1930s Kay Kraft-style 2-Point Archtop Mandolin

A customer sent this nice old Kay Kraft-style mandolin in for possible consignment/possible keeping. I imagine it's the former, though, as he's stockpiling a deluxe inventory in my storage racks of all sorts of instrument gems and I know he can't keep them all...!

While Kay products often hold-up really well in the body (as this all-ply, rugged little sucker can attest), their neck joints are god-awful and this one suffered a bad neck reset job in the past because of that. It was quite a chore to pull the neck out and get it reset properly, but now that it is and other setup-side work has been done, it plays great and has a nice, choppy, woody sound.

It also, ya know -- looks amazing. Who doesn't like that quirky, classy body shape and the gold-foiled decals all over the lower bout?

Repairs included: a neck reset, fret level/dress, side dots install, refit of replacement tuner buttons, cleaning, compensation of the saddle/bridge topper, restring, tuner lube, and setup.

Setup notes: action is perfect at 1/16" at the 12th fret, strung with 32w, 20w, 14, 10 gauges. There's adjustment room up/down at the adjustable bridge and the neck is straight and has good life left in the frets.

Scale length: 14"
Nut width: 1 1/8"
String spacing at nut: 1"
String spacing at bridge: 1 3/4"
Body length: 12 7/8"
Top width: 10"
Side depth: 2 1/2" + arching
Top wood: ply spruce
Back/sides wood: ply mahogany
Bracing type: tonebar
Fretboard: rosewood
Bridge: rosewood, adjustable
Neck feel: medium C-shape, flat board

Condition notes: overall it's in good shape but it does show minor wear/use throughout with light scratches here and there. The bottom of the heel has lost its heel cap and shows a bit of mucking-about from the previous reset (including a 1/4" repaired hairline crack to the bottom of it that's beyond the dovetail itself), but it's solid and good to go. Everything on the instrument is original save a replacement nut and replacement tuner buttons, though the pickguard has lost some of its decoration over time.


Nick R said…
The Kluson tuners and the rosewood bridge suggest about 1939 or 1940. These often came with a Bakelite bridge up to about 1938. I don't think Jake likes the Bakelite bridge- certainly, not on guitars! I suppose having a sloppy dovetail that was then filled with glue was quicker than a tight dovetail that might involve some fettling to get the neck in well and lined up etc! Time was money- and it still is, which is why these jobs are all done by CNC machines, these days!