MTD 535 vs Smith BSR5GN

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BigLoopDuke, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. BigLoopDuke


    Jan 2, 2007
    DSM, IA
    I've decided that I want to get a higher end bass. I've owned a lot of nice basses over the years, but nothing that I would consider boutique'ish. I've played everything from current and vintage Fenders, Spectors, a MTD KZX, Warwicks, Ibanez, Deans, EBMM's, etc. I've had GAS fever and gone through close to 40 basses in the past 15 years, but most frequently I've settled on Spectors. At the moment, I have an early 70's Fender p-bass.

    I'm thinking about a 5-string. I play mostly funk and hip-hop. If you would have asked me a few weeks ago what bass was in my sights, I would have easily said an MTD 535. But, recently, I started to think about Smiths. I'm not as familiar and I don't have access to a Smith anywhere near me.

    I see both basses mentioned in the same threads frequently. Both seems to have favor among praise/worship bassists and both sound amazing. But, what I'm not finding is sort of a side-by-side comparison of what differentiates both.

    What are the considerations I should take in comparing a 535 to a BSR5GN?
  2. Owned and gigged both a 5 string Smith (they all sound VERY similar, even with different wood combinations) and both an Ash/wenge and an ash/ash MTD 535 (which sounded a bit different from each other).

    The classic MTD tone is an ash or tulipwood body with a wenge neck. That is the tone you hear from Norm Stockton. HUGE low end, relaxed upper mids, BIG treble extension way beyond 8K, giving you that classic upper treble sizzle in your slap tone. The ash/ash (and quite frankly, all the 'non-wenge' models) have more going on in the upper mids, and sound a touch more 'standard' and a bit closer to a more J Bass type thing, while still having that big MTD low end.

    The Smith is all about low mid burp (due to the pickup location close to the bridge...even the neck pickup), and a unique upper treble 'ping' to the attack (i.e., no matter what the fretboard material, the Smiths all sound like they have an ebony board.. that unique ping, almost like hitting a 'triangle' at the beginning of the note attack. Just like the wenge MTD 'sounds like an MTD', the Smith sound is just as unique. The Smith neck profile is VERY flat and thin, and the string spacing is, I believe, a tighter 18mm versus the full 19mm spacing of the MTD (at least mine was, and most that I play). With the Smith, I would HIGHLY recommend a model with the series/parallel switches, since that gives you a bit more tonal power.

    The MTD's are unusual in that they use special 'active' versions of Bartolini soapbars. So, no preamp bypass/passive mode. The Smith uses the more standard passive pickups with a preamp.

    All good stuff. There are MANY clips of the classic Smith tone and the classic MTD tones on this site in the mega threads. Check them out.

    If you are leaning toward that mid present tone of the Smith, you might also consider a Sadowsky Modern 5. Similar 'close to the bridge' pickup location, and a similar round, low mid, burpy tone, with a more traditional top end (versus the unique 'ping' of the Smith).

    IMO and IME.
  3. Note, Smith does make a more 'J style' model, with J pickups in standard J position. That, of course, is a different thing, and again sounds a bit more, well, J like.
  4. atrapp


    Dec 4, 2006
    Portland, OR
    NICE Ken... you've managed my gas for a Smith, Roger scores again - and oh I dig my 5/24.

    On that note comparing the Sadowsky 5/24 to a MTD 535/24 quite different basses indeed. Both are impeccably well made basses, the MTD has the classic Tobias comfort fit neck ie contoured to meet your hand - thicker on the bass side of the neck, 35" scale and I did not know the pups are truly active - must investigate this. My MTD has a spalt/quilt maple top with hickory body and neck w/birds eye board. The tone is fairly mellow and well balanced. The Sadowsky 5/24 is one of my main club gigging basses (w/my Sado NYC V5) and I absolutely dig it! Its fat, aggressive, likes to punch you in the gut, sounds great with most any amp/cab combination and doesn't look like it could double as a coffee table or wall clock - ie it's painted black.
    To the OP, not meant to derail, rather to give some insight into Ken's comment.

  5. +1 I describe both the Smith and Sadowsky Modern model as basses that have 'a lot of space between the notes'. Very 'bap, bap, bap, attack and 'roundness' in the low end that results in them being very articulate. They both (at least with both pickups on) always have that 'playing close to the bridge' sort of percussive attack and low mid/upper bass bottom, versus the much wider, deeper MTD sort of vibe.
  6. BigLoopDuke


    Jan 2, 2007
    DSM, IA
    That definitely gives me something to consider. My main amp is a Genz Benz Shuttle 6.0 that goes through a GB 2x12 cab.
  7. jjk2007

    jjk2007 Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Austin, TX
  8. DGbass70


    Jun 1, 2005
    Rochester N.Y.
    Hey Mike....long time no see.
    I really like the MTD but also like the i also recommend Roscoe,check them out on Y.T. or here on the forum where they have clips (sound/video).