11/16/2014

1960s Kay X-braced Dreadnought Guitar




This guitar has been hanging out in the shop for a while awaiting repair and then consignment. I've now finished resetting the neck (double-bolt conversion), leveling and dressing the frets, and modding the original bridge to let it play well and in tune. The problem with old Kays is that they had the fundamentals right: big body, solid top, chunky x-bracing to make it sturdy... but until they're worked on the neck pockets are terrible and the saddle is almost always located at least 1/8" off-target.

With everything done, though, this guitar is big, ballsy, and has that sort of grungy sound that a bunch of blues performers have made use of on this particular model. I wouldn't say it's suited to old-timey stuff... it's more like a big thumping guitar.


The top is solid spruce (no cracks) while the back and sides are laminate mahogany. There's lots of wear and tear throughout. The bridge and fretboard are both rosewood and the nut and saddle are bone.


Missing truss cover... but the truss works perfectly and smoothly. Who doesn't like the that "find me at Western Auto or Pep Boys" sort of headstock plate?


Low, but wide, original brass frets. Plastic dots... and a radiused board.

The nut width is 1 5/8" but the back profile is deeper and, to some extent, reminds me of 50s Martins.


And if you're into riding around the range...? The pickguard will keep you good company.


I had to reprofile this original bridge (which is glued and bolted-on just fine after all these years) so I could move the saddle back 1/8" for proper intonation. The saddle is nice, tall, and has plenty of adjustment room. This is the first one of these wraparound bridges that I've actually managed to salvage and re-use: most are destroyed or insufficient to the needs of the guitar after many years of modification.



The back and sides show plenty more wear and tear, too, with a bit of water damage to the finish near the endpin area. It's totally a "mojo" guit.


The original Klusons are slightly sticky but hold pitch and work just fine.



There's that back, lower-bout moisture damage.




Here you can see how I've recut the bridge to make use of it again.





My neck reset included modding the chewed-up, attempted-repair dovetail joint into a tenon joint and then installing over/under hanger bolts with big nuts to attach the neck. The whole bit is also glued but the bolts will do most of the work over time.

2 comments:

Ed Goist said...

What a cool, old guitar. Mojo indeed!

What's the scale length on this?

Jake Wildwood said...

25 3/4"-ish. More like 25 7/8"-ish.