6/07/2018

1950s Kay-made Old Kraftsman "Thin Twin" Semihollow Electric Guitar




The "Thin Twin" is about as iconic as you can get for a Kay electric outside of the Barney Kessel series of crazy-looking archtops. These are known as the "Jimmy Reed" model for his use of the tigerstripe-pickguard version. They also sound like nothing else, too. The Kay blade pickups are odd and come out of the design of Kay's mid-'40s electric designs -- they sound mellow and sultry with lower output, but if you add a bit of drive to them they give-up the blues grit right-quick. Not to mention the looks -- this thing embodies mid-'50s design like crazy. It looks a bit like Kay knocked-off a hybrid between a Bigsby, maple-bedecked electric and an early-'50s National solidbody.

Work included a fret level/dress, some massaging of the bridge/saddle, and a good setup -- but it was otherwise in good shape. It's also fairly clean and all-original except for the tuners (perhaps late-'50s Klusons?) and the bridge topper/saddle. It's playing spot-on with 3/32" E and 1/16" ADGBE at the 12th fret, has a straight neck, and is wearing something like 50w-11 with a wound G string.

Specs are: 25 3/4" scale, 1 5/8" nut width, 1 7/16" string spacing at the nut, 1 15/16" spacing at the bridge, 15" lower bout, 10 3/4" upper bout, and 2 11/16" side depth. The neck has a medium C-shaped profile and something like a 12" radius to the fretboard. It's chunky but still pretty quick.

The body is ply figured maple with a chambered/semihollow build. Overall the guitar weighs about like a solidbody but has the footprint of a smaller archtop guitar.




The fretboard is rosewood and has big, faux-pearl block inlay. the frets are jumbo-sized but lower in height -- though they have plenty of life to give.


How about that binding?




The bridge is a simple, compensated archtop-style saddle on adjustable posts set into the body. I shimmed-up the mounting holes a little bit to snug its fit and also found some proper vintage washers for it to ride on that fit the posts correctly as the originals were long-gone.



The switch tip is rad! These Kay switches have a pretty loose feel, though.


There's volume and tone for each pickup.











It comes with a hard/semirigid/flight-style case.

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