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Kay Cello model 55

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by ConnieLee, Dec 5, 2017.


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  1. ConnieLee

    ConnieLee

    Dec 5, 2017
    I have a Kay Cello model 55. Serial number looks to be 13936. I received it as a gift when I was 12 years old in 1969. I am now 60 and want to re-learn how to play. Does anyone have any information on my cello. When it was made? Or, can you direct me to where I can trace it? Thank you
     
  2. Admiral Akbar

    Admiral Akbar

    Mar 12, 2013
    New York
    ConnieLee likes this.
  3. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    Your Kay 55 cello was indeed made in '46, in Chicago. The 55 came in three scales, full, 3/4 and 1/2. Most from this period are 3/4-scale.

    The 55 was Kay's most popular and cheapest cello model, available from the start of production in '37 until '64 and perhaps later, though in extremely small numbers after '57. It is likely named for its original retail price, $55. The model was designed for fleet purchase by schools, and they frequently show up with school ID information painted on or scratched into the finish. They typically came with ebonized maple or walnut fingerboards and details, Kay bows and zippered canvas bags rather than cases. They were also built with maple top veneers rather than spruce, an economy choice unique to this model after the war. They could be ordered with bass-style tuning machines, and dealers supplied fine tuners to order during setup. I'm currently estimating total production (three scales) in the 6,000-10,000 range, though our numbers on cellos are still pretty green.

    Hope this is helpful!
     
    ConnieLee likes this.
  4. ConnieLee

    ConnieLee

    Dec 5, 2017
  5. ConnieLee

    ConnieLee

    Dec 5, 2017
    It was more than helpful! I knew it was old. It really means alot to me to have this information. My cello is the dearest thing I own. I had learned to play in 4th grade. Used a rented one from the school. When I graduated into Jr. High, they would no longer allow me to rent the cello over the summer. When my dad found out he pawned/traded one of his best banjos to get me that cello at that pawn shop. It's the only posession I would save from a burning house. Thank you so much.
     
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  6. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    Great story! I hope you're still playing it.

    I wonder whether you might share some details to fill out the listing.
    Is this a 4/4,3/4 or 1/2 cello?
    On the tailpiece should be a Kay logo, either a shield-shaped decal or a bright metal script "Kay." Which is yours?
    Where are you located, approximately?
    Thanks!
     
    Admiral Akbar likes this.
  7. Admiral Akbar

    Admiral Akbar

    Mar 12, 2013
    New York
    Great stuff, ConnieLee!

    I learned to play upright bass in grade school on a Kay. It was the look of the Kay that got me hooked... now at age 44 I still play upright bass.

    Anyway, there’s a 1/2 size Kay cello for sale near me I’m considering for my 4.5 year-old son who seems to love music and cellos. Your story resonates with me, therefore...

    Please post pics of your cello!
     
  8. ConnieLee

    ConnieLee

    Dec 5, 2017

    My Kay is a 4/4 if I remember right. Up until now it's only had the soft zipper case. I just purchased a hard case for it. I remember there being a Kay logo on the tailpiece but it is long gone. I am taking my cello to a place that just opened up to be fixed all up. New strings, pegs, etc. Up until now the only instrument shop here had to send it to Waco or Austin. There wasnt' anyway I was going to have it sent off. I live in College Station, Texas. I have lived in California, Arizona, Kentucky and now here in Texas. The cello was always with me.
     
  9. ConnieLee

    ConnieLee

    Dec 5, 2017
    Do it! Now is the time. I started off on a violin and volunteered for the cello without even knowing what it was! The love affair then started fir me and the cello almost 50 years ago. Your son has a hwad start! Will postva pic soon
     
  10. ConnieLee

    ConnieLee

    Dec 5, 2017
    Ha
    Have you started your son on the cello? I took mine into Thorne Music today to have it fixed up with new strings and bridge. The gentleman had never seen one so old with all the seals still in tact. No separation anywhere in the wood. Anyway, I was looking around the store and they had 1/4 and 1/2 size cellos and thought about your little boy.
     
  11. ConnieLee

    ConnieLee

    Dec 5, 2017
    Ha
    Have you started your son on the cello? I took mine into Thorne Music today to have it fixed up with new strings and bridge. The gentleman had never seen one so old with all the seals still in tact. No separation anywhere in the wood. Anyway, I was looking around the store and they had 1/4 and 1/2 size cellos and thought about your little boy.
     

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