Kay K-22 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar , c. 1956

Kay  K-22 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar ,  c. 1956
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Item # 10941
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Kay K-22 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar, c. 1956, made in Chicago, serial # K22 8110, natural lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, spruce top; mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

The Jumbo K-22 is one of the better guitars in Kay's 1950s line, not a subtle instrument but unmistakably big all around. "Distinctly different for the player who wants something better" was Kay's catalog introduction, although better than what was not addressed. This model was the lowest priced of three jumbo flat top models Kay offered in the mid-50s, listing at $79 (plus case) in 1957. The similar cutaway-equipped K-24 was $89.50, with the fancy K-27 listing at a whopping $125. None of these guitars are particularly common today, and while they were hardly a serious challenge to Gibson's big yee-hew 17" Jumbos they are solidly built instruments that can sound good when played with vigor.

The big 17" round-bout body is made of laminated maple with a spruce top, multiple bound with a bound soundhole and screwed-on tortoise celluloid pickguard. It is ladder braced with some very big rungs. The small pinless rosewood bridge strings through the front. The neck is HUGE with a nominally round-backed profile that has an oddly flat center as it approaches the body. There is a steel rod inside but nothing adjustable. The rosewood fingerboard is bound with dual slanted pearloid inlay with a Gibson-y flavor. The bound headstock has a raised Kay logo.

This is not a delicate instrument; it needs to be played hard but in that context makes a great Hillbilly rhythm guitar; we call it "the (very) poor man's J-200". One of our more historically savvy customers once gazed upon this model and exclaimed "That's a real Hasil Atkins guitar! And Gene Vincent can be seen with an early model as well. This one shows some wear and typical repair but is set up to play very well, a nice example of the Chicago guitarmaker's better post-WWII work.
 
Overall length is 43 in. (109.2 cm.), 17 1/8 in. (43.5 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.).

This Kay shows moderate finish wear overall, with some fairly heavy lacquer checking and general nicks, scrapes and dings overall. There are repaired spots to the spruce top around the wings of the bridge which has been re-attached and possibly recontoured just slightly. The back shows one long grain check but it does not go through to the inside.

We would assume the neck to have been reset as the angle is quite good; if so it was a very neat job. The fingerboard has been trued and nicely refretted with a new nut and as a result this K-22 plays far better than most. The tuners are correct style repro Klusons. While admittedly not up to 1950s Martin or Gibson standards on its own terms this is an good sounding guitar, especially for a Kay and an excellent playing example. It has an older Hardshell case included. Very Good + Condition.