Bucks County guitar fans who want a peek behind the curtain about how their favorite instruments are crafted generally flock to the Martin Guitar Factory in Nazareth. And while that provides a worthy look at an historical line of instruments, there’s a closer option of equal renown. Martin’s product line focuses on acoustic guitars; Ken Smith Basses address the lower end of the scale.
Smith’s stock-in-trade is bass guitars, those string-electric beauties that provide musical foundation to the instruments that rest atop it melodically.
He played string bass early, the stand-up version requiring a bow. That interest spread, leading to a fascination with the musical mechanics of wood and strings. He once dissected a cello just to see how it worked.
By age 17, he was playing bass professionally. Past gigs included accompanying singers Johnny Mathis and Shirley Bassey.
Smith’s talent grew to encompass the electronic version. From his performance experience there came a desire to tweak the bass guitar in innovative ways.
In 1978, he opened his Perkasie factory.
Smith-made guitars have become the instrument of choice for performers like Mike Gordon of Phish.
Factory tours of Ken Smith Basses are scheduled by appointment only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 215.453.8887 to schedule.