Ken's Corner (Bass Forums Sponsored By KSB)

Go Back   Ken's Corner (Bass Forums Sponsored By KSB) > Welcome To SmithBassForums

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 11-22-2008, 12:49 AM
Ken Smith's Avatar
Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
Bassist, Luthier & Admin
 
Join Date: 01-18-2007
Location: Perkasie, PA
Posts: 4,995
Ken Smith is on a distinguished road
Arrow Smith Bass Design and its History (The on-line Book in the making)

Smith Bass Design and its History..

Who here is interested in discussing this and learning how it came to be?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 11-22-2008, 10:48 AM
Tim Bishop's Avatar
Tim Bishop Tim Bishop is offline
Senior Posting Member
 
Join Date: 02-25-2007
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 1,428
Tim Bishop is on a distinguished road
Cool Who?

Count me in.
__________________
Tim Bishop

Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 11-22-2008, 11:34 AM
Ken Smith's Avatar
Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
Bassist, Luthier & Admin
 
Join Date: 01-18-2007
Location: Perkasie, PA
Posts: 4,995
Ken Smith is on a distinguished road
Cool well..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Bishop View Post
Count me in.
You know, I could write a book on the subject but what I was thinking is letting the 'book' write itself by answering questions and see where these answers lead. It wont be in any kind of exact order of events but we can compile that later.

I did a workshop earlier this year at Gerald Veasley's Boot Camp (Reading, Pa) and polled the audience for questions and then answered them in order. I have another workshop to do next month at UArts in Philly. I did the first one there a few years ago but that was on set-up and maintenance of instruments for the most part. Just about all of the Bass students as well as some of the Bass teachers attended as well. This year I will do some more of the Q&A like I did at Gerald's Camp plus a few other things like buying tip for Double Basses and what to look out for. I might also be asked back to the Boot Camp this coming year as well.

So, ask just about anything you like about me and the Bass from when I first touched one up until now. I will add some earlier 'related' history as needed as well as 'color it in' a bit to keep it interesting.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 11-22-2008, 11:46 AM
Tim Bishop's Avatar
Tim Bishop Tim Bishop is offline
Senior Posting Member
 
Join Date: 02-25-2007
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 1,428
Tim Bishop is on a distinguished road
Cool Questions 1 and 2

At what age did you realize you had a musical gifting and with what instrument(s)?
__________________
Tim Bishop

Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 11-22-2008, 11:58 AM
Ken Smith's Avatar
Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
Bassist, Luthier & Admin
 
Join Date: 01-18-2007
Location: Perkasie, PA
Posts: 4,995
Ken Smith is on a distinguished road
Cool lol..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Bishop View Post
At what age did you realize you had a musical gifting and with what instrument(s)?
1) I am still wondering about the 'gift' part..

2) The String Bass/Double Bass was my first instrument. The Electric Bass/Bass Guitar came a few years later because a kid in my High School said I should get one and his friend was selling his Bass. It was a 'Hagstrom II' and was my first ever Electric Bass. My first Double Bass was purchased directly from Metropolitan Music in NYC from the Juzek family. It was a 3/4 German made plywood/laminated Bass aka 'crack-proof'. It was the lowest price Bass they sold.

The Hagstrom was $80. in 1966/67?. The Juzek DB was $150. plus tax in 1966 but I also bought a bow, cover, music stand, floor stop and tuning fork totaling just under $200.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 11-22-2008, 12:12 PM
Tim Bishop's Avatar
Tim Bishop Tim Bishop is offline
Senior Posting Member
 
Join Date: 02-25-2007
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 1,428
Tim Bishop is on a distinguished road
Default Next ?

Did you have any formal musical training or were you an ear player or both?
__________________
Tim Bishop


Last edited by Tim Bishop; 11-22-2008 at 12:24 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 11-22-2008, 12:58 PM
Ken Smith's Avatar
Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
Bassist, Luthier & Admin
 
Join Date: 01-18-2007
Location: Perkasie, PA
Posts: 4,995
Ken Smith is on a distinguished road
Cool well..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Bishop View Post
Did you have any formal musical training or where you an ear player or both?
At the start of 7th grade (Ida Fischer Jr. High, Miami Beach, Fl.) I look at me schedule and see that one period has 3 classes but mixed throughout the week. I forget which or how many days for each but they were Art class, Shop class and Music. The School had 2 separate music rooms next to each other. One was the band room and one was the string room. In the summer preceding the start of school I knew I would have music and started thinking which instrument I would play. The two that came to mind was (I was still only 12 years old at that time) Trumpet or Drums, period! A friend of my brothers a few years older than me was playing Trumped so I guess it was in my mind. I knew nothing about music or instruments other than the Radio and TV. Actually, I probably never touched one until that first music class. I was assigned to the String room, NOT the Band room which I had hoped for. Actually, I was fine without music but I had to take it, no choice in the matter.

