Sunday, October 11, 2015

More 'Pickin'!

The second of two vintage Kay guitars that my friend Tim had for me is the most interesting, and completely original.

Kay Kraft Venetian-Style Arch Top Double Cutaway Acoustic Guitar

When Tim (my 'picker' friend, (whom I introduced in the previous post) presented this guitar as a an option for my collection, he couldn't possibly know how excited I was over this rascal.

In the early 1930s when the Depression was in full swing and many instrument makers were barely surviving, the Kay Musical Instrument Company contracted with Stromberg-Voisinet, a violin maker to build a deluxe arch top acoustic instrument with an adjustable neck and other innovative design features. Sorry folks, Taylor Guitars didn't invent the bolt-on guitar neck. This bolt-on adjustment is so simple and effective you don't need a technician to perform a neck reset. You can do it in about three minutes . . . loosen the strings, reach in through the sound hole, loosen the giant wing nut, adjust the neck up or down to adjust string action, retighten, and you're done!

I could continue with information about the Kay company and its history, but all that info is available online if you're really interested. I just want to introduce my 'new' vintage guitar.

This 80+-year-old Kay Kraft Venetian Arch Top Style A six-string acoustic guitar is completely original, right down to the neck adjustment sticker visible through the sound hole and the blade-head screws holding the original three-on-a-stick tuning machines in place (note the original tuning keys are not bent or broken).

Notice the shape of the headstock, which is so stylized to match the shape of the body, which was way out in front of its competition in the day.

The gold-leaf enhanced mother of pearl-style headstock overlay carries the Kay Kraft logo.  It's a little faded, but it's in better shape than I and most of my friends, and we're a decade younger.

The bone nut is original and in perfect condition.

The 14-fret neck is in great original condition.  It's straight, and the rosewood fingerboard and frets show no wear. The ivory-color fretboard binding is in great condition, but it has slight distortion at every fret location due to shrinkage of the rosewood board. Pearl position marker dots are also perfectly in place with no indentation.

The original bridge/saddle and stainless tailpiece are original and in great condition.

I did install aftermarket Martin strings, because the 'originals' were well beyond their effective playing days.

As you can see, the body is in near perfect condition. There is finish crackle and tiny scratches on the top surface, but all the ivory-color edge and sound hole binding is tightly in place. Geez, the glue they used in the old days was really good. Finish on the back and sides shows the same finish crackle, and there is a small area of 'buckle rash', which suggests the guitar was played, but the fretboard suggests 'not much'.

Here's an image of the neck adjustment mechanism.  

And, if you look closely you can see the finish crackle, but there is never going to be a 're-finish' as long as I own this little devil. It's too nice to screw around with, and besides a re-finish would lessen the value.

The simple wing nut adjustment.

The adjustment assembly apart.  Pretty simple mechanism.

That's it for the presentation of the Venetian.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Check back for more new and exciting additions and changes within the boundary of TotalRojo Guitars.

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