KAY ELECTRIC GUITAR.
MODEL 'VALUE LEADER'.
Model number 1963 (3 pickups, 1960 series).
Kay did not assign serial numbers to this model of guitar.
I have inspected this guitar in detail and played it for about 3 hours as a most entertaining operational check.
What we have here is a paradox of G.A.S. (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome); Make / keep a guitar as original as possible, OR, configure and set it up for playing better than how it came from the factory. This guitar is a rare jobber of the Kay Value Leader, without a headstock logo as was common with a lot of jobbers; None of it's panels had ever been opened up; It still has it's factory setup; It has hardly any playing wear but quite a bit of handling marks ....Soul from a collector's perspective ....Mojo from a Player's perspective. An excellent specimen for either a Collector or Player.
As a collection piece this guitar needs nothing more than 2 knobs and a rear strap button; It's otherwise configured just like it came from the factory. I do have some reservations about whether the tuning machines are original, but if I had to I'd bet they are, as some of the first original parts that American guitar makers first started to import for economy guitars right around 1964. It also has a rare factory set up for a strap to attach to a rear strap button while the other end of the strap would have a sturdy lanyard cord to tie around the neck just behind the neck nut ....voila Elvis Presley and other early rockers style.
As a playing guitar it is quite easy to configure and set up to a Player's preferences. I have really enjoyed playing this guitar a number of times during the inspecting and reporting shown on these webpages. But please note that the middle pickup's tone cap or leads will require some operational attention or the cap replaced; And I would not dare disturb the factory original electronics UNLESS a Buyer requested I do so. Also note suggestions I have posted on these webpages to share some helpful knowledge & opinion.
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--- Structural integrety = NM - 100%
--- Body finish = VG+ - 95%.
--- Neck finish = Ex. - 98%.
--- Electronics = Ex. - 98%.
--- Hardware = Ex. - 97%.
--- Scale length: 24 5/8".
--- Guitar measures 39" long, 9" upper bout width, 13" lower bout width, 1.75" body thickness, 3.5" overall planal thickness.
--- Weight is a substantial 8 lbs.
--- 3 high dynamics, medium-low impedence, "flat soapdish" pickups; Tone to the bone.
--- Rare no-logo jobber.
--- All-wood body; Cross-grain laminated crack-proof maple flat top and back.
--- Tobacco sunburst body finish with black neck finish.
--- Top and back edge binding.
--- Bolt-on solid maple with hardrock maple fretboard.
--- Nice playing substantial "C" profile, thinner than some previous Value Leader's "chunk" neck.
--- Finish is very smoothe, not "sticky", with minimal small scuffs & nicks.
--- 18 hardened brass frets in excellent condition with barely any playing marks at all. A seasoned
Player might desire better dressing of the frets crowns and ends.
--- Translucent faux amber position markers (now aged to reddish amber).
--- Adjustable truss rod accessed under headstock cover plate. Virgin trussrod nut.
--- Neck relief is right on.
--- Neck / deck angle is flat. Reference my 'Suggestions' provided further below.
--- The neck is slightly out of alignment (with the tailpiece), headstock to the bass side of the deck
plane, from the factory. This is easily fixed for a Player by inserting a round toothpick or-two into
certain spots in the neck attachment screw holes to tease the neck / body / screwholes
relationships in the direction of longitudinal alignment adjustment desired, and applying a little
alignment pressure onto the neck / pocket as it is screwed back onto the body in 1-thread / 1-turn
increments that absorb the light realigning pressures. This is a standard process for guitar techs
and knowledgeable Players; Easy piece of cake that I would be delighted to guide a Buyer through if he / she have not done it before. COLLECTORS would probably rather leave this factory nuance
just like it is.
Headstock & Tuners:
--- Open-back 3x3 tuners with molded metal knobs, in proper working order.
--- Nominal minor wear on the edges of the headstock.
--- Clean plastic nut; 1 5/8" wide; 7/8" depth.
--- No sign of a logo plate ever being installed; Indicative that the guitar is a rare jobber.
--- 1964 saw previous maple bridges replaced with Brazillian rosewood bridges. Fully adjustable
bridge with set intonation-slanted saddle.
--- Three Kay pickups introduced onto this model in 1961;
--- Commonly nick-named "flat soap dish" pickups; And / or "cheese grater" pickups when a lined
diamond design is silkscreened on top on some Kay models.
--- 3.5K ohms static impedence. A good balance between low impedence's high dynamics and higher
impedence's clean tones.
--- Chrome plated and grounded cases.
--- Neck pickup: Medium-loud (compared to a balanced 7K unity db); Robust, highly dynamic at high
gains; Raunchy at headroom gains; Smooth, clear and Jazzy at lower gains.
--- Middle pickup: Medium-loud, slightly muted, typical middle pickup tones. Jazzy at lower gains.
The middle pickup is an add-on of the neck pickup on 2 pickup models and thus the same
thickness / deck-height and thus farther away from the strings for an inherent lower saturation and
thus slightly "muted" sound compared to front and rear pickups located closer to the strings.
--- Bridge: medium-loud, sharp edge tones, twangy with tone rolled back a bit, reminescent of Teisco
pickups cutting edge tones.
