I Think I Found My Summer Project

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I Think I Found My Summer Project

Postby Lo-Fi » Sun Apr 08, 2012 7:15 pm

For whatever reason these things keep finding their way to my door. The latest orphan come a looking for a home is a 1960-65 Kay flattop. A prime example of some Valco goodness. It looks all the world like a mini-Gibson J-200 which immediately endeared it to me. A spruce top with laminate maple back and sides. Fully bound soundhole, body (the top has a sexy checkerboard binding) and neck. What else but ladder braced. The maple neck has some nice flame to it which is a bonus.

The poor child was stripped of alot of its parts so I went scrounging through my parts bin for whatever I could find like the old open gear tuners the guitar now sports. The neck actually looks pretty straight but is starting to detach. As these things were never angled properly to begin with a reset would be in its future no matter what. As soon as I cut a nut for it I will string it up (very gingerly) and see where I stand. It is a funny thing but having put a few of these old el cheapos back on the road I can assure you that after all of the time and sweat (and in my case sometimes a little blood) you put into them, if they put out any kind of noise you will go to your grave swearing it sounds a lot better than it has a right to.

Here be the Kay with its big sister - my 1960 J200.

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Re: I Think I Found My Summer Project

Postby leftyguitarman » Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:10 am

Looks great and I'm glad to see an old guitar getting a new breath of life.

I've been on this forum for several years now and I've been GASing for an old acoustic for a long time. I finally bought a 62 Harmony archtop, but had to sell it to pay bills. Seeing threads like this make me want to get another old guitar!
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Re: I Think I Found My Summer Project

Postby neangler » Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:52 pm

Many years ago, when I was growing up, a neighbor had a guitar case piled on top of the trash. Wow, a welcome freebie!

"Can I have it?", I asked.

"Sure," he said. "But there's a guitar inside."

It turned out to be a 12-string Yamaha in very good condition. He said some friend visited, left it behind, and he was tired of it "just taking up room."

Imagine the stuff that's out there "just taking up room."
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Re: I Think I Found My Summer Project

Postby s1120 » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:59 am

Ohhh... I love a guitar project!!!!

So how bad is a neck reset on these? Same as most other accustics? Do you do the resets yourself?
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Re: I Think I Found My Summer Project

Postby leftyguitarman » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:46 pm

neangler wrote:Imagine the stuff that's out there "just taking up room."


That makes me want to hit up garage sales and estate sales this spring/summer. Sometimes you can find a gem.
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Re: I Think I Found My Summer Project

Postby guitarslim101 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:55 pm

Those old Kays can be great guitars. Sounds like this one has some potential, too.
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Re: I Think I Found My Summer Project

Postby gaucho » Wed May 02, 2012 9:22 pm

I recently found a cool old parlor sized guitar at a swap meet. It's in beautiful shape but had no markings on it at all other than a small piece of the paper label inside. The thing has a fantastic v shaped neck that is very straight. For some reason it had nylon strings on it though it was very obviously a steel string guitar. I made a good swap on it , brought it home and set out to figure out what it was. After much digging, I've found that it's a 1920 Harmony made Supertone that was sold in Sears catalogues. I was taking a chance on it since it was set up with nylon strings and I had no idea how it would sound with steel. Swapped them out and it has that classic, ladder-braced slide tone that I was looking for. I love finding stuff like that!
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Re: I Think I Found My Summer Project

Postby Lo-Fi » Fri May 04, 2012 3:06 am

Alas, the Kay is a lost cause. There ain't neck reset drastic enough that will get that thing playable.

But part of the Kay will live on. It tuens out the bridge is a perfect fit for a bridgeless 1920s Regal parlor guitar I have laying around. I am hoping to get to it this weekend. This one is going to be interested as I rebraced the Regal myself - got rid of the big clunky stuff that was in there and put in something that should allow the top to vibrate more, This was my first rebracing so Lawdy knows what it is going to sound like.
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Re: I Think I Found My Summer Project

Postby Lo-Fi » Fri May 04, 2012 3:24 am

gaucho wrote:I recently found a cool old parlor sized guitar at a swap meet. It's in beautiful shape but had no markings on it at all other than a small piece of the paper label inside. The thing has a fantastic v shaped neck that is very straight. For some reason it had nylon strings on it though it was very obviously a steel string guitar. I made a good swap on it , brought it home and set out to figure out what it was. After much digging, I've found that it's a 1920 Harmony made Supertone that was sold in Sears catalogues. I was taking a chance on it since it was set up with nylon strings and I had no idea how it would sound with steel. Swapped them out and it has that classic, ladder-braced slide tone that I was looking for. I love finding stuff like that!


Nice find Hoss. The position marker on the 10th fret alone indicates it was made by either Harmony or Oscar Schmidt. I agree though that it does appear to be a Harmony.

By the way the issue with these mail order guitars produced by the jobbers is often not that the neck has gotten inky but rather that they were never properly angled to begin with which means even if the neck is true a reset is often lurking in the guitar's future.
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