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1930s Kay Kraft Style A Venetian Vintage Archtop Acoustic Guitar w/ Case, Stromberg-Voisinet


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Up for sale, a 1930's Kay Kraft Venetian Style A vintage acoustic guitar in excellent condition and in perfect working order. Produced by Kay in Chicago for the Montgomery Ward catalog's house brand Recording King, the Style A is a unique round soundhole archtop design with a solid pressed spruce top and mahogany back and sides. Originally introduced by the Stromberg-Voisinet company in the 1920s, the Kay company was established in 1931 from the assets of S-V, continuing the lineage of the Venetian model, which owes its body shape to the Venetian mandolin.

The Venetian Style A was designed with an unconventional neck tilt system that rotates along a contoured wedge, allowing the angle to be adjusted by loosening a butterfly nut inside the soundhole on the heel block. The sound is well-suited to Blues or Gypsy Jazz lead work, offering a cutting, hollow tone with a distinctive sparkle and snap when strummed closer to the bridge, and a smoother, treble-focused tone when played just forward of the soundhole. The guitar has a plucky character, responding well to subtleties in your picking dynamics, with a dry top end cut that's almost banjo-esque, depending on your pick attack, and a nice throaty growl when strummed with passion. The guitar is featherweight at 3lbs 15oz, and has been thoroughly serviced to play its best, benefitting from a new thick bone saddle for improved clarity and sustain, as well as a bone nut and professional refret. We've had this Kay professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar and dialed in with fresh phosphor bronze strings and comfortable action.

The mahogany neck has a deep V profile carve with just a sliver of palm wear along the fretboard edges adjacent to the binding, and the profile measures .890" deep at the 1st fret, tapering to 1.135" at the 9th. The dyed maple fretboard has been professionally refretted, and the new slender fretwire is pristine, playing comfortably in every register. The scale length measures a full 25 7/8", and the new carved bone nut measures 1 11/16" in width. The headstock features a pearloid veneer and the original gold Recording King script text oriented vertically, complete with stock open gear strip tuners with white buttons. These tuners show modest surface patina and function smoothly and reliably.

Visible through the soundhole, the original pair of Kay Musical Instrument Co. labels are intact, dating this particular iteration of the Venetian Style A to 1931-1934. The dyed maple bridge has been fitted with a bone saddle insert, increasing the top end articulation and sustain of the instrument, and string spacing at the bridge is 2 1/16". The original nickel trapeze tailpiece is intact, and the lower bout of the top retains the original gold filigree work.

The arched pressed spruce top features a warm brown Sunburst finish with extremely tight and prominent lacquer checking on the body as a whole. The finish is 100% original with no touchups or overspray, exhibiting various scuffs and dings on the body, mostly relegated to the back, yet the wear is very restrained for an acoustic instrument of this vintage. There is a single professionally addressed and stabilized crack extending between the soundhole and bridge on top, and the two original pickguard mounting holes are present on the treble side of the top. The neck profile is very clean, with just a few minor marks on the profile carve.

A zippered hardshell case with a vinyl exterior and Gibson silkscreen is included.