1960s Kapa 506 Semihollow 335-Style Electric Guitar

The Maryland-based Kapa brand was a weird one. Most of their guitars use Hofner-sourced pickups and electronics (and sometimes necks) mated to American-made surfy-looking solidbody designs. Later-on, however, Kapa explored Japanese imports to kit-out to their taste.

This guy has a Japanese-made body, neck, and tuners. Under the hood, the electronics are all American (with a Switchcraft 3-way and jack). The tailpiece is American, too, and the original bridge was a Bigsby cast-aluminum job a lot like the replacement one on it right now. The pickups might be Japanese but I'm pretty sure they're German-made as they sound hotter, fuller, and more PAF-like than the usual Japanese fare at the time.

The neck is fast and slim and the whole guitar handles like a champ after sprucing it up. When I first plugged it in I was expecting it to have a medium-output, tame response from the pickups. Usually Japanese import guitars like this one have a middle-of-the-road sound -- not too hot or aggressive and favoring a cleaner sound. I was definitely excited to find that they have as much pep as they do -- I had to jack the guitar into the "low" input on my amp just to get it to play clean instead of driven.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, minor repair to the old 3-way switch, install of a replacement 3-wound, 3-plain Bigsby bridge (the original -- of the same type -- was compensated for 4-wound, 2-plain -- modern folks don't like that, usually), cleaning, and setup. I also replaced a damaged 3-way switch tip with an old nickel one from my parts-bins.

Setup notes: it plays perfectly with hair-over 1/16" bass and 1/16" treble action at the 12th fret. The truss rod works and the neck is straight.

Scale length: 24 3/4"
Nut width: 1 9/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 3/8"
String spacing at bridge: 1 7/8"
Body length: 18 5/8"
Lower bout width: 15 5/8"
Waist width: 9 1/2"
Upper bout width: 11 1/4"
Side depth at endpin: 1 7/8"
Body wood: ply maple
Neck wood: maple?
Fretboard: rosewood, zero fret
Bridge: aluminum Bigsby 3-wound, 3-plain
Neck feel: slim C-shape, ~14-16" radius board

Condition notes: there's minor use-wear throughout with a mix of small scuffs here and there. The finish has some weather-checking/cracking here and there as well -- but not very much. I replaced the switch tip and original aluminum Bigsby bridge with this same-style replacement, though with a modern-compensated top -- otherwise the guitar is all-original. I installed the new bridge with two keeper screws that secure its position on the top. They're hidden under the adjustable saddle portion. The frets are low-profile, medium stock, and are good for another level/dress job beyond this latest one.

It comes with: a presumably-original hard case.


Frank j said…
Hi my name is Frank and I think I have a kapa 500 series guitar hollow body I was wondering how to tune it.
Drek said…
What a fun guitar. My 500 has the Bigsby, but otherwise same model. Punchy sound, smooth fretting. Thanks for posting this online so I could lear more about its history.