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

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It’s about where you put them IMO. 

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14 minutes ago, ped said:

It’s about where you put them IMO. 

I know placement has been a much discussed on the MM position and how some bridge MM style pick ups further back never nail the MM tone due to being nowhere near the sweet spot.

I was just wondering if the KA pick ups shared any of the characteristics (along with needing to be wired in parallel). I have a bass with a route which can pretty much take any pick up shape and I think my next experiment might be with a MM or a soapbar. I guess KA could wind me one to KS spec for not too much cost.

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30 minutes ago, krispn said:

I know placement has been a much discussed on the MM position and how some bridge MM style pick ups further back never nail the MM tone due to being nowhere near the sweet spot.

I was just wondering if the KA pick ups shared any of the characteristics (along with needing to be wired in parallel). I have a bass with a route which can pretty much take any pick up shape and I think my next experiment might be with a MM or a soapbar. I guess KA could wind me one to KS spec for not too much cost.

Yes worth a go. Honestly one of the most ‘Smith’ sounding Smiths I ever played was one of the burner models with jazz pickups so I don’t necessarily believe the pickups and electronics (I mostly played mine passive) have as big an impact as the placement and the construction of the ‘chassis’

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1 minute ago, ped said:

Yes worth a go. Honestly one of the most ‘Smith’ sounding Smiths I ever played was one of the burner models with jazz pickups so I don’t necessarily believe the pickups and electronics (I mostly played mine passive) have as big an impact as the placement and the construction of the ‘chassis’

Heretic :P

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20 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

Heretic :P

Well it sounded exactly the same with the preamp flat as it did bypassed, and to me a great bass sounds great with everything flat so you have the extra on tap if you need it. 

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From the KS website:

Active & Passive: If your Battery goes dead during a performance you can lift the Volume control knob to bypass the active circuit. This feature is recommended for emergency use only. The volume pot ‘push-pull’ feature does not have the same durability as a standard toggle switch.

😁

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Just now, Al Krow said:

From the KS website:

Active & Passive: If your Battery goes dead during a performance you can lift the Volume control knob to bypass the active circuit. This feature is recommended for emergency use only. The volume pot ‘push-pull’ feature does not have the same durability as a standard toggle switch.

😁

Mine had a switch ;)

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Ah, in that case, you're perfectly entitled to play the bass how you want and not how Ken has ordained 😁

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1 minute ago, Al Krow said:

Ah, in that case, you're perfectly entitled to play the bass how you want and not how Ken has ordained 😁

Every time I used the switch Ken phoned me up and had a go. He MADE me sell it 

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43 minutes ago, ped said:

Every time I used the switch Ken phoned me up and had a go. He MADE me sell it 

Cant argue with that level of customer service 😅

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Smith pickups are located pretty much in Jazz Bass pick up positions, same as Spector, Steinberger, Fodera etc.  My Spector gets pretty close to a Smith because there is so much soft maple used in it, but it has more midrange timbre.  I actually dropped Aaron Armstrong an email this week to see if he could make a pair of BT flavoured, coil split soapbars to replace the Wizards.  Haven't heard back from him yet but here's hoping.

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On 21/05/2020 at 14:29, Kiwi said:

A quick distraction is required then to defuse tension....OH! LOOK!! THREE SMITH BASSES!

DSCF0232.jpg

Is that still your current line up? Very tasty! 

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1 hour ago, Kiwi said:

...because there is so much soft maple used in it, but it has more midrange timbre.

Now that's just Ezbass flavoured click bait! 😂

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12 hours ago, Al Krow said:

Is that still your current line up? Very tasty! 

I sold all three back in 2008/9.  I remember the fretless was purchased by Randy Hope Taylor who promptly asked Martin Petersen to install frets on it!  Fretless Smiths are not that common, let alone unlined ones so that's one potentially lost to posterity.  I can't remember where the others went, I think the 6 was sold to someone on here perhaps.  

