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1940ish Kay

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by flatline, Aug 14, 2007.

  1. flatline


    Aug 14, 2007
    Got a line on a 1940s kay. Its an orchestra model. Heel was professionally repaired at some point in its life. It is a gigging bass, so it has been setup and is in playable condition.
    Seller is looking for 800ish, with a stand and bag.

    I'm a newbie to DB, but I have been playing electric for ~12 years.

    Is this a good deal?

    Also, any links to teachers in CT?
  2. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Can you post pix?
  3. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven

    I'm thinking this is my bass, currently up fs here and in the local CL, and I just wanted to let you TB DB'ers know that you should feel free to talk about it here. I'll go look at the rules to see whether it's appropriate to make comments here. I do want whoever gets it to be steered right. Hopefully to enjoy the bass as I have!

    There are pics of the heel break and dowels in the fs thread for reference.
  4. Unless Standalone can give quotes for repairs the bass may require, only a qualified luthier can say for sure how good a deal it is. The neck is a potentially big issue, but he says it's stable. I would assume it's been that way for a while, right Standalone? So we can probably assume that's ok. But he did say it would probably need a new fingerboard in order to make any significant downward changes to the string height. That will run anywhere from a few hundred to a thousand or so, depending on the quality of the material and the luthier that does the work.

    Still and all, knowing that there are some Kays out there going for $3-4K and up, there's every possibility that it could be fixed up and still sold later at a profit. If you're close to the seller, maybe you can arrange to try it out.

    Where in CT are you? I teach in the Danbury area, and there are several other good teachers in CT. And then of course you've got a world of NYC and/or Boston-based teachers if you're willing to travel.

    Some CT teachers I have heard good things about (but don't know personally):

    Dave Overthrow (though I don't know if he actually teaches upright) - http://www.daveoverthrow.com/biopage.htm
    David Ruffels - http://www.davidruffels.com/
  5. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    The neck is stable, but I definitely don't go banging it into walls or putting a ton of weight on it. I sure don't hold back in running it all over CT and MA in the back of my Volvo and playing the heck out of it. Great sound when it warms up.

    When I brought the bass in a year or two ago, UB gave me a quote on a full neck and FB replacement and setup with finish matching and so on. I'm not sure what they're charging now. Kays of this model and vintage are usually valued between $1200 and $2000, and his quote plus what I am asking would put this bass towards the top of that range. If that was the quote for the whole neck, then I can't see just the FB coming to anything near a grand. But I don't know how their pricing has gone since then.

    I suppose this is how I arrived at my asking price. Unlike say, vintage fenders, Kays are not known to lose value because of non original parts and professional repairs. A well set up Kay with all the beauty of the old woodgrain and value associated with the year and with a new neck put in by a well known shop should be worth what's been spent on it-- towards the top of the range for these Kays.

    I really tried to set the price so that any work that gets put into the bass would pretty much add an equivalent value to it. It's not a super-bargain "flip this bass" price as far as I know, merely fair. But who knows, someone could throw this on eBay and turn it around pretty well. I may look into just doing it myself.

    It's a great bass in a lot of ways, and I'm seriously thinking about just getting a cheap ply and using gig money to save towards replacing the neck or at least the FB and seeing how I like it before letting it go. It does have quite some sentimental value! (no extra charge for that, though)

    I don't want to kill my sale by giving everyone reasons not to buy it, but this board and any buyer deserves that honesty.

    The way I see it, someone can get on the ground floor on a respectable working bass that does have some intrinsic investment value, with an eye toward upgrading it as playing ability demanded or available funds allowed it, and everybody should win.

    Apologies for another longish post. I'm an English teacher, you'd think I'd be better at editing stuff down...

  6. flatline


    Aug 14, 2007
    ok, i should have figured you'd be on here or HCBF... :)

    now, i feel that this would be a better starting position than a CCB/BSO of the same price. I also feel that i could atleast make my money back if i find out this is not for me. I tend to break even on music gear, rather than making a profit.

    is the bass in playable condition? will it last me at least a year? i currently play a mid/high end electric, and know how to take care of my gear.

    I appreciate your honesty on this board. I;ll be in further contact via email about trying it out.