The first day the teacher (Mrs. Aline DaNino) showed us all the Violin, Viola, Cello and String Bass. We were showed how to Bow up and down each string and then tried out each instrument. At the end of the trials we were each asked which instrument would we like to play for the class which was I believe only once a week. Before I was asked, I had been thinking.. Violin and Viola, no way.. Cello? between my legs? yuck, thats for girls to play (I thought..lol). When I was finally asked I looked up to the top of the risers in the back and pointed, the.. the.. that ah.. "String Bass?" she asked.. Ah yeah.. I replied.. lol

So, after a few classes I asked to join the String ensemble because I liked it and I saved face, playing the only 'Manly' instrument amongst the 4 choices.. lol .. For real.. That was my thinking..

So, I played there two years plus some Summer programs and then went to NY and auditioned as an incoming Freshman for the ' High School of Music & Art' and was accepted. From there I became a professional Bassist and so on.

I was mostly (99%) a reader. The 'ear' thing came later. Using records, playing them over and over I would learn Bass parts and even write them out. I preferred transcribing and reading over listening and memorizing. It was just what I was comfortable with. Probably due to learning 100% from reading with just about 'zero' ear playing in the first few years.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 11-22-2008, 01:47 PM
Tim Bishop's Avatar
Tim Bishop Tim Bishop is offline
Senior Posting Member
 
Join Date: 02-25-2007
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 1,428
Tim Bishop is on a distinguished road
Cool So...

So, once you begain playing professionally, what would you consider your stand-out highlights from the beginning of our professional career until now?
__________________
Tim Bishop

Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 11-22-2008, 02:40 PM
Ken Smith's Avatar
Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
Bassist, Luthier & Admin
 
Join Date: 01-18-2007
Location: Perkasie, PA
Posts: 4,995
Ken Smith is on a distinguished road
Cool Stand outs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Bishop View Post
So, once you begain playing professionally, what would you consider your stand-out highlights from the beginning of our professional career until now?
Humm.. well I bounced around from quite a few things. I won the Audition with Horace Silver in early 1969 when I was still only 17. I could not play in the clubs with the alcohol rules so I just did some concerts. Stanley Clarke had just turned 18, auditioned after me and was my replacement. That stands-out a bit looking back I guess but back then, winning the audition with Horace was considered a big thing. I beat out a lot of good players. In later years, I subbed for one of them on B'way. I guess the wounds if any had healed by then.

I was a fairly good reader and a doubler as well playing both Electric Bass and Double Bass. I was also a good bower. Funny saying 'was' because just two weeks ago I did a big band job and sight read charts on both basses as well. last week I did a Symphony gig (3 rehearsals and a Concert). The chops and 'eyes' are still ticking!

I would have to say that there was more work available on the BG than the DB but so many jobs needed both. At about 19/20 years old or so I got called to work for Johnny Mathis. The call was for both basses. We worked a few weeks at the Waldorf Astoria in NY, 7 days a week. The traveling rhythm section worked 7 days as well but the other contracted musicians could only work 6 days by Union law with Subs or alternates for the full 7 day work week. I was paid not for one double (an extra instrument aka Clarinet & Flute) but got the maximum of 4 doubles (each double is a small percentage extra over regular scale) plus a personal check of $75 from Mathis to make up for the 7th day in which I wasn't allowed to be working. Because he didn't have a bass player traveling with him they had to bend the rules a bit. The house contractor at the Waldorf worked it all out and said I was not to tell the Union about this which of course I didn't. During that engagement we did a HUGE concert at the 'Garden (MSG). There were seats up to the stage. Maybe 20-30,000 people at this venue. It was called 'Festival of the Stars'. It was the top 4 Columbia Records Pop artists. Johnny Mathis, Peter Nero, Vicki Carr and Percy Faith Strings. One HUGE Orchestra with 3 or 4 rhythm sections changing for each artist. I did just Mathis. Alvin Bream was the DB'ist for the String section. I just saw him behind me and never talked to him. About 2 years ago at my old NY Phil's Teacher's Birthday party/recital at Lincoln Center, I finally met and spoke with Alvin Bream.

