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Mar 10, 2024 - 2:09:25 PM
98 posts since 1/20/2014

For some strange reason I have developed an interest i Kay Banjos. I am wondering what I should know or be aware of before I crawl into this rabbit hole. Do I need one? No I don't but that has not stopped me before. Yes I have banjo acquisition syndrome. Thanks for any input. Banjo is a 5 string open back for $150.

Mar 10, 2024 - 3:46:43 PM
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3325 posts since 3/30/2008

kayvintagereissue.com/#catalog

Check out this website. Kay specialized in beginner & intermediate instruments. Their higher level intermediate banjos are a very good deal. They briefly c.1955-59 entered the professional market w/ the Jose Silva models . Seek out their best models & you will have a very decent instrument.

Mar 10, 2024 - 4:42:15 PM
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5588 posts since 3/22/2008

Maybe be aware of the peculiar design for the neck attachment to the rim hardware. There is a metal piece placed between the neck heel and the rim. It is a patented neck adjustment mechanism. Attached is a "tutorial" from a fellow banjohangout member describing how the neck adjuster works.


Mar 10, 2024 - 5:17:55 PM

793 posts since 5/29/2015

There were some Kay banjos made in the 1960s with pressed wood or similar rims. These are to be avoided. In the early 1930s, the dot-dash metal flanges were made of pot metal--and were unstable--cracking, crumbling and swelling. Always check for this problem when buying that era. Kay banjos from the 1970s on, were made overseas and are generic student banjos. Musima is an Eastern European banjo that copied the shape of Kay headstocks from the 1930s and 1940s. I regularly (just today on Facebook in fact) see people misidentifying Musima banjos as Kay. They have a zero fret and a noticeably long neck heel. These are the issues I know of that might lower your enjoyment of a banjo you purchased. Otherwise enjoy playing and collecting Kay banjos.

Mar 11, 2024 - 3:50:31 PM

13121 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Banner Blue

There were some Kay banjos made in the 1960s with pressed wood or similar rims. These are to be avoided. In the early 1930s, the dot-dash metal flanges were made of pot metal--and were unstable--cracking, crumbling and swelling. Always check for this problem when buying that era. Kay banjos from the 1970s on, were made overseas and are generic student banjos. Musima is an Eastern European banjo that copied the shape of Kay headstocks from the 1930s and 1940s. I regularly (just today on Facebook in fact) see people misidentifying Musima banjos as Kay. They have a zero fret and a noticeably long neck heel. These are the issues I know of that might lower your enjoyment of a banjo you purchased. Otherwise enjoy playing and collecting Kay banjos.


Well, my Kay banjos are made of pressboard—literally, molded from sawdust and glue, All were made that way after Valco acquired them (1966?). They aren't bad banjos at all but yea, not highly sought after.

Kay went out of business in 1968 but the trademarks have been used by many companies since. No one considers those lated ones real Kay banjos.

Here's the late Frank Ford's tutorial on setting them up: Frets.com Kay Banjo Setup. Do print my 2020 writeup posted earlier—those instructions are missing from Frank's site and they will spare you a lot of frustration and possible grief from overtightening. I urged Frank to add them but he passed before that happened. 

Edited by - mikehalloran on 03/11/2024 15:51:52

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