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Go Directly to Registration Four questions are included to properly register your Kay bass. After answering the questions, send the info, and I will be able to add your Kay Bass to the database. After Registration I will provide a date of manufacture for your bass. All pictures are appreciated and saved for reference. Shortcuts to bass identification: Al Link now deceased , and his son Tom, of Engelhardt-Link, cooperated in all aspects, opening the doors to his factory whenever a question arose. Kay Bass From the time the first Kay bass was produced , the majority of the wooden parts were made at the factory. Necks were contoured from hard maple, peg holes drilled, tops and backs formed-sanded, ribs bent and bass bars installed on tooling either made for or developed under Kuhrmeyer's direction. Presses for installing the bass bar, and the heating forms used to laminate the tops and backs of the instruments were made in-house. The heating irons used to form the shape of the ribs were purchased, as were the sanding machines used to sand the tops, backs and necks of the new line of instruments. Also purchased, was a hot stamping or embossing machine. This machine was capable of embossing the tailpiece with the word Kay in cursive script. Bandsaws, drills and other hand tools needed were already in house. The first bass manufactured was apparently the Concert or the C The concert bass had rounded shoulders or bouts, which made the bass easier to play while sitting. The Maestro model M-1 , having a shape similar to a violin, known as the Viol shape, where the middle ribs form a point at their junction with both the upper and lower ribs was manufactured after Kay was well into production. It was a fancy bass and could be ordered with engraved tuners, inlaid purfling and ebony fingerboard and tailpiece. Alvin Hawes was the man who designed the bass. The earliest instrument in the database is a cello Ser 2. Kraftsman and Old Kraftsman basses were manufactured for Spiegels. The B is the same as the C-1 or student model, brown finish; the B was the same as the M-1 model, brown finish; and the B was the same as the top of the line S-9 model, blonde finish. Probably less than 50 were manufactured. I don't have any info on the bass, other than it is the Concert C-1 model. It is suspected that the model 89's were sold by Sears, Spiegels, Montgomery Ward and other mail order companies. A couple of times the owners of these basses have confused the 89 with S9. M-4 models carried inlaid purfling and an ebony fingerboard. These lasted through then M-4 was renamed the M-1B , of course the B being for blonde finish. The M-1B did not have inlaid purfling. This bass appears to be the Regular model as opposed to the M-1B which was blonde. With the S model designations beginning in , new models were added until Recent registrations indicate S model basses were made prior to for popular people. One of the basses registered was made in , an S-6, and was apparently made for Bob Wills. We have also recently located an S-5 bass which would have been manufactured in The S-5 was a thin model. There is also an S which is a thin Orchestra model. The S, very few manufactured, does not seem to carry inlaid purfling or ebony trimmings. There are now many Orchestra Models in the database. Some of these say Orchestra on the tag which is glued to the inside back; some are designated ; some are designated or B. The B is for Blonde finish. The 0 in or B may mean Orchestra or B. The Orchestra models were the C-1 shape with a nicer finish and polished tuners, probably made to be a little more appealing to the public eye. Orchestra model could be ordered with some purfling. They have been documented with inlaid purfling extending vertically up and down the middle of the back. Many of the Orchestra models were sold with a wooden end pin and a rubber crutch tip. This not only eliminated rattles in the endpin, but the basses were made to play in the sitting position and an adjustable post was not necessary. As years went on, Kay made numerous models depending on the customer's requirements. The M-1 and C-1 models were mainstays. M-2 , M-2 Army , and M-2 Navy basses have been documented. It is estimated that less than 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. Model M-1W This "W" is an albatross. At first it was thought the "W" stood for white because a couple of basses were white. It was reported the "W" stood for Wabash music. Supposed they had ordered basses to be distributed to school systems. I have quite a few M-1W basses now listed that are not white and they have not been refinished. There may be a possibility the "W" stands for "in the white" or unfinished. Kay did sell some basses unfinished; however, after studying the finish on many of the M-1W basses, I believe it was factory applied. Kay also sold a few bass bodies which resulted in people adding their own features. Kay sold a few basses to Sears and Montgomery Ward which were unmarked. It is also possible they sold basses or parts of basses to other manufacturers. The "W" may also be related to the H. They manufactured King and Cleveland American Standard basses. I think as time goes on we may see a relationship develop between these two companies, particularly having to do with interchangeable parts. They made band instruments including upright basses. Their products were known as "American Standard. King started making upright basses in American Standard production of upright basses started in A catalog says the S-8 is the same as the S-1 and S-9 except it offers a different color. S-1 is brown toned; S-9 is blonde and the S-8 was advertised as "honey colored". Top of the line basses were advertised over the years as, Swingmaster, Supreme, Slapmaster or Slap Pro basses. The models were S-1 , S-8 and S Top of the line five string basses were S , S , and S Identical except for color, these basses used Ebony on the fingerboards, an Ebony horseshoe shaped into the rear of the neck base. The horseshoes were manufactured by Kay. Then a band saw was used to cut the outside a little bigger than the neck. A chisel was used to cut out the back to the size of the hole they drilled and the horsehoe was then glued on. After drying everthing was sanded flush. Some of the S model basses had the scrolls hand carved integral with the pegbox. There was also a company in Chicago, so far unidentified and out of business, who was responsible for the carving of the roses integral with the pegbox. They may have also made the roses used by Kay and glued onto the pegbox. These carved scrolls were used on the most expensive basses. The S-9 basses were blonde with S-1 basses being brown toned. S-8 basses were "honey colored". As described by one owner, "it is a high impedance mic on the end of the endpin. The endpin is constructed like a phone plug and is inserted into a socket that sits on the floor. The socket is then connected to an amp. The outside of the endpin is insulated from the inside and then the jack plugs into the bottom or exterior portion of the endpin. Henry Kuhrmeyer was a leader in putting sound systems in musical instruments. The H, S, M-3, and S-3 are all the same size and have the same string length. The S bass is the fully decorated H The S is the top of the line quarter bass. The S is fully purfled, with ebony fingerboard and tailpiece and ebony horseshoe on the heel of the neck. Schools bought the majority of the upright instruments intending to provide the beginning student with an affordable, playable instrument. In early years the quarter bass was called the H About the H was renamed the M There is also another S which was manufactured for the Selmer Instrument Co. The basses were manufactured in Easy to play instruments

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4 Comments

  1. Usually the hard Maple and occasionally the Rosewood tailpieces were ebonized, with the Kay emblem appearing on tailpieces in the form of a decal, metal or wood embossed. Necks were contoured from hard maple, peg holes drilled, tops and backs formed-sanded, ribs bent and bass bars installed on tooling either made for or developed under Kuhrmeyer's direction. Stewart rim with modern Jim White fretless neck.

  2. Decals with gold lettering had three vertical strips running above and below the "A" in the word Kay, extending a little more than the length of the letter "K" in both directions. Tailpieces were made of Ebony, Rosewood, or hard Maple. Probably not, but this puppy has the punch to be heard in any jam session.

  3. While the ebony violin style friction pegs aren't the most ideal in terms of modern functionality, they are what this instrument would have had originally so given its age and originality, we opted to install new reproductions. One well-executed repair is a replaced peghead ear at the first string.

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