12/13/2012

c.1950 Kay Imperial Jumbo Archtop Guitar


This Chicago-made Kay "Imperial" archtop is a classic Kay build. It's got a full 17" lower bout with a chunky, baseball-bat style neck (though thinner side to side) and long 25 3/4" scale. Combined with a fully laminate body and tonebar bracing, this makes for a punchy, loud instrument that has a tight, focused sound. This is not a rumbly jumbo sound that you might expect -- that extra body width is simply there for extra volume and cut.

And, yes, I like it.


The guitar came in really good condition save that the neck was loose, and typical for Kay, the neck pocket dovetailed joint was made pretty crudely. I reset the neck and shimmed the joint, dressed and leveled the frets, and gave it a good setup. The guitar is 100% original and now plays like a dream.

I did this work for a customer who will be presenting this to her mother. This guitar has been in her family and was recently rediscovered, so hopefully it'll be a fun surprise to see it back and playing again!


The headstock veneer is so very classic. Original bone nut, too.


Bound rosewood fretboard with pearl "diamonds."


The original bridge is not perfectly fit but it does get the job done just fine.



The back and sides have flamed maple veneer which is quite pretty.


After some WD-40 these original Kluson tuners work just fine.




Don't you just love that "redburst" finish? It'll certainly get a fella noticed.

1 comment:

Jojo Speel said...

Nice job! I have the same guitar , same neck joint repair needed , thanks for posting , I think it could be 1940's era possibly , Jojo