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  #1  
Old 01-20-2007, 09:10 AM
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Lightbulb Smith Basses

Welcome to the Bass Forum. As time allows I will be putting up a brief history page on how Ken Smith Basses became to be as well as a bit about myself and my 40+ years around Basses and music. For now, read this link from our website for starters. I welcome any questions here concerning Smith Basses.

http://www.kensmithbasses.com/about.html

Feel free to browse the Smith Web pages and ask if you can't find what you are looking for. There may be a link to point you to or just answer your questions straight away.

If you own a Smith, have owned one, played one or are in the market for one down the road, please feel free to start your own thread to discuss the Smith topic of your choice. This will become the main corner of the world for Smith Bass players and enthusiasts to share their experience and learn from others.

Sit back, relax and enjoy the Forum..
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Old 01-20-2007, 10:45 PM
Frank Richards I Frank Richards I is offline
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Default Alembic features ?

Hey Ken, love the new forum !

I'm playing a '99 BSR6 EG, and I was wondering why you opted against the dual truss rod ? What would the advantages/disadvantages be ?
Also, what do you think of Alembic's adjustable saddle, and have you ever considered it ?
I also wanted to tell you: this bass is the last instrument a bassplayer would ever need !
It's like having an Aston Martin and a Rolls Royce in one. Bass, that is.
You are the Yoda of bass making ...

Thanks, Frank.
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  #3  
Old 01-21-2007, 01:20 AM
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Default two rods..

We tried two rods in the first few Smith 6s back in the 80s. There is more possibility that a player can hurt or ruin a neck than he can adjust it. The best method we found was a stable even neck with aged multi laminated woods and Graphite reinforced rods with a single doubled truss rod that we have been using from the start.

As far as adjustable Nut (saddle), I see no reason for it if the Nut is made correctly to begin with. Again, the more adjustable parts, the more things can loosen and the more a player can ill-adjust his Bass.

We see this a lot when Basses come in for set-ups. If it's movable, people mess with it!

Glad to hear you are enjoying your Bass.
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Old 01-21-2007, 01:16 PM
Ray Casas Ray Casas is offline
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Finally a smith thread!
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Thats just my opinion!
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Old 01-23-2007, 02:50 PM
Frank Richards I Frank Richards I is offline
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Dear Ken, that makes perfect sense . Everything is so well thought through. Thank you ! Frank.
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Old 01-23-2007, 10:42 PM
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Hey Ken, I noticed that looking at other basses, they are coated with a shiny hard coat. They say it is to protect the wood from dents and scratches. I think the word is shilak (if thats how you spell it [if that is even the word for it]). Is there a reason why your basses dont have that coating? Ive had my bass for only a few months and already i have scratches, from my jewelry, the strap (I once put the bass in the case with the strap on (like I do with my other basses) but I never did that again. One time my pinky nail went over the bass and scratched it. I have an idea for a new case for you. I for one prefer gig bags over hardshell cases for transport, but I notice that you use Levi gig bags (i am the one that ordered the black tiger with the gig bag). But anywho, there is another Levi case that is much thicker and the inside has like a fur like substance to keep the bass safe. I was wondering if I buy that case and send it to you, can you put the Smith patch on it?
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  #7  
Old 01-23-2007, 11:21 PM
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Wink Yikes..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Desmund Nichols View Post
Hey Ken, I noticed that looking at other basses, they are coated with a shiny hard coat. They say it is to protect the wood from dents and scratches. I think the word is shilak (if thats how you spell it [if that is even the word for it]). Is there a reason why your basses dont have that coating? Ive had my bass for only a few months and already i have scratches, from my jewelry, the strap (I once put the bass in the case with the strap on (like I do with my other basses) but I never did that again. One time my pinky nail went over the bass and scratched it. I have an idea for a new case for you. I for one prefer gig bags over hardshell cases for transport, but I notice that you use Levi gig bags (i am the one that ordered the black tiger with the gig bag). But anywho, there is another Levi case that is much thicker and the inside has like a fur like substance to keep the bass safe. I was wondering if I buy that case and send it to you, can you put the Smith patch on it?
One or maybe two questions per post would be easier on me..lol

'Shellac' is not what you are referring to. We use Shellac in the oil/varnish process for sealing. We make Basses with two types of finishes BUT Jewelry and sharp objects will scratch anything. Salty or acidic sweat will wear thru car paint so we do our best to give the finish within the budget of the model. Our Elite models are better protected but not from Jewelry or abrasive sweat.

