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1960s Kay Thinline Double Cutaway Vintage Hollowbody Guitar, Barney Kessel Kleenex Box Pickups


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Up for sale, a circa 1964 Kay Thinline Doublecut hollowbody electric guitar in exceptional condition and in perfect working order. While the exact model number of this USA-made Kay is elusive, it boasts an extremely rare and briefly seen feature set, with a trio of the same "Kleenex Box" P-35 pickups as the top-tier Barney Kessel series of instruments which preceded it. The Kay shield logo and early example of a Japanese-sourced Bigsby-style tailpiece point firmly at 1964-65, as does the double cutaway thinline body design.

The Kleenex Box pickup is one of the cooler sounding "off the beaten path" 1960's single coil designs, not unlike a P-90, yet with a distinctive dry, percussive cut and a more tailored midrange, the Kleenex Box pickups offer big, articulate single coil tone. The fully hollow maple body has the benefit of both the low end fullness of its construction and the note attack and brightness associated with maple as a tonewood. Featherweight at 6lbs 11oz, we've had this Kay professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar with fresh 11-48 strings, comfortable action, and accurate intonation.

The neck has a round, substantial C profile carve, measuring .910" deep at the 1st fret and .990" at the 11th. The bound Brazilian rosewood fretboard features pearloid pick-shaped triangular inlays, and the original wide/flat fretwire is intact, leveled and crowned in the guitar's lifetime and currently showing no wear. The nut measures 1 5/8" in width, hand-carved from bone for optimal note clarity and sustain. The headstock features a raised metallic Kay shield logo, and the guitar has been fitted with a set of aged modern strip tuners that provide a vintage look and modern performance.

On the body, all of the electronics function as intended, with individual Volume and Tone knobs for each Kleenex Box pickup and a modern three-way pickup selector toggle. The hardware includes the original lightweight aluminum Bigsby bridge with compensated saddle, and chrome-plated vibrato tailpiece. This Bigsby-style vibrato was likely sourced from Japan by Kay and is a very rare, yet original inclusion on this model with a smooth performance and particularly long original vibrato arm. Plastics include the batwing tortoise single-ply celluloid pickguard and four transparent amber DeArmond knobs with chrome inserts. The Kleenex pickup covers and matching rings are intact too, with some light wear on the back-painted rings in particular from off-gassing of the pickguard, which has also resulted in a couple spots of finish darkening and broad lacquer checking adjacent to the knobs.

The nitro lacquer finish is 100% original with graceful ambering over the decades highlighting the light curly flame figuring on the body, which is particularly tight across the top and broader  across the back. Extremely well-kept, cosmetic wear is limited to very tight “shattered glass” lacquer checking across the entire body, and just a few light scuffs and finish scratches central to the lower bout on the back. The neck shows a few shallow dings and minor marks on the profile length, nothing affecting playability in the slightest.