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Thread: Identifying My Kay Mando

  1. #1
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    Default Identifying My Kay Mando

    Here's the Kay mando I just bought off Fleabay. I have been trying to ID it. I even called Stan Jay from Mandolin Brothers, but he wasn't sure. Picture below. There's an N stamped inside the left F hole, and L 940 under the other one. Notice the Kelvinator headstock.

    Can anyone tell me what this is and when it was made? Thanks.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Identifying My Kay Mando

    Late 50s-early 60s build. Fairly common, but in uncommonly good shape as it appears. Neat as a novelty instrument, and playable if the neck angle is still correct. More "wall-hanger" value than collector market, but a dang neat mandolin. There's a Kentucky Fried Chicken "Colonel Sanders Mandolin Band" LP out there with a full "orchestra" of these things.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Identifying My Kay Mando

    Also uncommon to see the still-attached fingerrest. As far as "model numbers" go, I have not seen a lot of info on those for Kay mandos. Plenty for guitars 40s thru late 60s. You might do a google search for Kay catalogs.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Identifying My Kay Mando

    Model numbers are problematic, but that headstock configuration generally dates from the early 60s.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Identifying My Kay Mando

    Thanks for the info. I figured late 50's, as that's when the Kelvinator guitars were around. It's certainly a pretty cool looking instrument, not a great mando by any means, but it is Ok as a starter for me, and it's in very good shape for something over fifty years old. The neck is perfectly straight, and it's structurally sound. It's playable, but as you might expect, it's not high quality. I like it, but I can see where I'll want to upgrade to something better, if I progress on the instrument. I'm taking it to my luthier late this month for a setup, new strings, frets polished, etc. It'll play better when he's done with it.

  6. #6
    Confused... or?
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    Default Re: Identifying My Kay Mando

    FWIW, my cosmetically-similar '63 Kay guitar has (or had, it's long since worn off) the identical logo on its white, screwed-on pickguard. By that point, the headstock logo was also a white painted-on affair, rather than pressed metal.

    For the last 30 years it's been strung w/ electric 10's (to keep it from collapsing in any further) and has circulated thru 5 or 6 family & friends' kids that have learned to play on it. It taught me how to replace tuners, make a new nut, and re-glue the bridge & bridge plate, and I look forward to re-setting the neck when I get it back. I would re-fret but have grown accustomed to the "suspension bridge" geometry that's worn in both under and between the strings!
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

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