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GETTING A LOT OF BASS FOR A SMALL $?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Nuno A., Jun 20, 2002.


  1. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    SWITZERLAND
    Hello everybody......
    I would like to hear your opinions about this:
    I got a 52 Kay M-1, a 40's german(laminated ) and a old carved german....
    The one i use the most, is the Kay....is the one i like more the sound, the one who is more trustable ...
    i play mostly traditional jazz,dixieland, jump blues, boogie woogie, swing....
    Lots of people have played my Kay....from amateurs who are just learning, to professional jazz bass players
    and even 1 or 2 orchestra players.....
    and they all agree how great does this bass sound ....
    (1 orchestra player told me that this bass could fool a lot of people and it was really a lot of bass for the $)
    I know that since this is my main bass, is the one i've been puting more money on....(new adjustable bridge, new endpin, new soundpost , new tailpiece wire, and fixed some cracks and retouched a bit the vernish...)
    I always used gut strings with my bass, i always noticed that the A and E were muddy....
    Now i use plain gut G and D and velvet garbos A and E.
    Dark but clean sound...and more amazing, even in all registers.....
    So this is my question....what can you really expect from a Kay?(or similar) I know that Aaron Bell used a Kay to play with Duke Ellington, so did Slam Stewart and Eddie Jones with Count Basie....
    Chubby Jackson and Oscar Pettifford both played Kays
    during their careers....these guys were all great professionals and great bass players...sure they could played with lots of great basses....
    Do you think these basses are enough to give you what you need for your musical career???
    Did any of you guys have a Kay and feel the same as me or in the other way, you felt it was just a mediocre instrument???
    Sometimes i got the feeling that set up and strings( and the way you play ofcourse) contribute more for the sound that the bass itself....
    this could lead people to spend $2000 on a bass, put $500 on set up and then had a bass who could sound better than a 1800's bass....
    what do you think about this???
    thanks in advance....
    (i would like to hear the opinion of our luthiers experts JEFF AND ARNOLD if possible)

    NUNO ALEXANDRE
     
  2. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    I've had my '41 Kay since 1966; during that Summer I stripped the gold and blue spray paint from it, refinished it, and put a fingerboard, machines, tailpiece, endpin, etc. on it. It took me to college as a bass major, and has seen everything from bluegrass in a muddy field to festival and college/community orchestra stages. This old sweetheart sounds great, and I've never been ashamed of it. It's only been a few years since I was able to afford/justify a carved instrument (it's so nice when the kids approach the post-college era).

    I don't think you should get hung up on the label inside an instrument. The ears should be the guide that determines the quality. I've owned and have heard very good, average, and mediocre Kays.

    There are players in this world who will turn up their noses at instruments (not just double basses) with certain labels, and/or without a pedigree that they define as adequate. I have two words for them. ;)
     
  3. For what's it worth, one of my teachers, Doug Mapp, is Eddie Jones' nephew and has Eddie Jones' bass. It's not a Kay.

    Anyone who was at the convention last year and stopped by Dave Gage's booth may have seen, and possibly played it.
     
  4. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    SWITZERLAND
    Thanks for the answers....
    I was just wandering if somebody felt that their professional needs could be achieved using a regular Kay....i know there are some great pros using laminated basses....
    Orchestra playing is another thing.....then i would really need something else i guess...anyway that doesnt make part of my imediate musical plans....
    about the sound developing....i own it for 5 years now and to be honest, the sound improved after the luthier's set up and its been quite the same since then, but i really like the sound, is the kinda sound im looking for what i play so...i guess it makes it a good bass for me....thanks a lot

    p.s.just a note to David Kaczorowski:
    about Aaron Bell,Oscar Pettiford, Slam Stewart and Chubby Jackson, i have pictures and /or videos where they are actually playing Kay basses....
    Actually i saw a Count Basie video with Eddie and couldnt see well what bass he was playing....i just assume it could be a Kay since i had a 50's Kay ad from an old magazine which showed both Count Basie and Eddie Jones and advertising that he played Kay basses...anyway im sure all this bass players played and owned several basses , from regular Kays to great history basses(im sure back then it was more confortable to tour by train or bus with a Kay and leave the other basses home)
    all the best

    NUNO