On the Cases, we do not use Levi Bags. That is a Bag I designed over 25 years ago. Currently, Levi is the company making them for us. I can't put my 'patch' on their bag. Their 'patch' should work just fine..lol

Last edited by Ken Smith; 01-25-2007 at 12:38 AM. Reason: Typo
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  #8  
Old 01-24-2007, 11:03 AM
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My BSR4EG is over 5 years old and still in good shape. It has a little bit of buckle rash on the back (you have to be looking to see it) and a tiny (almost unnoticeable and didn't remove any material) ding near the jack where I hit it on the case latch one time while putting it away. Other than that there is virtually no other wear on it. My fingernails have contacted it many times with no finish problems at all.
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  #9  
Old 01-27-2007, 09:05 PM
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Hey Ken! Still love my Smiths!

'96 BMT Elite G 6
'98 BSR Elite G 6 Frettless...

I am afraid I am in need of a new tuning peg for the BMT... Its the one for the "A" string if that matters... Can you email me pricing and how to order?

slapinfunk@gmail.com
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  #10  
Old 01-27-2007, 09:10 PM
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Cool Tuners..

Quote:
Originally Posted by SLaPiNFuNK View Post
Hey Ken! Still love my Smiths!

'96 BMT Elite G 6
'98 BSR Elite G 6 Frettless...

I am afraid I am in need of a new tuning peg for the BMT... Its the one for the "A" string if that matters... Can you email me pricing and how to order?

slapinfunk@gmail.com
Just email us at the office, support@kensmithbasses.com and we can take care of this and any thing else you need like maybe some new Strings or more Polish.

A few years ago, we changed the Tuner handles on the Gears. Now, they look like this. If you want to change them all out to match, no problem. They are all in stock. Drop me a line..
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Old 01-27-2007, 09:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Smith View Post
Just email us at the office, support@kensmithbasses.com and we can take care of this and any thing else you need like maybe some new Strings or more Polish.

A few years ago, we changed the Tuner handles on the Gears. Now, they look like this. If you want to change them all out to match, no problem. They are all in stock. Drop me a line..

Hrmmm..... really not sure which I like better! I think I would prefer to keep them lookin all original... It is functional, just harder to turn.. Slightly bent so the rubber bushing between the washers squeezed out :-/

Im going to think about this one..
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  #12  
Old 03-05-2007, 07:11 PM
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Richards View Post
Also, what do you think of Alembic's adjustable saddle, and have you ever considered it ?

Thanks, Frank.
This is a no-brainer......

IMO, Alembics' bridge is too difficult to work with. The allen wrench adjustable saddles can be very difficult to reach/adjust with the strings in the way. Also, you cannot adjust each individual saddle up or down. You have to either raise or lower either end of the bridge. Not good! It's nice you can dis-assemble Alembic's bridge to clean the brass, but who wants to do that? Also, inserting strings can be a total PITA! Ah, one more thing: If you like using Taper Core Strings, guess what, you may have a problem with Alembic's bridge!

Bottom line, Ken has a better bridge, hands down! Besides being very easy to work and idiot proof; with Ken's bridge, you have the ability to adjust each individual saddle up or down as well as forwards or backwards. Oh, and lets not forget the ease of installing the strings, whether they are Taper Cores or Other!

Tim B.

Last edited by Tim Bishop; 03-05-2007 at 07:12 PM. Reason: Revise.
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Old 03-06-2007, 06:26 PM
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Thumbs down

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Richards View Post
Also, what do you think of Alembic's adjustable saddle, and have you ever considered it ?

Thanks, Frank.
Ahh, I see now you meant Nut, not Saddle......

I think Alembic should have expended as much thought on the design of their complicated non-user friendly bridge as they did on their Nut.

See my comments above on their bridge.
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  #14  
Old 03-09-2007, 12:57 AM
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Roy Diza Roy Diza is offline
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Hi Ken,

If I'm not misaken, you were very instrumental in Vinny Fodera's start in luthiery. I can see material choices such as an aluminum control cavity, and truss rod cover are used in both your line and Fodera's line. It would be interesting, for me at least, a design joint venture, or if you will, a limited edition of Ken Smith/ Fodera built basses. I'm just curious to know your thoughts about that.

Roy
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Old 03-09-2007, 01:47 AM
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Exclamation questions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roy Diza View Post
Hi Ken,

If I'm not misaken, you were very instrumental in Vinny Fodera's start in luthiery. I can see material choices such as an aluminum control cavity, and truss rod cover are used in both your line and Fodera's line. It would be interesting, for me at least, a design joint venture, or if you will, a limited edition of Ken Smith/ Fodera built basses. I'm just curious to know your thoughts about that.

Roy
Which question are you referring to up here?

I am NOT interested in any type of collaboration with any maker out there and have had the offer in the past but turned it down. Too many 'Cooks' in the kitchen!

