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Mastodon2

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Mastodon2 last won the day on March 29 2019

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  1. As someone who was in a similar position, but making a total switch to bass guitar, the best advice I can offer is this; buy the bass you want, not the bass you think you need or the bass others tell you will be best for you. Bass players can be a conservative bunch. Think about how you want to sound as a player and let that guide your selection process. Edit to add, guitarists can be very conservative too, just for balance.
  2. Not sure if serious. Try a Rithimic, it's a seriously quality piece of kit. They're absolutely not holding back for fear of treading on anyone's toes - they don't need to. They could do do better quality and lower prices to undercut the other companies they subcontract for and they'd still get the business from them, because they are cost-effective, fast, high quality and good QC for their price range. As for "anaemic" pickups, again, try the bass, have a listen to "Joe Frazier Round 3". A Rithimic wouldn't be my first choice for a Pantera cover band but for a deep, rich and punchy fusion sound, well, Bartolini have been revered for years in jazz circles and rightly so.
  3. I've seen it said that the old US Peavey Cirrus basses were close in tone to a Ken Smith, but I don't hear it. I've never played one, but no recording I've ever heard of them had that Smith sound. My experience of Smith tone is super balanced and even sound, with all notes on the fretboard being equal in volume and no particular frequencies standing out obtrusively. I feel like Smith's have a natural compression which is just so musical and they're very flattering to play. Ken has talked previously about his desire to make a live Smith bass sound like it has the "studio" sound already applied. I don't think there is any bass, inexpensive or otherwise, that really sounds like them.
  4. Quite. Signature instruments are partly about getting a certain sound, part getting a bass with specs which works for you (which often is a unique or unusual combination which is hard to find in other instruments) and part hero worship. If you change the spec away from the standard "This is what Harris / Sheehan / Berlin etc uses on stage and in the studio" then you will damage the hero worship value of the bass. I have always wanted a Yamaha Attitude Ltd II in seafoam green, like Billy Sheehan used on the Steve Vai: Live at the Astoria DVD. I'd always known as well however, that aside from getting the signature Sheehan overdriven super P tone, that I'd get a lot more out of the bass if I had a J pickup in the bridge position. Luckily enough, I managed to get exactly that from a member on here and to boot, it was considerably cheaper than any other Attitude LTD II, despite being in fantastic condition. It was virtually box fresh, with a set of Lace Alumitone P and J pickups, flawless routing work and all the rewiring. The pickups aren't cheap and the workmanship is excellent, so I'd guess the cost of the mods at being a few hundred quid in their own right, work which devalued the bass by a large margin. This made it an ideal buy for me, being a total bargain and in my optimum spec and with the work already done, so I didn't need to agonise over getting the mods done or take the financial hit on the value of the bass. Should I ever come to sell it, which I don't think I will, it owes me quite a lot less than LTD II in standard spec.
  5. While Spector is the obvious choice, I'd definitely recommend giving an Attitude a try. They have a certain something that just makes them work so well. I have an Attitude LTD II with a J pickup added to the bridge. I actually rarely use the woofer pickups or the stereo outputs, but it does sound absolutely huge to use the woofer clean and the P/J pickups running through an overdrive pedal. The necks on Attitudes are pretty fat but it somehow feels right for the bass. That said, most Spectors aren't exactly slim in the neck department either.
  6. You know that Ken has been more of a shop manager than a luthier for years though, right? Since the 80s he has been outsourcing parts of the build process. He had a team of guys working in his shop for years. From what I gather, Ken would do virtually all of the processes, but rarely, if ever, did he do a bass from start to finish. Wood selection, lay-up and gluing, carving, sanding, fretting, finishing, hardware installation, electronics installation etc, he did all of it and as I understand it, every single bass that came out of the shop went through his hands for set up and inspection. However, it's always been a team build, I don't think Ken has ever worked as a lone luthier doing everything completely by himself, like later-day Mike Pedulla for example. I would guess an awful lot of other shops do this and keep it hushed up. Part of the allure of a boutique bass is the idea that the bass came from a special shop and it was crafted within those hallowed walls. Ken has always been open about his business practices. He's a smart guy, he got out of NYC when the price of doing business there was ramping up. I know he has used multiple guys to build his preamps and pickups over the years, carving has been outsourced and just the other day, I watched a video where he talked about outsourcing the finishing process to a piano restoration shop who had spare capacity in their spray booth and the skills in their business to do boutique bass levels of finishing quality. Still, everything had to meet his acceptance criteria and given the exacting quality of KS basses and how he comes across as a person, I don't think he'd accept anything less than perfect from any of his subcontractors. Now that Ken has got Kev Brubaker doing anything, are these basses any less of a true "Ken Smith" product? I don't think so. I think there may well be a premium on older Smiths that came from his NY and Pennsylvania shops, but I wouldn't be averse to buying a new Smith. As per Al's post above, what is a boutique bass? Where does the value come from? Clearly, the cost of the finished instrument is considerably more than the value of the materials used to build it, the value comes from the expertise and skill of the designer and craftsmen. I agree with Al somewhat in that part of what makes a Smith a Smith, or an Alembic an Alembic etc, is the design. People covet the Smith sound, nothing else on the market sounds like it, so if you want that Smith sound, you need a Smith. However, I do think that part of the mystique and allure is that the basses have from these famous shops. If somebody copied the specs of a KS perfectly and built their own and it was indistinguishable from one of Ken's basses, it still wouldn't be a Smith. I don't feel that to be the case with Kev Brubaker though, as Kev was selected by Ken to perform the work. If and when Ken retires fully and he no longer has the last pair of hands on a bass before delivery to the customer, he may well licence Kev to keep going with the KS basses. Maybe this will cause a dilemma for some with regards to whether or not it's a "true" KS, but personally I'd still be happy to buy one. People are happy to pay more than ever for new Wals for example, so clearly when you have a unique and desirable product, people will still buy it. Ken Smith will be remembered as one of the greats in boutique basses, that much is for sure.
