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GRETSCH Upright Bass ???

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by leejohn01, Sep 16, 2005.

  1. leejohn01

    leejohn01 Guest

    Aug 26, 2001
    I have a Gretsch made by Kay. They seem to be fairly rare. Just wondering if anyone else has a Gretsch upright bass?
  2. =====
    Google on "Kay bass" which will locate the home page for Kay, then seek your Serial number thereon. You can see how many of these basses were made and during which years. Sometimes you can also buy spare parts, such as tuning keys, tail pieces, etc. -- Don Carrigan
  3. Ooo once you do, let us know. I've got a Gretsch EB, and I love it. To think of a Gretsch upright....oooo. Pics?
  4. M Ramsey

    M Ramsey

    Mar 12, 2005
    North Carolina
    Afternoon all,

    I HAD one and sold it. Bought it off of Ebay about 3 years ago. This one had been refinished, not a really good job, but at least it was not a heavy finish. The bass was very responsive.

    This was basically a Kay C-1 with a beachwood (possibly) fingerboard.

    After I got my 2nd American Standard I had to let her go.

    Kinda sad.

    I do remember that there was a member here on Talkbass from Texas who had one and we actually talked Gretsch bassses on cell phones for about 30 minutes. Neat!
  5. KrisH


    Nov 6, 2007
    New Jersey
    Someone close by has a Gretsch double bass for sale now:


    It's a little beat up, but who knows? I always liked the looks of a Gretsch Tone King, and if I hadn't just recently picked up my Czech bass, I'd be tempted to look at it, at least . . .
  6. manfish

    manfish Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2005
    City Of Angels
    Hey, Its a bit late but I have one too. Its a beautiful sounding and playing thing. The Kay story is probably right. I did see one with a G logo.
  7. atk305


    Jun 15, 2010
    San Antonio TX
    Hello everyone - I realize this thread is old. I just purchased a Gretsch upright bass and I was wondering if anyone could help me. I cannot make out the serial number on the label. The store recorded it as "7278" but several people who've looked at it think it also could be "1378". I also cannot make out what it says next to "type". I'm attaching some photos. Thanks very much for your help! BW_SN. IMG_5933.JPG
  8. atk305


    Jun 15, 2010
    San Antonio TX
    Also, here are some photos of the bass itself. IMG_5935.JPG IMG_5941.JPG
  9. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Nice fingerboard "repair"....
    neddyrow likes this.
  10. Whoa. That one needs some love.
  11. Ortsom

    Ortsom Banned

    Mar 23, 2016
    I hope you enjoy your purchase! My vote on the number is "7278" too, but I have no clue what that means, or what the type would be.

    You'll realise some optimisation is in order; the bass bar seems the most urgent issue. And then there is the ventilated heel repair, ..., . Good luck!
  12. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    I would make that as #1378, model O-100B. Made by Kay for Gretsch in 1937.

    Could you share a pic of the pegbox and scroll?
    Ortsom likes this.
  13. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    On the relative rarity of Kay's basses for Gretsch, we currently have 51 survivors in the database within a total bass population of about 6,400, none built after 1943. The Gretsches are probably underrepresented, because most carry no reference to Kay and so are less likely to find their way to the Kaybass website.
  14. Nathan Duden

    Nathan Duden

    Nov 7, 2016
    I have a gretsch that appears to be a 1939 model. Any more information you could provide?
    Serial # 5724

    pictures in link

    Vintage 1939 Genuine GRETSCH 3/4 Upright Double Bass Viol serial # 5724 KAY | eBay
  15. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    Sure. #5724 is a '39 Kay Model 89, named for its suggested retail in 1937, priced below the Concert line. The Model 45 cello was its line partner. Originally produced under the K-Meyer brand (sometimes under the Challenger marque), starting in '39 the company shifted it to OEM production for Gretsch (Tone King) and Selmer USA (Manhattan). The model was produced in low numbers from '37 through '43, most going to Gretsch. Gretsch-label production started in '39.

    The 89s are structurally different from other Kay models in that their exterior top veneer is maple rather than spruce. To distinguish them from the C and O models, Kay used a unique lacquer pattern on top and back. For '40 and onward the pattern changed significantly, so later examples can appear to be a different model. Otherwise they were built the same as the standard Concert basses.

    The Gretsch versions generally carry no reference to Kay, so they are probably underrepresented in our database. Some came with special Tone King tags, most have no tags. This has contributed substantially to the idea that Kay build tags tend to fall off and disappear, or that Kay was generally disorganized about applying tags. Many 89 owners think they own C-1s, as they are often misidentified by shops and luthiers.

    Including yours, Kaybass.com has documented 11 Gretsch Tone King basses from the '39 number bracket. Based on the proportion of known survivors generally to total serial numbers, I estimate total 89 production, including K-Meyer and Selmer versions, at 350-400.

    Just to limit the thread-hijacking effect, I'll add that the OP's O-100B is the only O-series example I've seen labeled for Gretsch.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016
  16. Nathan Duden

    Nathan Duden

    Nov 7, 2016
    Very Interesting! Thanks So much for the information. Very difficult to find information on these.
  17. Peter Adamson

    Peter Adamson

    Nov 7, 2016
    Steven I'm curious the serial number denotes that it is a 1940 bass. What makes you think it's a 1939? Is it just a maple top layer and the remainder of the laminate is spruce? Has anyone commented on the tone of these models? I'm also assuming it's considered a 3/4 bass?
  18. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    The Kaybass.com serial-number bracket for 1940 starts at #6500. (Caveat: Everyone should bear in mind that Roger has dated these brackets by deduction and inference from many clues over many years, but none should be considered definitive or official. Last time I checked with him Roger thinks of the dates as plus or minus three or four months.)

    In my small experience with Kay tops, under the top veneer we're likely to find some maple, but at least as much poplar and other lesser woods. I suppose there's an argument that softer plies make the plywood more flexible and so more responsive acoustically compared with maple-only ply.

    3/4, right. I can't say I've heard an 89 played, but I would be surprised if it's much different from a basic, ebonized-fingerboard C-1. How a Kay sounds can vary pretty widely depending on care and setup.