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akabane

Ken Smith Chat - (NBD inside! Black Tiger 6)

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Edit: looks like this discussion is gearing towards 'all Ken Smith', so I modified the title accordingly!

 

Good morning! I'm late with this, as I bought the bass now few weeks ago already - however! It would be a crime not to share it with you all :)

I have a strict rule of 1 in, 1 out, and I generally only own 2 basses at a time (if not just one sometimes), AND I only have GAS attacks once every 6 to 8 years, so when that time comes, I GAS hard :P 

I present to you my latest purchase, this time justified as a birthday present to myself: a beautiful 2004 Ken Smith Black Tiger BSR6TN!

Specs:

  • Neck: 5-piece Laminated Aged Hardrock Maple & Bubinga with Graphite-Inlaid Bars
  • Fingerboard: Macassar Ebony with MOP Top & Side Dots & matching Macassar Ebony Headstock Overlay
  • Body Wings: 3-piece, Bookmatched Rare Figured Black Walnut Top, Walnut Back & Tiger Maple Core
  • Hardware: Gold with Dunlop "Flush Mount" Straploks
  • Pickups: Smith Custom Bass Humbucking Pickups
  • Electronics: Smith B.M.T. 3-band 18-volt EQ Circuit with adjustable DIP Frequency switches for Bass, Mid & Treble with Pickup Blend and Master Volume Control (push/pull Active/Passive) + Series/Parallel Switches
  • String spacing: 18mm
  • Scale: 34
  • Finish: Classic Hand Rubbed Dutch Varnish over Stradivari Gold Oil

Pretty much the most comfortable and fastest neck I've put my hands on, and it has an awesome character. Will enjoy spending the next few hundreds of hours getting to know her better! Happy times!

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Edited by akabane
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As I said on the KS thread, that looks like a beautiful bass... where did you get it from? 

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4 minutes ago, ped said:

As I said on the KS thread, that looks like a beautiful bass... where did you get it from? 

Thank you, it really is! I bought it from a guy in France, who bought it from the first or second owner in the US. It now has 15 years, but aside of a couple of scratches it's in awesome condition!

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1 hour ago, akabane said:

Thank you, it really is! I bought it from a guy in France, who bought it from the first or second owner in the US. It now has 15 years, but aside of a couple of scratches it's in awesome condition!

Excellent. Yes it’s a shame they’re so hard to get hold of in the UK, I think for a long time they had no UK distributor/importer and I’m not sure they still do, maybe Bass Direct? but the chances of people trying one are fairly slim unless you see a second hand one for sale. 

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2 hours ago, uk_lefty said:

That sir, is a work of art. Congrats on the purchase

Thank you! 

2 hours ago, ped said:

Excellent. Yes it’s a shame they’re so hard to get hold of in the UK, I think for a long time they had no UK distributor/importer and I’m not sure they still do, maybe Bass Direct? but the chances of people trying one are fairly slim unless you see a second hand one for sale. 

I think there's enough in the UK and here on BC that you should be able to try one. That being said, I think Bass Direct can order one, but I'd rather contact Ken Smith and enquire with him about taxes and his exporting experience for new builds. Maybe he can put you in touch with some new owners in Europe that can tell you what it's like. After all, every distributor still needs to pay import tax, and you'll pay for it...cut the middle men!

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4 hours ago, akabane said:

Thank you! 

I think there's enough in the UK and here on BC that you should be able to try one. That being said, I think Bass Direct can order one, but I'd rather contact Ken Smith and enquire with him about taxes and his exporting experience for new builds. Maybe he can put you in touch with some new owners in Europe that can tell you what it's like. After all, every distributor still needs to pay import tax, and you'll pay for it...cut the middle men!

Well luckily I’ve already got one but I think importing one would be scary, I’d rather let a shop take the risk! Yes Bass Direct sometimes have some in stock and The Gallery have some, too - they’ve got a beautiful four string in at the moment, a really old one. 

https://thebassgallery.com/products/ken-smith-bt4

 

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Bass direct had a whole bunch of new Smiths in last time I visted and often a second hand one or two.  They evidently sell quite well as they have none at all right now.  Yet I've never seen anyone playing one (you-toob aside)

I just love the build quality, especially the unecessarily wonderful way the neck is swaged into the body..  makes my Wal look a bit basic (though the sound seems not dissimilar ........ through my poxy laptop speakers, anyway).

Anyway - thing of beauty.  Hope you enjoy it.

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23 minutes ago, NickA said:

Bass direct had a whole bunch of new Smiths in last time I visited and often a second hand one or two.  They evidently sell quite well as they have none at all right now.  Yet I've never seen anyone playing one (you-toob aside)

I just love the build quality, especially the unnecessarily wonderful way the neck is swaged into the body..  makes my Wal look a bit basic (though the sound seems not dissimilar ........ through my poxy laptop speakers, anyway).

