues. Some things to consider. I believe that any well designed bass with a thinner strings spacing (17mm) would be helpful though.
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