1960s Kay 6116 000-size Guitar

Update 2017: I originally worked on this guitar for a customer in 2013, but it's come back in for sale and so I've updated the pictures, soundclip, and description to reflect its current state.

Kay Vintage Reissue has a nice selection of old Kay catalogs, and while I know a variant of this instrument as a K15 or 6150 model, in the early '60s catalogs (where this looks just like this guitar), it's called a 6116. Fair enough!

It's a take on a Martin 000 in size and shape, though it's a bit wider at 15 1/2" on the lower bout, has a much longer 25 3/4" scale length, and is ladder-braced. These changes should make a snappy, biting-sounding, Kalamazoo KG-14-ish flattop, but the reality of the situation is that this has a lot of warmth and mellow folksy chord-chucking power instead of what you'd expect from it. I was surprised the first time I played it!

Over the last few years, this guitar has received the work needed to make it a true player's instrument -- the frets were leveled/dressed, the bridge was replaced with a modern rosewood one, the new bridge pins are ebony, I made a new, compensated bone saddle for it, shored-up a few minor hairline cracks that hand't been addessed on the top, and added a neck bolt as insurance on the inside of the neck block. It's spot-on as far as action goes (3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret) and looks like it's strung with 12s at the moment. The neck is straight and it has a functioning truss rod.

I love the warm, browny-red sunburst. The top on this is solid spruce and ladder-braced while the back and sides are ply maple. The fretboard and bridge are rosewood and it's bound (with some fancy purfling) on the top and back and at the edges of the soundhole and fretboard.

The aluminum, refrigerator-style Kay plate is original to the guitar -- as is the truss rod cover. This originally went back to its owner with its factory tuners on it, but since then we swapped them over for these Kluson-style vintage repros. They work way better.

The nut is 1 5/8" in width and the board has a light radius to it. The back of the neck is a chunky, medium-sized C/D shape, however.

The original brass frets still have some life left in them and are good to go.

At both sides of the top near the waist are these 2" long hairline cracks -- they're right over kerfing and bracing and are no issue. I'm assuming they're from swelling/shrinking due to moisture over the years.

The new bridge has a drop-in bone saddle and some string ramps behind the saddle which adds good downpressure on it. There's about 1/16" of adjustment room left to shim up/down.

The ply maple has some nice, curly figure here and there throughout to its veneer.

I'm pretty sure the neck on this is poplar, but the dark finish makes it hard to be 100% on that.

Here's the "insurance bolt" installed from the inside of the guitar.

I also added a strap button at some point.


Josh said…
I have one of these, but with the wraparound bridge and it has the same truss rod and cover, so it looks like it was production.