--- All 3 pickups on: Mixes what would be expected of the above descriptions. I think the pickups
rewired in series or series-parallel would sound much fuller with all 3 on.
I am not about to disturb this untouched all-original electronics assembly; But I can see and make an educated / experienced guess about the electronics said below. I applied a thin coat of proper oil onto the electronics casings as a corrosion inhibitor:
--- All original electronics, wiring and soldering.
--- Each pickup has tone and volume controls.
--- Four position switch selects between neck, middle, bridge, and all pickups.
--- CTS pots; All are model 29A0008; Values unmarked / unknown. I am making a good guess that
these matching-model pots are 250K.
--- Tone caps are .1MFD, 200VDC (max tolerance rating).
--- All electronics are mounted to the bottom of the metal pickguard. The entire electronics assembly
removes intact by simply removing the pickguard.
Hardware & appointments:
--- Chrome plated pickguard / electronics plate is etched with holographic checkerboard stripes
--- Stainless nickel-steel trapeeze tailpiece.
--- Rare tie-onto-neck guitar strap configuration with butt strap button but no front strap button; Voila
old school style.
The guitar is fully functional except the middle tone pot capacitor is shorted to ground (tone pot acts like a volume pot). Pots are smooth operating and quiet. Intonation sets well and guitar plays well.
--- String height / action could be better if neck / deck angle were increased with neck pocket shim;
Which would also bring strings closer to pickups for even greater dynamics.
--- Factory-absent strings ground can be facilitated by weaving a 4" length of ball-end guitar string
through the strings behind the trapeeze tailpiece and inserting the clipped end of the string under
the pickguard-electronics plate which serves as case ground.
--- A Player might prefer higher quality tuning machines rather than the existing economy / budget
quality tuners. I had no problems at all with the existing tuners when used properly but noticed
their cam lock gets loose when loosening their strings (ie. tune notes upward as is proper, not
downward where the cam lock geometry will lose it's grip).
--- A Collector, enthusiast or Player might desire to install a headstock logo plate such as the
"kelvinator" logo plate most-common to Kay Value Leaders; Although a Collector or Purist would
likely desire to leave the headstock without logo which is the original configuration of this jobber
--- Middle pickup's tone pot filter cap is shorted (tone pot acts like volume control).
--- Body finish has it's fair share of nominal surface wear marks, nicks, scuffs, etc.
--- Rear strap button missing. It was the common press-in plastic rear strap pin / button readily
available at most guitar outlets.
--- 1 volume knob non-original.
--- Switch knob is non-original. Dakaware lever switch knob is still quite available for under $10.
--- Tuners non-original? It is my opinion that these tuners are original to the guitar; A marketing
economy / budget minded part for a jobber guitar. If they are original then they would be an
excellent example of the beginning of parts being imported from Japan (theses are the rather
standard open strip tuners common on Japanese guitars of the 1960's and 1970's.-
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I will be delighted to find and replace the correct parts for this guitar, and / or set the guitar up to a Buyers preferences (and help him / her determine preferences if they don't already know), for an ADDITIONAL shop / labor fee of $100 PLUS the cost of parts which should be around $50.
KAY CATALOG DESCRIPTION:
Kay Value Leader (model number) 1963.
VALUE is a matter of getting the most for your money--whatever the price, You will find that though the Thinline Electrics (1, 2 and 3 pickup models) range in price from $69.95 to $169.50--each gives you the best in tone and looks for the money. Each is unbeatable for value.
#1963 has three powerful pickup units, each with its own separate tone and volume control. It is equipped with an instantaneous selector switch, which enables you to play each unit separately, or all three together. $99.95.
In the early 1950's, we at Kay pioneered the thin, semi-solid electric with the revolutionary--and very successful--"Thin Twin". Now, we feel we have perfected the semi-solid electric with the "THINLINE" ELECTRICS -- instruments made expressly for today's people, to express today's music. In sound, they combine the pure, brilliant tone of the electric, with the rich undertones of the acoustical guitar. In looks, they're an eyecatching, beautifully proportioned design--lightweight and slim (18" long, 13 1/2" wide, 1 3/4" slim). In playing quality, they give you a new, short (24 5/8") pro scale, for faster-than-ever fingering...a cutaway shape that makes the high notes easy to reach....and the most responsive electrical componants. Their value is unbeatable.
THE VALUE LEADER combines the best of our craftsman's skills, technicians' know-how and designer's flair that 50 years in the music business have taught us. Result: a superb instrument at the top-value price.
The body is laminated, crack-proof maple, and the slim neck is reinforced. The fingerboard is made of hard "rock" maple, and the five large position markers are hand-inlaid. Professional frets, extra-wide white celluloid binding on the top and back edges of the body, and an adjustable "rock" maple bridge. Nickel-plated trapeze tailpiece, and fine electric guitar strings. The finish is dark brown, with a shining sunburst on top and back.
Magnetic pickup units, newly designed, give great power and truer-than-ever brilliant electric tone.
The chrome-plated guardplate has an exclusive design. Covers of the pickup units are chrome-plated, and the knobs are a contrasting jet black.
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