1920s Kay/Stromberg-Voisinet-made Fancy 2-Point Parlor Guitar

Update 2020: the owner of this guitar sent it back for resale -- too many guitars! So I've updated the video clip (upper one is in standard tuning) and have updated the description where necessary.

I've worked on several of this same general flattop, 2-point body design, but never one so gussied-up! This thing has gold-sparkle purfling, pickguard, rosette, and fretboard stripes and adds checker binding to that on all edges. I mean -- woah -- this thing stands-out!

I worked on this for a customer of mine and it arrived here needing some effort to get it going. The neck was warped a bit, the fretboard was chipping and cracking, there was a minor amount of missing binding, and the neck had been reset at too-steep an angle in the past and with a bridge saddle-slot cut too shallow and in the wrong place.

Post work, it plays great and has punch. It has a pleasant, sustained, and old-timey voice with barky/woody lower-mids. These guitars have a stiffer soundboard and bracing compared to same-time Harmony or Regal products, and like the similarly-stiffer Oscar Schmidt builds, this means they suit flatpicking and modern picking/strumming styles better than their mostly-fingerpicker-use competitors. It still sounds good for fingerpicking, though -- don't get me wrong!

Repairs included: a light board plane and refret (and then a heavy-handed level/dress of the big new frets to remove any remaining warp in the neck), saddle-slot fill and new saddle-slot cut, bridge-pin hole fill and redrill farther aft (to cut-down back-angle over-tension on the saddle), cleaning, minor binding and seam repairs, replacement StewMac Golden Age relic tuners, and a good setup. Action is 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret, strung with a custom 50w, 38w, 28w, 22w, 15, 11 set of strings.

Scale length: 24 3/8"
Nut width: 1 3/4"
String spacing at nut: 1 3/8"
String spacing at bridge: 2 3/8"
Body length: 18"
Lower bout width: 13 1/8"
Waist width: 7 3/4"
Upper bout width: 10"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: solid maple
Bracing type: ladder
Fretboard: ebonized maple
Bridge: rosewood or similar
Neck feel: med-big V-shape, flat board

Condition notes: some wonky old repairs are evident, a broken but attractive pickguard remains, there are plenty of scratches and scuffs, the fretboard has lots of small hairline cracks in it (and some old chip-out), the fretboard extension drops away from the rest of the board a bit over the body, the twin-gold-sparkle inlay on the fretboard fades-out around the 1st/2nd frets (due to some of my board-planing, unfortunately), and it has general wear-and-tear throughout. Unoriginal bits are the tuners, frets, saddle, one small section of binding, one pearl dot in the board, and (ebony) bridge pins. The rest is original and the finish is, too.

This has the B&J Serenader label at the headstock, though there's no question that this was made by Kay/Stromberg-Voisinet in Chicago.

One gold dot was missing so I replaced it with pearl.


Nick R said…
Jake, did you dial up Ralph to see if he's still giving lessons? One presumes his label was pasted over the B & J label. You know the one- the sappy guy trying to win that lady's love. Been there and tried it- now sporting the Tee shirt for failure in that fool's errand! I did go through Michael Wright's Kay book listings and no Venetian B & J flat top by Kay is listed. Of course, it is not exhaustive but other retailers like Wards, Continental and Oahu are there Big Time. Anyway, these guitars are iconic and after the usual extensive repairs are quite something, it seems.
Sir Farrow said…
If this is back in the shack, I'd love to get a piece of that! What are you selling it for?