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Kay Musical Instrument Company: Wikis


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Kay Musical Instrument Company was a notably prolific US manufacturer of musical instruments that operated from the 1930s through the 1960s.

It was formally established in 1931 from the assets of the former Stromberg-Voisinet company by businessman Henry "Kay" Kuhrmeyer. The company initially manufactured only traditional folk instruments, but eventually grew to make a wide variety of stringed instruments, including violins, cellos, banjos, upright basses, and a variety of different types of guitars including Spanish acoustics, Hawaiian lap steels, hollowbody acoustic-electrics, and solidbody electrics. Some of Kay's lower-grade instruments were marketed under the Knox and Kent brand names.

Kay also made guitar amplifiers, beginning with designs carried over from the old Stromberg company. Kay eventually subcontracted its amplifier production to Chicago music industry rival Valco in the 1950s.

In addition to manufacturing instruments for sale under its own brands, Kay was also a very prolific manufacturer of "house branded" guitars and folk instruments for other Chicago-based instrument makers, and, at times, even for major department stores including Sears and Montgomery Ward.

Kay merged with Valco in 1967, then dissolved in 1968 due to financial problems.

The Kay name and some of its trademarks (such as Kent and Knox) were later acquired by Japanese business concerns who went on to market inferior imported guitars and amplifiers under those brands.




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