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Opinions on Used Kay

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by edhead, Nov 21, 2018.

  1. edhead


    Nov 23, 2007
    Kent, Ohio
    1954 KAY MIB upright double Bass gc.

    Seems like a decent price, not that I 'need' a second bass but thinking about one.

    Any overall opinions? Is there a way to tell if it is 3/4 or do I need to ask for string length estimate ( since no bridge on it currently ).

    If someone else in the area is interested, feel free to snipe it and save me money.

    saabfender, james condino and krfoss like this.
  2. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    M1 is a 3/4.
    saabfender likes this.
  3. Kay M-1B (Maestro blonde) #34441 was built in 1954, peak production year for the model, and looks in stock configuration and above-average condition. It's a pretty nice bass for the money. Yes, it's a 3/4; Kay only made 3/4 and 1/4 basses. Budget for a good setup.
    Lee Moses likes this.
  4. edhead


    Nov 23, 2007
    Kent, Ohio
    Wish me luck, going to look at it in a couple of hours with $1000 in my pocket. And I am figuring up to $500 more for strings and setup.

    ************ update **************

    He took $1000 so I now own it. I will post pictures once it has been worked on. Not in a hurry to do so, still have my trusty King Mortone.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
  5. But then there's this, from the Kay website.

    As years went on, Kay made numerous models depending on the customer's requirements. The (M-1) and (C-1) models were mainstays. There were many variations featured, from thin bodies, inlaid purfling, and 1/3 smaller bodies to bound f-holes, 5 string basses and nickel plated metal parts. (M-2), (M-2 Army), and (M-2 Navy) basses have been documented. It is estimated that less than 250 M-2 models were manufactured. These basses were advertised as One-Half size, however the basses were available in Three-Quarter size at no extra charge. The One-Half size basses are about 2"shorter in the body from top to bottom. However, I have not documented any half size basses.

    I'm not going to push this too hard, lacking additional documentation. But if one can find late fifties issues of the
    Instrumentalist, Kay often had a brochure insert featuring basses and cellos. IIRC, a half-size bass was listed there.
  6. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    I also had a '54 M-1. It was a lot of fun and a really pretty good bass. A grand is a fair price for sure.
  7. Roger wrote that over fifteen years ago, before we had gathered a quarter of the data we have now and little of it was analyzed. I'm in the process of preparing for a long-needed update of the site.

    The only evidence I've seen of a half-scale Kay bass is a single sales-catalog illustration captioned as the S-2. The illustration indicates that the company at least thought about offering the product at some point. But we've never seen one, nor is there any evidence of tooling for a bass that size, nor any report from a former employee. I can't say I know it doesn't exist, but we're up to that step and on pretty solid ground research-wise.

    The M-2 is a 3/4 bass, designed as a somewhat stripped-down Maestro in the days when the M-1 was the fancy top-line bass. Many M-2s went out on military contracts.

    Once you know that there are 3/4 M-1 and S-1 models and 1/4 M-3 and S-3, it's logical to infer that there might be a 1/2 M-2. But in practice Kay's model designations just weren't that tidy.
  8. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    "But in practice Kay's model designations just weren't that tidy."

  9. Which is why at this point I'm not pushing too hard for the existence of an M-2 model. No irrefutable confirmation or documentation. Even though the sales brochure I referenced lists a half-size, that instrument may not have gone into production. It wouldn't be the first, or the last, time a catalog listed what proved to be a phantom instrument.
  10. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    It is my understanding that at peak production Kay was making close to 100,000 instruments a year when you combine the guitars and basses and all the others. You could have stuck a bass neck on a uke banjo body and the guys on the production floor could care less what it was called.

    It is a bummer that they took down the Mr Rogers visits the Englehardt factory video from you tube. That was pretty cool....
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2018

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