1960s Kay K1000T Resonator Tenor Banjo

This banjo dates to the early '60s and is the nicest version of period Kay tenor banjo that I've seen. In the catalogs it's listed as a K1000T. It has a Gibson-style thin/fast neck, long scale, and double-bound, full resonator. Tonally it's clean and a bit woody with good balance. It's not as loud or shrieky as their earlier '30s and '40s tenor banjos, but does have a good, clucky sound and their patented "neck adjustment" gizmo and single coordinator rod design.

I worked on this particular banjo some time ago but it wound-up back here sold to me by someone other than the person I worked on it for last time. This time around I spiffed it up a little more and now it's playing on-the-dot and has a more stable neck joint, now, too.

I have to admit that this fella has the closest neck profile to a Gibson tenor instrument from the time that I've played. It's fast and easy.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, cleaning, additional "lock" bolt to the heel/neck joint for extra stability, through-tension-hoop string mounting holes (instead of at a tailpiece), new binding for the resonator (the original stuff was falling off and getting binding rot), and a setup.

Setup notes: it plays with bang-on 1/16" action at the 12th fret, has a straight neck, and some decent life left in the frets. Currently it's strung (and the bridge is compensated for) DGBE "Chicago" or "baritone uke" tuning and the string gauges are 28w, 20w, 13, 10. I wouldn't go much heavier for gauges as the fast neck won't tolerate heavy sets. For CGDA tuning I'd suggest 30w, 20w, 13, 9 at the heaviest.

Scale length: 23"
Nut width: 1 1/8"
String spacing at nut: 7/8"
String spacing at bridge: 1 7/16"
Head diameter: 11"
Resonator diameter: 13 3/8"
Rim depth: 3 1/4"
Rim material: ply maple(?)
Neck wood: maple or poplar
Fretboard: rosewood
Bridge: maple, compensated
Neck feel: slim C-shape, flat board

Condition notes: all-original save for bridge and new binding on the resonator. There's plenty of normal usewear throughout but overall (aside from the head) it looks good. The head is older and probably period, but does show some staining on it. I think that adds to the charm, but as it's an 11" head, it could easily be replaced.

It comes with: a presumably-original hard case.

I remember mounting the strings through the tension hoop years ago so they'd line-up properly with the neck's angle over the rim. It's an easy way to string it but it wants ball-ends to work best, though looped strings can be made into a loop through the holes, if need be. A small pad of foam damps overtones.