11/21/2015

1960s Kay Resonator Tenor Banjo




This tenor was just in for setup and adjustments but also got a new bridge and light fret level/dress, too. I think Kay was smart to follow Gibson's original 1920s path when they made their later tenor banjos in using guitar tuners -- I mean, why not? They're practical, and it's not as if it's that hard to make a good-looking headstock to use them with. Oh -- tradition!

Though this long scale (23") tenor is bruised and battered, after dialing it in the sound is that percussive, mids-sweet, "floppy" sound that I really like for chord-chomping on a tenor banjo. This one doesn't have that obnoxious high-end zing that you sometimes get with less-fancy resonator tenors.





The rosewood board, pearloid markers, and finish style is exactly the same as found on Kay electrics from the late 50s/early 60s as well. It's a curious look on a tenor banjo, but I like the funk appeal.


The flange that's in use here has been seen on Kays as far back as the early 30s!

This one also has the "magic adjustable neck" gizmo, too, with a single coordinator rod setup.


I swapped-out a sagged older bridge for a compensated NOS (Harmony) maple bridge. The strings are set for DGBE tuning.


The original tailpiece was junk and the tension hoop sits high, so instead I borrowed a banjo-uke stringing method and drilled a few holes through the hoop for mounting. This is a simple solution for a simple banjo.




The metal-buttoned tuners are a plus.



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