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Smith question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MikeBass, Oct 25, 2005.

  1. Did Smith change the neck profile sometime in the early to mid 90's??
    Seems to me that the older models with the bigger headstock had a thinner feeling neck.
    I recall my CR5G having a pretty thin/fast neck. The new ones not so IMO.
    Not that I dis-like new Smiths, but when ever I have the chance to play an older one, they just seem to not be as chunky feeling. I alway go away with the feeling of "Man, gotta get me another Smith!!", but then I play a newer one and I'm left with a not so same feeling. Still nice, but different from what I remember.

    Is it just me????
  2. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas

    Nov 26, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    MikeBass, you'll be happy to know that you're not going crazy!

    It is true that the newer necks are different. If we're to assume the neck profile changed when the new models emerged and the headstock changed that puts it around '94-'95, right? I have owned two early-90's BT6's and two of my good friends both own new Black Tiger 6's. While examining the newer ones I noticed that there has been quite a few changes.

    Staying with your question, yes, the neck profile is more substantial on the newer ones. The fingerboard is thicker as well. One thing I'm not sure on is whether they will carve the profile to your specs on a new bass. I really like the old ones too, hence my silly handle. Maybe I should shorten it to just VintageBT6?


  3. I thought the headstocks changed in the late 90's- 98 or so.
    I have a line on a CR5G that is a 97, with the big headstock.
    :meh: dunno then....now I'm all messed up!
    And yeah, I love the older CR's & BT's, I can't seem to really get into the newer ons as much.
    It's funny to think of Smiths as "vintage" but I guess some are!!
    Great stinkin basses tho.......Mr. Smith, you done good with those there basses!!
  4. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas

    Nov 26, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    :eyebrow: Huh. I could be wrong. Perhaps the original info I got pertaining to the headstock change was not from a reliable source. I've heard a few different versions. I haven't heard it from the master himself tho so....

    Yeah, I guess a certain amount of time has to elapse before it becomes 'vintage'. What do you think? Ten, fifteen, twenty years?

    In any case they are some bad, bad basses that's for sure!

    What're the details on the CR5G? Sounds like fun!
  5. I really dig the Smith that J.V. Collier plays on the latest Bruce Hornsby DVD. It looks perfectly worn in and has an incredible tone.

    Do you have any pics of your BT6, Brad?
  6. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Will the real Mr. Smith please stand up?

    Now I'm curious too... :confused:

    Brad, yes, I think shortening your handle to "VintageBT6" will be more, uh, I dunno, proper. . . At least the handle is not "SmithLover" or anything like that. . .

    I have not played an older Smith, but I have a 2002 BSR and let me just say the profile is pretty close to perfect, with the right amount of "meat", yet thin enough for pyrotechniques. And most important of all, fatigue-free.
  7. Ostinato

    Ostinato Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Toronto ON
    What a coincidence that I was as thinking the exact same thing when playing a new BSR in a store just yesterday. It was actually surprising just how meaty the newer necks are, actually, a little bit disapointing. :meh:

    Is there a difference in the profile for neck-thrus I wonder?
  8. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas

    Nov 26, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    Should I just PM you?
  9. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Gee, can't a guy get a day off?

    Ok, there are a few factors here to consider so please keep your eye on the Ball!

    We changed the spec on our Graphite many times since 1980 when we started doing it. If you have played any 5s or 6s from 1984-1988 you will see they were mostly meaty as well. The Graphite inlay outside the Truss rod slot tells us how much meat the neck needs behind and around it. After all, it's really a wood neck with graphite inlaid so the wood must yield to the size of the inlay. Second, I have always favored a thicker fingerboard if we could get them. In 1992 we found a new source that could cut the Blanks for us a little thicker so we would have more meat. When you level a FB and later re-fret years later the FB starts to get a little thin. If you start with more meat, the Bass will have a longer life.

    Now for the feel, regardless of how thin or thick a neck is, if the neck is too thin and gets weak from the string pull with medium strings, you end up fighting it when you play. If the neck is stronger and the strings 'float' on the neck, you can play with more ease and speed. I also play Symphonic Double Basses that have huge necks and some of the thicker ones actually play faster. The most important thing is how the Bass plays. If you were playing for the Yankees and had to swing the thing all day long to get on base, then an easier neck to grip might be better. If you are gripping it like a Bat, then get some lessons!!..lol

    Anyway, when I see one of the older Basses coming back for service and set-ups I don't see any advantage to making them thinner. We did that for a short while only and went back to a slightly meatier, more stable design for the most part. Also, every neck is hand carved to the shape you see so things will vary. We have had as little as 2 and as many as 5 people carving necks at the bench over the years so some variation is expected. The wood itself varies as well and tends to guide ones hand slightly on occasion.

