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Opinions/Insights on Ken Smith Burners

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Hollow Man, Jul 5, 2005.


  1. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    Hey all, I recently stumbled upon my first Ken Smith Burner (a 6-string model), and although I was only able to play it for a few short minutes, I was really impressed with it. The build seemed solid, the response was very even, and it seemed like it had a very aggressive, modern tone. I understand that it has been discontinued, but even so, I'd like as much information as I can get on these basses. What features/options was it offered with, and what do you more knowledgeable people think of them? How hard are they to find on the used market, and what is a reasonable price for them (I'd be interested in owning a 6'er, if anything)? I've only been able to find bits and pieces of conversations about them here on TB (although maybe I'm looking in the wrong places).
     
  2. I had a Burner 4 that had excellent workmanship and playability. It was extremely light too. The pick-ups were weak but that would've been pretty easy to replace (J style) I wouldn't hesitate to purchace one based on my experience. I sold mine for $430. on E-Bay. It was a good day for someone!
     
  3. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Is this the one at Atomic?
     
  4. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    No, actually, I had the occasion to sell a cab to a fellow TB'er in NJ this past weekend, and he owned one. I was really impressed with it, but I know absolutely zero about the line. This one was 6 strings, bolt-on, with two-band EQ, and I believe it had a rosewood fretboard and was 34" scale. Much more than that, I can't say. Does anyone know if these are all standard features, or if there are other versions/options? Also, I thought I remembered this one having soapbar pickups, but maybe they were just thicker J's. Anyone else have any information or experience?
     
  5. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    The burners were Japanese made basses during the early 90's. During the late 80s/early 90s the exchange rates made it profitable to make instruments in Japan. Fender did these as well as high end manufacturers such as Tobias and Ken Smith. Tobias and Ken Smith took an approach that Sadowsky is taking now with the metro. Basically, offering a standard issue instrument that is representative of what is most common to the line.
    The instrument used all of the Smith electronics and hardware of the time and I think all had soapbars. The only thing I think was a little different was the size of the neck. I have a friend that has a burner and I've compared it to my KS and there is definitely a difference. Mine is a little more aggressive, but I'm not sure of the woods used to make his bass

    Most of the ones I have seen have been solid colors with the black headstock. Great basses... All setup was done by the Ken Smith factory
     
  6. DanGouge

    DanGouge

    May 25, 2000
    Canada!
    I have a Burner 4, it's black with Smith jazz-style pickups. It's been nothing but a solid reliable bass for me.
     
  7. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    I had a Burner 5 for years. The build-quality was solid. It was a very nice bass. I was not really taken with the two band preamp and the string spacing drove me nuts. I sold it last year to fund my Bongo.
     
  8. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    Thanks guys, keep it coming. What type of options were offered as far as wood combinations for the body, neck, and fretboard? Also, what's a rough estimate of a decent used price on a 6'er? If I found one of these floating around, I'd likely pick it up, but since there aren't many around (at least, not that I've found), I wouldn't know a good price from a bad one.
     
  9. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    Anyone else with an opinion on Burners?
     
  10. caruso

    caruso

    Jun 13, 2005
    Bremen, Germany
    I think Ken Smith is a member. PN him, maybe he can help you out.
     
  11. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    Sound advice; will do so. In the meantime, please don't be shy about expressing opinions... there have to be more of you out there who have tried these babies out.
     
  12. Bassosaurus

    Bassosaurus

    Aug 27, 2005
    I had one of the first burner 5-strings. I loved that basses sound and the way it played (though the string spaceing was a bit tight for slapping). Susstained like crazy and pups had the sound of the high end Kens - crazy but clear lows!

    Unfortunately it was before he decided to balance the basses and it suffered from neck -dive. If it didn't, I'd have it today for sure. If you find one, I'd make sure it has the extended upper horn (which they did eventually go to in this series) - unless you sit all the time or balance dosn't bother you.

    Mine had a Swamp ash body, morado fingerboard, maple neck, black headstock overlay, blk hardware. I think it was offered in Maple too.

    After a year or two they expanded the line to include more many combinations of different body woods - pretty much, if not exactly, like they do no w/ the bolt ons.

    Thing is, I paid around $1k for mine (? it's been a while ?) new. Now they don't even start less than about $2500!!!

    I would love to find another five w/ the extended horn, but there's no way I'd pay that much.