Kay Double Bass Viol C1, circa 1939, SN 4781: This early model Kay Bass with a low serial number is a collector’s dream. Based on its serial number, its creation date is estimated to be 1939, which puts it within the third year of production for Kay. This Kay bass has a simple gamba shape is all setup and ready to play with Pirastro strings.
This Kay Bass is in stable condition and is playable as is; however, a little cosmetic work could go a long way on this bass. No work has been done on this Kay by the luthiers at Upton Bass, although there is evidence that it has been worked on previously. This bass shows some edge wear and a little age on its side. It was sanded and refinished in the past, the volutes (ears) removed from the scroll. There is a repair on the neck heel, which is evidence that it had been broken in the past, but the repair and glue seem to be holding strong and no further repair is needed at this time. It has all of its original parts including the maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, and Kluson tuners.
This bass lost its Kay label, so how are we certain it’s a Kay? For a number of reasons. The kerfed lining (visible in the hand-written serial number shot) is a hallmark of Kay basses. Also, the steel side-plates of the tuners are stamped Kluson Mfg, which was the standard for Kay. You may notice in the photos that the volutes are missing: this was part of a former refinishing job, and as Kay bass scrolls were made in bulk runs, the volutes were glued on separately and are easily removed for sanding, etc.
If the storied basses of classic vintage Americana speak to you, this Kay bass could make an excellent project. If you are looking for a handmade American plywood bass that is made just for you, why not begin the story of your own classic bass with a UB Standard Model today?
Upton Bass String Instrument Co. specializes in building award-winning custom double basses and offers accessories for the double bass. Upton Bass also services all instruments and bows of the violin family with world class restoration and repair, to view our online restoration portfolio visit stringrepair.com
Upton Bass is ready to offer advice and answer any questions regarding double basses or related bass topics. Please contact UB at email@example.com or call the shop at +1 (860) 535-9399. Hours of operation Tuesday through Saturday 10am – 6pm. The Workshop (The Barn) and showroom are located in Mystic, Connecticut conveniently between Boston and NYC.