Anyway - thing of beauty.  Hope you enjoy it.

Yeh - they are pretty stunning.

Quite a few in the FS right now - in fact it was spotting them there for the first time earlier in the year that made me first start to notice them and when you start doing that you know that it's not going to end well (or cheaply when it comes to Smiths).

Did you get to play one last time you were at BD?

I suspect @ped will be along soon to point out that the Smith has it's own signature sound which is relatively unique.  Which is why if you've gotta a Wal, you've got no excuse for not having a great cab...now that's a whole 'nother topic! :) 

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"Did you get to play one last time you were at BD? "

didn't dare ask!  I was after my first 5-string with a budget of £2k ... then blew twice that on a 2nd Wal.  Also, to be honest, didn't know much about them until I got home did a little research and then remembered I'd a recording of John Pattitucci playing a Smith bass. 

Brighter than a Wal ..but I guess it depends which knobs you turn (totally changed my 5-string by tweaking the internal trim pots). 

The Smith's series parallel switch is a nice thing to have .. anyway, up there with Alembic, Fodera (and Wal of course).

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6 hours ago, NickA said:

The Smith's series parallel switch is a nice thing to have .. anyway, up there with Alembic, Fodera (and Wal of course).

That is high praise indeed!

I've often thought that the Black Tiger has visual resemblances to an Alembic, albeit with a longer top horn which also works well and gives it its own 'look'. Perhaps much more importantly, from what I've heard from posted clips, is a very different sound to the Alembic which brings one of the most sophisticated set of electronics to the party, and these days a price tag to match! 

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Holy Molé, how do you play that thing? It looks like that massive Shack bass that was floating around the internet a few years ago.

Frivolity aside, it looks amazing. Enjoy!

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You play that thing like THIS: . No you don't ..... The link keeps rotating to all kind of random and not Smith related vids. It was John Patittuci playing a Bach cello suite on a 6 string Smith.

How do you delete a you tube link?????

Edited by NickA
better link turned out wrong

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If I was into 6 string basses , this would be the bass that I'd sell everything to get .

Theses look absolutely stunning . It's strange that for me , I can just look at that picture the OP put up , and imagine almost exactly how it's going to feel in my hands .

Bass for life , that is .

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I mustn't look at that one too hard or my Ibanez sixes will start to feel uncomfortable!

Beautiful bass, and I am sure it plays and sounds as good as it looks.

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1 hour ago, FinnDave said:

I mustn't look at that one too hard or my Ibanez sixes will start to feel uncomfortable!

Beautiful bass, and I am sure it plays and sounds as good as it looks.

A feeling that my Ibanez fives are starting to share 😂

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13 hours ago, NikNik said:

Holy Molé, how do you play that thing? It looks like that massive Shack bass that was floating around the internet a few years ago.

Frivolity aside, it looks amazing. Enjoy!

 

Ahah I've always found a 6 strings wide neck fascinating, like a beast to tame! Also, all my sixers in the past have been that wide if not more, so I'm used to them by now :)

And to think that it's that broad, yet the string spacing is 'just' 18mm! Go figure how much bigger it would feel with a more '4 string style' 19 or 20mm :P

I always joke that you could land jets on the boards of my basses :D

EDIT: And now I'm curious! Please dig that Shack bass out if you can xD

 

12 hours ago, NickA said:

You play that thing like THIS: 

 

 

I saw the video before it changed to this Adam Neely one hahah! To be fair, if I could play any bass like Patitucci, I wouldn't probably feel the GAS that brought me to buy this. And yes, Patitucci was my first proper inspiration for electric bass playing (which is reflected in my instrument choices :P )

 

3 hours ago, E sharp said:

If I was into 6 string basses , this would be the bass that I'd sell everything to get .

Theses look absolutely stunning . It's strange that for me , I can just look at that picture the OP put up , and imagine almost exactly how it's going to feel in my hands .

Bass for life , that is .

 

Thank you! It looks stunning indeed, and as you said, it feels probably exactly as you're imagining. Smooooooooth handling. And yes, the plan is for it to be my 6 for life!

 

3 hours ago, FinnDave said:

I mustn't look at that one too hard or my Ibanez sixes will start to feel uncomfortable!

Beautiful bass, and I am sure it plays and sounds as good as it looks.

Ahah! Thanks, and poor Ibbys! They are great instruments, and some of the higher end models also look great in my opinion :)

Edited by akabane
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Stunning bass! 

 

On 11/06/2019 at 00:06, Al Krow said:

Did you get to play one last time you were at BD? 

I was down last Nov and tried one as they just look so good and the pros who use them sound amazing, didn't quite do it for me but I think you need some more time than a quick play through headphones to work it out. 

 

Maybe in the future.... 

