Monday, April 1, 2013

1937 Kay M-4 Little Maggie

And last but certainly not least is Little Maggie named after the Ralph Stanley song “Little Maggie”…got to love those good traditional bluegrass names. This beautiful blonde 1937 Kay M-4 was the forerunner to the 1940 Kay blonde S-9 Swingmaster. According to Roger Stowers there are only 150 of the M-4 blonde basses made and even less with the flower engraved tuners. As the production of the M-4 was phased out the engraved flower tuners were dropped from the Kay production. An M-4 is described as having the three piece neck, factory carved scroll, flower engraved tuners, real inlaid purfling with supposedly ebony fingerboard and tail piece. 

The real inlaid purfling is known to weaken the edges of a plywood bass which causes chipping and delamination around the body of the bass. The Kay S-9 features were a one piece neck, factory carved scroll, brass tuners, real inlaid purfling around the body of the bass and the bound FF holes. It also had a distinctive horseshoe shaped ebony detail at the button on the back of the bass. The S-9 also was known for its ebony fingerboard and tailpiece.

All original finish

Flamed maple neck, very smooth and some what meaty for an early Kay

The great three piece neck and real purfling

Newly installed end pin tip with a great shot of that flamed maple back

My favorite detail, the engraved flower tuners

She is a real looker.  The edges have all been repaired and color matched

You will be hard pressed to find another Kay M-4 this nice!

I have seen variations of the M-4 and S-9 that blended these features together. I have seen a labeled M-4 without engraved tuners and I have seen a labeled S-9 with the flower engraved tuners…so all bets are off as to how many of each specific M-4’s and S-9’s basses have these similar blended or missing features.

This bass named Little Maggie came into our collection from the mid-west and needed very little TLC. We repaired the weak broken edges to looking fantastic and strong. Other then a new end pin tip she is ready to make joyful music. Shortly she will be packing her bags and heading to California to greet her new owner Katya.

As you have heard me gush before, I love these flowered tuners and think they are so feminine. Knowing this bass is going to a new female owner (and her first bass purchase) I am so very proud to pass along our passion for these beautiful early Kay basses. Little Maggie is a strong player and has that distinctive early Kay growl. We tested her on the sound meter and she is a loud, boomy bass. I know Katya is going to love her and we will sadly miss her once she is gone. These basses are very rare and difficult to find in this preserved condition.

Little Maggie is on to a new happy life…

Oh yonder stands little Maggie
With a dram glass in her hands
She's drinking away her troubles
She's a courting some other man

Oh how can I ever stand it
Just to see them two blue eyes
A shining in the moonlight
Like two diamonds in the sky

Last time a saw little Maggie
She was sitting on the banks of the sea
With a forty-four around her
And a banjo on her knee

Lay down your last gold dollar
Lay down your gold watch and chain
Little Maggie's gonna dance for daddy
Listen to that old banjo ring

Pretty flowers were made for blooming
Pretty stars were made to shine
Pretty women were made for loving
Little Maggie was made for mine

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