Bass and cello registry


When KMI was dissolved in 1969 after 32 years building upright basses and cellos, all production records were lost. Starting in 1995 Roger Stowers, a bluegrass and traditional bassist in Wisconsin, accumulated information on individual instruments supplied by owners, primarily to determine approximate dates of manufacture.

I’m Steven Ayres, and I got involved in 2012, first with tracking and documenting instruments from online sale sites, and since 2015 with analysis of the data to build a more comprehensive picture of the production history and specific model features. We began systematically tracking Kay cellos as well in 2014. As of this writing we’ve documented over 8,200 surviving instruments, against total production as high as 60,000.

The information we’ve gleaned over the years has helped many Kay owners better understand their instruments, and Roger’s analysis of numbers by approximate date, informed largely by owner stories, has become the de facto standard for dating these instruments. Building on that, I am currently working to refine the dates, compile a standard reference on Kay models and features, and build a new website.

By participating in the Kay Bass and Cello Registry you can learn more about your instrument and help expand understanding about them for others. This work would not be possible without the generous contributions of information by thousands of owners, luthiers and retailers worldwide.

Beyond the extensive general knowledge base on Kay stringed-instrument production it represents, the Registry maintains the histories of individual instruments. By updating Registry information when you buy, sell or repair a Kay bass or cello, you help build a pedigree for the instrument to inform future owners, luthiers and collectors.

If you are selling one of these instruments online or through a retailer, you may have received a message from us asking about registration. Be assured that this is genuine, and will involve no cost to you or subject you to any sales pitch. Your personal contact information is always held in confidence. We do not buy or sell instruments as a business, and do not advertise member instruments for sale.

A more comprehensive site is coming soon.

 News: With sadness I have to report that Roger Stowers, founder, lead researcher and principal of, passed away on September 13, 2020. This site is dedicated to the memory of him and his great contribution to the upright-bass community. 

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