1940s Kay-made Old Kraftsman Archtop Guitar

I did a quick setup on this guitar a long time ago, but now it's back and for sale via consignment. While the headstock reads "Old Kraftsman," this was built by Kay in Chicago. I'm not sure if it's a late '40s or early '40s instrument, but the tailpiece, tuners, and bridge suggest a later '40s build. Its body has had a topcoat brushed-on sometime long in the past, but the neck's finish appears all-original. It's missing its pickguard but the rest is all there.

These are not fancy boxes, and Kay made this general style quite liberally through the '50s and '60s and settled on this body shape and scale length in the early '40s. The body is ply-mahogany and press-arched to shape. It has tonebar bracing under the hood and combined with the long scale length, these elements give the guitar a gutsy, forward, punchy sound with better lower-mids response than you might expect. It has a bit of that "velvet" one wants from a nicer archtop because of that.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, modification and compensation to the bridge, cleaning, neck-bolt reinforcement, and setup.

Setup notes: it plays bang-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE string height at the 12th fret. The neck is essentially straight but does have 1/64" of relief overall tuned to pitch (basically: nothing). It's strung with 52w-11 gauges to suit the long scale. I don't suggest 54w-12s on these old Kays as they feel over-tense.

Scale length: 25 3/4"
Nut width: 1 5/8"
String spacing at nut: 1 7/16"
String spacing at bridge: 2"
Body length: 19 7/8"
Lower bout width: 15 3/8"
Waist width: 8 7/8"
Upper bout width: 11 1/4"
Side depth at endpin: 3 3/4"
Top wood: ply mahogany
Back/sides wood: ply mahogany
Neck wood: mahogany
Bracing type: tonebar
Fretboard: Brazilian rosewood, later plastic nut
Bridge: rosewood, adustable
Neck feel: medium-big C-shape, ~10-12" board radius

Condition notes: it's missing its pickguard and the body has a topcoat added all over, though the original finish is under it. It looks decent, however, and the job is non-obvious because it wasn't stripped first. This is what's called "overspray." It also has its fair share of old scratches that give it a worn-in look. The bridge has also been cut-down and modified in the past, but I recently recut it for better compensation and string height. There's not much adjustment room left on it but the guitar has been stable in service.

It comes with: a ratty old chip case that serves for storage or light use.

The back of the heel has a circular patch of fill. That's where a neck-joint reinforcement bolt is hiding. It's not obvious in person.


CM said…
What a gorgeous guitar in ts simplicity although the heresy of a a small gold suspended jazz h'bucker at the neck would in my mind make it mas ultra groovy. -cm
David Glazier said…
I have purchased his guitar. Which gold suspended jazz humbucker would you recommend?