August 9, 2005

2/3 of the way to being a rock star...

by Chris Randall

Here's a progress report on the Great Kay Refinishing Pageant. All the StupidBurst paint was easily removed, as it was a rather thin coat. Took me about 45 minutes total of sanding. I then hand-sanded the body to within an inch of its life, which took another three or four hours. After that, I stained the back and sides with a deep walnut color. Today, I sprayed the body with about 6 coats total of polyurethane.

It is actually looking like a Real Guitar now. After I wet-sand the final coat of poly, we'll see where we're sitting, but I think it is pretty much done. It's funny how good the spruce/birch/whatever plywood really popped out once I started laying poly on it. You can't tell in the picture at all, but there's so many little knurls in it, it almost looks like bird's-eye maple. In any case, this guitar looks so much better now, and all it took was a little elbow grease.




Aug.09.2005 @ 8:09 PM
So, a Kay guitar is good? bad? middle of the road?

Or is this just an impulse yardsale fixer-upper project?


Aug.09.2005 @ 10:31 PM
Chris Randall
There are a couple models (Kelvinators) Kay made that are pretty good, electric archtops from the late 50s. But for the most part, they're in the same neck of the woods as Danelectro/Silvertone; that is to say, kind of cool, but not what you'd call an heirloom instrument.

They made guitars for Sears, and while this isn't one of those particular branded versions, it is almost certainly in the same family, a cheap-ass plywood acoustic that was probably $9.95 in the 1963 Sears catalog. I actually prefer the sound of these sort of acoustics over the big Gibson drednaughts. Much duller and more... uhhhhh... warm? I dunno. They sit in a track better, IMO, without screaming out "I AM A FAT-ASS ACOUSTIC GUITAR!!!!" But generally the intonation blows heaving chunks of ass, and they're completely unplayable above the 5th fret. Your mileage may vary, and it's strictly a matter of preference.

I think I'll continue using my Silvertone '53 archtop for most acoustic duties (it is my main writing guitar, and most of my songs start life on it), but this Kay sounds drastically different, almost like a piano in the lower registers, and I'll certainly be using it for some different flava...


Aug.10.2005 @ 12:04 PM
D' MacKinnon
"they're completely unplayable above the 5th fret"

I guess you wouldn't too worried about the neck curvature then when you removed it for sanding :)

I've totally screwed the intonation on one of my guitars that doesn't have a truss rod.




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