11/10/2017

1960s KAPA Continental Electric Guitar





This Maryland-made KAPA was in for repair and return to its owner. It's the much-seen Continental model but in a two-pickup format and sporting a very-worn finish I don't see too often -- the company's version of "olympic white" and featuring a nice celluloid tortoise pickguard. The offset body shape and thinner depth compared to the Challenger and Cobra models yields a lighter, sportier, and surfier-feeling guitar -- though the Hofner-made "staple" humbucker pickups still give a Gretsch FilterTron-like tonality that's transparent and brighter but still humbuckery-smooth at its edges. The Jazzmaster-style trem/whammy unit and Fender-length 25 1/2" scale definitely give it Fender-feeling qualities, though.

Frankly, after work, this guitar is simply stunning to play. It has a quick, modern-profile Hofner-supplied maple/rosewood neck that means playing all over the neck is easy-peasy -- and even more-so as I refretted it with medium/jumbo stock. Other work included swap-out of the cheesy orginal tuners for some older nickel-plated Kluson-a-like tuners (with split shafts), relocation of the bridge, better shielding and grounding of the wiring harness, better seating of the tailpiece/trem, and general spiffing-up. It's now playing spot-on with a straight neck and 1/16" overall action at the 12th fret.

I have it setup with 46w, 36w, 26w, 18, 14, 11 strings which blend a little lighter tension on the bass side to keep the thin neck happy and a little heavier tension on the treble side to keep the mediums-playing owner happy.


KAPA bodies, pickguards, and trem/whammy units were made at the Maryland factory but the necks, bridges, and pickups were bought-in from Hofner in Germany. They were assembled in the US, however.


I was pretty happy I had a vintaged set of Kluson-style tuners in my parts-bins for this guitar. They work well and look the business.


The rosewood board has a 12" radius and faux-pearl dots. The nut is 1 11/16" in width.


I love the crazy flaking-off of the finish all around the sides.


A spoke-style truss rod at the end of hte neck is easy to adjust and the pair of Hofner "staple" pickups sounds wonderful. They're a bit microphonic so they pick-up body noise which -- to be honest -- I actually like a lot. Early Gibson P13 pickups (the P90 ancestor) did the same thing and they give a more transparent/acoustic vibe to the tone which suits rootsy playing.


Check out how far back I had to move the bridge to get the compensation correct -- they really botched placement at the factory. I'm so used to seeing bad placement, however, that it's not shocking at all. Most electric guitars save Fender and Gibson had quality control issues with placement over the years.


This whammy unit is almost a direct rip-off of a Jazzmaster/Jaguar type save that the spring is non-adjustable and there's no "lock" on the front edge.


The controls are volume-tone-tone. The slider switches seem to allow individual pickup selection and then in/out-of-phase options for the pair. The neck pickup is a bit heftier output-wise to the jack because of its placement and the inability of the bridge pickup to come-up a little more -- but perhaps this is ideal because the different selection options and comparable volumes are sort-of perfect as-is.





The neck has some nice, mild, flamed maple throughout.



No comments: