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FACTOIDS & TRIVIA

The Kay Company of Chicago, Illinois was one of the largest manufacturers of guitars in the U.S. until the late '60s. They sold guitars under the Kay name, as well as house brand names such as Airline (Montgomery Wards), Custom Kraft (St. Louis Music), and Silvertone (Sears Roebuck). Kays are generally considered budget instruments, but they did make excellent upright bass viols and their top of the line guitars are well regarded. As one Kay executive put it, "harmony made the Fords, Kay made the Buicks, and Gibson made the Cadillacs." Kay's top of the line electric archtops were the Barney Kessel signature models that Kessel endorsed for several years in the late '50s. Kay dropped it's top-shelf, full depth, spruce top jazz guitars in 1960 after Kessel left to endorse Gibson. The remaining jazz models included the newly introduced, top of the line, Jazz II which used the same pickups as the Barney Kessel signature model and, like the Kessel model, had flame maple back and sides. However, with it's bolt-on neck, shallow body, and laminated construction, the Jazz II was not in the same league as the Kay jazz guitars from the 1950s.
 

KAY JAZZ II (1963)

Body:  Thinline hollow; laminated 1-piece flame maple top and back, laminated flame maple sides, double bound top, single bound back

Finish:  Amber Sunburst, nitrocellulose lacquer

Neck:  1-piece maple, bolt-on; black plastic headstock overlay with metal name plate

Fingerboard:  Brazilian rosewood, bound; pearloid "shark fin" markers

Number of Frets:  19

Pickguard:  Silver backed Lucite

Bridge:  Bigsby aluminum on aluminum base with Bigsby B-6 tailpiece

Nut:  Bone

Tuners:  Grover Rotomatic, enclosed, nickel

Pickups:  Two, Kay Gold K single coil with adjustable pole pieces

Controls:  Tone and volume controls for each pickup, 3-way pickup selector

Scale Length:  25 1/2 inches

Neck Width at Nut:  1 5/8 inches

Body Width at Lower Bout:  15 1/8 inches

Body Depth:  2 inches

Weight:  n/a




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