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smuprof
New
Username: smuprof

Post Number: 10
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Saturday, December 09, 2006 - 2:26 pm:   Edit Post

I don't get to post often, but I thought this was a question worthy of this group (although I expect a bit of bias). :-)

I have an 84 Exploiter, along with a mid-80s Kramer Aluminum neck Flying V. Started playing 5 string on a Peavey US Millennium and want to get a nicer 5 string now.

Played a MK at the factory a year ago with the balance K body and ebony stringers and LUVED it (thanks to Val for taking the time to show me around).

So, I've been saving for a MK 5 string, thinking that would be a nice addition, keeping the high-end instruments Alembic, but . . .

I've gotten really interested in the nicer Ken Smith bases. It would give me a wider range of sound and playing options and still make a nice collection, but I haven't had as much experience with the Ken Smith instruments (no dealers in Dallas).

Ever since I get to play a mentor's Alembic in high school, there's nothing like the sound or playability, but therein lies the rub - it is a distinct sound, and maybe the Smith would be a nice alternative. I can always whip out the Exploiter (everybody loves to see that body).

SO . . . any thoughts on the BSR Ken Smith basses, differences in sound, playability, string spacing, (I'm sticking with neck-thru regardless), etc. Would love to hear from people with experience with both basses.

Many thanks for your help!
jacko
Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 927
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Saturday, December 09, 2006 - 2:41 pm:   Edit Post

My 2 cents (even though my country has a different currency). I've loved the sound of John patittucci's playing since his earliest recordings and he was the first ken smith 6 string i ever heard. Only trouble is, I think they're dog ugly. that said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so I guess it's your decision.

Graeme
smuprof
Junior
Username: smuprof

Post Number: 12
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Saturday, December 09, 2006 - 2:52 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks, Graeme - got to agree with you on the looks. Was just flipping through the web and ran across an MK 5 string featured on gguitars with the balance K body style and it is stunning - no contest on the looks.
keavin
Senior Member
Username: keavin

Post Number: 996
Registered: 12-2002
Posted on Saturday, December 09, 2006 - 2:57 pm:   Edit Post

Alembic is in a whole diffrent universe as far as sound is concerned. a Ken smith cant take you where an alembic Can.
5stringho
Junior
Username: 5stringho

Post Number: 22
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Sunday, December 10, 2006 - 1:43 pm:   Edit Post

John,

For what it's worth, here's my 1 1/2 cents worth;

I've played KS basses, and they are nice, but they aren't Alembics. Had a buddy that owned a KS 6-string for a while, and couldn't wait to get rid of it. Didn't like the way it played. Also, I think the Wickersham electronics are superior to anything you can get on a Smith. Besides, the Alembics look better, and, Dude, they're Alembics!!!! Good Luck, Mike...
811952
Senior Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 914
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, December 10, 2006 - 3:03 pm:   Edit Post

As Keavin says, the Alembic will take you places the Ken Smith can't.

John
smuprof
Junior
Username: smuprof

Post Number: 25
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 2:57 pm:   Edit Post

Just an update on the search. Tracked down a Ken Smith dealer in Dallas (harder than you might think) and went and played two high end 5 string Smiths, neck-thru and bolt-on. They are nice basses, but I just couldn't get excited about them and even through a very nice Eden rig, the tonal palatte seemed so limited compared to other basses, particularly Alembics. Olie was kind enough to let me come play his Balance K 5 string just to be doubly sure, and that Alembic magic was there the moment I picked it up . . . so I bought a 5 string Mark King Balance K from Bass Central two days before Christmas!

Pics and description are posted in the "Swap Shop and Wish Lists" topic under "Wanted, Wishing, and Watching" in a post named "Wanted Mark King with Balance K Body Style." Enjoy.

