Kay K-5920 Hollow Body Electric Bass Guitar (1964)

Kay  K-5920 Hollow Body Electric Bass Guitar  (1964)

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Item # 7886
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Kay K-5920 Model Hollow Body Electric Bass Guitar (1964), made in Chicago, sunburst lacquer finish, laminated maple body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, original two-tone chipboard case.

Kay is generally considered the second commercially successful electric bass guitar maker, following quickly on the heels of Fender in 1952. Kay were the king of commercial grade upright basses at the time, and likely saw the solid body Fender Precision Bass as a looming threat to their market. Kay's offerings were a completely different design, using a shorter thinner neck on a hollow cutaway guitar body. This was perhaps a quick design decision, but made for a completely different feeling and playing instrument from the Fender 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.

This instrument is the original Kay Electric Bass' mid-'60s descendant, designated Model K-5920. It still has a fairly conservative look with a single-cutaway 15" arched hollow body finished in a nicely shaded gold/brown sunburst, with single binding on the top and back. The single "speed bump" pickup is mounted in the center of the body, over a cream plastic pickguard with tone and volume controls mounted below on the top. The oddly shaped headstock with a prominent lower flange carries a flashy plastic plate adorned with the "K" Kay logo and four Kluson openback guitar tuners that look surplus from the late 1940s.

By the mid-1960s Kay's original hollow body bass concept was hugely popular, but the company's own designs were somewhat undistinguished. This bass is a fairly late example of Kay's typical offerings dating to 1964, still much more solid in construction than many imports of the time, but no longer particularly unique. This bass was Kay's equivalent to the very popular Harmony H-22, and a decent sounding and playable instrument. While it has not been re-discovered the way the H-22 has, the K-5920 is still a nice entry in the 1960s hollow body bass sweepstakes.
 
Overall length is 45 in. (114.3 cm.), 15 in. (38.1 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 15/16 in. (4.9 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 30 1/2 in. (775 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/2 in. (38 mm.).

An all original example showing some general wear and -- upon close examination -- some fairly sloppy workmanship sometimes seen from the Kay factory by the mid-'60s. This is the best playing one of there we have had (and it took some effort to make it that way!) with a nice straight neck and the brass frets well-polished out. There are some small chips to the finish, a small patched area of binding on the bottom edge of the cutaway and corrosion to the tailpiece base, but overall the bass looks relatively undisturbed. Includes a battered and semi-functional original chipboard case, and amazingly, the original hangtag. Very Good + Condition.