Besides Mathis, I worked in (mostly subbing) about 18-20 B'way shows, other singers like Frank Sinatra Jr., Jimmy Roselli, Linda Hopkins, Kelly Garrett, Mercedes Hall (mother of Michael Anthony Hall, he was a cute kid back then.. lol), Shirley Bassey (Goldfinger!!) and many others. Some of this was in NYC, Concerts and some at Westbury Music fair. I did lots of Jingles (over 2,000 separate spots), a few Movie soundtrack dates, on screen in 2 movies and a few records of which most were for MMO (Music Minus One).

I also worked in the Orchestra at Radio City Music Hall first as a sub in the mid '70s. Years later they switched the venue (from 4 shows a day with the Rockets and a movie) to an 8-show a week B'way schedule. I did that too on and off. Not the best gig but it was a gig. I did Ginger Rogers last show there as well as the Christmas Show once or twice. I recall doing the Nutcracker there as well.

Late night Club gigs and private teaching also kept me busy.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 11-22-2008, 02:59 PM
Tim Bishop's Avatar
Tim Bishop Tim Bishop is offline
Senior Posting Member
 
Join Date: 02-25-2007
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 1,428
Tim Bishop is on a distinguished road
Cool So....

Very impressive, Ken.

So, with the end of the 70's approaching, what was the influence or intrigue that led you to building EB's?
__________________
Tim Bishop

Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 11-22-2008, 03:05 PM
Mike Braun Mike Braun is offline
Junior Posting Member
 
Join Date: 09-23-2008
Location: Nelson
Posts: 18
Mike Braun is on a distinguished road
Default

Did you have any role in the development of the 6 string bass? I know yours was one of the firsts.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 11-22-2008, 04:06 PM
Ken Smith's Avatar
Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
Bassist, Luthier & Admin
 
Join Date: 01-18-2007
Location: Perkasie, PA
Posts: 4,995
Ken Smith is on a distinguished road
Cool Did I?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Braun View Post
Did you have any role in the development of the 6 string bass? I know yours was one of the firsts.
Yes, most of the knowledgeable world of BGs (hopefully) knows that we made the first wide spaced non 0ne-off 6-string Bass. There is a book called "The bass Book" published in 1995 written by Tony Bacon where it is stated on pg.59 "Ex-Professional bassist turned luthier Smith was among the pioneers of the modern multi-stringed bass with wide string-spacing and low-B tuning". This is the caption under a picture of a Smith 6-string bass.

We made our first 6 for Anthony Jackson on 1981. There was very little if anything to go on as far as what to do or what to design. The only other one I had seen was the previous attempt for Anthony by Carl Thompson. I asked Anthony to show it to me so I could see what was wrong with the one he had. That look was mainly a 'what not to do' lesson. I say this without any disrespect towards Carl as we were at one time good friends.

Who did what first and where? Your guess is as good as mine. I am sure who invented electricity or anything else can always be disputed in some way. I am just saying that I had basically no examples at all to copy from. Just my playing skills and my instrument design ideas to make a working playable 6-string. Back there, there were no Parts companies to call up and order from. The Bridges and Pickups needed to be designed and made from scratch, custom ordered from people themselves that were not even sure what would work. It was an uphill struggle, but now.. we are here.

I do feel in a way that modern builders walk on a road paved partially be me and others like me that wanted to make something that before hand didn't exist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Bishop View Post
Very impressive, Ken.

So, with the end of the 70's approaching, what was the influence or intrigue that led you to building EB's?
Ok, this might be awhile but I will keep it short for now and elaborate as we go on here.

In 1973 I bought a fine old 18th century Italian Bass. It was the best Bass I had ever played. Imagine playing up the low E string. After a few notes it becomes uneven and wolfy sounding. This bass could be be bowed from the Nut to the end of the Fingerboard over two octaves up and not a single bad note. Also, it bowed great with Spirocores and that in itself is odd because those strings are not easy to bow. They are great jazz strings but most players then used Flexocor for bowing, not Spirocores. This Bass was a monster and I was curious to find out how much an Electric Bass could be improved from its standard cardboard box with strings in comparison. Most people in NY played a Fender. Most Fenders had dead spots on the G string around the Bb to the Eb. Usually one note was the worst and one or two on either side of it. It was on the 'D' on one of the Basses I had. When ever I needed to play a long help note, I would play 'that' D on the D-string octave to make it ring out somewhat. This being only of of many point in comparing a stock or customized Fender bass to the DB that I had.

