1960s Old Kraftsman (Kay) Rubber-Bridge Parlor Guitar

Above: electric clip

Above: acoustic clip

This is one of two funky, refinished-body, '60s parlor guitars I got from my buddy Tom Steventon who snagged them somewhere disreputable. This guy is Kay-made, 14-fret, and plywood throughout the body. It has a short, 24 1/4" scale length, clunky neck, and clunky styling.

After righting its structural wrongs (neck reset, fretwork, seam repairs, etc.) I also converted it into an electrified guitar by way of a single-blade, single-coil (think low-brow Charlie Christian?) pickup, volume/tone pots on the lower bout, and Switchcraft jack.

I've also converted it into a "rubber bridge" (really a rubber saddle) guitar as well, by way of modding the original floating bridge to have a rubber pad on its top edge (I actually compensated it) which gives it the tone folks are chasing for out of this stuff -- a tubby, short-sustain, marimba-like, dead-banjo-like, ukulele-like sound that works really well for chordal strumming on records.

Clearly, much of the funk of its old life remains in the guitar's looks, but it plays well and is friendly and weirdly wonderful. These rubber-bridge guitars are stupidly-popular and so they're always gone before I even manage to get a blog post up (like this one) to list it for sale. To do the mod correctly takes a bit of practice and effort. It can be as simple as slipping on a chunk of rubber instead of all the fuss, but it's much better if you work on it to dial-in the voice and functionality.

Repairs included: a neck reset (bolted reinforcement, too), fret seating and level/dress, side dots install, pickup and wiring harness install (with 500k pots, Switchcraft jack, and Dakaware retro knobs), rubber bridge modifications, cleaning, seam repairs, and setup.

Body wood: ply birch throughout

Bridge: maple with rubber saddle

Fretboard: maple

Neck wood: poplar

Pickups: 1x single-blade, single-coil

Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: 50w, 38w, 28w, 20w, 16, 12 custom nickel-wound set

Neck shape: medium-bigger C/D

Board radius: flat

Truss rod: non-adjustable

Neck relief: just a hair of relief (~1/64")

Fret style: low/medium

Scale length: 24 1/4"

Nut width: 1 5/8"

Body width: 13 3/8"

Body depth: 3 7/8"

Weight: 4 lbs 1 oz

Condition notes: the body and back of the neck are entirely stripped/refinished to natural and the neck itself was stripped but does not look like it was sealed. The tuners are old replacements and are not the best but work fine. It has a semi-repaired nut (the low E slot was chipped but still working previously), modified saddle and bridge, and disturbance along the seams on the lower-bout rear where it had been misaligned for decade before I reglued it down pat. All is stable and good to go. The neck has a hair of warp to it after a level/dress of the frets, but because I took out warp via the frets, the 1st position frets are lower than the rest -- as are the ones at the fretboard extension. It plays fine, though. There's the tiniest bit of old, original finish left on the top and under the bridge right now -- you can see it poking-out in the pics.