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1960 Kay Upbeat Vintage Archtop Electric Guitar Blonde, P-35 Kleenex Box Pickups, Kelvinator


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Up for sale, a 1960 Kay Upbeat model K8990B in exceptional, 100% original condition and in perfect working order, featuring its original Blonde nitro lacquer finish. Produced at the peak of Kay's golden age of premium archtop production, the Upbeat model was essentially identical to Kay's top-tier Barney Kessel Custom, albeit with more restrained inlay and hardware. With a full 17" wide fully hollow body, figured maple back and sides and a solid, pressed spruce top, the Upbeat has a nice dry, snappy acoustic character with a sweet midrange cut and a sparkling, charismatic top end. Featuring a pair of Gibson-made "Kleenex Box" P-35 pickups, these single coils have a big, articulate tone. Not unlike a P-90, but with more woody spank in the treble frequencies, the Kleenex Box pickups are a perfect compliment to the fully hollow body. The guitar weighs a mere 6lbs 7oz, professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar and dialed in with fresh 11-50 roundwound strings.

Having just received a professional neck reset (essential at this juncture on most golden age USA-made Kay archtops), the guitar plays exceptionally well with ideal action and room for adjustment at both bridge thumbwheels. With an ideal neck set and Kay Kanti-lever rod also tweaked to perfection, this Kay is truly a cut above, serviced to appease the most demanding Jazz artists.

The maple neck has lots of shoulder and a round, full C profile carve, actually growing a hair more slender as you travel up the fretboard, measuring .955" deep at the 1st fret and .930" at the 9th. The bound Brazilian rosewood fretboard is a tight-grained and jet black cut of this hallowed tonewood, featuring pearloid block inlays and original medium jumbo fretwire. The frets are flawless, retaining their full factory height and fretting easily up the 25 7/8" scale. The original bone nut measures just fractionally shy of 1 11/16", and the headstock retains the original Kluson Deluxe single line tuning machines. And no description of a Kay is complete without discussing the incredible Kelvinator headstock. This was Kay's most ornate and eye-catching headstock design, not seen beyond 1960 and this is a very clean example. The plexiglass headstock overlay boasts the Kay name along with a prominent and raised Chevron with further Art Deco detailing.

The body retains the original DeArmond black skirted knobs, with patina on the original switch surround, pickguard bracket, and nickel tailpiece hinge. The original silver sparkle pickguard accents the black Kleenex Box pickup covers and surrounds, with the black plastic accents exclusive to the 1960 model year. The gloss Blonde nitro lacquer finish highlights the ripples of curly flame figuring extending across the back, and the finish exhibits broad lacquer checking on top, with more prominent, tighter checking across the back. Cosmetic wear is limited to just a few small isolated finish scratches and tiny nicks on the guitar as a whole, and the neck profile is extremely clean too, free of palm wear.

A modern, padded gigbag is included.