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Kay Bass S-9 price?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by jaybary, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. jaybary


    Jan 31, 2013
    New York, NY
    Hi everyone!
    I'm trying to buy a kay bass s-9 from somebody asking 4000$.

    it has a thick new fingerboard, and a bridge that is in good shape with David Gage pickup. sound is very warm and big
    and the overall appearance looks good

    I live in New York..and I heard Kays are estimated depending on the area in the States. Is it reasonable or should I haggle more?
  2. Sounds high. Are you in New York City? Manhattan prices are always nuts. That said, Gage had a few nice Kays when I was there in the fall.

    If you must have a Swingmaster, Buzzy Levine of Lark Street Music in Teaneck, NJ has a '50s S-9 with some bumps and bruises for $2850, and he's had it a while. Talk to him. Nice guy.
  3. fmoore200


    Mar 22, 2011
    Craigslist? I think I saw the same bad the other day. Out of my price range.
  4. jaybary


    Jan 31, 2013
    New York, NY
    thanks for some advices . I forgot to ask one more. Does the age of kay matter for the price or sound?
  5. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Value estimates get frowned upon over this way,especially with no photos or other helpful information. That said:

    $4k sounds overpriced in any market. In general, 30s Kays tend to get the best prices and they drop about 15% for every decade up you go. In today's economy that means the best case scenario- like new with hang tags, perfect finish, and an excellent setup (almost never happens- maybee one out of 70 Kays that I see), no issues anywhere, and a heavy demand market- a clean '30s will top out at $3500, $3k for '40s, $2500 for '50s, and $2k for '60s models. Again, this is best case scenario; most tend to be 25-50% less. Everyone online seems to be asking very inflated prices right now, but the reality is that many of them have been for sale for a year with no movement. Watch out for the Craigslist syndrome of ," A guy on line has a red one that Jerry Garcia owned in 1974 and mine is red, so I want $10,000 too." There are lots of stories about finding one for $75 on Craigslist, but do you have five years to wait for that day to come and hope you get to it first?

    A refinish is close to 50% drop; broken or repaired necks = 1/4 to 1/3 less. Some genres tend to value very beat up original finishes as more desireable than clean ones. Everything in this market is very depressed and this is the worst time of the year to sell things. The construction and voices tend to vary between decades and from instrument to instrument. They all still sound like an old Kay, there are just a few subtle differences.

    You'll find lots of varying opinions; these reflect the opinion of someone who handles vintage Kays every day in Western North Carolina- possibly one of the best areas in the country to sell one. For the original price you mentioned, I've got a nice '39 available that could be yours AND pay for a nice week long vacation to Asheville- almost 70 degree sunshine and flip flops this week!

  6. Jsn

    Jsn upright citizen

    Oct 15, 2006
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Wow, James. What a comprehensive, thoughtful and well-stated reply. Good show.
  7. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    James Condino is one of the nation's foremost authorities on Kay repair, restoration, physical function, and market positions. He got there the hard way, by working in the trenches with them for years. He has had a two part repair and restoration article published in "American Luthierie" last year. I would take pretty much anything that he has to say right to the bank.

    Buzz at Lark Street Music may be very motivated to find a good home for his S-9. Basses take up a lot of space in a crowded guitar shop. All of my guitars here have been banished to one wall of the shop, with all of the retail floor space being taken up by musical hippos.

    Good luck in the hunt for the right Kay. Let us know what you end up getting.