1940s Gagliano (Kay-made) Electrified Archtop Guitar

Above: electric sound

Above: acoustic sound

This same basic late-'40s archtop electric guitar made by Kay has popped-up on the net in various brandings -- including Sherwood Deluxe, Gagliano (as seen here), Oahu, and Old Kraftsman. Originally it would have had one of the "Thin Twin"-style blade pickups mounted in its pickup housing, but this one had replacement bits when it came to me already, so I took it "free and easy" and made it the best version of itself that it's been so far. I worked on two more of these guitars in the past, and this is the modded version of this guitar style I would've liked to have done in the first place.

Old "work" had been done on it before it got here that was a bit shabby and not too useful (including a cheesy wiring harness and the cheapest Strat-style pickup you can imagine), so I yanked all the bad ideas out and went at this fresh.

It got all the structural and setup work it needed to be a nice player (neck reset, fretwork, bridge work, etc.) and then on top of that I replaced some funky modern tuners with a period-appropriate set, cut and fit the original pickup housing to suit the new pickup, and fit a new wiring harness with good components (500k pots, Orange Drop cap, and whatnot).

The pickup is the main attraction, though -- it's a Korean-made "Charlie Christian"-style unit with Alnico 5 bar magnets, a "blade" polepiece, deco-style surround, and a sound somewhere between a relaxed-and-brighter P90 and the old Gibson CC-style lap steel pickups of the '30s. It's really close to the vibe of that electric jazzbox sound we're all looking for from the '30s, but in a bit of a different format as it's more mid-position than most of the Gibson boxes and that, combined with the long scale, gives the tone a bit more snap and punch.

While this had come with a normal electric-style jack installed at the 3/4 side position, it would've originally had a hard-mounted cable that came out from the guitar under the endpin on the side. The ferrule to sport that is still extant.

This guitar also has a bigger, U/C-shaped neck profile, but I still suggest the lightest strings possible for standard E-to-E tuning as these necks don't like a ton of tension. It's currently got 46w-10 gauges on it with a wound G. I suppose 11s would be fine (stick with the wound G, though -- that's what the bridge is compensated for), but anything heavier should be used just for tuning down a step or two.

The acoustic tone on this guitar is actually plenty-good to do light jamming or songwriting with. It records pretty decently, too, but it's definitely not the same volume as if it were fully-acoustic. It strums better than the average archtop, though.

Repairs included: neck reset (two hidden bolts at the inside of the neckblock), fret level/dress, downpressure screws for the fretboard extension (hidden under two pearl dots at the board), replacement '30s/'40s tuners, new pickup and wiring harness install, side dots install, setup.

Body wood: ply spruce top, ply maple back/sides

Bridge: rosewood, adjsutable

Fretboard: rosewood

Neck wood: poplar

Pickups: 1x Charlie Christian-style Alnico 5

Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: 46w, 36w, 26w, 20w, 13, 10

Neck shape: bigger/deeper U/C

Board radius: ~10"

Truss rod: non-adjustable

Neck relief: straight (~1/64" warp overall at pitch -- negligible)

Fret style: medium-low

Scale length: 25 3/4"

Nut width: 1 5/8"

Body width: 15 3/8"

Body depth: 3 3/4" + arching

Weight: 4 lbs 12 oz

Condition notes: non-original (but old) tuners, non-original knobs and wiring harness (original control plate, though), non-original pickup, non-original (bone) nut. The rest is original, though. There's plenty of finish weather-checking throughout and light scratching and usewear all over. The tuners are not the greatest but they work fine and look authentic. The mounting hardware screws for the pickup ring and control plate are not original. The pickup ring has been cut in the middle so I could mount the pickup in it. It's not obvious at a glance. There are two tiny (filled) holes at the back of the heel and there are non-original strap buttons installed.