  7. You can still buy a new Ken Smith if you wish. Kevin Brubaker builds them now. Ken supplies the wood from his collection, Kev builds it and Ken does the final setup. If you check the Ken Smith YouTube channel you can see him doing the setup on some of the latest instruments to come from Kev's shop.
  8. Yes that is the trim pot. Unfortunately I don't have any method of recording at home that would do the bass justice. I just record clips on my phone if I'm making sure I don't forget a bass line for example. I should probably buy a DI box and record to my laptop.
  9. The Tonepump must surely be one of the most misunderstood and unfairly maligned pieces of electronics in bass guitar circles. There has been a longstanding propagation of untrue information about it, not helped by the fact that even Spector themselves didn't fully understand it. The Tonepump was made by a Czech company, Michalik, allegedly as a Haz knockoff, using some clever JFET wiring. Spector purchased them from Michalik and branded the ones going in their bass as the Tonepump. I guess there was confusion at Spector over the translation of the technical documents in English because they repeatedly put false info out about the Tonepump, calling it "boost-only". This appeared on the Spector website, in the blurbs on online music shops and even from the mouth of PJ Rubal when someone asked him about it. What makes matters more confusing is that the flat point in the cut/boost spectrum isn't at the halfway points for the bass or treble knobs - it's believed to be in a different place for each knob, and there are no centre detents to help you find the halfway point in the travel of the pot. I find the best way to use my Spector with Tonepump and EMG PJ is just to set the bass and treble knobs where it sounds good and then use the pickup pan to fine tune the sound. The idea of the Tonepump appears to be an intentional design to distort the signal when on full gain. I guess this was done to help get the Spector grind sound, but in truth it will probably just clip the input of your amp. For the majority of the lifespan of the Tonepump, there has been a small screw on the housing of the preamp which is the gain control. Open your bass up and it will be set 100% in its fully open position for max gain. Use a small screwdriver to wind it fully clockwise and you'll note your bass has no output at all. Wind it back up until you're happy with the sound and your bass isn't clipping your amp unreasonably. Voila. I have my Tonepump set somewhere between 50-60% gain. This still gives it a lively Spector sound and doesn't clip my amp and I don't need to adjust the input gain on my amp when switching to other basses like my active Ken Smith or passive Yamaha Attitude. I find this gives me a more usable sound. If I want classic Spector grind then I use my Darkglass Alpha Omega to provide gain, rather than relying on a distorting preamp, which can sound harsh. I do wonder if the Tonepump would have made a better impression on many if Spector had set them to 50% gain, leaving people the option to turn it up if they wished, rather than just sending them out on full. There's probably a few people out there who played them or bought them and didn't like the preamp because they didn't know it was deliberately set high and could be tamed down. Personally I dont buy into the "hotter is better" signal crowd. I like the smoothest, purest signal I can get from my bass. Dirt and drive can be added later, and even that works better with a cleaner input signal from the bass.
  10. It's on the Scotts'sbasslessons facebook page so anyone with a facebook account can view it. He has left a puppet on the E string tuner! He posted a photo of it on the 6th of March on the page too. I knew it was yours, given that he is based near Leeds so it wouldn't be a big trip to collect it and there's not exactly a surfeit of 1984 Ken Smith basses floating around.
  11. I saw Scott posting the Smith on his FB page and I've seen it on a few qauranstreams that he's done recently. It sounds fantastic!
  12. That five minutes on your Vigier definitely put them on my list, but the more I look into them, it seems they jacked in the full carbon necks a long time ago. They have some marketing bumf about how the wood neck is "deeper and richer", but I'd only really be interested in full carbon. A shame, as it takes them off the table for me, unless a used one came up in the right spec. As for my "go to" bass, I play all of my basses fairly equally, with the exception of the Pedulla which needs some new strings, but my Ken Smith is my #1. It is the bass from a brand that I've always idolised, it sounds and plays just how I want a bass to be. This reminds me that the Pedulla needs restringing but I don't have the right gauge in the house and I'm trying to minimise unnecessary work for postal workers and delivery people until this who COVID thing is winding down. That's not to say I'll not be buying new strings for the foreseeable, but I think I'll do bulk orders instead of just getting a set delivered any time one of the basses needs it.
  13. Going from a Vigier to a Höfner and a Gibson must have been a massive come down. Glad you found your way back to a Vigier in the end though!
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