12/02/2011

c.1965 Kay-made Truetone Dreadnought Guitar


This is the first-finished of two of these big-body Kay dreadnought-style guitars I'm working on for a customer. Both have solid spruce tops with laminate mahogany back/sides and both have big old tone and huge volume. It's funny -- these big old Kays from the '60s/early '70s aren't nearly as refined as a Martin or Gibson but they have a ton of guts and are a perfect guitar for rollicking honky-tonk, rockabilly, or any chord-pounding genre that requires big driving backing guitar.

This model dates from around 1965 or thereabouts and is the sunburst version of the N-1 (I think!) which is famously used by a bluesman who, I'm sorry, but I can't recall the name of at this point in time. Either way it's got an x-braced top which gives it much more stability over the ladder-braced Kays of yesteryear and that more open, funky dirty-cousin version of a Gib or Martin tone.


My work on the guitar included a fret dress, hairline crack repair/fill/cleating, and general setup. The nut needed to be elevated and reslotted (it was propped up on cardboard), the saddle needed slight slotting and lowering to align the strings and set action (the saddle had been previously modified -- see closeup of bridge -- but workmanly enough), and the usual other stuff needed doing here and there -- tightening tuner posts, installing missing end pin, stuff like that. Fortunately no braces were loose (a very typical Kay issue) so this one's turnaround was relatively quick.


Replacement Grover-style tuners.


Bound rosewood board, wide-dot pearloid markers, big brass frets.


...and a wild blue decal rosette.


This bridge is both glued and bolted to the top and is rosewood/bone. This straight-across pyramid-ish design harkens back to late '30s-'40s Kays and is very peculiar to see on a "modern style" dreadnought which typically would have a belly bridge. It's (amazingly) still glued tight and sure to the top.




Note the old Kluson 3-on-a-strip tuner marks.


Neck had previously been amateurly reset to a decent back-angle, so no need to fuss there.




The end-pin was broken off in the hole and rather than remove it I just drilled into it and installed this electric-style end pin/strap hanger... which works better, anyway!