    In 1993 we came out with the BMT and the smaller Head. A few customers would request this feature on other models as well. In 1996 we introduced the BSR and around that time decided to use the new more popular Head on all models. From time to time we made the old one by request. Now it's once a year or so, maybe less.

    I will be glad to answer any more questions about the old and new out here in TB land. Just ask...
  10. That'd be great, Brad.
  11. Well, and there you have it right from Mr. Smith himself!!!!
    Guess this ends our little discussion class!!
    Thanks Ken!!! :D

    Hey VintageBT6Lover, check this one out, I just picked it up. I should have it by mid week!
    BTW Ken, how do you suggest I correct or seal the wear on this bass under the G & C strings??? It is through the finish.
  12. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    I love my '98 BSR5. The neck profile is great, but the only thing I could wish for is that the fingerboard edge was 'rolled'.
  13. Ken,

    To make sure I'm understanding, KSB will use the older style headstock at a customers request?
  14. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker Banned

    Jun 10, 2001
    I will add that out of all the high end basses I've owned, the Smith's had the most stable necks and best fretwork. It seems like once I adjusted them to my liking they never moved. I would love to get another Smith 5 but I believe I would ask for the wide 19mm option and have a slightly wider nut.

    MikeBass, I used to own a 6 identical to the one pictured, it may have even been that one. It was an incredbile sounding bass. I sold it only becaue the BT body style was too hard on my shoulder because of weight and blance issues. I prefer the BT for looks but have to have the BSR for gigs.
  15. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    MikeBass; Short of a re-fin, just put some tung oil or similar in the affected area. This will not hurt the re-fin if and when you do it but may help it from getting worse...

    Caca de Kick; What a name..lol.. Anyway, the FB edges can be slightly rounded by a skilles person with the frets in but is a bit tricky as the wood will want to come off easier. Rounding it at the fret first may be easier and then the wood edges along the length after. Just a little now so you still have some good overhang under the string.

    Bernie Connors; we can do the old head design but it was also modified slightly around 1996 or so. That's the one we would do but being a custom job, it takes more time and has a modest up-charge for the work.

    Peter Parker; with the 19mm (one more from our standard 18mm spacing) we also widen the nut area having a wider taper overall. the Strings will be 10mm spaced instead of the 9mm on the reg model. So it's 9-18mm (nut and bridge spacing center-to-center) standard for us and 10-19mm wide option. This too is a custom job for the entire Bass, special Bridge and pickups all made slightly wider to fit as well as they do on the regular spaced model. There is a fairly priced upcharge for this as well.

    The wide option is for the 5 and 6 only. We do not have a spacing option for the 7-str but for the 4-string we widen the nut area only changing the entire taper. The Bridge is already 19mm. The nut will go from 10mm to 11mm for the wider 4.

    Thx for the friendly Qs. I will answer them as long as I see them up here. If you don't hear from me within a few days, PM or email me. Some of you guys post in the middle of the night and I don't see them the next day as threads rotate off the first page or two.
  16. What a great forum/thread. It's great that we can have an open discussion with the masters themselves. Thanks Mr Smith....I'd love to come down and check out your shop sometime considering I'm about 20 miles north.
  17. Where are you from Peter??
    I picked this one up in Maryland. It's a 1995 BT6G
    And + 1 on Ken floating around here and answering questions. Way cool!
  18. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker Banned

    Jun 10, 2001
    I live in Greensboro, NC right now. I can't remember if I sold it when I was living in Nashville or here. I believe I sold it on the internet but can't remember where it went. Mine was a 95 as well. I'm going to find a pic of mine and compare the figure pattern.
  19. VJP

    VJP Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2001
    A chance to post a pic of mine. 1987 BT5G. As sweet a a bass as you could imagine.

    Attached Files:

  20. Ostinato

    Ostinato Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Toronto ON
    Koa? That's a lovely piece of wood my friend.