Blonde 60's Kay up to $3400?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by standup17, Apr 1, 2005.

  1. Bass on ebay up to about $3400 with a few days left on the auction. Looks to be in very good shape. Is this reasonable, or just a bit too "fashionable"?

  2. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I personally cannot fathom why people pay so much for old plywood basses. You could get a respectable carved bass for that much bread.

    I currently have a '60 kay that I am working on and have had insane offers on it. of course, if it were mine i would have accepted one of those insane offers but, alas, it is not mine to sell !
  3. I play an old American Standard right now (not mint) and am waiting on a New Standard!

    A lot of people ask me about it at my gigs and when I tell them that the AS basees are somewhat more in demand than Kays, they mostly don't understand me or don't believe me.

    I've only used the "eats Kays for breakfast" line a couple of times ;).

  4. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    If you have an American Standard, why would you get rid of it in favor of a New Standard?

    BTW, DZ, you would not want to know what I paid for my American Standard. :rolleyes:
  5. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Hey i'm not knocking it... It's just not my thang ! :)
  6. My AS is a good bass. Not sure it's a great bass. I'm hoping the NS is a great bass.

    I don't know if I will move the AS in favor of the NS. I can imagine I would regret doing so, but the $ is going to be the trick.

  7. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    To me, Kays are sort of like the Fender P bass of DB land. They are all servicable, but on rare occasion you pick one up and say "WOW, this must be what started the whole craze with these things."

    Then you give it back to the guy who ain't gonna sell it because he knows he's stumbled onto one of the good ones.

    I have played a Kay or two that sounded really good and kicked like a mule, but I have played many more that were pretty much a beat up 50-year-old version of my Engelhardt.
  8. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Exceptin' that the Kay didn't come along until a coupla hundred years after the whole DB craze had started...
    I know you mean "the craze with Kays" and not "the craze with DBs," but in the case of the Fender P-bass that really *did* start the whole thing--it was the first of its kind.
    Speaking of which, I'm digging this '69 P-bass I bought in December. It's CBS, I know, and it's been refinished, but it just resonates like crazy. As Chasarms says, individual examples always come along that disprove the rule. (My Kay M-1 was not one of those; it was a joke compared to my "real" bass, but it served me well for outdoor gigs and brunches aboard a sea-going vessel.)
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I sold my old American Standard (#158 and just as ugly and beat up as they come) AND my Ken Smith 6-string slab AND a bunch of speaker cabs to get my NS LaScala hybrid. Why? Because it's a much better bass that leaves me a lot of room to grow into. Also because the neck on my original AS was so thin it made my left hand cramp. I hated to see it go, but I never miss it when I have my new mistress in my arms. :)
  10. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I suppose there comeds a time that the history, scarcity and mythos associated with an instrument surpasses any pure utility value. Doesn't have to be a really valuable instrument, either. When my nephew traded up from his 1/4 sized DB- a new Chinese instrument- to a 1/2 sized Juzek with plenty of battle scars, his mother was at first amazed. Don't you want a nice, new instrument, she wondered. But he saw that the old instrument had had a lot of music played on it, and he dug that, in his 10-year old way. Everything else he owns has to be new to be cool- his basketballl, his sneakers, his computer- but the bass has to have the funkiness that comes with age and use.

    We'll see if he still feels this way next trade ;-)
  11. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    I disagree [violently]. The P bass as a design can be butchered like any other design, just like kays & Engelhardts are shaped to look like good basses; and when you find a good one it is more about luck then building.

    But just like a good upright, a good P bass only gives you back what you put into it, there is no safety blanket of active tone controls and pickup blending, all the versatility comes from your hands and how you use them.

    I wouldn't trade either of my P basses for a kay.
  12. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    Maybe "violently" is a bit strong, but, as said the P was the first truly usable BG, it wasn't made as a affordable downgrade from a existing and superior instrument; all BGs come from the P bass, yes, some have surpassed it, but it was the starting point.

    I have been playing DB for seven years. I'm not the best Db player by far, but I'm still trying.

    Look past the bad finishes, laminations, and asembly line building and what do you get? They were trying to make a afordable Double bass, they did not come up with a new look or way for it to funtion.