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On 11/06/2019 at 21:51, NickA said:

You play that thing like THIS: 

 

That’s not music. It’s showing off in time...

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I’ve shared this video loads but THIS is what a Smith sounds like. 

It’s quite hard to find good videos like this for some reason, nearly all the vids are really badly recorded or filmed on a potato 

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On 09/06/2019 at 06:33, akabane said:

......AND I only have GAS attacks once every 6 to 8 years.......

I don't understand?!? 🤔 For me it's like saying "I only breath every other hour" lol 😁 How do you manage this inhuman feat of restraint?

Back on topic....you've got yourself a VERY nice bass there. I played a Smith 6 exclusively for 8 years and found it really comfortable for a 6. The only reason I got rid of it was that a Smith 5 Fusion 25th came up which I did a trade for. I'm sure you're going to have many hours of enjoyment from yours both playing and looking at it.

1 hour ago, ped said:

I’ve shared this video loads but THIS is what a Smith sounds like. 

It’s quite hard to find good videos like this for some reason, nearly all the vids are really badly recorded or filmed on a potato 

Yes! This is the first time I've seen this and I agree it's the best "real world application" video of a Smith I've seen. Most others consist of extremely talented players soloing at high speed up the dusty end. Impressive - yes. Relatable by the majority of people who want to hear the bass under normal playing conditions - nope, not really. "Filmed on a potato"......brilliant explanation, I now understand why 😂

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1 hour ago, Acebassmusic said:

I don't understand?!? 🤔 For me it's like saying "I only breath every other hour" lol 😁 How do you manage this inhuman feat of restraint?

Hey :) 

Ahah yeah, I know! It's not often something found stated in this forum :P After accepting at an early age that changing instruments doesn't change the way I play, all I'm left GASsing for is aesthethic pleasure. That, combined with the fact that in my eyes 'beautiful basses' are like Ken Smiths, Foderas and Marleauxs, also means that fortunately my wallet pretty much NEVER allows me to satisfy my GAS. Which then turns into frustration.

So I reckon that this 'ability' for me to GAS every few years is my mind's defensive response to the brash reality of the fact I can't afford the gear I'd like xD 

Considering that ALL the basses that EVER SERIOUSLY gave me GAS in my whole life were (and except for the Contra which is a recent - as in few years ago - all the other desires date like 15 years back haha):

-Yamaha TRB JP2 (owned for lots of years, then sold for the...)

-Ken Smith BlackTiger 6 (the subject of this adulation topic)

-Fodera Emperor 6 Elite (Figured Koa or Walnut)

-Marleaux Contra 6 (Old Violin finish)

 

Considering that a new Contra 6 is 7-8k (second hand they're pretty impossible to find) and the Fodera (second hand if I find the one I like) will likely be around 6-8k, I'll never own neither, considering that by the time I'll be able to afford either, inflation will have taken care of my actual possibility of doing so, considering I'm not going to sell this Smith for either of these :P

So then on one hand, I very marginally care about the 'tone' of an instrument unless it's really complete crap, I've realised years ago I sound like me everywhere (which is not...good...ahahah), in the past 10 years pretty much any bass above 500£ will deliver a solid tone and durable construction, so after that it's really sugar on top. Bit faster neck, better builds or woods etc...so in my case, effectively I only look at whether it feels good in my hand and pleases my eye.

For what pleasing my ears is concerned, unfortunately my rig only helps so far...my fingers are to blame! xD

1 hour ago, Acebassmusic said:

Yes! This is the first time I've seen this and I agree it's the best "real world application" video of a Smith I've seen. Most others consist of extremely talented players soloing at high speed up the dusty end. Impressive - yes. Relatable by the majority of people who want to hear the bass under normal playing conditions - nope, not really. "Filmed on a potato"......brilliant explanation, I now understand why 😂

That's really a great demo of the 'Smith sound'. Well done whoever it is!

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13 hours ago, Burns-bass said:

That’s not music. It’s showing off in time...

Blasphemy, It's BACH, The BEST music there is! Though frankly it does sound better on a cello 😁.

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8 hours ago, NickA said:

Blasphemy, It's BACH, The BEST music there is! Though frankly it does sound better on a cello 😁.

Didn’t sound like no Bach to me. I must admit I only listened to the first bit then switched off. I just never find soloing in the bass register particularly interesting or rewarding to listen to. Technically these guys are undoubtedly incredible...

I was just being an idiot. It happens!

The bass here looks amazing and the artistry in no doubt. I know a lot of the modern R&B, hip-hop guys use Ken Smiths and they sound great. If I had the money (any money) I’d love one.

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I managed to get up close and personal to a KS BT 5er today. I'm completely blown away by the quality of the workmanship and have to admit to feeling more than a little jaw dropping 'wow', right now! 

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