1960s Kay K1160 Parlor Guitar

Let's face it -- this is a cheap guitar. Kay made these in spades in the early-'60s. It's roughly 0-sized or parlor-sized but has a 14-fret neck. It looks amazing with its Tele-like maple fretboard and black-block painted-on markers. The body is all ply and ladder-braced, however, and the neck is poplar. Let's not forget that.

The wonder of these instruments (and their close kin, the United-made parlors) is that if you treat them right and fix them up, they definitely give back. After doing all the work on this one, it plays great and has a snappy, punchy, boxy, bluesy tone that sounds excellent with metal fingerpicking or aggressive flatpicking. It's a zippy thing with a reverb-like aftertaste.

When I do these tailpiece parlors over, now, I try to make them a little more functional for their owners by knocking the neck angle back a little more than is necessary and converting the standard floating bridges into adjustable bridges by hard-mounting some adjusters into the top and fitting a compensated bridge/saddle on top of that. That lets the player dial-in standard playing height or "slide" height for the strings... on the fly.

Repairs included: neck reset (double-bolted and glued), fret level/dress, bridge modification, side dots install, seam repairs, setup.

Top wood: ply birch

Back & sides wood: ply birch

Bracing type: ladder

Bridge: rosewood (1950s Harmony archtop bridge topper)

Fretboard: maple

Neck wood: poplar

Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: 52w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12

Neck shape: medium-big C

Board radius: flat

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: medium-low

Scale length: 24 3/8"

Nut width: 1 11/16"

Body width: 13 1/2"

Body depth: 4"

Weight: 4 lbs 2 oz

Condition notes: it's actually fairly clean for what it is, but does have a bunch of scratch-marks around the soundhole like someone was banging it heavily with a thick metal pick. Otherwise there's average wear and tear throughout. I added side dots and the bridge is unoriginal. I also replaced the terrible original tuners with Kluson-style repros approproiate for the guitar's age.


Michael Mulkern said…
Nice work, Jake. Do you think this would be a good guitar to bring on va-Kay-tion?