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Kay acoustic bass...guitar?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rch427, Aug 3, 2004.


  1. rch427

    rch427

    May 31, 2002
    I just picked up an old Kay bass guitar--not an acoustic/electric, but a flat out acoustic. It's got a really deep body with an arched top and back, and a round soundhole, it's fretted, the peghead is a funny, flat baroque shape, and the decal says "Kay De Luxe". I would guess it's from the late-'30s through '40s, but that's an uneducated guess. Anyone seen one of these before?

    Anyway, it needs strings, one tuning peg and a few other little things. I don't have much experience playing bass, much less an acoustic bass guitar, so I thought I'd ask for advice. I realize that there are tons of "which strings?" threads, but this is a pretty unusual device; I couldn't find any posts that already applied.

    I play sort of '50s/'60s jazzy/loungy stuff, and I plan to use this bass for my home recording projects, miked with a big Oktava condensor mic, played through an old tube amp and recorded to my 4-track. I suppose I'll be using a combination of pick and fingerwork, for different effects. Given these parameters, can anyone suggest a good string or even a good type of strings? Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    Pretty neat find you've got there! I'd reccomend checking out Thomastik strings. They make bronze wound strings specifically for acoustic bass guitars (also usable on anything with piezo or lightwave pickups), but I can't recall the name for them.
     
  3. Sounds like what you've got is a tenor guitar, not an ABG. It's got a narrow neck and a scale length of around 24", right?
    If so, you could string it with standard E-A-D-G guitar strings, or maybe A-D-G-B strings and tune it however it sounds best.
     
  4. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    That'd be a piccolo bass. A tenor guitar has a MUCH smaller scale. They also look pretty wild, tiny ass mofos.
     
  5. Actually the Gibson tenor guitar has a scale of 23 inches. If the instrument in question is actually a tenor guitar then perhaps this would be useful: http://www.tenorguitar.com/glance.html

    If its not a tenor guitar then I'm curious what it is.
     
  6. rch427

    rch427

    May 31, 2002
    :meh: Well, it looks like I rather blew it. The seller of this guitar is notoriously difficult to get any answers out of. He usually just posts a bunch of pictures and no description, which is what he did this time. I wrote him a couple of days before the auction ended, asking for the length overall and the width of the neck at the nut, but he never got back to me. So, I bid and won a guitar that I knew very little about. Foolish me.

    It's a very pretty archtop, in totally original and fine condition, but you were right--it turned out to be a tenor guitar; something I have little use for. But instead of putting it up on eBay myself, I thought I'd ask a question that will probably have some of you wondering about my sanity, or at least my judgment. I really wanted an acoutic bass, or at least something in the range of an acoustic baritone guitar, for my home recording projects. The neck on this thing has a really substantial heel, bolted through the top of the body. If I were to file the slots in the nut out enough to accomodate light-gauge bass strings, I didn't put too much tension on them, and I played around with bridge placement, would I be able to get a decent baritone sound out of it?

    How much latitude is there on bridge placement? The body is 19" long, with 14-1/2" between the center of the soundhole and the end of the body. If I consider this a 24" scale guitar, that would put the bridge more than 8" from the bottom, which means that there's almost 5" from where the bridge originally went and where the strings anchor to the tailpiece. So, I could conceivably move the bridge down, giving as much as a 28" scale.

    Is this too absurd of an idea? Would I be likely to damage the guitar with my experiment? Would proper intonation be impossible? Should I just sell the damned thing and keep looking for a "real" acoustic bass guitar? Any opinions would be appreciated.
     
  7. rch427

    rch427

    May 31, 2002
  8. Moving the bridge back would make intonation a thing of the past. If I were in your situation and didn't spend too much money, I'd keep it as a tenor guitar and have fun learning a new instrument. And if I wanted lower notes, just follow KungFuSheriff's advice about stringing it EADG, ADGC, ADGB or whatever you want. It’s a unique instrument and I'd be happy to have one myself.