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Neck Question

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by charmicarmicat, Mar 15, 2006.


  1. Since I'm rather new at this I'm not sure excatly how to phrase it, I hope I'm not offfending anyone.
    Saw this 50's Kay for sale that has a new neck. The new neck was installed after the original neck was shattered in a bizarre gardening accident :) seriously, the neck was basically broke into two pieces. A new neck was installed by John Phillips of World Of Strings In Long Beach. I'm going to check it out with my teacher sometimes this weekend. I was wondering if the luthiers that post here (or anyone else really) could bring some light on this neck situation. I know that in the electric world a neck makes a huge difference but since we're talking about an acoustic instrument where the body is a huge part of the sound, where does the neck "fit" in the equation?
    Thank you all for taking the time.
     
  2. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Sorry to side-step the main question in this new thread but why, exactly, are you pursuing a repaired Kay bass? If it truly is the sound that is important to you, you can typically do far better for the same (or perhaps less) money. That is, unless you have some specific affinity for the "Kay sound."
     
  3. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    AL/GA
    The Layman's Response:

    I don't know of many Kays that have a neck that's never been broken (although I've owned 2). I've played several which have had badly repaired necks and still sounded fine. My own NS Cleveland had it's original neck broken and replaced...and I think it's better now than with the original neck.
     
  4. Replacing the neck on a Kay, assuming it`s a good quality neck and installation, is only going to improve it. Both tonally and for playability.

    I like my Kay, it`s a good bass. Talkbass in general doesn`t like them very much, but a bass is what it is. If it sounds good, it is good, in my layman`s view. They are probably overpriced, but prices on sound ones keeps increasing...
     
  5. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    A replacement neck in an old Kay is nothing to worry about. WOS does fine work, too.

    DRBLURB: Some bassists like old kays, and several of them sound amazing for the $, if properly setup.
     
  6. A friend of mine loaned me his bass while he is out of the country. Not sure exactly what brand it is but it is a European plywood bass that's about 20 years old and has a real nice sound. He will be coming back within nine months and I figured that it would be smart to start looking sooner rather then later for my own instrument. So I'm trying to see what's out there and check as many as I can. Never hurts, right?
     
  7. mdurell

    mdurell

    Mar 9, 2006
    Boulder, CO
    There's a local shop here in Boulder, CO with an Englehardt EM-1 that has a neck that was snapped and two and reglued back on.

    It's there on consignment and they are trying to get $1200 for this beast. I dunno how much of it is setup and other factors but the bass doesn't sound so good and the A string is dead as can be.

    If the neck was completly replaced I can't see how that would be a bad thing. On electric bass guitars with bolt-on necks replacing the neck is rather trivial and if the replacment neck was constructed with exact tolerances and with similar woods you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference (and the sonic differences would be VERY subtle, the feel should be identical and the look would only be differences in grain).

    Upright basses are similar in this regard as there is not through-body neck and it's glued onto the body. As long as someone who knows what they are doing replaces the neck and the fit is good it should be fine. Uprights I imagine are more sensitve to changes that could change the sonic characteristic of the instrument but I can't imagine a replacment neck of similar construction having a huge profound drastic effect on the basic tonal characteristics of the instrument but rest assured it will probably have more of an effect than changing necks on a P bass.
     
  8. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Necks are even available from Engelhardt, the company that was formed after Kay's demise, that are VERY similar if not identical to the look and feel of a Kay neck. I imagine a skilled luthier, with a little extra gift for artificially "aging" repairs, could replace the neck on a Kay with an Engelhardt neck and the commoner would be hard-pressed to tell if it was a new neck or the original reset.

    As for the sound, you never know. If it sounds good to you, then it is good. It is true, that if you are thinking in terms of best tone for the $$, you should consider looking elsewhere as well. Some Kay's sound great. But, it is also true that sellers know that the Kay label is worth something on its own. It's easy to overpay for a Kay.
     
