4/16/2011

c.1955 Kay 55 3/4 Cello


Ah, the faithful student instrument of the 40s-60s! This is a 3/4 size, all-ply (save the neck) Kay (Chicago) cello, and despite its pedigree, sounds darn nice and has a great feel. It's seen many, many years of service in school music rooms (has school markings here and there) and as a result has that lived-in personality that you only get with older instruments.


This cello has its original fittings save that at one point the tailgut was replaced with wire, the endpin's "stand" went missing (I just have some spare bar stock w/foam on it at the moment), and I installed a new ebony nut and new bridge. Strings are perlon-core and have that warm, old gut-ish tone.


One cool touch with this otherwise student cello are those (thankful!) geared tuners. These were made by Kluson, also in Chicago, and function perfectly and are a huge improvement over wood pegs as no fine tuners are required and they won't lossen up in differing weather -- not to mention -- if you use cheap steel-core strings, they'll be far easier to tone on these than on regular 1:1 ratio friction pegs.


Some marks for intonation left over on a (rosewood? mahogany?) fingerboard, at one point ebonized.







Overall, I really like this instrument, and for its price range, you can't go wrong with an old Kay. They're especially good for knockabout use as they're quite indestructible.

3 comments:

Emily Owen said...

Is there any way you can tell me where to get one of these? I used to play one back in 8th grade but it finally fell apart and I absolutely loved it...best cello I've ever played

Antebellum Instruments said...

Scour eBay for one. They pop up now and then. :)

Julie smith said...

I just bought one for 450$ on Craigslist. Crosses fingers..