    No, actually I like Kays and I bought my DB [it is a unknown Chinese or Romanian Plywood] because it sounded like a old Kay, and I only had to play $1,000 for it. I do think they are over priced though, the last one I played was around $4,000 - $4,500, granted it was a five string, but still.

    Sorry, I think on my part I was unclear and standoffish.
  13. BassGreaser


    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    :O I would never pay $3400 for a KAY :spit: I do have a good lead on a Epiphone upright that I can buy $800 :bag:
  14. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Buy it! I had a great Epiphone awhile back. The neck was a bit skinny, but it sounded great.
  15. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I know a guy who plays on a really old Kay. He found it at a public school and bought it from them for $400, only to have it appraised later at about $13,000.

    Tonight I tried the thing... it really isn't that good an instrument. I think that Kays are overpriced, and anyone would be much better suited buying one of those NS basses.
  16. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Either there's an extra zero in that appraisal, or some previous owner who used the bass to smuggle cocaine in from Colombia forgot to collect his stash from where it was taped to the bass bar...
  17. Back to the original thread: Something is worth what someone will pay for it to that person, regardless of what someone else thinks it's worth.

    Whether or not a Kay is a good sounding bass is a different question. I have found them to be highly variable with most of them just plain sounding like thud. But then again they may have just been set up real bad and poorly maintained. It's tough to tell what any DB's potential is until you get it back from a good luthier.

    As for the trusty old Fender Precision (mine, bought in '75, is a 1973 sunburst with tortoiseshell & rosewood, serial #406527 and no, it isn't nor ever will be for sale at any price) : They must totally suck or you wouldn't see so many famous professionals who could play on anything at any price using them. Did I confuse anyone? ;)

    Of course if you don't know how to set one up and have bad strings, they can suck, too, just like most any electric bass or double bass. I think most folks want something flashier with some kind of pre-amp on board these days. Of course, Fender, uh, make that CBS, did that on the 25th anniversary model (which is a distant memory at this date) and later decided it wasn't such a good (CBS, you know) idea. Recording studios love them, famous professionals used them, and most of the electric bass recorded until the 90's was either a P, a Jazz, or a Rickenbacker 4001, in that order. If you run up on scored bass lines, many of them say "Fender Bass". How many DB scores call for a Kay? It is an ill-conceived comparison.

    Still, I think the vintage P-bass thing is out of control, too. Buy a new one from Mexico. It's a great deal. :)

    Oh, yeah, and it is more likely that you could spend the $3400 on a nice entry level carved bass with a really pro set-up and be sure that you are getting a good sounding DB. :)
  18. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Well, I leave this one alone for a while, and I'm "ill-conceived" along with having been disagreed with "violently."

    As many understood, my point was that the mystique, vibe, mojo or whatever you want to call it of some Kay basses tends to drive up the prices of all Kay basses. It is my opinion that the exact same phenomena is what drives up the prices of old Fender P and J basses.

    I think the comparison is perfectly valid in that sense.

    As for the notation on the scores, I guess that logic validates a BandAid as the best self adhesive bandage or Jello as the best gelatin dessert.
  19. Oops, forgot to "watch" that Kay bass to see what the final bid came in at. Anybody know?

    BTW--I've only played a few Kay basses, and none of them seemed much different than the Engelahrdt I played for a long time (and recently sold for about 1K).

  20. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    First double bass I ever played was a kay, it was in a music store that was called Musical Arts in Cottonwood AZ, I was sixteen and had been playing BG for three years, the sound of the thing blew me away; at the time I had been thinking about getting a cheap ABG but that bass wiped that idea right out of my head. It took me two years to finally find [and afford] a DB. So naturally I play almost every Kay I see, I've played one theatsucked, some that were ok, and one that was really nice.

    I have never thought all that much of Engelhardt basses one way or the other, I haven't played one yet that had the sound I like, but, have heard one played by someone else that was nice.

    In comparison, I agree. Engelhardt and the average Kay are about the same to me.

    In turns of Kay worth, I think it is worth more to save a bit more and get a decent carved bass.