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Silvertone Kay K22 Finished; Visits the Garden

The Silvertone - Kay K22 Jumbo guitar is finished, so I took advantage of a rare day of warm-ish weather to shuffle it outside for some pictures.

I'm pleased with the way it turned out.  It was already in fine playing shape when I bought it from Antebellum, but I couldn't resist the urge to take it over the top.

Nice sunburst top.  It's six (count em) pieces of bookmatched spruce.  I can see why Kay put the sunburst finish on it - to hide the joints.  They don't look bad at all, but they're there if you look for them.

The top is solid spruce, and the back and sides are laminated mystery wood with mahogany veneer.  I'm guessing this guitar dates to the mid-1950s.

The finish is nitro laquer which polished out very nicely.

It's a big body...about 17 inches across the lower bout.  It's loud as all get out.  Lots of fun.



I made a colobolo bridge to replace the replacement bridge the guitar came with.  I think it brightened it up a bit, but the cocobolo looks great.  It also has an unbleached bone saddle and bone bridge pins.

Check out that tiger-stripe tortoloid pickguard.  Goes pretty well with the sunburst I think.

Close up of the bridge.  The cocobolo is staying glued on so far!

I also put a K&K pickup in it.

I did a neck reset as well.  It plays really nicely.  The action is down to about about 4/64 on the bass side and 3/64 on the treble.

I stuck a snakewood strap button on the heel where there was a bolt holding the neck joint together before.  The dovetail is shimmed up nice and tight, so it should be secure for another 30 years or so.

Bone nut replaces the original plastic one.  The nut action is down to a few thousandths of an inch...or a tiny fraction of a millimeter for that matter.  It plays super easy in the first position.  A great rhythm guitar.

The neck shape is a huge "C" in cross-section.  I measured it at 1.170 inches deep at the first fret, and 1.275 at the 11th fret!  It's the very definition of "50s baseball bat."

Fingerboard is nice Brazilian rosewood.  Kay probably got it cheap - note the sapwood going up to the top.  I think it's pretty unique, but it wouldn't have passed muster at Martin.

I took the fingerboard off and put a Stew-Mac "Hot Rod" double acting truss rod on it.  The neck is so massive (1 piece of mahogany) it may not have needed it, but I wanted to see how well I could get it to play.

The neck's straight now and it plays like a dream.  It has to, frankly, with that huge neck, or you'd really be fighting it.

Fancy silk-screened Silvertone logo.  It was a little dingy, but cleaned up well.  I may have mentioned before that "Silvertone" was Sears' house label for electronics and instruments.  This guitar was made by Kay for Sears.

The tuners are awful.  I just got a set of Golden Age restoration tuners to put on...I'll document that too.  Usually I don't have issues with tuners, even friction tuners, but these are some kind of cheap replacements and they're the worst.

The guitar has some really cool wear on the neck in the 'cowboy chord' position where it's worn to bare wood.  There are also a fair amount of pick marks from strumming.

It's actually quite comfortable to play even with the big body and neck.  It clearly saw a lot of use, but was taken care of.  Has a great vibe to it.



 
 
 
 

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