Sunday, 1 February 2015

Info wanted on singlecut Kay electric guitar, probably 1970s

Dear Mr. Wilson,

I have been following your amazing and entertaining Guitarz blog for some years. I am writing you as I just got a Kay guitar (for almost no money, to ease any guilt trip in such a risky decision... I am aware of Kay's reputation). There is no identification label on it and I could not find it in any online catalogue.

I attach a few pics (unfortunately their quality is as good as I could do with my old camera, I am the worst photographer in the world). Before I decide what to do with it I thought your website would be the good one to tell me something about it, as I had never seen such a model: sort of Les Paul-like, but with the typical Kay single coils. It is pretty much a mess, besides the cosmetic wear. The paint job is really questionable, part of the headstock broke and after the (bad) repair someone switched the two 3+3 pegs, the wiring was falling apart, the string retainer was missing and I just replaced it with a quickly-made metal block using the original holes to see if the guitar plays... In the end it does, and I am still curious to identify it because I find some attractive weirdness in it.

I would be really happy if anyone could give me some clues. Thanks in advance for your kind attention.

Best regards

Thanks for your email and photographs. Although your Kay guitar does look familiar I am afraid that I can't identify the model for you. It does look like maybe it was supposed to be a (crude) copy of the Gibson L6S rather than a Les Paul. It does have a similar "pot belly" shape to it.

Quality on 1970s/1980s Kay guitars does vary considerably from one model to the next. This would be because they originated with a number of different manufacturers. I recently played on a friend's Kay branded acoustic. It was obviously quite a cheaply made instrument, but the action and playability were surprisingly good. Also the semi-famed K45 travel guitar (marketed in the US as the Austin Hatchet) was a quality instrument and so solid and sturdy you could have knocked a brick wall down with it.

If anyone has any more info on the above guitar, please contact us in the usual way via the comments below.

G L Wilson

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  1. I have one of those guitars, mine was bought for me about late 1979 early 1980 my mum got it from kays catalog and payed by installments, so anyway still got it now and if you thought the one in the photo was in bad shape, well mine i lent to a friend to learn on as by 1984 i`d got a strat copy, the kid was still at school so i thought what the hell. he had it for MONTHS and every time i asked him his answer was elusive at best, so anyway one day i finally got the truth out of him, and he had loaned it to one of his friends who had left school earlier than him, and for his first art project he completely disembowelled my guitar and then coated the body in oil paints and then took a photo of it and won a prize (a kick in the bollocks he would have got from me i might add)

    so then i asked my friend where the kid lived and it wasn`t far from me, so there i goes angry as hell, knocked the door loud so as to wake the dead, only for the door to be answered by a blind man, so (gulp) my temper shrank straight away and i politely asked the poor guy if this was the right address (name of his son etc) and had he had a guitar recently. so bingo i thought he said yes i know where it is, and i waited,,,, and waited, then the guy comes back with a large carrier bag with said neck of said guitar poking out the top, so shocked and still angry when i saw what was inside the bag, (my baby in bits)

    i took it home and inspected the damage.

    so looking at the original photo of what i had.

    no scratch plate, 1 pick up, no wires, and neck plastered with silver spray paint and body plastered with greasy oil paints.

    never saw the kid who did it again, maybe he knew the heat was on and quit town, but i recently had it out of the loft and after seeing the wonders of ebay

    i bought a les paul / SG style wiring kit (2 x volume 2 x tone + jack and switch for £11.99

    and then i found the wonderful Warman Guitars pair of Hot Devils £24.99 twin coil pickups so this guitar needed some work physically

    first off after several days thought before i took the plunge further, i made a cover plate front and back out of a plastic lid off an old epson r285 printer and used the screws as well.

    then obviously i had to dig out the wells for the humbuckers to drop into, that took another afternoon chiselling away.

    so today i`ve finally wired it up and its sounds very good and to say i`ve only spent just over £36 its a new guitar and to me it sounds as good as my epiphone SG and les paul special II

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