4/20/2012

c.1965 Kay 000 X-braced Guitar





This 1960s Kay is a strange one. It's got a solid, x-braced spruce top, laminate mahogany back and sides, and mystery hardwood neck (poplar?). It's roughly a 000 size instrument (in Martin sizing) but has a 15 1/2" lower bout. It's a big guitar but because of the smaller waist doesn't feel it in the lap.

At any rate, aside from tons of finish checking and grunge in the lacquer cracks, this guitar is in good, crack-free state. I've given it a cleaning, fret level/dress, slight saddle shave, and setup, and it's all roaring and ready.

The tone on this instrument is uncomplicated but still obviously x-braced with the lingering sustain and big, bold tone that has scooped mids.


Check out all that lacquer checking!


Rosewood bridge. Forgive the slight saddle-shaping dust.


The binding on this soundhole is real but the blue rosette is just a decal.


Faux-MOP dots in a rosewood board. The fretboard, top, and back are also bound in tortoise. Brass frets.


Original plastic nut. This guitar has a very "classical" neck with a flat profile and 1 7/8" nut! Perfect for the player who likes a lot of room. Also note the slotted headstock on a 14-fret neck. It gives this guitar a mixed look -- more modern in the 000 shape and 14-fret neck but more vintage in the slotted headstock and old-style board.

The neck also has a tiny bit of relief on it but action is still 3/32" at the 12th fret and a hair under on the treble side.



Laminate mahogany back and sides in typical Kay fashion.



This end-pin conceals a bolt that goes through the neck block and into the interior. The neck set was decent on this instrument but I always fear for the dovetail joint on '60s Kays since I've seen my share of them with pulled-up heels and poorly-fit joints. This bolt will insure a solid join even if the glue lets up in a hot car.



See the tortoise binding? Not bad!




Tuners work great.


Original end pin.

The end result? A loud, big-sounding guitar with a long (25 3/4"!) scale that can belt it out with the best of them. These old x-braced Kays make great campfire or take-anywhere instruments as they're quite rugged, as well.

1 comment:

Nicholas Ratnieks said...

This guitar retailed for $47-50 in 1964 as a Truetone Calypso. I suppose Kay sold a few under their own brand. It's a well made guitar- the top-of-the-range Truetone from Western Auto at the time. For an "accomplished musician" that wanted a good guitar at a reasonable price.
That's what the catalog tells us!