1960s/2018 Kay/Wildwood Silverware Box Electric Guitar

My friend Rick brought in an old early-'60s Kay archtop electric that his friends had given him a while back. Unfortunately, the neck joint was totaled and the body was not worth saving. He thus had this Kay's neck and parts hanging-around ever since and needing a use.

He's a big fan of cobbled-together guitars and so he brought said parts in along with an old silverware box that his son painted in a psychedlic/space scene. That's what this was sprouted from and, ironically, it's a much better (and more fun-to-play) guitar than it ever would have been had that original heavy, plywood body been saved.

Folks often think that projects like this are just "bolt-and-go" and don't take much time, but I've got to say -- every time I make something like this it takes me two or three times as long as it'd take me to throw together a "partscaster" because every component has to be custom-fitted so that it becomes a "real guitar" in the end that's stable enough for gigging use (which is what he wants it for). I think I have about 5 hours into putting all of this together and having it make sense and play like a freshly-setup factory box.

Work included installing a big center-beam of pine through the box (effectively making the body "semihollow"), sussing-out the neck-bolting angle and whatnot, a level/dress job and new tuners for the neck, fitting of a new (ebony) archtop bridge for 3-wound, 3-plain compensation, fitting of the old hardware (pickguard, reused tone/volume pots and cap, and scrounging a shortened tailpiece from my parts-bins), fitting of the pickups, wiring, and a setup with 46w-10 strings.

These old Kay necks have a quite long scale but this one is just from that "right" period at Kay where the necks are medium-depth but comfortable and quick. The truss rod actually works, too, which is a significant upgrade compared to a lot of dodgy old Kay poplar necks.

I used an old Epiphone P90 from my parts-bins in the neck position and an old Peavey Superstrat-style humbucker in the bridge. I used these simply because they were the closest-matched in terms of what my buddy might like of the pickups I had on hand and also because I could install them without having to fight too much with making lots of shims and adjusters to get them to the right height. Thankfully, they sound rockin' on this guitar!

Specs are: 25 3/4" scale, 1 11/16" nut width, 1 3/8" string spacing at the nut, 2" spacing at the bridge, 10 3/4" body width, 14 3/4" length, and 2 3/4" depth. The neck is a medium-C profile with a ~10" radius board. Action is set at 1/16" overall at the 12th fret and quite adjustable.

Woods are: solid pine top and sides, cardboard back, poplar neck, and rosewood fretboard.

Cool, right?! 

I added side dots to the board, too.

There was no inlay at the 17th fret position and I needed to put a screw through the extension for extra support/rigidity, so this "relic" white-painted screw served perfectly.

If you look carefully at the bridge, you'll see the G and B strings have notches to correct the intonation at the 12th fret for 3-wound, 3-plain stringing.

I was able to re-use the jack, pots, tone cap, and knobs from the original wiring harness. The original 3-way dial was too corroded to bother with, though, so this has a new, Gibson-style 3-way installed.

Note that I screwed the bridge down once I got the intonation set. There's nothing quite like watching a rocker get dumbfounded by the bridge slipping before he/she plays and wondering why the guitar's so out of tune up the neck...!

When I yanked-out all of the silverware bits from the inside of the box, I saved the set's interior logo sticker and glued it onto the back of the guitar.

Maybe this should be called a Silvertine guitar? Or a Spoonelectro? Or maybe for the more affluent -- a Silverspoon?

My bolt-on job is not pretty and they're simply recessed in the heel but I didn't care -- I wanted this to be easily serviceable in the future. I used Gibson-style strap buttons to keep the old-fashioned look.