Anything Fodera had in similar components is because he may have followed me, not having sources of his own at first. In some ways, not many though, he has grown away from that BUT if I should come out with something new one day, he and all the other 'Sheep' will be right behind me.

In short there are less leaders than followers. My reference above is that there are more Sheep than Sheep Herders if you know what I mean.

The Dovetail joint 'a la Gibson' was Vinnie's idea to save money and make a cheaper model sometime in 1980-'81. When I moved out to PA my main woodworker/Foreman mentioned that with good tooling like we had just developed and over time since 1985 (when we moved out to PA) that making a Neck-Thru is actually less work and a better model to make than a Glue-in Neck. We made Dovetails in PA as well from 1985 to about 1988. Then we went 100% neck-Thrus for awhile.

In 1989 I copied myself in Japan at the Morris Factory and made a beautiful Bolt-on line called the 'Burner Series'. With only 4 and 5-string models in the line we tried to now copy the 'Burner' this time and make a 6-string model. This was the start of the CR Line or as it was called internally then, a BT Bolt-on (BTBO). We made a change from the Burner with pitching the Neck itself to get some angle from the body. Later on in 1991, I made the tapered Center block so it would look Neck-thruish.

When ever we come out with something, someone is bound to copy it whether it be Peavey, Yamaha, Fodera, Tobias or even Fender. We cannot control this and anyone can buy wood and glue it together and put parts in them.

The question is, can they make a superior performance Musical Instrument that even Violin/Double Bass makers will admire from a craft standpoint and will musicians with the desire and ability to 'pay' for the best available be knocking on 'your' door?

A good Bass will sell itself to one who knows what he is holding. No salesman in the world can polish a 'turd' that good and make the sale.

One other thing to look at is the economics in Boutique Bass making. Here are a few things to be aware of when shopping;

1) Is your builder established and insured so your money is safe?

2) Are his instruments out there long enough to have a track record on reliability?

3) Does he drive an expensive Car or have a Luxury life style that you might be paying for rather than the Bass itself?

4) Is the Builder paying expensive Rent that you are paying for and not just the Bass?

5) Is he using stock parts with only a custom twist that a dozen other makers use making it a carcass builder only or is it a complete individual instrument?

6) Do Pro's actually buy his Bass or do they get them for Free so that you will pay for their Bass when you buy yours?

7) Does he treat the average 'joe'/'jane' buyer with the same build-time schedule he might give to some 'star' player?

8) Does he make you put a large percentage down and make you wait more than the estimated time or just a fair lower percentage deposit?

9) Does he promise to make it faster if you pay more upfront?

10) Is he consistent in the quality, pricing, delivery and general business dealings?

11) Can you reach 'him' on the phone or just a secretary or assistant?

12) Can you visit the shop to pick woods or look at your Bass in progress?

13) Do they/him seem to be away, not available or on Vacation many of the times you call to get answers?

14) Do they return your calls when they are not there or take your call when you call back?

15) Do you loose sleep at night worrying about your Bass being delivered or your deposit money?

16) Does it seem to be a parts-Bass made by another company with a Screw Driver, Fret File and Electronic Tuner being the main tools used to 'MAKE' your Bass when you visit the shop for a Tour?

17) When you visit or see a Tour on-line, do you see Boxes of Bodies and Necks as if they were shipped there and not made there?

18) Do they have a stock of aged Lumber to actually Make your Bass or just Body and Neck Blanks as if the parts were cut and supplied in that form?

19) Did the maker/designer ever actually play the Bass before building so he knows what language you speak?

20) Is he in business 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or more years with a reputation of making consistent Basses?

My fingers are getting tired as well as my mind so I will stop here BUT add to this 'watch list' for Bass buyers to help one make an educated decision with your hard earned money.
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Old 03-09-2007, 05:10 PM
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How do you really feel about it Ken?
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Old 03-09-2007, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Faulkner View Post
How do you really feel about it Ken?

You gotta love Ken's cut-thru-the-BS and get to the bottom line approach. Reminds me of me! I can appreciate that and could not agree with Ken more!

Anyone out there reading what Ken just stated: Your getting truth and some solid advice. Absorb wisely.
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Old 03-09-2007, 07:38 PM
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And how! Ken is a true trailblazer, unlike these next generation hip hop, so called boutique luthiers. I'm looking forward to see his next innovations.
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Old 03-11-2007, 10:17 PM
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It may be hard to top the current line-up.
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Old 05-17-2007, 09:34 AM
Martin Duarte Martin Duarte is offline
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Default Thanks Ken Smith

Hi,

Your reply was exactly why I bought a Ken Smith over the other countless options in the market. There are very good luthiers going around, but many don't cover many of the aspects you mentioned.

Thanks again,

Martin
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