Kay Model K-5965 Electric Bass Guitar (1960)

Kay  Model K-5965 Electric Bass Guitar  (1960)

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Item # 7748
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Kay Model K-5965 Model Electric Bass Guitar (1960), made in Chicago, sunburst lacquer finish, laminated maple body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, molded plastic hard shell case.

The Kay electric bass is generally considered the second commercially successful bass guitar, following quickly on the heels of Fender's Precision Bass in 1952. Kay were the king of commercial grade upright basses at the time, and likely saw the solid-body Fender as a looming threat to their market.

Kay's offering was a completely different design, using a shorter, thinner (and more upright-like in contour) neck on the flat-topped hollow cutaway guitar body then being developed for the Thin Twin model. This was perhaps a quick design decision, but made for a completely different-feeling and playing instrument from Fender's solid-body and was in many ways nearly as influential. Indeed, the Kay Electric bass is the direct ancestor of all acoustic/electric hollow body bass guitars, and also introduced the common 30" short scale that many of them share.

The instrument was purposely given a more conservative, classy look than the "plank" Fender and marketed to jazz players at first. The finish is a nicely shaded gold/brown sunburst, with triple binding on the top and back, cream plastic accents, and a tortoise celluloid headstock face bearing a chromed Kay logo.

Often called the "Howling Wolf" bass (his band was famously photographed with one), the Kay Electric Bass was officially endorsed by jazz bassist Chubby Jackson when new. It was fairly popular for during the 1950s but was eventually superseded by newer designs as the '60s arrived. This one is a fairly late example dating to 1960, and remains a still unique and very playable instrument, well-suited to many vintage musical styles.
Overall length is 44 1/2 in. (113 cm.), 15 in. (38.1 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 2 3/4 in. (7 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 30 3/4 in. (781 mm.). Width of nut is 1 7/16 in. (36 mm.).

This bass is very clean with only some light finish wear overall and is the best-playing example we have had. The neck has been reset and refretted, and is a very clean job. The bridge is a slightly larger replica of the rosewood original, mounted on sturdier posts and carved to allow better intonation than the small and rather flimsy Kay piece. There are some small finish dings, scuffs, and chips, but overall the finish is cleaner than many. There is a small chip off the plastic headstock facing by the low "E" tuner. Strap buttons were added in the usual positions.

All hardware, excepting the bridge unit, is original and this bass sounds like it should, and plays better than it did originally (Kay's necksets and fretwork often being spotty in the 1950s). This is a great gigging example of this much sought-after early electric bass, equipped with a modern HSC. Excellent Condition.