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My Kay search is over

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by bluegrassboy, May 1, 2003.

  1. After looking for two years, I have finally acquired a Kay bass. It's a 1951 M-1. She had been played at many outdoor bluegrass festivals, and has the "character marks" to show for it, but structurally, the bass is in great shape. There are no cracks (or repaired cracks), and the neck has apparently has never had to be repaired. It needs a fingerboard dressing, and I'll have a luthier take a good luck at the setup, but I couldn't be happier.
    Here's a photo.

    By the way, I had a Cremona until I found this bass. I know a lot of people on this forum hate them, but it served its purpose of helping me get started with an upright. Of course, now I can really appreciate having a good bass!
  2. Buddy Lee

    Buddy Lee

    May 5, 2002
    Congratulations! She sure looks beautiful!
  3. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    real nice!!!! My only experiences with URB so far have been on an early 50's Kay that my old guitarist owned (he majored in bass... but was a mean guitarist too)

    ("What are you doing with them old one?" ,says the plank player that dreams of playing a real bass someday.)
  4. Nice looking bass there Mr Bluegrassboy. You have a dandy.
    I would suggest you get the best bridge installed that you can afford eg: an Aubert or a Despieu 3 heart. Get a top quality sound post if it does not have a good one. Then ask the luthier to adjust the sound post while you play it so you can hear the difference 1/2 inch in movement can make. Keep on doing this until you are satisfied you are getting the maximum volume out of the bass on all the strings.
    A Kay that is well set up with a good bridge and soundpost can sound pretty good for bluegrass..and jazz....as long as you can make the sound happen in your playing.
    There are so many Kays out there being played that are not set up properly.
    I have had two Kays...a Swingmaster and a C-1 and got a great sound out of both of them using the above suggestions.
    Strings are whole other story but it looks like you are off to a real good start with that instrument.

    Martin Chapman
  5. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    Congrats and welcome to the "Kay Brotherhood". Not only have you got a cool bass but you have a great piece of American music history.
  6. Touch


    Aug 7, 2002
    Boulder, CO
    Good on you!

    I also have a Kay M-1 (1942). I love it for bluegrass. I just had a new Aubert bridge (with adjusters) fiitted and the soundpost adjusted. What a difference that made! Louder for sure and a tighter bottom end.

    Then I put some Rotosound RS-4000 strings on it .... Slaparific.


  7. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Nice bass !

    I love the sound of my
    laminate bass for bluegrass.
  8. Thanks to all for the tips. I love the way it sounds right now, but when I take it in for its fingerboard dressing (there is a slight buzz on the C note on the A string), I'm planning on having the luthier take a good look at it and advise me on the other issues you mentioned. The soundpost appears to be in good condition, but I am interested in an adjustable bridge, or adding adjusters to the bridge currently on the bass.
  9. Your soundpost may be in good condition but check to see what its made of. When I refurbished my 1949 C-1 it had a soundpost of unknown origin.
    What you need is European spruce with good vertical grain. It will make quite a difference to the sound if you don't have that in your Kay now.
  10. Good advice. Thanks.

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