1960s Kay Speed Demon Double-Cut 3-Pickup Electric Guitar

I'm familiar with the Speed Demons that have one or two pickups and a single cutaway, but I haven't had the chance to work on one with a double cutaway and three "speed bumps." It's, well, sensationally cool. I like hollowbodies to begin with and old Kays have just enough off-kilter funk to make them exciting. With its thin, light body and long, 25 3/4" scale coupled to a trio of bluesy/jazzy single coils, this makes for an excellent rhythm machine that also delivers a distinctly different lead voice from your usual Gibson fare.

My work included a fret level/dress, minor repairs to the original bridge, and a heap of general setup and cleaning. It's now playing on-the-dot at hair-above 1/16" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret and I've adjusted its intonation to work for plain-G stringing so I have it strung with a set of regular "10s." It feels good and has a slightly-chunky C-shaped neck profile with a 1 11/16" nut width.

The body is made from thick ply with a flamed-maple veneer finished in natural. There's a bit of binding chipped-out at the treble-side cutaway on the top and a few nicks, dings, and scratches here and there, but overall the guitar looks fantastic.

It's also all-original save for replacement Kluson tuners and replacement adjuster screws for the pickups (both done "before me").

The (poplar?) neck is truss-rodded and good-n-straight. The plastic nut is original.

The "guitar-pick" inlay is faux-pearl plastic and the board is lightly-radiused rosewood. The frets are a medium-to-jumbo size type and even after the level/dress work, still have decent height for a few more level/dress jobs.

The pickup selector seems to be 1) all on 2) bridge 3) middle 4) neck. A warning, though! The neck and middle pickups have good, strong output, though the bridge pickup seems to be a hair underwound for its job. It'd be easy enough to lower the neck and middle a tiny bit to balance it out, but those two sound so good jacked right up under the strings..

I haven't yanked-out the wiring (no need to -- it all worked fine) to see if there are any caps or resistors randomly in the line of these pups -- something you find once in a while on old Kay and Harmony products.

The bridge had been mucked-about with a bit but I filled the worn-down old string slots and then compensated it for plain-G stringing. It's working as it should, now.

There's volume and tone for all pickups.


Unknown said…
I owned one of these in the 70s. I bought it used and someone had pulled the name off the head. I never knew what type of guitar it was until now. I refurbished mine and stained it walnut. Looked great and I always thought the tone was very jazzy.