My goal was to make an Electric bass that could stand along side my DB and be equal within its own merits as far as sound quality went. It looked to me as if the Guitar industry was geared towards fast cheap 'accountant' planned costing within its manufacturing. I was thinking more along the lines of a hand made Violin.

My idea and desire for an Electric Bass was not part of the current industry. Yes, there were custom and private builders out there BUT, had the played my Italian Bass or knew what a Violin was or how to incorporate there grandfather string instrument methods and results into their stringed amplified carcass?

I wanted a Bass that had 'no' excuses attached to it in its making or performance. One night while playing the proto-type bass (made c.'76/77) in the Pit at 'Westbury Music Fair' for Shirley Bassey, the lead Trumpet player tells me my bass sounds great and that they listen to me for the 'pitch'. Years earlier, I worked with this same guy for a year in a B'way pit on my first B'way show gig and complaints were they daily dosage back then about the Bass being too loud usually, not compliments. You know, the Trumpets NEVER play on the beat..lol

After hearing a Trumpet player tell me he used my Pitch to play, I knew I was on the right track design wise.

Trust me, as I mentioned above, this IS the short version of the answer..lol

How long will it take to post 40 years of 'Bass' experience?
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 11-24-2008, 11:14 AM
Bob Faulkner's Avatar
Bob Faulkner Bob Faulkner is offline
Senior Posting Member
 
Join Date: 01-22-2007
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 281
Bob Faulkner is on a distinguished road
Default

Can you expand on the concepts and techniques from the building of traditional acoustic string instruments that you incorporated in your bass designs, and what made you lean specifically in those directions?
__________________
Proud original owner of a 2001 Ken Smith BSR4EG lined fretless.

My band's site:
Delusional Mind
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 11-24-2008, 11:23 AM
Ken Smith's Avatar
Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
Bassist, Luthier & Admin
 
Join Date: 01-18-2007
Location: Perkasie, PA
Posts: 4,995
Ken Smith is on a distinguished road
Question Humm..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Faulkner View Post
Can you expand on the concepts and techniques from the building of traditional acoustic string instruments that you incorporated in your bass designs, and what made you lean specifically in those directions?
Well, what exactly do you mean by "traditional acoustic string instruments"?
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 11-24-2008, 12:02 PM
Bob Faulkner's Avatar
Bob Faulkner Bob Faulkner is offline
Senior Posting Member
 
Join Date: 01-22-2007
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 281
Bob Faulkner is on a distinguished road
Default

you mentioned double bass and violin as part of your inspiration in one of the posts above. I was wanting some expansion on the building techniques of those instruments that you found attractive, and how you used them to improve the bass guitar.
__________________
Proud original owner of a 2001 Ken Smith BSR4EG lined fretless.

My band's site:
Delusional Mind
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 11-24-2008, 02:11 PM
Ken Smith's Avatar
Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
Bassist, Luthier & Admin
 
Join Date: 01-18-2007
Location: Perkasie, PA
Posts: 4,995
Ken Smith is on a distinguished road
Cool oh..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Faulkner View Post
you mentioned double bass and violin as part of your inspiration in one of the posts above. I was wanting some expansion on the building techniques of those instruments that you found attractive, and how you used them to improve the bass guitar.
Oh, ok. I'll do my best to explain my original dream and theory as well as application.

The Smith Basses were designed for feel and tone first. The hardware and electronics came later. My goal was to try and archive a smooth even vibrating string on every string, every note. I felt that the current slew or basses on the market were produced for a price point and not for the quality or rather acoustical level that I was searching for. By luck, you could pick up a fender on occasion and the notes (most of them) might ring well for some things but playing a slow ballad melody with some upper long notes, the sustain would fail and the tone was not the best, It was still a fender. I am not trying to knock Fender here at all. I am just using it as a comparison based on my personal experience.

Often in a recording, the standard Fender is just what people are used to hearing. For me, I was looking to get as close to the comparable quality to my Italian DB as compared to a factory made German imported Juzek bass. The Juzek might be ok in a School orchestra or on a jazz gig with an amp but in a professional Orchestra, it is just not on par with the great old English and Italian master grade basses. I was looking to make THE Master Grade Electric bass.

