Smith BSR5, do I have the wrong model?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Caca de Kick, Nov 16, 2005.

  1. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    BSR5 owners, wondering if you can help me out on a decision...especially if you've owned more than one Smith with different types of body wood.
    I really love the feel and playability of my BSR5-walnut, but I'm having some real issues of the attack and brightness and over all clarity of this thing. It is a typical BSR5; soapbars, 3-band eq-no switches, bolt-on maple neck, but it has a lightweight all-walnut body.

    This is a very mellow sounding bass, the highs are not bright and not very 'cutting' mids. The mids just seem to get muddy when I turn up the mid knob. Just doesn't seem like it has the punch and attack. Is is because of the all walnut body? I'm wondering if I should have looked for a maple body BSR instead. You maple body owners, can you comment on wether the maple has the 'killer attack'?

    I don't particularly love my G&L2500, but it has the punch and attack I can't get near with the Smith, and in a rock setting, it cuts and the Smith doesn't...but man, I love the Smith.
  2. Halftooth

    Halftooth Supporting Member

    Nov 24, 2002
    Tri-Valley, NorCal
    I was under the impression that Walnut made for a nice sounding body wood on Smith basses.
    I've owned a Maple body BSR-P 6 string that was brighter than my Mahogany body Smiths, so take that for what it's worth.
  3. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    I have been playing an ash BSR-5M for awhile.

    Strings make a huge difference, like in any other bass. Smith's stainless steels are excelent (great clarity and overall) but the are rough on the hands. I switched to Smith's nickels, but they are muddy, smooth on the hands, but muddy in comparison. I now have Rotosound Solobass RSD555 and they are a good compromise (stainless steel pressurewounds).

    The secret with Smiths, in my opinion, is to use the EQ bands one at a time. If I boost lows and mids at the same time, it may get muddy (the freq. seem to overlap), but if I only boost mids, for example, I get pure mid punch. The highs are very smooth and setup pretty high (meaning the frequency seems to be a high one for a treble control) so you need good amplification to hear the full spectrum. If you are using an amp without a horn, you are missing a lot of the sound.

    To me Smiths are not crystal clear, partly because the have humbuckers instead of singles (one of the reasons) but that is one reason I like them so much.

    Experiment with EQ and get a fresh pack of strings.

    Talking about attack, mine has a modest one, (comparing it to say, a Sadowsky 5-24 or an MTD 535) but I like that too.

    I would say Smiths will work in any situation, even rock, but I guess for some reason you don't see many rock bassist playing them. They have a more balanced sound, if growly, but not as agressive as say a Warwick, or like you experienced, your own G&L.
  4. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    As far as strings go, I like keeping them zingy and I use DR highbeams or prefer MTD stainless when I can find them.
    Amps; either my Mesa Bass400 or Ampeg B500DR, running into a Mesa 215 and 1516 cabs.

    I've owned this bass for 3 years now, but have only taken it out to gigs twice a year now (and I gig alot). But in the studio it sure records great. I guess I'll have to keep screwing with the EQ and also that little adjusting pot inside the cavity to find something I like. I'm still thinking a maple (or ash) BSR would have the sound.
  5. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Okay, I'm really upset with the clarity and cutting of this bass now. Last week I had a gig, and my '72 P Bass strung with flats kicked the living cr*p out this BSR...and this is for a modern heavy-alt rock band.
    Has anyone tried different soapbar pickups in theirs?
  6. mike sancho

    mike sancho SANCH

    Feb 10, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I use my BSR 5 all the time. I have no problem with clarity and cutting in the mids. I play off the bridge PU and boost the bass up full and the mids +2 from center. Treble all the way down. The bass is amazing to my ear. I have walnut core with tiger maple top, ebony board. I have D'Addario medium light gage rounds on her now because that's all I had available at the time. Normally I use Smith Rockmaster med lights on both of my basses. Hope you can work it out.
  7. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    I run mine with the bass up full, treble up full, and the mids flat. If I try turning the mids up at all it gets muddy. I've tried adjusting the trim pot, adjusting the pickup height, no go.
    I really go for a 'Dave LaRue' sound in all my basses, and this one is a not so good slapper, no snap, no oomph, no booty.
  8. billbern


    Sep 11, 2004
    Daytona Beach, Fl
    Endorsing: Inearz In-ear Monitors
    I had a BT4 set neck passive as my only fretted bass for 20 years. Used it in all situations, rock, country, praise. Live and studio, I was always impressed with the way it sat in the mix, clear, solid, punchy, now it never had "take your head off" high end. It's a maple core w/ walnut top and back.
    I now have a BSR5M it has even more punch than the BT. I just set lows, mids flat, roll the highs of a bit. Great bass.

  9. Halftooth

    Halftooth Supporting Member

    Nov 24, 2002
    Tri-Valley, NorCal
    I have a feeling that you're lacking a top and back laminate, which IMO really tightens up the tone. I would also say that Smiths that I've owned I wouldn't really consider being "bright" either.
  10. Ostinato

    Ostinato Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Toronto ON
    IMO the real kick in the pants is the treble control. You really have to turn it down to where you can start hearing what the mid and bass can do. Or you could gut the electronics and stick in a Demeter pre.

  11. soholounge


    Aug 11, 2004
    i suspect there's a reason why not too many rock bassists use Ken Smith bass guitars. (relatively speaking, compared to gospel and jazz or fusion)

    in my opinion, the smith mids are aggressive in the same frequency areas as distorted guitars.
    that may be why you're not feeling it as much in your musical setting?

    funny, because i came really really close to buying a BSR5 once, and although i loved it, the only reason i didn't was because it wasn't mellow enough!!
    i thought it was too punchy and too aggressive.
    it's amazing how differently people can perceive the same bass, depending on personal preference and music style.

    also, there's a number of other factors here, that are particular to different individual styles - technique, amps, EQ, the way the other instruments are sounding, etc. etc.

    good luck to you in finding a solution.