American Bass by Kay, c. 1950

This is an American bass by the popular Kay bass company. It is a Kay M-1 model, the same model played by Elvis Presley’s bassist Bill Black. This bass was formerly owned by Wild Bill Whelan, a D.C. area jazz musician. Whelan was a fixture of the Washington jazz scene for over forty years as a trumpet and bass player. He was a member of the Not-So-Modern Jazz Quartet and a long time supporter of traditional jazz music until his death in August 2003. The bass has a dark red-brown varnish shaded to golden ground. The back is made from one piece of laminated wood, with similar sides. The neck and scroll are made of plain maple. The top is made from widely grained laminated pine. The string length is 41⅝”.