1939 model 859 amplifier by KAY

I found this on Ebay it was in the wrong category, so I got a great deal on it. and thanks to Bill E who contacted me when he found the identical amp, I now have the model number it is a model 859 and acording to the date on the schematic it was made in 1939. From what I have gathered from some research on the web I can safely assume it is very old. It was made by the Kay Musical Instrument Company. And according to Wikipedia The Kay Musical Instrument Company was founded from the assets of the Stromberg-Voisinet Company, by a fellow named Henry “Kay” Kuhrmeyer.  Kay used circuit designs from the old Stromberg company and in the mid 50’s Henry outsourced production of amplifiers  to their competitor Valco whom build amps for quite a few companies during the middle of the 20th century.

I have searched all over the web and have not seen anything like this small amp. When I took possession of this gem, I could tell that it had been re-capped sometime in the early 60’s due to some of the soldering not looking so original.

This amp sounds amazing and is very quiet, except for some light crackling due to the old carbon comp resisters in the signal path. We also  have a field coil speaker on this little guy, which is basically a transformer choke that does double duty as an electromagnet in the speaker.  There are 4 tubes in this amp a number 80 rectifier (a 4pin version of a 5y3 common in quite a few vintage amps) – a 6N6-G ( a self biasing dual triode), in glass coke bottle style envelope, and for the preamp there are 2 metal tubes  6N7 and a 6C5. There are 2 inputs and one red chicken head knob.

Vintage Kay Amp from late 30's or 40's

Vintage Kay Amp from late 30's - 40's

look at the size of those caps

look at the size of those caps

This amp uses a field coil speaker - basically an electromagnet instead of a fixed magnet

This amp uses a field coil speaker - basically an electromagnet instead of a fixed magnet

UPDATE – 5-22-2012 Bill from Cambridge, MA

Bill Just emailed us and said he just purchased one of these amps at a local auction, it is the same Kay, he was kind enough to send over some photos of the amp as well as my favorite the amp sitting next to his vintage Les Paul, I bet both the amp and guitar feel right at home. I bet that once the amp has had a once over by a good repair tech it will be sounding good as new and Bill will have years of enjoyment ahead.

Enjoy the photos
Paul – CTA

Vintage 1940's Kay amp with 1955 Gibson Les Paul

Vintage 1940's Kay amp right at home with 1955 Gibson Les Paul

vintage Kay Guitar amp from 1940's

Here is another Vintage Kay Amps - it belongs to Bill R from Cambridge, MA