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Poll: Vintage Ken Smith BT5/CR5 or New Fodera Emperor Standard Classic 5 ??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by L. L. Elwood, Jan 25, 2021.

  1. Vintage Smith BT5/CR5

  2. Foderal Emperor Standar Classic 5

  1. L. L. Elwood

    L. L. Elwood Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2004
    This year, i'm going to buy a higher end bass. I have my mind set on one of these two. I've researched the heck out of lot's of higher end brands and I'm going to buy either a Vintage ('85-'94)Ken Smith BT5 or CR5.. Depends on which one pops up for sale first and condition..


    A new or newer Fodera Emperor Standard Classic 5. These are easier to find and a bit more $$$ but that doesn't matter.

    I've played both and both work very well for my style of playing, they both have totally unique attributes visually and sonically, but both would work for me.

    I'm curious, which would you choose and why??

    Screenshot 2021-01-22 at 4.42.05 PM.png Emperor5 Classic BlackandMaple.jpg
    roogbass and lowdownthump like this.
  2. lowdownthump


    Jul 17, 2004
    If get the Fodera. Sounds more traditional like a Fender and get modern tones as well.
    Appeals to my eyes more as well.
  3. Mastodon2


    Feb 27, 2008
    Maybe I'm biased... q0cW3qR.jpg
    ElMon, gebass6 and Ronen like this.
  4. TrevorG

    TrevorG Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    That's a REALLY hard choice!! Never heard a Ken Smith I didn't love. The Fodera's versatility is amazing. They're both quite heavy and I would go for the lighter one. I prefer the look of the Fodera. If that was lighter too that would be my choice.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
  5. L. L. Elwood

    L. L. Elwood Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2004
    B E A U T I F U L . Let me know if you ever wish to part with that beauty.
    Drocdbase likes this.
  6. Ronen


    Feb 9, 2003
    Milky Way Galaxy
    Beautiful! You bought that one from Ped, right?
  7. Mastodon2


    Feb 27, 2008
    I certainly did - I also ordered an Eich Bass Board after trying his out when I picked the Smith up, it was an expensive trip! He offered me a chance to buy the 1984 four string that Scott Devine of Scott's Bass Lessons now owns.

    My tenuous connection to Scott Devine continues through my Pedulla, which Scott played in his "30 boutique basses" video thing he did a while back.

    To respond to an earlier post in the thread, Smith basses aren't heavy either, at least mine isn't. It's a featherweight compared to some of the exotic wood backbreakers that I own! Their thin body design means they don't have as much mass as you might expect and they balance very nicely despite the short horns.
    Ronen likes this.
  8. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    The Ken Smith offers a distinctive tone while the Fodera you like very much sounds like a Fender Jazz. As a former Smith owner, I would go with a Smith.
  9. Brother Goose

    Brother Goose The Process IS the Reward! Supporting Member

    Dec 4, 2013
    Syracuse NY
    God Is Love
    Dr. Cheese nailed it. There are plenty of mutant jazz basses out there but a Smith is very distinctive.
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  10. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    To be fair, the Peavey Cirrus ( and to a lesser degree, the Forum Ax) and the Sadowsky Modern sound very much like Ken Smiths too.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
  11. L. L. Elwood

    L. L. Elwood Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2004
    Interesting. I didn't know that about the Cirrus.
  12. GHOST AT


    May 24, 2011
    Construction and playability in Fodera's and Smith's are top notch. If this were my decision It would be solely on tone preference.
    Can't go wrong with either !
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  13. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    All things being equal, I would probably lean towards the Smith ...but they're not equal, OP is talking about a 25-35 year old Smith versus a new (or almost new) Fodera. If you're really talking brand new, as in I'm-the-original-owner new, I'd have a hard time not choosing the Fodera just for piece of mind.

    But that may be because I've once had to take advantage of the lifetime warranty for original owner policy of another boutique brand, so I may be a little gun-shy when it comes to very old, very expensive instruments.
  14. SgtHulka

    SgtHulka Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2019
    Fort Arnold
    I agree. Ken Smith is rooted in great builds, killer sound, a real legacy and collectability. Fodera's are nice, and I even prefer the looks of this one, but Fodera is starting to feel a little like high end McDonald's to me.
    Mastodon2 likes this.
  15. L. L. Elwood

    L. L. Elwood Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2004
    Great point. Hadn't really spent too much time thinking about that. Also, if I were to buy a 30-year-old Smith ... who knows what condition it will be in. Photographs are one thing but frets, playability, truss rods etc are another once you get it in your hands and you start putting it through the paces. I used BT or CR will probably run somewhere in the range of 2500 to 3500 if I'm lucky I believe. That is a lot of cash to throw down with a question mark behind it. Thanks for making this point I really appreciate it.
  16. What’s your #1 bass right now?
    What features make it the first bass you grab?
    Does the Ken Smith or the Fodera have any of those characteristics?

    I’ve got some very nice high end gear but simply prefer my vintage P for most of my gigs these today’s.
  17. L. L. Elwood

    L. L. Elwood Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2004
    Groove Doctor,

    I have 3 basses that I use currently for different things:

    -1969 P Bass with super old dead strings (10+ years) when I want that super thumpy old "wood" sound.
    -2011 Classic 50s P Bass that's really dialed in and sounds great for more modern stuff.
    -A franken Fretless active P with Fender Elite Electronics/pickups and a Tony Franklin unlined neck. I use this on most of my live gigs.

    So all 4 string Fenders. I play the Mexican 50s P the most. It's beautiful (Black/Maple). It feels, plays and sounds GREAT for slap, rock, blues, just playing around the house, solo noodling and song writing...It's a joy to play. Also it's the lightest of the 3 basses.

    The Fodera as mentioned above, to me does really have that modern fender sound with a bit more grit and growl. I've been thinking about getting an active fretted bass for a long time. I LOVE Fodera's company culture and commitment to greatness in each and every bass they produce. So the Fodera has some familiar fender aspects that I feel like I can count on.. The similar sound, The soloed neck pickup sounds really close to a P bass too. It has 19mm string spacing which is good for my style of playing.

    The Smith... Every Smith I've ever touched absolutely speaks to me the same way.. It feels like it was made for me. They're the easiest, fastest playing basses I've ever tried. They've always been a little out of reach for me until recently. I don't love the old school boutique aesthetic of the smith as much as the Fodera, but, the sound and playability is so good that that doesn't matter. The smith doesn't really overlap with the Fenders at all to me. But they're so unique and such a joy to play, i'm obsessed.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
  18. L. L. Elwood

    L. L. Elwood Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2004
    Just saw this today...This may change my hunt depending upon price!
    Mastodon2 likes this.
  19. Mastodon2


    Feb 27, 2008
    I was going to ask, if you'd consider a new Fodera then why wouldn't you consider a new Ken Smith?
  20. L. L. Elwood

    L. L. Elwood Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2004
    Yeah.. The new neck-through smiths are about $1000-$1500 more than the Fodera Classic from what I'm seeing. Perhaps this new bolt on offering from Smith will be closer to the classic.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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