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  #21  
Old 01-22-2009, 05:57 PM
Richard Hall Richard Hall is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Smith View Post
Hi folks, this new Thread is basically 'Neck Talk' as far as how we do things. Also, we can discuss the differences between various construction types of Necks as well as Fingerboard materials, Graphite Carbon Fiber, Truss Rods etc.

In our Basses we have used 3, 5 and 7 piece laminated Necks and we have also made each of these in several ways and with various materials. Fingerboards on Smith Basses are usually Ebony or Morado but we have used and tried some other woods as well over the years. These also include Indian Rosewood, Bubinga, Ziricote, Maple and Granadilla from what I can remember. For the Neck woods itself we have used both hard and soft maples, curly and non-curly. For Neck laminates we have used Indian Rosewood, Morado, Bubinga, Shedua, Purpleheart and Walnut.

As you can see, I have tried many many combinations and to date have produced over 5,400 handmade Smith Basses. From this kind of quantity and variety, I can easily see what works best for us and what doesn't. Also, I can see what works period or not regardless of the brand or maker.

So, tell us about your "Neck of the Woods" now...

Questions and discussions are welcomed...

Edit: You may find this link helpful in understanding some of the things we do as well as how and why we do them.
Hi Ken.

I have a few questions regarding neck stability that I noticed haven't really been touched on in this forum that I was curious about.

I was wondering why you like to use graphite reinforcement for building your necks. I understand the basic premise for using it is to stabilize the neck and minimize dead and hot spots.

Have you considered researching any alternate ways of reducing the stress on the neck? I already know that you aren't for using a scale lengths more or less that 34"; I'm not a fan of that technique either.

And speaking of dead/hot spots, what is your theory as to what causes them? Thanks for sharing your knowledge and wisdom.
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  #22  
Old 01-22-2009, 06:25 PM
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Lightbulb alternate ways of reducing the stress on the neck?

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alternate ways of reducing the stress on the neck?
Play a few Smith Basses and tell me if they feel like there is Stress on the Neck, please!

Not all of our Basses have the custom made graphite rods in them. Yet all of our Necks, Graphite or not share the same track record over the years as far as stability and consistency goes.

Also, not all Graphite is created equally and neither are the various methods of installing the Rods. We have 'our' way of making Necks with or without Graphite added but I will not discuss that further.
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  #23  
Old 11-17-2009, 11:47 PM
Tom Albano Tom Albano is offline
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Default Ash or Mahongany

Hello, I was just wondering your thoughts on using Ash for necks? or even Mahogany?
Im seeing Ash used more and more and Mahogany it seems has been used for quite sometime .... anyway would you consider using these woods if requested by a customer?

thanks!
- T
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  #24  
Old 11-18-2009, 01:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Tom Albano View Post
Hello, I was just wondering your thoughts on using Ash for necks? or even Mahogany?
Im seeing Ash used more and more and Mahogany it seems has been used for quite sometime .... anyway would you consider using these woods if requested by a customer?

thanks!
- T
Mahogany is just way too soft for a Bass neck in my opinion. Ash is on the brittle side and is very grainy.

Mahogany is easy to get in clean pieces or Lumber. Ash is much cheaper than Oak in the furniture world and rarely desired over it. Maple in white clean pieces is hard to get and expensive as well. Also, there is much waste in using the white Hard Maple we use.

I am guessing the Mahogany usage is due to economics and ease of manufacturing and Ash is maybe used because it is easier to get clean white pieces and probably cheaper as well all around over Maple.

Cheaper or easier doesn't make it better. It would be nice to have a wood that is cheaper than Maple and easier to use with less waste that gives the same results. Still, I don't think either wood measures up.

Now, imagine that I agree to use something new like you are suggesting. What do you think the time frame for completion would be if I agreed and with using the same methods of curing and acclimation that I've used for almost 3 decades?

Take a few minutes or whatever it takes and study the contents of this link;

http://www.kensmithbasses.com/ft/default.html ..

Click on each picture and read the captions. A picture they say is worth a thousand words. I used only a few for each pic. You can fill in the rest of the words..