Things I looked into changing at first was the actual neck construction and wood grain orientation. Exotic wood feature strips were added for looks and stability. The theory was that a bad piece of wood may want to bend away from the others but in itself would not be strong enough to pull the others with it. Some other companies were already doing this but I cannot mention their names, sorry. I also know that these other companies were not known for their great necks as some of them incorporated 2 truss rods for better adjustability. My theory is to keep it simple but build it so it wont fail. Bass player wanna play, not fix. Giving them 2 truss rods to adjust might be more harm then help knowing that often its a do-it-yourself mindset.

On the body, I was not convinced that what companied did up until the time I started were thinking about tone and vibration as far as mixing with the neck. Soft bodies and hard necks might have frequencies that cancel each other out. Bold-on product on the market at that time was mainly high volume production. The neck and body parts were not specifically made to perfectly fit one another so there was some lever of acceptable 'slop' in the fit.

These are just a few things that made up the 'average' mindset of a high volume guitar production. Also, I believe that the 'built it from the price backwards' mentality although wise in general marketing, does not make a Stradivarius.

Trial and well.. more trial (don't think I had many errors) was the method of operation for me. This by the way is still going on after 400+ years of double Bass making.

So, open mind, open ears, open wallet. Yes.. it does get expensive trying to be inventive and/or creative.

Please feel free to nit-pick any of my answers if they do not fully quench your thirst. Also, if I've left something out, please remind me.

One more explanation to the question of 'building techniques'. I tried in the beginning to move away from what was being done already if it didn't look right as far as the 'right' or 'better' way so to speak. Each individual component must be made to it's fullest potential in order to work as a 'marriage' on a musical instrument. Price was never am initial concern as I didn't come from a business type or financial background. It was a consideration but not that the expense of the quality of the bass.

Remember now, I started tinkering in 1976 or so with this idea in my head when I was a full time professional Bassist in NYC. This was a personal goal of mine, not a business plan. It turned out that way and very very gradually. Nothing came fast with the exception of a good feel which was on Bass #1 and so on...
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 11-27-2008, 12:36 AM
Mike Braun Mike Braun is offline
Junior Posting Member
 
Join Date: 09-23-2008
Location: Nelson
Posts: 18
Mike Braun is on a distinguished road
Default

Hey Ken,

Can you please give us some information on the development of the pickups, electronics, and pickup placement?
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 11-27-2008, 01:50 AM
Ken Smith's Avatar
Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
Bassist, Luthier & Admin
 
Join Date: 01-18-2007
Location: Perkasie, PA
Posts: 4,995
Ken Smith is on a distinguished road
Cool some information?.. only?...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Braun View Post
Hey Ken,

Can you please give us some information on the development of the pickups, electronics, and pickup placement?
This is actually 3 separate answers as far as how things happened. I will be relatively brief for now and go deeper into it later if asked.

The Electronics in the Basses now are not at all what I originally intended. It was suggested to me in the beginning to go simpler like a Bass/Treble circuit other than the original big circuit like on 3 of the Basses we made for Stanley Clarke but I wanted what was in my head at the time.

The first BTs were started in 1981 with 4 knobs and some switches. These wend thru a few changes. In 1986 we did the concentric BT and made it for sale as a replacement for Fender type basses with some modifications needed but it would fit most. Then in 1993 we did the 4k-knob again but with an addable mid 5th knob. A few years ago we modified that and re-designed it to the current unit we have now.

On all the circuits from the first BT 4-knob to the Concentric and onwards I had played around with the Treble frequency center point as well as the shelf of the bass control. Mind you, the Amps we have today were not around in 1981 so the studio was about as close as you could get to hear the full range of the bass with they full range playback speakers.

The Pickups were also an idea in my head that took 3 years to get to and stayed there ever since the first Soapbars were completed in 1981. I personally made the first wooden casting molds out of Curly/Tiger Maple in my Brooklyn shop. The pickups we have now and since then is the sound in my head.

Placement... ok.. this was not as planned but it did come about unintentionally.

The first 20 pickups after a proto-type were all made by Bill Lawrence. Bill made a wooden cover for the first one and we made the other 20 in the shop. Then I ordered 60 more pickups and had some covers waiting. These were different. Bill had changed his tooling and didn't tell me. These used plastic mounting rings like a guitar pickup.

