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Thread: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

  1. #1
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    Default Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    This Mandolin was owned by my father. It probably has not been used since the late 50s. I found this link and it looks to me like it matches the one I have.

    http://www.retrofret.com/Products.asp?ProductID=4012

    Do I have a Kay Kraft from the 1930s? I also have a case, is it original?

    And lastly, does it have any value? Even a couple hundred dollars would excite my 87 year old mother.

    Thanks!
    Jim
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    Looks pretty original except for the "JEB". Kay Musical Instrument Company was formed in 1931 from the former Stromberg Voisinet Co. That type of stencil work on the front was popular in the 30's, so yes most probable that that was made in the 30's. I think "Kay Craft" was a name that they only used early on,later it became just "Kay".

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    Default Re: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    The "JEB" are my father's initials. I am not sure how/when they got on the Mandolin but they look old.

  4. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    That JEB looks like stick on letter badges. I am sure your dad put them there. Certainly not original. That mandolin looks to be in nice shape tho. I always liked the way those look. Very cool.
    Jim

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  5. #5
    Registered User Kerry Krishna's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    "Listen here Skippy. This here mandolin is older than your Grandpa, and costs more than a new Porsche, so no. No, I can't play any Whane Newton on it..."

  6. #6
    Registered User Kerry Krishna's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    Jim 34, I host Facebook's Kay Kraft Guitar site, and the following information is as accurate as I am able to provide.
    So there is a bit of information here on these mandolins about halfway through this link...Want to share your album? You can give friends or relatives this link:
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...1&l=affd3e5d93.


    They were made in 1939, it looks like, and just for a year. Yours was a transition mandolin. The body depth had already been increased to 4 inches from the regular mando depth if two inches (it is the kiss of tone death too!)
    By 1939, the company name had already been changed to KAY. These oval hole mandolins were discontinued, within the year, in favour of 'F' hole ones.

    The initials were water transfer decals , and were sent to the individual stores and affixed to the mandolins (and some guitars) in an effort to personalize the axes, and thus increase sales.
    In my studies of these Kay Kraft mandos, I have come to the conclusion, that this exact 1939 model of mandolin was likely the first disposable instruments made in America. They look fancy , but even before they left the factory, were little more than toys already in the process of turning into wall ornaments.

    They were already falling apart by the time they reached the stores. If the one your Grandma own has been strung up for any length of time in it's 80 year history, the neck to body joint has long since failed.

    In the dovetail pocket, there is almost a full quarter inch on gap between the neck and the body. All of these I have seen have been the exact same.
    Your mandolin is missing the original bridge, and the case is also not original ( though incredibly cool to me!) , as far as I can tell from the pictures, is worth around $200 to $300 bucks, and if it has a neck reset done, would be worth around $400to $450.
    They are pretty bad sounding as far as mandolins go, mostly because of the exagerated body depth. Please feel free to ask me any questions on the Kay Kraft site, and I would be glad to help further..... Kerry Krishna
    "Listen here Skippy. This here mandolin is older than your Grandpa, and costs more than a new Porsche, so no. No, I can't play any Whane Newton on it..."

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    Default Re: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    Maybe so, they weren't Martin or Gibson, Kay made instruments for the proletariat. A coal miner or a doorman could afford one. This one we're looking at is 70 years old plus and so are all the others that you've seen. Not bad for a pieces of junk that were falling apart before they reached the store. The funky blues would have never happened without some funky instruments to play it .

  8. #8
    Registered User Kerry Krishna's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    Sorry, I just saw this was a f hole, not a oval. Jim. They are all the same regardless...
    "Listen here Skippy. This here mandolin is older than your Grandpa, and costs more than a new Porsche, so no. No, I can't play any Whane Newton on it..."

  9. #9
    Slow your roll. greg_tsam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    I was given one of these sans bridge and tailpiece. Figured it was just a wall hanger and not worth fixing <Removed by Moderator please limit selling activity to the classifieds>
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Dec-30-2011 at 5:05pm.
    Breedlove Quartz FF with K&K Twin - Weber Big Horn - Fender FM62SCE

    Wall Hangers - 1970's Stella A and 60's Kay Kraft

  10. #10
    Registered User Kerry Krishna's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    Thanks Moderator!
    Last edited by Kerry Krishna; Dec-30-2011 at 6:14pm.
    "Listen here Skippy. This here mandolin is older than your Grandpa, and costs more than a new Porsche, so no. No, I can't play any Whane Newton on it..."

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    Slow your roll. greg_tsam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    Oops! Sorry 'bout that. Didn't mean to go there.
    Breedlove Quartz FF with K&K Twin - Weber Big Horn - Fender FM62SCE

    Wall Hangers - 1970's Stella A and 60's Kay Kraft

  12. #12
    Registered User Kerry Krishna's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    Waiting greg...
    "Listen here Skippy. This here mandolin is older than your Grandpa, and costs more than a new Porsche, so no. No, I can't play any Whane Newton on it..."

  13. #13
    Registered User pfox14's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    I have a 1939 Tonk Bros catalog, but none of the Kay mandolins have the decorative stencil work on the body or pickguard. I wonder if that was a custom ordered feature like getting your initials on the instrument. A 1932 CMI catalog shows all the Kay Kraft Venitian style mandolins with oval sound holes, so I am guessing that your mandolin dates from the middle 30s.
    Visit www.fox-guitars.com - cool Gibson & Epiphone history and more

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    Registered User MixieArmadillo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    Mine is just like this. When I bought it, it needed a neck reset and a repair for a center seam split, but otherwise wasn't in terrible shape. My luthier friend loves it as a starter instrument for me, and was much happier about the extra depth than the poster above. I know it's no fancy Gibson, but I adore mine. I paid about $200 on E-bay for it, and another couple hundred for the luthier love.

  15. #15
    ArtDecoMandos Marty Jacobson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a 1930s Kay Kraft?

    I bought an Old Kraftsman archtop guitar with those same initial stickers on it! Did your dad ever own a blonde archtop guitar?
    martinjacobson.com - Dedicated to producing affordable instruments with great tone & playability

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