Carol Kaye pre basses from the '50s & '60s

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by CaseyVancouver, Oct 6, 2017.

  1. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    image.jpeg Being a big Carol Kaye fan it really kills me that there are a number of her pre basses out there, but we don't seem to know which ones she owned. She did not like to change strings so every two years or so she would stop into LA music shops and get a new bass.

    She was on about 10,000 recordings. She was so busy in the '60s that a cartage crew would deliver and set up her amps in advance for her 3 to 5 recordings at various studios on the day. This also may of been a way of letting the contractor feel at ease cause her amp has arrived so she will too :)

    Anyone got one of these basses for sure?
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  2. songwriter21

    songwriter21 I have an obsession for wood. The musical kind. Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2005
    Sponsored by Hipshot
    Don't know about the basses' existence, but buying an entirely new bass every two years? Instead of just getting new strings? Unless she got free basses, that seems incredibly expensive and wasteful, being a legend or not.
    Evil Undead and Pbassmanca like this.
  3. Gbonus Uralias

    Gbonus Uralias

    Sep 11, 2017
    Kaye fan here too.
    I wish I had or even seen one of her basses used on some of those recordings.
    I think I would donate it to the RnR hall of fame - if they can get their heads out of there asses and induct her already (and so many other deserving musicians and bands)....but that's for another forum.

    I would love to see some of those Basses.
    Probably no big deal back then to swap one out for another and not think twice.
    Maybe Brian Wilson has the one used on Pet Sounds?
  4. Gbonus Uralias

    Gbonus Uralias

    Sep 11, 2017
    Now a days maybe yes, but back then a Fender Jazz was only a couple Hundred (?) and the studios probably had
    full access to instruments from manufactures direct. I'm just guessing here....
  5. songwriter21

    songwriter21 I have an obsession for wood. The musical kind. Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2005
    Sponsored by Hipshot

    Using the studio's basses, I get, otherwise, a few hundred bucks as opposed to maybe a few dollars for strings? That's crazy, right?
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  6. wagdog


    Mar 20, 2000
    Der Waffle Haus
    I never got the impression Carol became attached to a specific bass unlike other players who went on to be associated with 'the one'. I think she just used what was available and got the job done.
  7. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    Yeah a new bass cause the strings are old is hard to relate to today. In the 50's and 60's some folks liked to get a big new car every year, and she made great money.
    MobileHolmes, Gaolee, nixdad and 4 others like this.
  8. She probably worked like 12hrs per day and looked at it like a busy contractor buying a brand new drill set as opposed to just replacing the worn drill bits once in awhile.
    She did not want to waiste time unscrewing the bridge covers and replacing the strings for an hour when there was 20 musicians and engineers waiting for her to do her stuff.
    I think in her time and her situation it made more sense than we can conceive it today
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
  9. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Well, a couple hundred bucks back in the day is about the same as a couple grand these days, so it was not cost-effective either way. Plus, I wouldn’t believe everything these guys and gals said (or has been said about them) over the years. Maybe she did buy a new bass every two years, why not (it was her main tool), but I don’t buy that it was because she didn’t want to change strings (or only because of it). Makes a good story though...
  10. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    Heard it from the lady herself, via The Official Carol Kaye Web Site. and The Wrecking Crew documentary. :)
  11. She says she hated changing strings and never had time to do it anyway.
    Pbassmanca and lowdownthump like this.
  12. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    She's simply a magnificent bassist. Excellent dynamics, rhythm, and note choice.
  13. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    More importantly she would trade in the old one at the same time so she was only spending $50 or $75 difference for a new instrument, new strings and a setup.
  14. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012 Cartage is just a business. The producer, or the studio, or the record company, had a contract with the cartage company, who would deliver the amp as a service in exchange for recompense. They didn't give a hoot whether Carol showed up or not, they were going to get paid for delivering the amp either way.
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  15. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Most bassist's didn't change their strings until they broke back then as they liked the dead sound and still sounded bright with a pick like carol's did, most used the big La Bella 052-110 set. Supposedly Jamerson sent a broken La Bella back to the factory and asked if they could weld it back together. Carol always played Precision basses at least back in the 60's. I bought my first Fender P bass in 1971 and it came with a set of big flatwounds along with both covers and some foam glued underneath the bridge cover, that was standard back then, don't know what they were but they sounded very good and La Bellas feel and sound like they did. Carol was a schooled jazz musician (guitar) and read charts for most of her sessions which may partially explain why her note choice was so good.
    Pbassmanca, Nomogram and selowitch like this.
  16. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    Not according to Carol Kaye. Sometimes they even adjusted the dials to what she liked.

    Not sure why folks are cynical here.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  17. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Incidentally, what does pre basses in the title mean? Never mind, just read it, always helps to read the posts.:D
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  18. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    That's how she eventually wound up playing Ibanez :)
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  19. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    Well, then it must be true.
    Pbassmanca, Revolver and sikamikanico like this.
  20. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    I read that John Entwistle also had a bass which he liked but didn't know how to change the strings so bought another bass when the strings got old.

    It was a different time and people just didn't know stuff like they do now.

    EDIT I think Petrus61 (next post) has the correct quote.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
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