2/08/2015

1960s Kay Mahogany Soprano Uke


The hardest thing to accept about these Kay (Chicago) ukes from the 60s is that they actually sound decent. The top is very thin solid mahogany (and unbraced!) while the back and sides are laminate mahogany and I think that's the defining difference that makes this Kay variant on the wood-body/plastic-fretboard uke (vs. Harmony-style models) so much more resonant. It follows that if you make the top thin and solid that you're going to have a fuller sound.

The only issue with this thinking is that when you build said top entirely-unbraced that top is going to warp and flex in various unpleasant ways over time. This one certainly did! That's why, aside from setup, this uke also got some thin "strapping braces" installed above and below the soundhole to reinforce the top and remove most of the twist and sink that'd occurred in the top.



The body is sort of a "dreadnought" take on a soprano body size.


As usual, the zero fret/nut on the plastic fretboard needed to be slotted down a fair bit to get decent action height at the nut.




The friction pegs are still working just fine and the poplar neck has remained surprisingly true and straight.


This got a quick "bolt reset" job: there's no sense taking a lot of time to fix one of these beautifully (in this case, pulling the neck and installing a second dowel lower down the heel and regluing). Besides, this will be getting banged around by my little nephew in the near future and that means anything extra to hold this together is "all plus."

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