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Kay Cello, 1939

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This is a different Kay cello from 1939, serial no. 5297, model 55. It’s in excellent condition for a cello of its age.

Henry Kay Kuhrmeyer (b.1894, d.1956) was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. After serving in WWII Kuhrmeyer married and moved to Chicago, Illinois in search of business opportunities. He invested in Stromberg-Voisinet (formerly Groehsl Instrument Company), eventually becoming company vice president and bringing three talented luthiers on board. Kuhrmeyer was involved in daily operations and was among the first in the music industry to negotiate a 40-hour work week for employees. He also dabbled in applying new amplification technology to the company’s products. In 1935 the Kay Musical Instrument Company (Kay) was formed, initially manufacturing traditional folk instruments but expanding to craft a variety of stringed instruments including violins, cellos, double basses, and several types of guitar. Kuhrmeyer retired in 1955 and Sidney M. Katz took ownership. Kay switched hands several times after this and while products remained unchanged, financial concerns led to Kay’s dissolution, with the brand and various business assets being auctioned off. Production continued under the Engelhardt-Link name.

The first Kay bass was produced in 1937 and from then on, most of the wooden pieces used to craft the instruments were made on-site from hard maple and combined with high-quality laminate. Each vintage has its own characteristics, and this specific 55 model from 1939 was primarily known as a student instrument. Minor signs of wear correspond to its age and purpose proving that this cello is a durable piece, ready to help any eager student learn to play. It has a consistent, balanced tone and is a lovely orange-brown hue.


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