Thanks to Rory and Olie and everyone else for their input and help in finding the next great bass!
hb3
Intermediate Member
Username: hb3

Post Number: 191
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 4:44 pm:   Edit Post

Kramer aluminium neck flying V? I had one of the fretless Kramers...not the V. The neck dive on that thing must be insane....
smuprof
Junior
Username: smuprof

Post Number: 26
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 6:30 pm:   Edit Post

Actually, the dang thing balances! It is the only Kramer body style I ever played that balances. It kinda makes sense if you look at it. Short scale, the front strap attacheds where the neck meets the body. Measure from that point to either the headstock or the upper wing and its about the same distance. Very cool, so if you ever run across a Kramer Aluminum V, it should balance.

Now, if there were only some way to keep it in tune . . . :-)
j_gary
Advanced Member
Username: j_gary

Post Number: 227
Registered: 6-2005
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 7:03 pm:   Edit Post

Wise choice, I am a big KS fan. Had two 4's, two 5's and a six. Traded the six for an old Series I, sold one of the 5's to buy a Series II.

Smiths are a cool working bass, found Alembic to offer much more variation of tone, big power, and beauty.

Another big advantage is the people who make up the Alembic world, builders and buyers.
erwin
New
Username: erwin

Post Number: 2
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Thursday, January 11, 2007 - 7:50 am:   Edit Post

Or buy a Dingwall Prima...
erwin
New
Username: erwin

Post Number: 3
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Thursday, January 11, 2007 - 7:55 am:   Edit Post

http://www.dingwallguitars.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=119
mele_aloha
Junior
Username: mele_aloha

Post Number: 20
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Thursday, January 11, 2007 - 9:46 am:   Edit Post

How does one play with those slanted fretts?
erwin
New
Username: erwin

Post Number: 4
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Thursday, January 11, 2007 - 10:08 am:   Edit Post

After 5 minutes, you don't know better. The scale length vary from 38" (low B) to 34" (high C). And because the 5 string has a scale length from 38", the sustain is....just great! Listed as one of the best sounding 5 and 6 string basses in the world. Thats why i have one to ;-)
steve4765630
Junior
Username: steve4765630

Post Number: 14
Registered: 3-2006
Posted on Friday, January 12, 2007 - 8:50 am:   Edit Post

A Ken Smith dealer in Dallas, huh? I bet you went to Larry Morgan Music in Dallas didn't you? They have some nice stuff, but are kind of gear snobs, so never take in anything that they don't carry or you might get insulted. Funny enough, I bought my Custom Epic 6 string there. I played both of those Smiths you talked about. They were very good, but like 90% of KS basses, they were a bit steril sounding. I thinks it's the preamp and pickups. If you put in some Lane Poors, Barts or Alembics I think you could liven up the tone a little. I am glad you went Alembic in the end. You will not regret it.
crazykiwi
Junior
Username: crazykiwi

Post Number: 49
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 9:03 am:   Edit Post

I currently own three Ken Smiths
3 Smiths
and one Alembic Series 1 graphite.
Alembic Series 1
Plus I've also owned an Elan 6


Alembics are very idiosyncractic instruments and people usually fall in love with them because of that distinctiveness.

The Series basses are great - lots of thunderous power and clarity plus snap when you need it. You can just hear what a well made, structurally rigid instrument any Series bass is simply through the wide frequency response. FWIW, I've found my Elan along with older Spoilers and Persuaders I've tried sound darker than the Series basses.

My Smiths tend to have a warmer, instantly mix friendly sound which for me is very important. You can just plug the basses in and go because not a lot of eq is needed for them. The Alembic Series basses are the opposite - you can fine tune with the mid sweep until your heart is content if you need something special for a situation. The options are slightly more limited on the Signature basses but they're closer to the Series sound than the other Alembic ranges I've tried.

The other thing is feel. My Smiths are very consistent and supple in feel and I get a LOT of growl out of them. However I need to be quite gentle with them and use a light touch. The more modern Alembics are also quite supple but I understand they're designed to isolate the string, not resonate with it, so I've found that they feel very different to play.

