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1950s Kay K-1 Vintage Archtop Electric Guitar Sunburst w/ Lafayette Pickups


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Up for sale, an early 1950's Kay K-1 archtop guitar in excellent condition and in perfect working order. Originally an acoustic model, this guitar has been fitted with a wiring harness and a pair of woody sounding Lafayette pickups and also benefits from a recent professional refret and neck reset. With a full 17” lower bout and a 3 1/2” body depth, the guitar features an arched spruce top and maple back and sides. Acoustically, the guitar is tonally rich with ample low end and enough midrange presence and snap to cut through. Plugged in, the pickups emphasize the natural tones of the instrument, from a sweet yet authoritative bloom with the neck pickup engaged to focused bite at the bridge. This upgraded archtop has been professionally set up here at Mike and Mike’s Guitar Bar for comfortable action and accurate intonation with 11-50 roundwound strings.

The maple neck has a full C shape with generous shoulder and limited taper as you travel up the bound Brazilian rosewood fretboard, with the profile measuring .955” deep at the 1st fret and 1.025” at the 9th, where the profile begins to gradually transition into the heel. The new medium jumbo frets show virtually zero wear and play easily in every register. Indicative of a model produced earlier in the decade, the dot fretboard inlays are fairly uncommon, as the K-1 featured block inlay beyond 1956. The scale is a full 25 1/2", and the nut is a hand-carved piece of bone, adding to both the expressive tone and the overall sustain of the instrument. The headstock has a new rosewood veneer on the face, and the original set of Kluson Deluxe single line tuners with white buttons are present.

On the body, the added electronics work as they should, with a three-way pickup selector switch governing the pair of Lafayette pickups in addition to Master Volume and Tone pots with genuine vintage cream cupcake knobs. The top has a consistent arch and the original Brazilian rosewood bridge has ample room for adjustment on both thumbwheels.

Cosmetically, the original nitro lacquer Sunburst finish shows vertical lacquer checking and some minor, expected nicks, while there's finish flaking of note just below the original nickel trapeze tailpiece on the lower bout. Original cream binding frames the top and back of the body as well as the neck, and the profile exhibits sparingly little wear.