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Kay Restoration Project Help

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Hqubed, Aug 19, 2012.


  1. Hqubed

    Hqubed Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2009
    Columbus, Ohio
    My 14 year old (15 in Dec) son has expressed an interest, aptitude, and desire for learning and developing luthier skills, I am seeking to help him acquire additional knowledge. Some background on his current state; he is presently seated with the Columbus Youth Symphony, the Philharmonic of Central Ohio, is preparing for an audition with the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra, and spent a month this past summer at Florida State University on his bass studies.

    This past Christmas we acquired for him a 1951 Kay S51 in need of restoration. The plan was to have him work with Jacque Gray, hand in hand, on the restoration over time. I have recently learned however that Jacque’s health is not so good at present and I am not sure this will happen so thought I would throw out the question here to see if anyone might be interested in helping us with this project. We do not need to complete this restoration in a few days or even a few weeks. It may be more of a couple days a month over whatever period it takes. I am not trying to get this done for free, but do have a budget which can be discussed. The ultimate would be that he could use this Kay for his Jazz work (his current bass is set up for his Arco work), or perhaps just be a fun instrument with the pride of knowing he played a part in the restoration.

    Some details on the Kay, We found this bass in the Tucson, AZ area and brought it back to Ohio. It is currently playable; the neck has never been broken. At some point it was converted to a 4 string, yet the original tail piece remains on the bass as does the original ebony fingerboard in the “wider” state to accommodate the 5th string. We located and have acquired original 5 string Kluson tuners (a feat in itself) so as to return the bass to a 5 string set up in restoration. No open seams but significant edge wear and someone used a small amount of what appears to be epoxy on the back lower bout to stop the laminate chipping. There is a significant amount of hide glue drips inside the bass; I have seen this before so not certain if this occurred during original mfg. of the bass or just a sloppy repair during its life to date.

    We are open to traveling within 7 hours of the Columbus OH area and scheduling one (1) Saturday a month, multiple days during school off time, and/or into summer 2013 to complete the restoration. Would most appreciate any comments, suggestions, and conversation with anyone who might be interested in helping us complete this project.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Hqubed

    Hqubed Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2009
    Columbus, Ohio
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    Attached Files:

  3. mirwa

    mirwa

    Aug 4, 2012
    Australia - Perth
    Sounds great, but I dont think you will have much luck getting someone to work one on one with him.

    I took a 14 year old on a year ago, every day after school and weekeneds and within 6 months I knew it was the wrong decision.

    At 14 they are keen full of interest but it wanes away pretty quickly, attention span or something like that.

    I wish you luck, but would recommend buying as many quality books on the subject that you can find and ask many questions

    Regards (Steve)
     
  4. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Way to be supportive of a father and his son's dreams Steve.....

    I built my first guitar at age 13, played it in a band for the next four years, and then sold it for just under $500 while working on the next one. That was approx. 1980 and I've been building every since. By the second week into the project, I lost count of all the grumpy unsupportive old guys who kept telling me I was wasting my time.


    As for the original post...if you knew someone who had a business that specialized in vintage Kays, had a couple of decades teaching experience, and offered private instruction.....

    PM sent.


    "The people who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the people who are doing it..." George Bernard Shaw
     
  5. mirwa

    mirwa

    Aug 4, 2012
    Australia - Perth
    I may have come across a bit harsh, and if I did do that then I apologise.

    I do wish him luck and hope that he will find someone that will do some one on one mentoring, but its a big call.

    There is a huge risk on the teachers side, public liability, work cover, injury etc and being fourteen is even riskier, my point was exactly that, there is a large risk on the luthiers side to undertake such an enterprise
     
  6. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    H,
    There are 3 fine luthiers at the Cincinnati Bass Cellar. I'd see if they would help your kid out in exchange for some unskilled labor. Andy, Chris and Bill are really good guys. Worth a shot...
     
  7. HughFosterWood

    HughFosterWood

    Nov 23, 2007
    New York
    Just one guy's opinion... I think what youre doin' is a fine thing. Great that you're supporting your son's interests! Now, hope not to offend but I can't see why you'd wanna do this with an old Kay. Even if it were restored by a pro you'd end up with a marginal thin neck plywood bass. I'd sell the Kay and get an instrument that your son will enjoy more for a long time to come. You can use the extra value that people pay cause they like to collect Kays to pay for the supplies and getting a better bass. Maybe a luthier will trade you for one. Think about it... ok? :)
     
  8. I'll second that..... also Nick Lloyd may want to help... All these cats are great people.
     
  9. Hqubed

    Hqubed Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2009
    Columbus, Ohio
    Thank you for the direction and advise. To try and address some of the questions;

    mirwa: I am aware of the risks and necessary precautions. He will be 15 in Dec and I would not be pursuing this if I did not feel he was ready and up to it.

    Arnold: Thanks for the direction. My son and I are hoping to see the folks at CBC later this week for a "check up" of his school bass prior to starting the new year and we will discuss with them.

    HughFosterWood: The point of the Kay is the restoration work more than the bass. Once complete it will be his decision to sell or keep. He has a quality bass that he will play for many years to come.

    Thank you again for your thoughts.
     
  10. HughFosterWood

    HughFosterWood

    Nov 23, 2007
    New York
    Understood, but I was thinking of what you said here:
    I figured... might be nice to end up with a nice bass for jazz that he had a hand in.
     
  11. Hqubed

    Hqubed Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2009
    Columbus, Ohio
    That is an excellent thought, thank you, we are always on the lookout. We recently picked up 3 - 1/2 size and 1 - 5/8 from vejesse, necks off and in various states needing repair. He is hoping to return these to playing condition upon improving his knowledge base (one is a blockless wonder so doubtful on that one but will be a learning) and donate to local school and symphony programs.

    Thanks again
     

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