2/18/2016

1940s Oahu 71K Hawaiian Jumbo Squareneck Guitar




This Kay-made Oahu is model 71K number 2 in the shop right now and appears to be slightly later than the other one. This is a squareneck Hawaiian guitar (for face-up slide playing) in a "mini-jumbo" shape and size and I would probably put this guitar right around 1940 or just after. It deviates from "catalog" specs in that the fretboard inlays are a bit less fancy and the gold decorative bit on the lower bout is actually stenciled-on rather than a decal. The fretboard is also rosewood rather than ebony and has the more orange coloration I've seen more on 40s Kay builds.

The guitar is all-original save for a replacement, oversize, funky rosewood bridge, saddle, and bridge pins. My work on it was to replace both the saddle and pins, cleat the top cracks (which had been drop-repaired before), clean it up, and set it up. It's strung with a standard set of mediums and has a very similar voice to the other 71K -- big and open with a bit of Dobro-ish honk -- with slightly more mids and slightly less bass.


The top is solid spruce with ladder bracing and has a number of repaired hairline cracks -- 3 south of the bridge and 4 north of it with the longest running from the fretboard extension's bass side to an inch or two above the bridge. The finish on the top has a light coat of overspray here and there to, presumably, blend-in old pickwear and worn areas. Thankfully it's not obvious (or heavy-handed) and the rest of the finish is original and untouched.

The lower bout is, interestingly, 1/8" narrower (15 5/8") than on the other 71K and the bracing is a little taller and a hair more stiff. I would guess that the bracing change would be to accommodate heavier strings (which are almost always in use on Hawaiian guitars).


This guitar shipped from the factory with a tall nut rather than the usual blank nut and extender added. The nut width -- 1 11/16" -- is slightly narrower than the other 71K. Note the rosewood headstock veneer and 40s-style Kluson tuners.


The rosewood board is bound and has plastic dots.


The binding is multi-ply and contrasts nicely with the tobacco-brown sunburst.


Whoever "CV" was, his or her bridge choice for a replacement piece was ginormous. The saddle slot on this one was cut all the way through and it came with a bone saddle that only took up half the space. I made a two-piece bone saddle for this that fills it up better to replace it. After that I reamed the pin-holes a little bit and added some new rosewood pins to replace some junky cheap plastic ones.



The "gold" here is stenciled rather than a decal as is more commonly found. This same type of decoration is found on scads of Kay's KayKraft guitars and mandolins built around the same time.



The back is solid, flamed maple and looks great.



The original Kluson tuners are working well.


This has a mahogany neck.


The sides are solid, flamed maple as well.




There's general use-wear along the sides.

No comments: