6/10/2016

1940s Kay 2-Point Archtop Mandolin





This unbranded old Kay-made mando is curious in many regards. First of all -- that bizarre brownburst finish is interesting in itself. Next -- the top, back, and sides are all solid mahogany. After that -- the sides have no binding and simply have "rounded-off" edges. When you add all of that up with the "KayKraft" body shape, it makes a pretty odd mandolin.

I worked on this for a customer and it got a neck reset (glued/bolted), a fret level/dress, top brace reglues/modifications, and conversion of the original bridge into an adjustable, fully-compensated one. It's got a long-ish 14" scale length and, as typical for a Kay, even with action on-the-dot and strung with 34w-10 strings, there's something "tight" about the feel of it. It makes a good "digging-in" instrument and certainly has a good amount of subdued "pop." The mahogany top does give this a different sound from your average Kay archtop mando, too, in that the treble is a lot more "creamy" and doesn't seem to get overdriven.



The tuners, unfortunately, are gold-plated Pings, methinks. Otherwise the gear (aside from the new bridge topper) is original. The nut, here, is ebony.


Pearl dots decorate a painted-black maple board with brass frets. I added some side dots while I was at it.


The raised pickguard is nice to have as it bolts-on "Martin-style" rather than using clamps and whatnot.


The bridge is funny, but I was glad to re-use the base of the original one at least. The new top is a rosewood one I whipped-up.












The original Waverly "cloud" cover for the tailpiece is, surprisingly, still there.

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