Get back to me here when you've read it all and understand better what it is that we do different than most of the bass building world.
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  #25  
Old 11-18-2009, 07:11 AM
Tom Albano Tom Albano is offline
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Originally Posted by Ken Smith View Post
Mahogany is just way too soft for a Bass neck in my opinion. Ash is on the brittle side and is very grainy.

Mahogany is easy to get in clean pieces or Lumber. Ash is much cheaper than Oak in the furniture world and rarely desired over it. Maple in white clean pieces is hard to get and expensive as well. Also, there is much waste in using the white Hard Maple we use.

I am guessing the Mahogany usage is due to economics and ease of manufacturing and Ash is maybe used because it is easier to get clean white pieces and probably cheaper as well all around over Maple.

Cheaper or easier doesn't make it better. It would be nice to have a wood that is cheaper than Maple and easier to use with less waste that gives the same results. Still, I don't think either wood measures up.

Now, imagine that I agree to use something new like you are suggesting. What do you think the time frame for completion would be if I agreed and with using the same methods of curing and acclimation that I've used for almost 3 decades?

Take a few minutes or whatever it takes and study the contents of this link;

http://www.kensmithbasses.com/ft/default.html ..

Click on each picture and read the captions. A picture they say is worth a thousand words. I used only a few for each pic. You can fill in the rest of the words..

Get back to me here when you've read it all and understand better what it is that we do different than most of the bass building world.
Hello, thanks for the reply. I have gone through these pages, as well I have watched the show done on your shop "Cool stuff being made" (both induce high levels of GAS) ... I understand why you dont use Ash or Mahogany. I also see the amount of care that goes into what you do!

not for comparison ....
I was just thinking about companies like Gibson or even Alembic (mahogany) or MTD (ash) Other respected builders who do... I am NOT comparing a Smith bass to those companies I respect totally what you guys do and know Smith basses are not to be compared. But just the fact that they use those types of woods on there necks, I am assuming to get a different "tonal flavor" as well as for "looks".... I wanted to get your thoughts. Again Thank You.

Looking forward to my next which should be very soon.
-Tom

Last edited by Tom Albano; 11-18-2009 at 07:48 AM.
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  #26  
Old 11-18-2009, 09:37 AM
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Cool well..

We have been using Maple as the main or only wood in our Necks since the start 30 years ago. Maple has been used on Violin family instruments for centuries as well. It is considered the best for that component. I don't think we need to change for any reason unless we are looking to experiment or find a substitute for Maple if this wood becomes unavailable. I know about Ash and also Beech which has been used in Double Basses as well in mainly Germany a century or two ago on lesser models. Still, Maple is the King and will stay that way in my book.

Thanks for asking..
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  #27  
Old 11-27-2009, 11:18 AM
Michael Wilson Michael Wilson is offline
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Cool Maple Fingerboard

I would love to have a Smith bass made that has a, Maple Neck/w a Maple Fingerboard. Would look really nice with a Flame Maple T and B. Any chance Ken?
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  #28  
Old 11-27-2009, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Wilson View Post
I would love to have a Smith bass made that has a, Maple Neck/w a Maple Fingerboard. Would look really nice with a Flame Maple T and B. Any chance Ken?
It is not just about looks in my Book. Maple is no where near as good for a Fingerboard as Ebony or Morado. Besides having less strength, it bends easier and gets dirty in a hurry. Violins had maple FBs centuries ago until they discovered ebony. Trust me, it would be a lot easier and way way cheaper to use maple over ebony or morado. It is just not as good or as stable for that type of use. We are not really in the 'cost-effective' mode here when it comes to durability. It must be made as good as it can be and maple for a FB in my book is inferior in comparison.
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  #29  
Old 11-27-2009, 02:36 PM
Michael Wilson Michael Wilson is offline
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Default Maple Fingerboard

In other words, you use what you feel is the best woods for your basses, even if someone wanted maple as a custom order? There has to be some positives around MF. Fender has been using MF for many years with positive reviews, for that matter almost every builder that i know of uses maple for FBs. But i do understand that your following loves your choices, myself included, but i still would like to keep my ebony FB and have a maple FB made on a BT6 version. That will allow me to sell my Fender Jazz /w MF and replace it with a new custom order Smith BT6/w MF.
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  #30  
Old 11-27-2009, 06:18 PM
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Cool ??

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Originally Posted by Michael Wilson View Post
In other words, you use what you feel is the best woods for your basses, even if someone wanted maple as a custom order? There has to be some positives around MF. Fender has been using MF for many years with positive reviews, for that matter almost every builder that i know of uses maple for FBs. But i do understand that your following loves your choices, myself included, but i still would like to keep my ebony FB and have a maple FB made on a BT6 version. That will allow me to sell my Fender Jazz /w MF and replace it with a new custom order Smith BT6/w MF.
A Fender is a Fender and a Smith is a Smith. A Smith with a maple fb will not become a Fender and nor will a Fender with an Ebony fb become a Smith.

I can save a bit of money doing what Fender does making a Neck of Maple and putting frets right into the Neck without having to make and glue on a separate fingerboard. But, I do what I do.. Sorry..
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  #31  
Old 08-25-2010, 02:06 AM
Bryan L Williams Bryan L Williams is offline
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Default Macassar Ebony Fingerboard Finish

Mr. Smith,

After much searching, I have not been able to find out how you finish your Ebony fingerboards. Do you use some type of oil?
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  #32  
Old 08-25-2010, 08:16 AM
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Cool finish?

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Originally Posted by Bryan L Williams View Post
Mr. Smith,

After much searching, I have not been able to find out how you finish your Ebony fingerboards. Do you use some type of oil?
There is no finish on the boards. Just fine sanded and then oiled. I would not call the oiling a real finish as Ebony is oily in itself. It just helps keep it lubricated to a degree.

I once read that the key to a good finish is in the sanding. Polishing wood up to the look of glass makes a world of difference.
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  #33  
Old 08-25-2010, 02:19 PM
Ben Rose Ben Rose is offline
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Can the morado fingerboard be ordered on higher end models like the GN or TN series?
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  #34  
Old 08-25-2010, 07:37 PM
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Question Why?

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Can the morado fingerboard be ordered on higher end models like the GN or TN series?
Just curious. Why would you want to do this?
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  #35  
Old 08-25-2010, 09:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Rose View Post
Can the morado fingerboard be ordered on higher end models like the GN or TN series?
Years ago it was what we used most mainly for the lack of good quality reliable ebony. Once we found a reliable supply, we started making them both ways with either FB before switching to Ebony as the standard for those models. All you have to do is Ask and we will make it with Morado.
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  #36  
Old 08-26-2010, 05:02 AM
Ben Rose Ben Rose is offline
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Thanks, Ken.

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Originally Posted by Tim Bishop View Post
Just curious. Why would you want to do this?
Because brown is the new black? Some of my favorite sounding KS clips on youtube have a morado fb, but oh how I lurvs the look of a 5 peice body. I won't know for sure until I try some.
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  #37  
Old 08-27-2010, 10:22 PM
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Cool Well....

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Originally Posted by Ben Rose View Post
....Some of my favorite sounding KS clips on youtube have a morado fb....
Definitely would advise against using YouTube as a reference point. Simply not an accurate representatation of what your sound would be, with you playing, through your rig.
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  #38  
Old 08-27-2010, 10:23 PM
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....I won't know for sure until I try some....
Most definitely.
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  #39  
Old 08-29-2010, 01:06 AM
Bryan L Williams Bryan L Williams is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Smith View Post
There is no finish on the boards. Just fine sanded and then oiled. I would not call the oiling a real finish as Ebony is oily in itself. It just helps keep it lubricated to a degree.
What type of oil do you prefer to use on the Ebony boards?
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  #40  
Old 08-29-2010, 02:26 AM
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Cool mineral

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Originally Posted by Bryan L Williams View Post
What type of oil do you prefer to use on the Ebony boards?
Non solvent type mineral oil. Use as needed..
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