On one BT we made in 1981 the customer asked that we put the pickups as far back as possible towards the bridge. We did so and the mounting rings were almost touching each other. In a year of so he traded up and I took that bass back. Now though I had the new Soapbar and wanted to upgrade this earlier bass. We were able to re-route a slightly larger cur for the new pickup to fit and just barely routed away all the screw holes from the mounting rings. Now the pickups were further back towards the bridge with about 2 fingers of space between them, like they are now.

Maybe it was that bass, or that bass with there pickups or the placement or the re-build and re-firb of an older broken in bass.. something.. BUT, that bass was smoking.. I made the decision then that this would be the new pickup spacing.. Why? Because I liked it. No R&D.. just my gut feeling and some R&B actually..

That's in in a nutshell..
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 11-27-2008, 09:43 AM
Tim Bishop's Avatar
Tim Bishop Tim Bishop is offline
Senior Posting Member
 
Join Date: 02-25-2007
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 1,428
Tim Bishop is on a distinguished road
Cool Strings....

Ken, how did you come about determining string choice for your basses?

I ask this because I have tried other strings on your basses , however, my ear always takes me back to Smith Medium Taper Cores .
__________________
Tim Bishop

Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 11-27-2008, 11:59 AM
Ken Smith's Avatar
Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
Bassist, Luthier & Admin
 
Join Date: 01-18-2007
Location: Perkasie, PA
Posts: 4,995
Ken Smith is on a distinguished road
Lightbulb Strings..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Bishop View Post
Ken, how did you come about determining string choice for your basses?

I ask this because I have tried other strings on your basses , however, my ear always takes me back to Smith Medium Taper Cores .
Well, prior to the Taper Core which came out in 1983 I had used the same gauges that came about with some trial and error or rather by choosing what worked best for my ear and also the same gauges in a Bare Core. Just before, during or right after (not 100% clear on the timing) we made our first 6-string by order for Anthony Jackson we were asked by him to make a Piano style Core for the Bridge area similar to what Rotosound had been making but without the adjustable Ball length which required a tool and some work to fit and tighten each Bass to the Core for every string. So, we made the same Gauges but used different Core wire and slightly different construction than did Rotosound and made a fixed Bass Bare Core String. These were called 'Bare Core' which we sold mainly to Anthony and maybe 10-20% to others after market. We continued to use our RWM (Round Wound Medium) Custom Balanced Gauges.

About a year in to this while at a Namm Show in 1982 Martyn Howe from Rotosound came into my display Booth during the Show and told me that they had a Design Patent Registered for that String and if I wanted to use them, I would HAVE TO buy it from them, not my supplier here in the USA. When I consulted a Lawyer shortly after the Show and looked up their Patent we discovered that our String was made differently but intended for the same exact usage. I was told that Patents are mainly for Design and not Usage. Then I was asked by the Layer about Income for this string and how much it was worth to me. I explained that gross sales (or gross profit, can't recall exactly this far back) was only about $2,000 a year on that particular string which by then we had in 4 gauges (L,M,ML,LM.) It was then that we were told that right or wrong, we could not afford to fight this in Court if $2,000 annually was the amount we were trying to protect. Then, my main contact at the String factory suggested that we run the last cover wire over that Bare Core and be done with it! This design was already in use with the Double Ball Strings but with 'Bare Core' on my mind, the thought just never came to me.

So, just like the Pickup placement coming about by chance, so did the Taper Core idea. Funny huh? To this date, I think I have sold more Taper Core than RS has probably sold in their design that they called 'Superwound'. I never hear of them nor do I know if they still make them.

One think of note here is that there was a small problem with the BC strings with some players. They had to raise up their Bridge saddles pretty high to get the Bare Core up high enough so that they didn't hit the Pickups when playing due to them sitting lower on the saddle on the Core and not higher up on the total thicker winding diameter. Some players also reported some overtone problems due to the raw exposure and accuracy brought about by a string with a truer tone than the sometimes muffled sound with some round wounds on the thicker gauges. The Taper Core was right in the middle between the BC and the Regular wound sting and fixed the overtone problem as well.

After developing the TC Strings in the same 4 gauges we made the regular Custom Balanced and BCs in, we started using the TCRM as our standard string for the Smith Basses. This happened around 1983 or so.
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:16 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2007 - Ken Smith Basses, LTD. (All Rights Reserved)