  9. Thank you all for posting. Answered my question and then some.
     
  10. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    Vice President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    We have done a bunch of them. http://www.stringrepair.com/db16.html
    On these basses...a replaced neck, well done, takes nothing away from the value.
     
  11. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Yes, I understand that some bassists like old Kays-- some even love them. It is a matter of preference and they should enjoy! Although it is difficult for me to believe that any of them would sound "amazing" to my ears, that is a posteriori. Starting out with a certain amount of $$$ and looking at a Kay, one does not know a priori if it will be one of those "amazing" ones. In my opinion, and it is only my opinion, one would be better off taking those $$$ and buying a higher quality instrument. By the way, I had a Kay from 1967 until 2003!

    I'm curious-- if a customer walked into your shop with $2k-$3k, under what circumstances would you recommend a Kay? This is a sincere question.
     
  12. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    AL/GA
    A vintage Kay, King or AS is always a good choice if the player is going to be doing roots-type music (bluegrass, traditional country, blues). This is true both due to the tone that old ply basses produce and the conditions in which much of that music is performed.
     
  13. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    Vice President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    regardless of budget, it would depend on 1) what they walked into the shop thinking they want to buy and b) what kind of music they play. If someone walks in and just has to have a Kay and nothing else will do...well then hopefully I have a Kay to show. If I don't...then lets look at other laminated choices. OF COURSE, I will show what else is in the price range. But if they have up to 3K to spend...but really a laminated bass is the best for them...I'm not going to suggest a hybrid just because thee money is on the table.

    Now if someone just walks in and lays out a 2K-3K budget...no ideas of makes or vintages...plays jazz and orch...I tend to show what I think is the best all around choices in that budget (usually a hybrid). I'll show a Kay if we have one...but I'm not going "sell" it.
     
  14. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    Especially if one of those conditions happens to be:

    While wearing overalls!!! :)


    Seriously, the bluegrass scene has its share of elitists too. Gibson F bodies, mastertones, D-28s. And, Kays. I know more than one bluegrasser who has sold a better overall instrument to buy a Kay.

    The vintage and history of the music sort of instills the the same ideas of the instruments for a lot of people. Not necessarily the right way to think. But there is no real harm done.

    FWIW, I think it is less that way now than it was 10 years ago. Maybe because the value of true vintage instruments has made the cost prohibitive for all but a very select few and there are smaller scale makers out there making killer instruments.
     
  15. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Yes, I am well aware of the type of music for which Kays are desired. This falls under the "specific affinity" to which I alluded in my first post in this thread. It is also the case that for some types of music, a washtub, pole, and string are the best. These are, of course, niches. I didn't get the impression that the original poster was purchasing under specialty circumstances.
     
  16. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004

    Well, I asked under what circumstances you'd recommend a Kay. If someone walks into the shop and only wants a Kay, that's not recommending it. If someone's needs are such that a laminated bass would be the best choice, would you recommend a Kay even if you had one? My point in my original reply was that, in my opinion, among basses that fall into the price-range of a Kay, there are better instruments (both hybrid and laminated). If one walked into your shop Eric, in my opinion, he/she would be far better served walking out with one of your laminates or hybrids than any Kay you might have UNLESS he/she were playing the specific types of music for which Kays have found their niche. I suspect my opinion is shared by many here.
     
  17. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    AL/GA
    Would it surprise anyone here to know that I own several pair of over-hauls? I always keep one pair clean for Sunday, though.
     
  18. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    AL/GA
    In certain circumstances, you can make a hellacious profit on a Kay, as well. They're frequently found cheap and sold high....to one of those "must have a Kay" people. I love my NS Cleveland, but I don't think I'll ever be able to sell it for 200% profit.
     
  19. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004

    Should have bought an Edsel!
     
  20. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Not me. I'm from the mountains of Tennessee. I was raised in a church where MANY of the men, including members of my family, wore them to Sunday service. It was all they had.

    I have a couple of pair. They are great to work in.