Original Parts vs. Better Sound

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Bob Zink, Aug 5, 2005.

  1. OK, I know its only a plywood bass, but it's special to me! :)

    It's a 1950 Kay C1, great condition. It appears to be all original parts, and therein lies my question. It needs a saddle repair and I am struggling with the notion of changing the "coat-hanger" tailwire or not. This bass sits in a stand at home and is only used for rehearsal or recreation at home; I have another bass for gigging/jamming.

    Is it always best to go for the best sound, or might the bass have a higher value with the original tailwire, since everything else appears to be original?

    Looking forward to hearing different opinions!
  2. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    The tail wire is something that shouldn't have any impact whatsoever on the value of the bass. If in doubt, just hang on to the coat hanger after swapping it out, so you can offer to include it with the bass if you decide to sell down the road.
  3. uptonbass

    uptonbass Proprietor, Upton Bass String Instrument Co.

    Oct 8, 2002
    Mystic CT
    Founder UptonBass.com
    We have a lot of clients pose this same question about original parts on instruments of various price ranges. I like the analogy of a car and its tires, brakes, oil etc..... Obviously if the change wasn't for the better on the bass then stay orig.

    Change the TP hanger....and follow what Brent Norton mentioned if you are really worried about it. Don't tell me the bridge is orig. ????
  4. jazzbassnerd


    Aug 26, 2002
    Is your tailpiece wire the one with the "acorn" looking nuts on the tailpiece? I have a Kay with that tailpiece (it actually still says Kay on the tailpiece). If your gonna change the wire with that tailpiece I think you should get a new tailpiece and save that Kay one. Those things area little piece of bass history.
  5. Thanks, I really appreciate the good advice you guys have to offer!

    I will keep the tail wire, as Brent suggests. Is the bridge original? I don't see how it could be, Gary, but I swear, this bass looks like it was hardly ever played in its first 50 years. Could it be possible? Did Kay use Bausch bridges in 1950? Either it has been played very little or else very gently. I have put ten times as much wear in the ebonized fb as there was on it when I got it 2 years ago, and there is still a way to go before I wear through it anywhere. Maybe it was restored, but if so, it was done extremely well and a long time ago.

    Yes, it's got the little nuts like you mention. I actually have 2 old Kays in the house right now, and now that you guys have given me an inch, I'm going to take a mile! :D
    The subject bass of this thread has a plain tailpiece, without the Kay logo, but the other one, that has seen a very hard life as a school bass, has a tailpiece with the logo. Now you are all probably guessing what I'm going to do...

    1.) repair the saddle (which is actually only tipped upward due to the stiff wire)
    2.) aircraft cable tail wire
    3.) tailpiece with the Kay logo
    4.) put on new strings - Labella: gut G & D, Goldtone A & E

    And I can save the alleged original tail wire,nuts, and tailpiece. How does that sound?
    Thanks Again,
  6. Renee Child

    Renee Child

    Jul 23, 2005
    I'm the second owner of a '53 Kay in incredible original condition. The first owner played it only about five years, according to his heirs. This summer I purchased it from his family.

    Since we live in PA, we took it to Mike Shank in Elizabethtown. You've probably heard of Mike. We told him we'd like to keep it original, but were certainly open to his suggestions. He replaced the strings with Obligatos (the old ones haven't been manufactured since the early 60's!) He reshaped the original bridge (serial number is on underside), and shimmed the nut. The tailpiece is also original - with the silver-ish Kay logo.

    Mike referred to this wonderful instrument as a collector's item. I'm a bluegrass player (mainly guitar, but also play fiddle). We wanted a bass to have in the house for jams. But, of course, I'm already working on learning to play it.

    Mike suggested that we keep this one at home. And that if I ever want to take one to festivals or jams, I should get another for that purpose.

    He gave the bass high marks - AND volunteered an appraisal that raised our eyebrows. I believe that number had much to do with it's condition and its all-original parts. It plays and sounds wonderful, so for now I'm keeping it intact.