The Smiths are also fragile while the Alembics are engineered so solidly that they're capable of taking all kinds of treatment without complaint. The necks on the Alembics I've tried have been simply superb - the best fretwork and action I've found in any US made instrument, and that includes my Smiths. Status is the only other manufacturer who can produce a neck of comparable quality and they don't have to work with the inconsistency of wood ;).

Tone wise, Smiths tend to be more growly in my experience. The older Alembics I've played don't have a lot of growl but their solidity sounds great in a rock trio or similar outfit, esp Led Zep covers ;) Additionally, I was very impressed with an nearly-all maple new Mark King Sig I played once at the Bass Centre. That was an outstanding bass and I would have snapped it up if I had the 2500 it cost at the time.

Oh and the last thing is that I've found that Smith pickups are microphonic in high gain settings. Ken Smith was a bit indignant when I mentioned this but I've double checked it on all three of my basses and they're identical in how they respond.

At the end of the day, I look at Alembics as a kind of swiss army knife. The Smiths are basses I bought for a specific setting and I think they do the job better than the Alembics could have.

The bass you think will be best will depend on what kind of music you play and what kind of sound and playability you want.

(Message edited by crazykiwi on January 25, 2007)
jazzyvee
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 718
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 11:24 am:   Edit Post

Why did you let the Elan go?
crazykiwi
Junior
Username: crazykiwi

Post Number: 50
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 9:47 pm:   Edit Post

Because I made 500 on it.
the_8_string_king
Advanced Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 373
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 10:22 pm:   Edit Post

I'd have never been able to let that one go. I'm pretty sure it's the best-looking Elan I've ever seen -definitely the best-looking Ebony Elan. I felt sad when you sold it. (I don't know why though... in theory, I should/could feel happy for someone else... maybe it's indicative of a pessimistic viewpoint towards life. Verrry interessting...)
jazzyvee
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 719
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 12:04 am:   Edit Post

you are lucky, I went to see that one just over 2 years ago and although and declined to buy it. Due to a fault.

But seems you made a good deal.

Jazzyvee
jazzyvee
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 720
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 12:05 am:   Edit Post

you are lucky, I went to see that one just over 2 years ago and although and declined to buy it. Due to a fault. It was a fantastic instrument and had an almost piano like tone to the open strings.

But seems you made a good deal.

Jazzyvee
smuprof
Junior
Username: smuprof

Post Number: 28
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 2:11 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks for the input crazykiwi, really insightful . . . but you're a bit late. I bought a Mark King at the end of the year - coco bola, etc. (directions to photos in my post on Jan 6 above).

I think I'm an Alembic man for life . . . number 2 and counting.
crazykiwi
Member
Username: crazykiwi

Post Number: 51
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 4:15 pm:   Edit Post

Jazzyvee, you approached me when I had it up for sale remember? I had the headstock issue looked at by the Bass Centre and they confirmed there was no problem with the bass apart from some superficial and very limited shrinkage of the laminates at the back of the headstock - maybe because the glue used had made them a little damp and they'd shrunk while drying?

They were also quite explicit that there was no evidence of a repair, as you've suggested. So I invited them sell it on consignment for their recommended price.

Sorry you missed out, but the bass was on only their wall for a week. Maybe next time eh?

smuprof: sorry I missed the boat - hopefully someone will be find my limited experience helpful? Hope you're enjoying your MK BTW ;)

8 string: It was a nice looking bass but it was just too dark for my needs and was fairly hefty to wear as well. I needed something with a little more burp. It would have made a superb metal/prog rock bass though - a complete juggernaut of an instrument in every sense! :-)

(Message edited by crazykiwi on January 26, 2007)
the_8_string_king
Advanced Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 376
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 5:17 pm:   Edit Post

Hmm. The darkness is a large part of what I find so appealing and beautiful about the bass... I guess it just goes to show "different plucks for different f*@ks!"
jazzyvee
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 723
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 1:51 am:   Edit Post

Thanks for that info,crazykiwi, That bass had my name on it lol. If it comes up again I will certainly have a second look at it if possible.

Cheers

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