Kay M5 B

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by mthatcher61, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. mthatcher61


    Aug 31, 2016
    RIngwood NJ
    I just got a 1949 Kay M5 B ( Maestro 5 String Blond) . It is set up with helicore Hybrid (Gold Green Gold on the Bottoms) it has the B string on the bottom (BEADG). I play Bluegrass but am learning arco ( I am a fiddler) and the low B is not a big help in BG.
    I want to switch it over to EADGC. Will I need to get a new bridge /nut or can I just remove the B, shift the strings over and add a C? Do I get a Cello C String?

    I'm relatively new to Bass, so I apologize if these are less than stellar questions.
  2. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    Kay five-string basses were originally designed and set up for the high-C configuration, and C strings are available from the major manufacturers. So you can just change up the strings, and while the setup will be a bit loose, it'll work fine for what you have in mind, I expect.
    robobass likes this.
  3. mthatcher61


    Aug 31, 2016
    RIngwood NJ
    I noticed that The Helicore Hybrids that are on it now, have that low B (just silver at the top). I looked and D'Addario dont m make a High C string. They make a low one, which just looks like a much longer E string ( I guess for those people with the C extenders). Do you know Who would make a C String that will go with Helicore Hybrids? I am but a rank beginner but plan on doing at least 50/50 arco/pizz. Pizz when I am hanging with my BG buddies and Arco when I am playing around at home.
  4. mthatcher61


    Aug 31, 2016
    RIngwood NJ
    But also I was wondering, the nut and bridge have been 'notched' to accept those size strings, just shifting everything over one string, won't that make a smaller gage string in a larger gage notch? That is OK with Bass?
  5. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    Slightly off topic, but a related question: why would you want the high C for bluegrass? You'll end up playing many of the same notes as the guitar player? I've played bluegrass bass for almost 35 years, and have never understood the decision to add a C to the top. Then again, I love the low end, and relish any opportunity to play an open A or E. Different strokes, I guess. Good luck with the new instrument.
    james condino likes this.
  6. mthatcher61


    Aug 31, 2016
    RIngwood NJ
    I wouldnt use the C for Bluegrass. For Bluegrass I am content to hit Root 5 and walk around them on the regular 4 strings with pizz.
    But, I would like to use it for Arco when I'm playing at home by myself. I'm a fiddler and I want to play with that. I love the low sounds of a bowed Bass, not necessarily in a Classical or Orchestral setting.
    As for the low B, I have heard from a few people that they are inaudible in a BG setting.
  7. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Keep the B for arco fun. Just don't use it where it's not appropriate or useful.
  8. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    You would need a new nut and bridge to make the change. Frankly the low B has much more utility than the C. I agree you don't get much use of it in Bluegrass but then again you don't see many 5-strings in Bluegrass. Being tuned in fourths you are unlikely to find either lower or higher fifth string very useful if you want to try fiddle tunes. The response time of the bass strings and the instrument in general does not suit itself playing the melody of fiddle tunes. The closest you are likely to come is to have a solo instrument or one set up in fifths.
  9. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Well, I want to tread gently here, but there are actually people out there who can and do bow fiddle tunes on the bass. Ever hear of Edgar Meyer, Donovan Stokes? They do it pretty well, imo. You do need to re-cut the notches in the bridge and nut to do this properly, but don't let anyone tell you that you can't bow bluegrass melodies on a bass. That's just mean!
    RSBBass and james condino like this.
  10. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    OK. I understand.
  11. Having owned and played basses tuned BEADG and EADGC it's my opinion that the B string is less "in the way" than a C string.

    And I don't see why you'd need a new nut and bridge if you elect to restring. The string diameters aren't THAT different. If they rattle in the slots, you can get by filling them with superglue and sawdust (or graphite powder) and re-slotting.
    Remyd and DoubleMIDI like this.
  12. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    A $6 chainsaw file or a rolled over popsicle stick with a 50 cent piece of sandpaper to adjust the bridge slots is all you need to spend, but how you use them may be a different conversation....

    Many of the '40s era five strings have a nice fully carved scroll instead of the glued on models, does yours?
    KUNGfuSHERIFF likes this.
  13. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Superglue and sawdust??????? Oh noooooooooooooo, the day before the election and I've been hacked and somehow transported to the Chinese telecaster forum....................
    Remyd and RSBBass like this.
  14. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    Who are you, and what have you done with James???
    Remyd, james condino and jsf729 like this.
  15. Ortsom

    Ortsom Inactive

    Mar 23, 2016
    Nǐ hǎo tóngzhì James! If done well, the CA trick will work. Otherwise a hard epoxy; and if you mix that with graphite you get ... carbon fibre. Of course, new looks better.
  16. mthatcher61


    Aug 31, 2016
    RIngwood NJ

    Hi James, I don't think so. it looks like a line there at the start of the scroll. Would you agree?

    Attached Files:

  17. Sowwy. I've been into the whiskey a bit lately and my inner hick slipped out for a minute.
    SLTuba and james condino like this.