1940s Kay Fiddle-Edge Archtop Guitar

This guitar is mostly the same as any other plywood-bodied Kay archtop from the '40s, but it has some cool cosmetic touches that change it from "the usual." This was one of their "violin-style" archtops and has edges that stick-out a bit from the sides like a fiddle. It also has a cello-style tailpiece hung with wire and, originally, the headstock would have had a scroll-shape glued to the front of it (though it's missing, now).

The body on this one was refinished in an amateur way in the past but the neck, fortunately, wasn't.  It's nice that most of the original hardware is there, though -- including bridge, tailpiece, and pickguard. The tuners are some '60s Harmony-style ones from my parts-bins, though, as this came with Ping tuners on it (ew, ew, ew) when it arrived.

After repairs, it plays spot-on and quick and has an outsized, crunchy, gutsy voice. This is especially exciting because it does this with slightly-lighter-than-11s strings on it, which I use to relieve tension as the scale length on these old Kays is so long. 11s at this scale (25 3/4") puts more tension on the neck than 12s at a ~25" scale.

Repairs included: a neck reset, fret seating and level/dress, side dots install, compensation of the bridge saddle, minor seam reglues (repairs of old repairs), restring, replacement tuners, and setup.

Setup notes: the neck is straight and action is perfect at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret. The bridge has room to move up/down to dial it in to taste.

Scale length: 25 3/4"
Nut width: 1 11/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 7/16"
String spacing at bridge: 2 3/16"
Body length: 19 3/8"
Lower bout width: 15 3/8"
Waist width: 9 1/2"
Upper bout width: 11"
Side depth at endpin: 3 1/4"
Top wood: ply birch
Back wood: ply birch
Sides wood: ply birch
Bracing type: tonebars
Fretboard: ebonized maple/pearwood
Bridge: rosewood, adjustable comp'd
Neck feel: medium-big V-shape, ~10" board radius
Neck wood: poplar, bone nut

Condition notes: aside from the refinished body in its murky-brown-burst (it was originally a deep red/brownburst), it's more or less in good order. There's some wear and tear to the finish on the back of the neck, the scroll is missing from the headstock, and there's a couple repaired hairline cracks to the fretboard extension and minor repaired chip-out on the fretboard itself.


Nick R said…
Kay used that decal with the shield in the late 30s starting about 1937. That blue shield was though used on a label inside the instruments for a good ten years on but in the late 1930s the logo was just Kay with three lines above and below the "a" in Kay. Interesting old box!
nawon said…
is this for sale??