    I'm out of New Haven. I'd like to try to stay semi-local (rather not travel into NYC/Boston) If you could pm me your rates, that would be great.
  7. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    Cool. I figured this would be a good buy for someone looking to get into DB, but who appreciated both the value of a vintage instrument and some of the intangibles. As for the action, it's definitely good and high, but I regularly approximate C, D and Eb up on the G string. Going up any higher is really not something that you should plan on doing much--you're going to want to spend that first year rocking out on the first four or five "fret" equivalents, anyway. If you're willing to spend that first year working within those limitations, it'll do you until you want to go ahead and fix her up for real.

    I'm right by Jimmy's restaurant in West Haven, and off for the small bit of summer that remains. Let's get together and talk about it. I'll PM some contact info.
  8. Kays are now more or less collector items. Take good care of a Kay, and it is worth the money spent. Even with repairs included. They are not making new ones any more. And the ones out there are only getting older and more valuable. Then again, if you want a solid instrument with low maintenence, Kay might not be the way to go.
  9. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    Ack! Stop saying nice things about it-- it's killin me to sell.

    Funny that this discussion took place over here rather than in the sale thread...
  10. Hartt has Robert Black, I've studied with him, hard to get into his studio, you have to be lucky but he's a good teacher. And there's Mark McCormick at the Conn College. Both are good teachers.
  11. i think 800's a steal. but you really do need a quote of the repairs needed. i haven't seen a Kay priced so low before. Joe must be crazy. (haha no offense)
  12. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    Oh jeez. I hope I'm not crazy. There are definitely cold feet feelings going on, but really... it is about the right price. I sort fo ballparked the repair costs above, and that puts the total price at about what a private seller should be able to sell the bass for. This is an Orchestra model Kay-- not your 5 grand instruments, although the prices on these might run up in the near future a la some of the vintage slabs...

    I just need a bass to gig on, and found one that I could afford, and wanted to make the move now rather than start making plans for a gig hiatus and repairs to the Kay, as I'm ready to really move up in technique and expression in my play, and the Kay isn't really set up to take the kind of solos and do the kind of recording and gigging I've been doing, even though with the repairs, the Kay would be just the thing...

    *sigh* good grief, I'm going to stop worrying about it and get it into the right willing newbie's hands and feel good about giving a decent price.
  13. countingkaren


    Feb 24, 2005
    Double Bass Performer, Restorer, Sales: Michael Asetta
  14. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    Howdy all. To update, I've found a a number of folks who'd be willing to take this bass, and others who have told me that I should definitely let it go if I can get $800 for it.

    But I've decided to keep it. Guess I got cold feet on selling it, and plan on doing some repairs to get the action playable.

    If anyone is using this thread for research later, I asked at Upton again what they would now charge for a full neck replacement with varnish matching and so on, and the price has gone up considerably since the first estimate that I referred to above. But in the end I took it to a smaller operation, David Mix in Branford, and he offered to get her going for much less. Granted, this isn't the Upton treatment with a whole upgrade to the size of the block that the neck is set in &c. &c., but this old bass isn't worth anything quite that invloved. David's home shop isn't anything as impressive as Upton, but he was friendly and honest and pointed out all the little things wrong with all the stuff around the shop, and was extra down to earth. He's also going to set me up with a decent loaner, which has made it possible for me to try to go the repair route.

    I'll give an update when I get it back.
  15. ESPdesign


    Jul 25, 2007

    I found one for $400. I'm in the process of getting pictures/specs of it. I might be a happy camper shortly :D
  16. 1. IF, repeat IF it's at all playable, the Seller has absolutely no idea whatsoever about what he's offering for sale - Buy It ! Fix It !! Play It !!! Enjoy It !!!!

    2. BUT . . . @ $400 - Buyer Beware !!! - Regardless of the circumstances . . . it's gonna cost ya more than $400 - probably sooner than later.

    For whatever it may or may not be worth . . . (I just spent the last six months doing some heavy duty research before fianlly buying my '42 Kay M-1) . . . like any vintage collectible (that's what they are - ya know that, right?) "condition" is a price factor - but - for the most part, if it sounds really, really good nobody really cares what it looks like - but - if it sounds good - and - looks good - then - it's gonna cost ya more $$$$ . . .
  17. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    Yeah-- mine sounds good, looks like heck. I'd like to see that $400 bass posted in here if you pick it up.

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