1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

What new off the rack bass sounds most like an old Kay or Harmony?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MichelD, Mar 3, 2017.

  1. AztecViking

    AztecViking Supporting Member

    Oct 12, 2010
    EndlessSummerVille, CA
    If I remember correctly the guy I borrowed one from payed about $20.00 for his at a FedMart store. :D That was the early 80's or so.

    FedMart. Precursor to the modern Walmart.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2017
  2. mbell75


    May 23, 2016
    Yep, Eastwood/Airline. They do an excellent job reproducing those old pickups from the 60s.
  3. db4124


    Oct 13, 2011
    Why not go for the real deal. Any of the Japanese copies from the 60's nail the sound and can be had for a couple hundred dollars. Just remember short scale, hollow body and hum buckers. Something like my Conrad or an Aria:

  4. mbell75


    May 23, 2016
    Because the newer ones are much better quality and you can easily get replacement parts if needed which is not going to happen with a company that's been out of business for decades. I've owned original Kay, Airline and Harmony guitars and basses, they are straight crap. The well done remakes like those from Eastwood are much better.
    Gizmot likes this.
  5. I like Eastwood's Classic 4.
  6. Eastwood stuff is great, but you can still find old ones too that are in good shape. I just recently bought a '59 Kay. Replacement parts however is another matter.
    mbell75 likes this.
  7. AztecViking

    AztecViking Supporting Member

    Oct 12, 2010
    EndlessSummerVille, CA
    I love this thread! Someone seeking out the thoroughly thunky tone I had on my very first bass. ( that I really didn't want at the time ) And lots of great advice given for it. :thumbsup:
    Mastermold likes this.
  8. lbbc

    lbbc Supporting Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Seaford , DE
    Recently acquired Apollo just nails the 60's tone w/flats
    JIO, Templar, HaphAsSard and 5 others like this.
  9. tpaul

    tpaul Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2011
    If you're a little adventurous, you could buy a 60s era pickup off of Ebay and install it on a newer instrument. You'd get that sound, but you'd also have a better quality and more playable bass with the ability to access replacement parts when needed.

    I realize there are numerous elements that go into creating the sound you're after, but I'm a big believer in the pickup as the primary element. Those old, flat pickups that were on the Kay, Silvertone, Old Kraftsman etc. basses were contructed differently that the standard Precision/Jazz type basses. Key words to search on include those above as well as Value Leader, Harmony, Airline.
  10. Old Blastard

    Old Blastard

    Aug 18, 2013
    IMG_2633.JPG I got the impression the OP was performing a collective leg pull. If so, this is funny. If not, Ibanez AFB200!!!! It's the white one in the middle.
    Paul LF and bholder like this.
  11. Bodeeni

    Bodeeni Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2010
    Played on a Framus remake of the Bill Wyman 60s bass that would do the trick. Although any cheap hollowbody with a neck pickup and preferably a wood bridge will work. Finding one that is actually playable is the trick.
  12. Moe Monsarrat

    Moe Monsarrat Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2006
    Austin, Tx.
    Endorsing artist:Regenerate Guitar Works Carvin, Micheal Kelly Guitars
    The Kay 162 Reissue pictured in my earlier post is one badass bass. I use it a lot in the studio for its exceptional tone. Nothing else sounds remotely like it except maybe a Hofner. I think the redesign the Fritz Bros. did on the pickup makes it sound better than the Hofner however. I do not know what the original model sounded like but the Reissue has massive, sweet tone. I'm not kidding.
  13. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Sweet Epi EA260 too! :thumbsup:
    Old Blastard likes this.
  14. I've gone through a few old hollow-bodies over the years. My favorite old-school cheap cool sounding bass is still an old Jay Turser Beatle Bass, strung with Pyramid Gold flats. Of course I bought it to play what you might expect on it, but the tone just screams early 60s stuff and works for old Blues and Swing really well too. With the deadened response of the flats it does Motown and other early Soul great also! I was surprised how good it sounds with acoustic instruments, how much low end it has and how well it substitutes for an upright (well, it fills that space) when there's no room for one of those on the stage! It's like a little secret weapon.
    fermata likes this.
  15. Nickweissmusic

    Nickweissmusic Knows all intervals from one Fred, to Juan octave Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2014
    San Diego, CA
    I teach lessons and perform live music in and around San Diego CA. Sometimes I even make money doing it!
    I find that short scale is the key to that sound. Try a Squier Bronco Bass. I've always liked their thuddy short scale sound, and they're dirt cheap, if you don't like it, send it back ;) Ibanez makes some beautiful hollow short scales too. From their website it looks like they're discontinued but you can still find them from some sellers. Ibanez Semi-Hollow Electric Bass Guitar Artcore Series AFB200 606559467563 | eBay
  16. Robert Sperling

    Robert Sperling Crazybassman72

    Jan 26, 2016
    Long Island, NY
    I use an EPI Viola with flats for my early thump tone (Beatles, CCR etc.), your mileage
    may vary. I did also consider the Gretsch jet, and Rumblekat, but found the Viola to
    be the best value, even tried the Hofner ignition but was more impressed with the
    Viola for the $
  17. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
  18. Old Blastard

    Old Blastard

    Aug 18, 2013
    IMG_2640.JPG Any of these will work....
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
    Templar, bass-flyer and TomB like this.
  19. Axstar


    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    I got the Kay/Harmony/Ronnie Lane tone out of my Aria TAB 66 bass, by accident. I fitted a really dead sounding set of flatwounds and played with a pick, and the 'plonk' is right there. It seems to be a combination of high action, low-tension strings, the neck pickup solo'd and using a heavy pick. You don't want much lingering tone on the notes, just a quick 'dunk' sound, with a quick attack and no sustain. Even better with floppy strings whereby the pitch subtly drops down the way with each note is it decays; amost like a Timpani hit or similar. You don't want too high output a pickup as a lot of those old basses wimped along with a weak single coil pickup up at the end of the neck. Check out Youtube videos and you will find one or two guys with roundwound strings on those old basses, and you will hear the fragility of the tone, as well as the dark rounded edge that an extreme-positioned neck pickup will add.

    This is my Aria, it is lightly modified:


    The pickups now have chrome covers. They are cheap guitar 'hotrail' humbuckers, though the neck is lower output. It has a quite nice cello-like midrange element to the tone. In the photo it is still wearing the ancient chromes that were giving me the 'plonk' tone I outlined above.

    The final thing I can think of is considering the bass lines you are playing. Guys like Chas Chandler played quite fluid, melodic lines. It wasn't all about staying in the pocket and watching out for the one! Those guys were playing generally higher up the neck than you might expect. Figure out the bass line to 'Its my Life' by the Animals and you will pick up a few tricks. For me one of the tell-tale '60s tricks is to pluck the note a tone below the one you want to play, then quickly hammer on the note you do want to play; a sort of quasi-classical grace note that guys like McCartney used a lot.
    Mastermold, Lvjoebass and Paul LF like this.
  20. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Pardon the shallowness but this one you have is just beautiful. I've loved its looks ever since I learnt of the existence of hollow-body violin basses with violin corners whose design was evidently influenced by the Gibson EB(1):
    -Apollo brands
    -Aria 1930 brands
    -Cameo brands
    -Estrada brands
    -Leonardo brands
    -Orlando brands
    -Univox Lectra brands
    -Ventura brands
    -Zenta brands
    lbbc likes this.

Share This Page