1960s Kay K6130 "Calypso" 000 Flattop Guitar

A friend of mine sold this to me the other day, and as I was regluing some other bridges, I did this one up, too. It turned-out a fine player with an old-timey, mids-y, typically "Kay" voice. Their dreadnoughts are pretty similar.

This style of Kay was made in the mid-60s and sports a solid spruce top (x-braced) over laminate mahogany back and sides. It's roughly 000 in size but has a very long 25 3/4" scale length and big 1 15/16" nut width and accompanying big D-shaped neck profile. If you've played any old 60s classical guitars from Japan, you might be familiar with the feel.

There are no cracks but there's plenty of weather-check in the finish and average use wear.

My work on this one included a new bridge, new bone nut and saddle, a fret level/dress, and general setup. The strings are 50w-11s.

I also added side dots. The board is rosewood, bound, and has the usual big old brass Kay frets. The dots are faux-pearl.

The blue decal rosette is wild, huh? The binding is all 3-ply tortoise/white/black.

The new rosewood bridge is a huge improvement over the original, bolted-on, funky Kay bridge. A drop-in saddle also makes action adjustments easy.

The guitar is playing with 3/32" EA and tiny-hair-above 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. The neck deflects just a tiny bit under tension -- which is bog-standard on 60s Kay and Harmony products with the non-adjustable-rod necks.

The mahogany looks pretty spiffy for an old Kay, huh?

The neck is poplar and has a steel rod in it.

I sunk (and covered) a screw/bolt into the heel and said "there's that." You can see it in the above pic as the discolored area.

If I'm not doing a neck reset, I don't trust the joint's future stability unless I do something -- and on a guitar of this caliber, a neck reset is really just not worth the time. It's stable and good to go.

There's the x-bracing -- just in case you didn't believe me. A lot of older Kays are strictly ladder-braced things.


Nick R said…
This is the K6130 Calypso which debuted in 1960 and was made until 1965. This info comes from that great book Guitar Stories- The History of Cool Guitars Volume 2. I must get a copy of this book. I have one of these retailed as a Truetone Calypso. My guitar man referred to it as "That thing of yours" but I have told him that somebody has to champion the underdog guitars and they are okay- even pretty good- especially when they are tweaked. This guitar has a neck nearly two inches wide at the nut and mine came with its own film of nicotine and tar- its owner had been a man that repaired the highways in Ohio and presumably like to smoke. The inside of the box still smells- he may be gone but his spirit lingers on.
Jake Wildwood said…
Nicholas -- thanks so much for your comment. Gotta love the funky old dogs, right? :)
Unknown said…
I just got one of these today and its got me smiling. I love this tone for picking blues and ragtime tunes.
This is the first one i ever seen and I'm very happy i got it.
Al Milburn said…
Hi Jake,
I'm a luthier in CA., and I'm looking for a Kay Calypso to convert to 12-string as an experiment. I think there may be some potential for a low-tuned 12 with the long scale and x-bracing.
Thanks, Al Milburn
Kim L. said…
Re: Al Milburn's comment: I had a Kay Calypso (with no logo on the headstock) that my parents bought from Montgomery Ward around 1963. Unfortunately it was stolen in 1970. But a couple of years ago, just after buying a new Washburn classical guitar, I found a Calypso online that needed some work and bought it from Mark Silber for a very good price. It has the Trutone logo like Nick R's (see above comment)--of all things a Western Auto brand, I think. Silber has others for sale and has done 12 string conversions with them. http://www.marcsilbermusic.com/