1930s Kay Kraft Style B 2-Point Archtop Guitar

This is about as clean and original as it gets for an old Kay Kraft. It's also got all of the features: a slim-profile, straight neck with good internal reinforcement, a 12-fret neck joint, fancy binding, a full complement of banjo tuners at the headstock, clean finish, and x-bracing (with single tonebar) under the hood. It also looks sexy and handles beautifully. I can't say the latter about all Kay Krafts.

It also has a darker finish than average and diamond-like inlay in the fretboard. Some of these features make it closer to the rosewood-backed Style C versions, which is interesting. While some of them are solid-top and solid-back, this one is thin (1/16") ply construction throughout which I associate with the later Kay Krafts, though the 12-fret joint suggests it's a little earlier. My history is so fuzzy with this brand, I'm sorry!

At any rate I always think these x-braced versions of the ply-tops sound the best. From behind they sound spanky, gypsy-jazzy, and a bit slappy. As you can hear in the video clip, though, out front they're a lot fuller-sounding and you can easily flit between old-time backup styles, country-blues, zingy gypsy lead lines, and jazz chop-chording without it sounding odd or forced.

It's all-original and in excellent health, though I did fill a hairline dryness crack in the fretboard near the extension and, while doing final setup, I recut the original bridge and turned it into an adjustable unit for practicality's sake.

Also, for practicality's sake, I "fixed" the adjustable neck unit in place at a good angle. To this end I install a hidden second bolt/screw under the main neck attachment bolt. I also then shim-up the joint at the adjuster unit so that the angle is set where I want it. Between these two things you get a neck that's locked in position and with a much firmer connection than the "as-is" configuration but also a neck that can be removed by simply loosening two bolts if need-be. I've worked on tons of these Kay adjustable-neck instruments of all stripes and this is the only way I can be sure these necks will remain stable at the joint for their owners. The factory setup just does not work and often loosens-up simply in shipping.

As a final note I'm going to stress here how important it is to find one of these with a good neck (like this one). Many of the nicer-grade Kay Krafts used a thin (front-to-back), wide (side-to-side) profile and were not reinforced well enough to take the tension. With their long, 25 3/4"+ scale lengths, this means that most of the necks get really squirrely and are warped or twist. This one is dead straight at tension with 50w-11 gauges and would probably be fine with heavier 11s or a slightly-lighter (in the middle) set of 12s. I often think the best-sounding strings for these are the aggressive 48w-11 gypsy-jazz strings with the warm/poppy-sounding silver-wrapped basses.

Repairs included: fret level/dress, neck joint lock-in-place mod, recut bridge and make adjustable, compensate bridge saddle, restring, and setup.

Top wood: ply spruce

Back & sides wood: ply flamed maple

Bracing type: x-braced with one tonebar

Bridge: maple (painted black)

Fretboard: actual ebony, I believe

Neck wood: mahogany

Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on, and adjustable)
String gauges: 50w-11

Neck shape: slim C

Board radius: ~14"

Truss rod: non-adjustable

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: medium-small

Scale length: 25 3/4"

Nut width: 1 13/16"

Body width: 14 1/4"

Body depth: 3 5/8" +arching

Condition notes: it's clean and all-original throughout save a replacement endpin, mod to the bridge and the neck joint gizmo, and the the usual weather-checking to the finish. There's a hairline dryness crack in the fretboard that is a non-issue and has been lightly-filled and sealed.

It comes with: a nice, Martin, TKL hard case with plush lining.