Kay Guitars

Kay Guitars on Ebay
Kay guitar Kay Guitar Company primarily produced inexpensive department store style guitars from the 1930's to the 1960's. Kay guitar is a part of the Kay Musical Instrument Company that has manufactured professional and student instruments since the 1890's.

Kay also produced a high end guitar that today is extremely collectable. In 1957 president Sydney Katz introduced the Gold K line of archtop and solid body electric guitars to compete with major manufacturers like Fender, Gibson, and Gretsch. Valued among collectors, the headstocks from 1957-1960 featured a reverse painted plastic overlay similar to the Kelvinator logo. The guitars featured art deco patterns. It was difficult to get players to take Kay's high end entry seriously, and the Gold line was discontinued in 1962. The company was sold to Valco in 1967 and driven out of business two years later by low cost Asian imports.

Kay’s current line includes low priced acoustic, electric and bass guitars, and moderately priced banjos, ukuleles, mandolins, and resonators. They also sell the Chicago Blues line of inexpensive harmonicas.

Kay manufactured guitars under different names: 'Old Kraftsman' guitars for Spiegel, 'Sherwood' and 'Airline' for Montgomery Wards, and 'Silvertone' for Sears. Also, Kay produced a line of Archtop Acuostics called Kamico, which have become rather rare.

The gold K Line featured the Jazz Special, Artist, Pro, Upbeat, Jazz II, and Jazz Special Bass. Gold K guitars used the same hardware as top manufacturers. There were truss rod and neck issues. Gold models had single coil pickups with clear silver plastic covers and phillips head bolt adjustable pole pieces. The Upbeat model came with an optional transparent black plastic cover. These pickups appeared on Kay instruments through the late 1960's and are sometimes referred to as Kessel or Kleenex Box pickups. The Jazz Special Bass has a single coil chrome pickup.

Notable Kay guitar players have included Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Jack White, Sarah McLachlan, Ry Cooder, and Howlin' Wolf.


Barney Kessel Artist
Barney Kessel Pro
K21 Jazz Special
K45 Travel Guitar
K48 Artist
K100 Vanguard
K102 Vanguard
K136 Stratotone
K142 Stratotone
K161 Thin Twin Jimmy Reed
K300 Double Cutaway Solid Electric
K571-3 Speed Demon
K580 Galaxy
K672/K673 Swingmaster
K775 Jazz II
K797 Acoustic Archtop
K1160 Standard
K1982/K1984 Style Leader (Jimmy Reed)
K3500 Student Concert
K5113 Plains Special
K5160 Auditorium
K6100 Country
K6116 Super Auditorium
K6120 Western
K6130 Calypso
K6533/K6535 Value Leader
K7000 Artist
K7010 Concerto
K7010 Maestro
K8110 Master
K8127 Solo Special
K8995 Upbeat
Wood Amplifying Guitar

Bass Guitars

C1 Concert String Bass
K180 Jimmy Reed Bass
K5970 Jazz Special Electric Bass
M-1 Maestro String Bass
M-5 Maestro String Bass
Semi-Hollowbody Bass
Solidbody Bass