c.1940 Kay "Lyra" 17" Round Hole Archtop Guitar

In this case, bigger really is better. This is a fairly rare, 17" archtop most definitely built by Kay in either the late 1930s or early 1940s. It's crack-free and the finish is really good save a little playwear on the fretboard and the tiny little pock here or there. It's a beaut.

I did a neck set on this and cleaned it all up and set it up. I also replaced the busted and rusted original Klusons with some newer repro Kluson-style tuners. Otherwise it's totally original.

There's a nice sunburst all over. The top is good quality spruce and all the bracing is spot on and well done. Nicely shaped and weighted.

I see Kays with a similar shape and size quite often but not with a round soundhole. This one is also just a hair over 17" at 17 1/8" across the belly. Bracing is ladder-style

Like a big old Gibson, it sits quite comfortably in your lap due to the narrowish waist.

Stenciled Lyra brand name, more than likely unoriginal bone nut.

Fretboard is a painted & dyed black maple board. There's wear to it in the first position but all the frets have loads of life left. Plastic/celluloid? dots.

Cool gypsy-jazzish wide oval soundhole. The pickguard is elevated originally though I've put some extra padding to get it off of the top (it had warped a little over time).

Rosewood bridge.

Typical period tailpiece.

Maple back and sides, more than likely laminated at 2 or 3 ply. Bound in white celluloid on the top, back, and soundhole.

New Kluson repros.

Tailpiece & end pin.


Up For Sale Soon

This guitar, a c.1935 or so Regal-built B&J Serenader archtop tenor, will be up for sale soon. I've been keeping it in my stable greedily but have to part ("economic woes"). Just letting everyone know as I received a LOT of emails about this fellow. It's a first-rate machine and has the same size, shape, materials (good spruce top, mahogany back, sides, neck, ebony fretboard and bridge, similar binding to a Martin C-1, etc.) and feel as a Martin o-18T, though the top is arched. It's gonna knock the socks off of whoever picks it up.

Will be posting it this afternoon to the 'bay.


c.1920 Super Fancy Maple Banjo Ukulele

Wow! This one's hot to trot. It's got three-ply celluloid binding around the fretboard and headstock, inlaid multicolored purfling around the rim top, on the rim sides, and down the middle of the neck, and celluloid binding top and back of the rim. That's compounded with fancy spring-loaded (ie, high class) friction pegs and a nicely solid flamed maple f-hole resonator backplate. How about them apples?

Yeah, I'm impressed. It sounds good, too! Cleaning, neck reglue/reset, fret dress, new (parts bin vintage) bridge, and a replacement tailpiece were in order. And as far as the tailpiece goes... it was in my parts box and must have come off of an older bowlback mandolin, but I used it here as it fit so nicely with the aesthetic (and it's also doggone hard to find "true" old banjo uke metal tailpieces).

Super slick! Inlay down the headstock and neck center... and b/w/b three-ply binding all over.

Old-style top tension "California" rim design. This lightens the weight (no hooks) which means you can hold it strapless like a regular uke, though the head is about an inch smaller than the hook & nut & shoe style banjo rim (5-6" vs 7").

The finish is in great shape save the fretboard, which obviously had been played a bunch.

Birdseye maple on the sides.

Spring-loaded bakelite-buttoned pegs. Gotta love em.

Nope! That's no veneer... nice solid piece of turned flamed maple. Gives this uke a nice bright punch (though plenty of sweetness, too).

Tailpiece... tie some loops and you're ready to go.

c.1895 Buckbee 5-String Banjo

Another customer's instrument, this is a c.1890s Buckbee-built 5-string banjo. I did as minimal a job as possible to get it into playing status. Sometime in the 50s or 60s someone overhauled this in their own way and set it up as a steel-stringer (these were originally gut stringers)... but the job was not so workmanly. I've cleaned it up, replaced some missing parts (hex shoe & some hooks, and a new neck brace ebony shim), and set it up. Plays nice and easy and sounds good, to boot, though without recutting the heel to fit the pot again, the neck angle means it's using a low bridge (in this case an ebony parts-bin find that does the job).

Typical period Buckbee style headstock. Ebony veneer and ebony fretboard with MOP dots, one of which I replaced.

Original head as far as I can tell... and yes, it does have a pretty good pony on it.

50s/60s tuners. Probably Japanese-made. Originals were more than likely ebony pegs.

Funky brass 5th peg.

Rim is double-spun and the wood used on the neck and rim and dowel is most likely maple. A little hard to tell exactly with the dark stain.

c.1940 Harmony? Ukulele

Here's a nice little 1940s (probably) soprano uke, probably made by Harmony (or possibly Kay?). I repaired and set this up for a customer and the job included a neck reset, crack repair, and general setup. It's got a spruce top (very cool) with mahogany back, sides, and neck. Checker binding in the soundhole and tortoise binding around the top edge. All original save one peg's button which is a replacement from my parts bin.

Rosewood fretboard with MOP dots.

Pretty nicely figured spruce on the top, too!

I believe the bridge is a paler rosewood.

Nice "golden ginger ale" colored mahogany (natural finish). This uke has a great, lived-in feel to it which gives it a sort of "cozy warmth." Something you'd like to hold while laying about in a hammock.