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Kay Musical Instrument Company was a musical instrument manufacturer of the United States, in operation since the 1930s until the 1960s.
It was established in 1931 at Chicago, Illinois by Henry Kay Kuhrmeyer, from the assets of the former Stromberg-Voisinet, which was founded as Groeschel Mandolin Company in 1890.
These pickups appeared on Kay instruments through the late 1960s and are sometimes called “Kessel” or “Kleenex Box” pickups.
The Jazz Special Bass has a single blade pickup as used on the K-161 and K-162 (tilted slightly towards the neck at the treble side), as well as a distinctive, oversized headstock.
In addition to manufacturing instruments for sale under its own brands, Kay was also a prolific manufacturer of "house branded" guitars and folk instruments for other Chicago-based instrument makers and, at times, for major department stores including Sears and Montgomery Ward.
Kay also made guitar amplifiers, beginning with designs carried over from the old Stromberg company.
They also sell the Chicago Blues line of inexpensive harmonicas.
One of the best known Kay electric guitars during the 1950s was the K-161 "Thin Twin", most visibly used by blues artist Jimmy Reed.
The result was a semi-acoustic instrument that was feedback-resistant while retaining natural acoustic resonances.In 1965 Katz sold Kay to Seeburg Corporation, and he became the head of Seeburg's musical instrument division.In 1967, Kay was resold and merged with Valco, but dissolved in 1968 due to financial problems.This instrument debuted in 1952, and featured a single cutaway body, a distinctive tortoiseshell pickguard, and a pair of thin blade-style pickups that gave the guitar its name.Kay used this type of pickups on various Kay electrics dating back to the 1940s.