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Thread: Key Brand Info?

  1. #1

    Default Key Brand Info?

    Hello,

    My first post here and was hoping to find some more info on this Key brand mandolin. Here are some features which can hopefully help -
    1. Laminated spruce top
    2. Rosewood back and sides (inside and out but may be laminated)
    3. Mahogany neck with zero fret ebony board
    4. Tuner plates have a pressed leaf design on back
    5. Plastic(?) tuner bushings look similar to a Teisco guitar

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    Any info on the origin, etc. would be appreciated, thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    Any ideas on the history of this brand?

  3. #3
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    A puzzle. Google comes up empty. I'd originally thought "Asian copy of a Kay mandolin," but the zero fret threw me; why imitate a Kay (very similar shape etc.) and then put in a zero-fret feature Kay didn't have?

    Here's an unsupported hypothesis: the Italian manufacturer EKO made guitars for Kay, apparently. Could it be an Italian-made instrument (the zero fret's more common on European mandolins etc.), made like a Kay mandolin?

    Might help a bit if we knew where you obtained it...
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  4. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    It looks like one of those noname mandolins that were made in Korea and prevalent around the 1980s for cheap. I hab d a friend who played one and he got some good noise out of it. Other than that not worth much AFAIK. I think you may find these with lots of different labels or no label at all. Anyway, that is my guess.

    I could not find the exact tyope I was thinking of but this one resembles in body shape and headstock as well (with the bridge mislocated). I think OP's is a upscale of this one.
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    Last edited by Jim Garber; Dec-13-2011 at 3:37pm.
    Jim

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  5. #5

    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    Thanks for the info - I hadn't though of looking at European manufacturers. I bought this from a friend who had picked it up somewhere in Missouri a few months ago while looking for antiques. That's all I know at this point. The workmanship seems good with the exception of the neck joint which will likely need a reset. There is no checking but the finish has yellowed (compared to under the bridge and pickguard). So I was guessing it's a more modern finish (60's or later?) or was kept in a pretty stable environment. I haven't disassembled it to look for markings on the tuners, tailpiece, etc.

  6. #6
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    Kay imported that same mandolin with the 0 fret. It isn't a copy of the American made Kay, it's one of dozens of brand names put on that same mandolin when it was brought into the country. There were also some with no brand name. Here's another. I can guarantee the back and sides are laminated.
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  8. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    A Harmony electric branded model. This one has a different headstock shape, like the Harmony batwing.

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  9. #8

    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    Thank you for the info! I haven't popped the nut off yet but I'm hoping the fretboard is not laminated as well. I may have to pull the fretboard off and plane the neck to make it playable.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    The fretboard is not ebony or some other dark wood like I thought. It is solid but actually a very light colored wood (maybe maple?)stained black. Hopefully, I can remove the fretboard intact to get better access to steam the neck joint.

  11. #10
    Registered User MandoSquirrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    Stained fretboards like this were very common in the old days on Kay, Harmony, & other "budget" brands.
    Elrod
    Gibson A2 1920(?)
    Breedlove Cascade
    Washburn 215(?) 1906-07(?)
    Victoria, B&J, New York(stolen 10/18/2011)
    Eastwood Airline Mandola

    guitars:
    Guild D-25NT
    Vega 200 archtop, 1957?

  12. #11
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    Yet another example... under the Norma brand.
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    Jim

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  13. #12
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    Yup, there are a bunch of these brands.

  14. #13
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    One branded Hondo.

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  15. #14

    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    There's some info related to the Norma brand in this thread. So, is it likely that many of these were made in Japan (or Korea) in the late 60's and early 70's?

  16. #15
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    They may have been made in both countries as production shifted. They are 70's and on.

  17. #16
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    We have someone with another no name brand one of these here. It's raining mandolins out there.

  18. #17

    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    Let it rain & maybe some more experienced folks will run across a decent one. I'll probably more hours in repair on this one than dollars invested but it will be a good learner even if it never is a good player.

  19. #18
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    Here's another with the Kingston brand name on it.

  20. #19

    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    That's interesting. I have Kingston bass and classical guitar as well as as Teisco electric. I think both Kingston and Teisco brands were made in the same Japanese factory (Kawai?)and both brands stopped production in 1969. And as I mentioned originally the plastic tuner bushings on this mandolin are similar to those on the Teisco.

  21. #20
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    Here's another branded Global.

  22. #21
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    Quote Originally Posted by landsharkey View Post
    That's interesting. I have Kingston bass and classical guitar as well as as Teisco electric. I think both Kingston and Teisco brands were made in the same Japanese factory (Kawai?)and both brands stopped production in 1969. And as I mentioned originally the plastic tuner bushings on this mandolin are similar to those on the Teisco.
    I think these are Korean and later than 1969.

  23. #22
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    Here's another branded Festival.

  24. #23
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    Yet another example of this genre, this one branded Granada.

  25. #24
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    An unlabeled electric
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  26. #25

    Default Re: Key Brand Info?

    So they named it "Key" so you might confuse it with "Kay"? ? ? I'd much rather have a "Givson" myself.

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