Dating vintage kay guitars

Kay primarily manufactured "department store" style, inexpensive guitars from the 's to the 's.


  • The Kay Guitar Company.
  • Kay Musical Instrument Company;
  • Help ID/Date old Kay acoustic?.

But they also made some hi-end, quality archtop guitars. The most collectable Kays are any model with the "Kelvinator" plastic headstock overlay with art deco patterns.

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Used from to , this headstock was named after the brand of refrigerator that looked quite similar. This overlay was injection molded with clear acrylic plastic and then back-painted either white or black, with gold highlights in the crest and gold dots outside of the crest. Starting in late , Kay switched to a less expensive "half" Kelvinator that used just the triangle Kay crest from the full Kelvinator, screwed to a simple black plastic headstock veneer. This "half" Kelvinator dropped the black or white back-painted acyrlic "lunchcountertop" surround with gold dots.

How to Determine the Age of a Kay Guitar

This design only lasted till the end of when the Kelvinator headstock was completely dropped. These are still Kay's, just they are made for department store type companies.


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The most common name other than "Kay" is by far "Old Kraftsmen". Kays are notorious for having bad neck sets and broken truss rod systems. Single cutaway archtop, 13" wide, veneer maple body, spruce top, no F-holes, 1 or 2 single coil "Gold K" pickups, block fingerboard inlays starting at the 3rd fret, "Kelvinator" peghead, "Barney Kessel" signature on the silver colored acrylic pickguard, chrome open back Grover tuners, rosewood bridge, sunburst or blond finish.

Available to In , Barney Kessel's signature was removed from the pickguard. Barney Kessel Jazz Special. Single cutaway archtop, 17" wide, veneer maple body, spruce top, bound F-holes, 1 or 2 single coil "Gold K" pickups, split-block fingerboard inlays, ebony fingerboard, "Barney Kessel" signature on the silver colored acrylic pickguard, "Kelvinator" peghead, chrome Melita bridge, chrome Grover Imperial tuners, sunburst or blond finish. Kay's less expensive alternative to the Barney Kessel Jazz Special. Single cutaway archtop, 17" wide, veneer maple body, rosewood fingerboard with pearloid block inlays starting at the 3rd fret, rosewood bridge, closed back individual Kluson tuners with metal buttons, large scalloped pickguard sometimes with silver sparkle, sunburst, blond or black finish.

Available with 1 or 2 "Gold K" single coil pickup from to In late , 3 pickup "ES-5" type model available.

Help ID/Date old Kay acoustic? | Harmony Central

Made from to Full Kelvinator headstock from to , half Kelvinator headstock in Tortoise shell pickguard from to , black pickguard from to As of the Barney Kessel name has been assigned exclusive manufacturing rights with the Kay Guitar Company. Bill Black , upright bassist for Elvis Presley. Known for playing the Kay K Thin Twin electric guitar http: Kay Musical Instrument Co. Speed Demon K c. This tone amplifier is electrically operated either by alternating or direct currents. It consists of two major units -- an electro-magnetic pick-up and amplifying unit.

The electro-magnetic pick-up is built within the instrument and is attached to its sounding board. The unit is connected with the amplifier, which produces the tone and volume required of the instrument. Operated from light socket alternating current. Kay Bass Information and Registration.

Vintage Kay 1950s Acoustic Guitar

Vintage Gutiar July This explains why you will occasionally see a Teisco guitar with a Kay logo. Archived from the original on Not yet found sources other than YouTube. Retrieved from " https: Guitar manufacturing companies of the United States Guitar amplifier manufacturers Manufacturing companies based in Chicago Manufacturing companies established in Companies disestablished in establishments in Illinois disestablishments in Illinois Defunct companies based in Illinois Musical instrument manufacturing companies of the United States.

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Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. Languages Deutsch Edit links. This page was last edited on 8 January , at By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Kay's archtop electric guitars in The Kay Guitar Company reissued: Kay Kraft Venetian guitar played by Fields Ward Archtop guitar with Kay style head.

Value Leader K played by festival singer Marcia Mello.


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  6. Related brand Silvertone instruments Airline guitar Teisco. Kay was a popular guitar manufacturer during the s through to the late s. It mass produced mostly inexpensive beginner's instruments, many of which were sold under store brand names such as Sears. After , Kay guitars were manufactured under an Asian import company. Unlike other guitar manufacturers, Kay rarely placed a serial number inside its instruments, so to determine the age of a guitar a visual inspection of a model's specific characteristics must be made and checked against photographs of vintage instruments.

    Submitting your own photographs of the guitar to a professional appraiser is also a way to determine age and value of the instrument. Inspect your Kay guitar. Make a list of its features. Begin with whether it is an electric, acoustic or hollow body and its color. Note the body type and whether it has a single or double cutaway.

    Examine the pickups, their number and type single coil, humbucker.