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Kay factory installed Ampeg pick up

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by MollyKay, Mar 11, 2008.


  1. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Sep 10, 2006
    Southern PA
    Bass Hobby'ist
    If you appreciate a vintage Kay bass (or not):rollno:…here is a little gem.
    We have just purchased a 1953 Kay C-1 bass. The previous owner was a young lad that was moving to Canada and did not want to take the bass with him so I agreed to give the bass a new home. The classified ad stated all electronics went with the bass…I wasn’t quite sure what that meant but…WOW…what a little gem was hiding inside the bass. According to Roger Stowers at www.kaybass.com this is:

    …Some of the S-9 basses and a few other basses (special orders) have been documented containing an original sound amplification system. As described by one owner, "it is a high impedance mic on the end of the endpin. The endpin is constructed like a phone plug and is inserted into a socket that sits on the floor. The socket is then connected to an amp. It was manufactured by Ampeg and/or Astatic." The mic is inside the bass, the end pin about 24" long which extends up into the bass and screws into the mic. The outside of the endpin is insulated from the inside and then the jack plugs into the bottom or exterior portion of the endpin. Henry Kuhrmeyer was a leader in putting sound systems in musical instruments…

    The pick up no longer works (I guess) and it is missing the jack plug that goes to the end of the endpin (the previous owner said he lost is a long time ago)…but this is still way cool! A vintage Kay factory installed pick up system that is still fully in tact 55 years later.

    The other really unique thing was the original canvas case that came with the bass. When the young man pulled the bass out of the back of his car I saw the case first…cool…someone had really loved and cared for this bass. There must be 20 different patches of all different shapes, sizes and colors ironed or hand stitched to the gig bag. Okay… you say “so what”? I say people used to have a greater respect for these old basses. You bought them new and cherished them. They were a prized possession. You took responsibility in keeping them looking and sounding good. You had pride in your instrument and the way you carried it…even if it was plywood. Today we get a rip or a tear in our gig bag and we are ready to throw it out and get a new one. If the bass get’s a ding or a broken neck, we are ready to trade it away because it is damaged. When you look at this bass closely and I say someone really cared for this bass….so much so they proudly put their name and date on the bridge…they had great pride in this bass…even if it was a student grade plywood bass.

    Over all the bass is in good condition. We will give it new strings, new end pin, new bridge and dress the fingerboard. So it will be ready to gig again. I’m sure many of you acquire old basses with extra stuff that goes with the purchase (gig bag, bows, old strings, bridges, etc.) but this bass struck me as a statement to a time of frugalness and appreciation that has been lost. Ahhh…to be a baby boomer and looking to the past to appreciate the future. :D
     

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  2. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Sep 10, 2006
    Southern PA
    Bass Hobby'ist
    ...and two more pics
     

    Attached Files:

  3. ZachDad

    ZachDad

    Aug 11, 2007
    Texas
    Weird and wonderful! What is the deal with you guys?
    Bass magnets perhaps? Congrats on another one!:hyper:
     
  4. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    That is nuts!

    Pretty cool.
     
  5. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    As Carly Simon sang, "These ARE the good old days."
     
  6. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Sep 10, 2006
    Southern PA
    Bass Hobby'ist
    I wouldn’t say we are bass magnets…just dumb luck. I had no idea the pick up system was in the bass until we went to pick it up. As my husband would say…”every dog gets a bone now and then”

    Yeah it is cool…but now what do I do with it? :confused: The pick up doesn’t work, a piece is missing and the mic could be a source for a vibration. I don’t like to un-do something that has stood the test of time for 55 years but on the other hand it serves no useful purpose other than…its cool. Ahhhh…the decisions…I got to think about this one. :eyebrow:

    It has a secondary Barcus Barry pick attached to the tail piece…that is what makes me think the original Ampeg pick up stopped working years ago. The original owner John Johnson (don’t even go there Uncle Toad):rollno: was very frugal to not take out the original pick up but just attach another pick up to the bass.

    That canvas gig bag could tell some stories too. With out the factory installed Ampeg pick up it is just another 1953 Kay C-1…but it has a pretty good growl to it…oh well…we shall see. :D
     
  7. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    When I rescued my American Standard from a guy's basement, it came with a similar Ampeg endpin. Never seen one on a Std before, it looked to be custom fit for the bass. Can't imagine it being installed at the White factory though, or at the Kay for yours either, for that matter. I was thinking that these basses predated the little mic, but I read that they started making them in the late 40's, so they could be original equipment if the factories allowed a little customization.

