c.1960 Kay Jumbo Cutaway Flattop Guitar


Cutaway acoustic jumbo guitars from the 50s/60s are pretty rare stuff and it's hard to find them outside of the archtop genre. This is a nice old Kay (a customer's instrument) probably from the late 50s or early 60s with a huge amount of volume and an enormous amount of vibe. It's a cool guitar!

Strangely enough it seems like I wind up working on a good number of these old jumbo Kays and this one is pretty typical as far as bracing and build goes: ladder-braced, solid top and sides, laminate back, and narrow (width) but bigger (front to back) neck. It also has a long scale (just shy of 25 7/8") which means that with a light set of strings you're putting more tension on the guitar than an average set of mediums on a Gibson-y scale length.

At any rate, these design qualities lend this a big, loud, projecting mid-range tone. It doesn't have the huge bottom one might expect with such a big soundboard; rather, the soundboard's size and the extra airspace works to give it more volume. It's an interesting tonality that responds sort of half-way between an archtop and a flattop guitar.

Nice tortoise headstock veneer!

My only "work" on this guitar involved a setup and replacing the (earlier replacement) tuners with some repro Kluson-style tuners that gave this guitar the right look.

This adjustable pin-bridge style design is seen very rarely on old Kays and only on the fancier models. I like it, myself! Note the three "furniture tack" covers -- these hide 3 bolts. It looks like this bridge was also reglued at one point slightly back from its original mounting area.

I love that "firestripe" pickguard! Note also that the fretboard extension is cantilevered over the body like on an archtop guitar.

Cool faux-pearl block inlays in a bound, rosewood board.

Here you can see the sheer size of that 17 1/8" lower bout.

Nice 50s-looking sunburst on the back and sides, too!

These 3-on-a-plate Kluson-style repros are a lot closer to what would have originally been on the guitar. There were single-unit "Keystone" Kluson Deluxes installed on it when it came in but they'd been installed willy-nilly at angles and these clean up the look quite a bit.

It's a lucky fella who owns a Kay like this one and also in such fine shape! These usually wind up having somewhat warped necks and bulged tops due to the long length and players over-stringing them with mediums and such (I'd stick to 54w-12 as a maximum gauge on this guy).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Saw one exactly like this puppy at at my local pawnshop today with the only difference being it was had the Airline brand name; really cool guitar for sure, priced at only 79 bucks- I'm going to rescue this one first thing in the morn! thanks for the great info...Kevin in Ft. Worth,TX