1960s Kay X-Braced Jumbo Guitar

I'm not quite sure which model this is. It looks a lot like the "K8130" in the old '65/'66 catalogs, but the pickguard is a little different and it's x-braced rather than ladder-braced. This last fact makes it more like the "pro-level" K27 model (I used to have one... I loved it!) from the '50s and early '60s and gives it a voice way above its pay-grade. This thing is honking-loud, bassy and boomy, and has leaping-out mids that just push air like crazy. To my ears they sound a lot like what J-200s want to be, but being a Kay, that voice is uncomplicated and ballsy rather than clean and shimmery with just a hint of compression.

The only downside of this box is that it's big at 17 1/8" on the lower bout. Otherwise, the neck is comfortable and quick, it's had a refret in the past, and everything about it just barks "lean into me and bang-out some rockabilly!" Though, let's be honest -- that sound would suit classic country just-fine, too.

Work included: a fret level/dress, fill and recut of the saddle slot (it was 1/16" too far forward), minor cleaning, and a good setup. I think someone had done a neck reset and bridge reglue on this in the past, and it definitely has newer fretstock in it (the old Kay brass stock is not extant). It plays bang-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret, strung with 54w-12 gauges. The neck is straight and the truss-rod works. I did put a new truss nut on it as the old one was totally stripped from manhandling and I just barely got it off.

Scale length: 25 3/4"
Nut width: 1 11/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 7/16"
String spacing at bridge: 2 1/8"
Body length: 20 3/4"
Lower bout width: 17 1/8"
Upper bout width: 12 1/4"
Side depth at endpin: 4 1/2"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: ply flamed maple
Bracing type: x-braced
Fretboard: rosewood
Bridge: rosewood
Neck feel: slim-medium C-shape, ~10-12" radius board

Condition notes: unoriginal nut (bone upgrade) and replacement bridge pins, but otherwise original and in good order. It's crack-free but does show wear to the finish here and there throughout. There's some finish flake-off around the waist on the sides. 

It comes with: a gigbag.

How about those original Kluson tuners?


Unknown said…
Dang...sorry I missed this one :((...
Nick R said…
Yes, it is just like the K8130- that curved top to the headstock was from about 1965/66 onward and that pickguard is also mid-60s. I have this guitar- probably, 1964 with the same three sided plate but the headstock shape is like the Kelvinator style. What is odd about your guitar is that bridge- which just does not conform to all the other stylistic aspects of your guitar. Perhaps, Kay ran out of the usual bridges and just had a few of these older examples kicking around? You never know with Harmony and Kay because if production was at full pace, nobody wanted a slow down!

My example has a tone that men with expensive big Martin guitars have remarked is amazing. I have to admit that the Kay X-bracing is a little "industrial" to say the least! I have a soft spot for the better Kay guitars and I always enjoy seeing guys coming down from their ivory towers of Gibson and Martin worship and admitting that a Kay can be a good old box!

Here is a lovely example that is not from 1953- more likely 1963. The bridge on my guitar is like this one- which would not be on a 1953 guitar- nor that headstock shape and badge. The bridge style was changed again in the mid-60s. This guitar has been for sale for a long time. Jack White or somebody famous and trendy needs to start spanking one- and then he might get that price!


Jake Wildwood said…
Unknown: It's still available -- the purchase was an accident, actually!
Dave said…
Is it available still? I don't see it listed in the shop...