My Spector NS5CR does the same job ever so slightly better but it's been with Jon Shuker since 2016 waiting to get the neck straightened out a bit more.

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Posted (edited)

Agreed that's a shame about the loss of that unlined fretless KS to posterity!

WARNING - BRIEF SPECTOR BASS FANBOI INTERLUDE...!

In what sense does your Spector do the job better? Whilst both are great basses, they are definitely not the same tonally or in build. 

Edited by Al Krow

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1 hour ago, Al Krow said:

In what sense does your Spector do the job better? Whilst both are great basses, they are definitely not the same tonally or in build. 

The classic Spector flavour is heavily influenced by their use of EMG pickups.  It gives them a sterility that I'm not fond of (although I like EMG's in guitars so am not being a brand snob by any means).  Take the EMG's out of a Spector and replace with a set of pickups that have coil splits and it massively increases the versatility of the bass.  I have a set of custom Wizards in at the moment which are very flat (almost like Alembic/Jaydee pickups) apart from a slight peak at around 35Hz. 

Spectors tend to be made from softer maple.  In that sense they keep to Ken's approach of softer woods to preserve that purr/growl. Spectors/Smiths compare favourably to one another in terms of warmth and snap.  The Smiths tend to be a little mid scooped sounding, I ran mine with very aggressive GK RB700 combos when I was gigging as they helped preserve the midrange.   If I played one of the Smiths through an SWR SM400 or Eden WT800 or a Warwick head, (which sound GREAT with bright basses like a Status or Modulus) the mid scooped colouring of the amp made it near impossible to hear the Smith in the on stage mix.  It was like mid scooped bass + mid scooped amp = no mids = am I playing the right note?  

The Spector kind of works through that one by being mids prominent, so I can use it with a variety of amps regardless of how coloured they are in the mids.  Would love to have a bass with a mostly wenge neck with a couple of flamed maple laminates but wenge is becoming increasingly hard to source due to shortages.  

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Posted (edited)

That's an excellent post, thanks @Kiwi

The only point that I do have to disagree with you (big time!) is that EMG pups are sterile but you also mention lack of coil splits in the next sentence. I wonder if the more current range EMGs have dealt with your concerns? 

I have EMG 40TW (or 40CS-TW) in my Euro LX5 and they deliver a fantastic punchy tone pretty much in the sweet spot between two of my other goto basses. I feel like I'm getting the best of both worlds with the Spector, which takes elements of the harmonic richness of my Yammy alnicos and the meaty growl of my Ibby SR's Nord big singles.

However, picking up on your split coil point, the EMG 40TW are indeed split coil pups and provide the option of both a single coil and a humbucker. The single-coil mode is their JCS pickup built with ceramic magnets and steel pole pieces. The humbucker mode is their ceramic steel (‘CS’) dual-coil for a big, aggressive sound with a pronounced mid-range. A push/pull volume pot allows me to switch. A combination I really like is clarity of a J neck pup blended with the fatness of the CS bridge humbucker which seems to nail it for me.

Edited by Al Krow

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On 09/06/2020 at 01:15, FLoydElgar said:

Does anyone have the hadrien feraud burner?

If so get posted

And there was I thinking you were just wanting to see who else had one for curiosity. But it goes deeper than that and your Smith journey seems to be continuing apace! Good luck with the hunt! 

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I just love the smith design! No one will sell me their burner so atleast I can look at them 🤣😜

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10 minutes ago, NotAsGoodAsJaco said:

I think I might start a thread called, "Why the f**k did I sell my Ken Smith?!"

Why did you? 😂

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I'm very happy with my BT6 will just keep for life now as it sound and feels great!

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On 19/06/2020 at 08:44, ped said:

Why did you? 😂

I struggled with the string spacing. I like it very wide (19mm) and I just found it difficult to play. I was gutted as it was the best quality bass I've ever owned and the tone was KILLER! Wish I'd kept it for a bit longer...

i think I'd buy it back from the guy I sold it to but he loves it

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