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Trading in on "Kay-mania"

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Steve Boisen, Oct 25, 2005.


  1. My one and only Double Bass is a 1949 Kay M-1 that I've had for about 7-8 years. While I've been happy with it's sound and playability, I have often wondered if I could sell it and without much of an additonal investment get a better instrument due to the desirability that seems to have driven up the price of Kay basses lately. In other words, trade the "collectability" factor (which means nothing to me) for improved tone and quaility. What do you think? Just stick with what works?

    - Steve

    My web page
     
  2. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    The price on Kays is not as much based on "collectability" as is that they can be great basses for certain kinds of music. what you can get for a Kay even if it is top dollar will probably not be able to net you a better sounding instrument. You may be better off sinking some money into the setup or an new fingerboard. Now if you just want to get 2-3k for it and add some extra funds to get mebbe one of Arnold's NS basses that would be a way to go as welll.
     
  3. winston

    winston

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    From what I can tell there is no "Kay Mania" here on the West coast. Right now on Craigslist there are 2 good looking Kays for $1450 and $1500 in Portland and Seattle. Saw another 1/2 size one for $600. There's one in San Francisco for $2500 but it has a professionally installed fingered C extension. In the last year I saw a well-worn but very toneful M-1 at a local string shop for under a thousand. I found this bass to have livelier tone than a $2500 Kay I played at David Gage's two years ago.

    In the last five years I've seen 2 other Kays for sale--a pretty dead one w/rosewood trim, which sold for $700, and a truly remarkable, wonderful-sounding blonde/ebony FB model for $1000.
     
  4. Mudfuzz

    Mudfuzz

    Apr 3, 2004
    WA...
    I think the model makes a difference [i.e. rarity] and sound. There was/is a Chubby Jackson 5 at Hammond Ashley that is/was over 4k, a good bass yes but 4k.............
     
  5. I think your right; there is a certain cachet with Kays especially with the rockabilly crowd. Spoke with one player at a big party when he was on brake, I mentioned that his tuxedo looking bass was pretty cool, he looked at me with squint in his eye and said “yea, it’s a 1950’s Kay…”.
    I think it akin to the classic car mania, some people just love tooling around in a old 52’ chevy.