    Ike
     
  8. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Sep 10, 2006
    Southern PA
    Bass Hobby'ist
    So Ike…what did you with the mic and end pin…replace it, keep it, donate it to the Smithsonian? ;)

    I am wrestling with taking it out of the bass and keeping it as a collector’s item…more or less a discussion piece to hang in the workshop. Let me know what you did and kudos for rescuing a great vintage AS bass from a basement. :cool:
     
  9. I've got a case like that (but w/o patches :) ), and an ancient Dearmond bass pickup too.
     
  10. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    Thanks. It's playing and sounding great BTW. The mic stayed with the owner per his request, of no use to me. Replaced with a standard but unique looking endpin. Kind of light-colored(matches body wood) hourglass shaped thingy.

    Ike
     
  11. RED5

    RED5

    Jan 14, 2008
    Suffolk County,NY
    That's where the name comes from y'know? an Amplified Peg... It all began there. I'd get it fixed and give it a place of honor on pedestal....I likes the Ampegs......
     
  12. VicDamone

    VicDamone

    Jun 25, 2000
    That's absolutly correct.

    Everette Hull, a pianist and Bass player, designed the pickup and with the help of Stanley Michaels formed the "Michaels-Hull Electronics Labs" in 1946. Hull took over the company in 1949 and renamed it the "Ampeg Amplifier Co.". By 1960 the Portoflex was very popular and they marketed the first reverb in an amplifier a full two years before Fender.

    At this years Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductee Nokie Edwards of the Ventures played (pic) a rare Ampeg Vista Sonic Bass which could capture that clanky treble tone long before roundwound strings.

    Vic
     
  13. in North Miami beach, Luthier and good guy Joe Reichgott (listed on Bob Gollihur's Double Bass Luthier Directory Project)
    Owns the Kay that served as the guinea pig for Everette Hull to develop the AMPEG pickup with. For some reason he won't sell it.:)
     
  14. davio

    davio

    Nov 2, 2006
    Boston, MA
    This is awesome! I've had an American Standard with one of these in it for a long time but I guess it's missing that doodad under the bridge. That would make sense since I just bought one of these to try it out recently and barely got any signal at all. I guess it's some kind of buffer/preamp. I've been wondering what that wire is that seems to go nowhere. I guess it used to go to the buffer.

    You can buy one of those adapters HERE if you want to try it out. Please do and let me know how it works!
     
  15. davio

    davio

    Nov 2, 2006
    Boston, MA
    BTW, I posted pics of mine over here and I'm trying to fingure out the best way to get it to work properly.
     
  16. superman

    superman Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2007
    Nashville Tenn
    There was a luither here in Nashville,who was about the only bass repair man here for years named George Chestnut,,he had a box full of these ampeg pickups,,he gave me one,, but I never could get much out of it,,Jack Drake who played for Ernest Tubb for years used one, it sounded fairly decent.
    It's interesting to know that the mic part on the end of the peg is the same as whats in a old telephone reciver,,
     
  17. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Sep 10, 2006
    Southern PA
    Bass Hobby'ist
    Wow…this is a really old thread!

    Our Ampeg has been removed from the bass. Here are some pictures of what it looks like removed from the bass...very cool. I don't know what to do with it...but it is cool. :)
     

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  18. davio

    davio

    Nov 2, 2006
    Boston, MA
    Wow...I didn't realize is was a thread from 3/2008! I just saw March in the search and went for it. :)

    I'm still playing with some ideas before I commit to surgery.
     
  19. LyleRyan

    LyleRyan Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2006
    Berkeley, CA
    I've got a fully-functional one that I took off a 1946 Kay. It doesn't sound too bad with enough EQ, but it's mostly a nostalgia item. Mine has the peg with microphone, the volume control with microphone that mounts under the bridge, and not one but two cords.

    I'm going to post it on rockabillybass.com next week, where hopefully someone will GAS.

    ...Lyle
     

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  20. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Sep 10, 2006
    Southern PA
    Bass Hobby'ist

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