1930's Kay?

Discussion in 'Vintage Gretsch Discussion' started by J Bird, May 22, 2021.

  1. J Bird

    J Bird Synchromatic

    My neighbor got this when his good old friend died last year. I want to fix it up, but the neck separation might be problematic.

    Any insights as to age, brand or model?

    Is it worth having the neck professionally reset?
    20210522_091030.jpg 20210522_090706.jpg
    Outlaw, S.R.Cash, thunder58 and 2 others like this.
  2. wildeman

    wildeman I Bleed Orange

    May 10, 2015
    The classic Kay fix is a big old wood screw through the heel into the block. You can do it nicely and cover the head with an inlay or dowell. The guitar is not worth paying somebody to do a neck reset but watch a couple vid's and you may find you can do it yourself. I love these kinda guitars by the way and they are definitely worth fixing up, just not worth a bunch of money, but that dont mean much.
    Oh yeah, that is without doubt a Kay.
    bigjohnbates, rake_ether and J Bird like this.
  3. J Bird

    J Bird Synchromatic

    Perfect, thanks for the info. I'll give it a shot.
  4. wildeman

    wildeman I Bleed Orange

    May 10, 2015
    Cool, sometimes when the heel is pulled up like that it don't take much effort to get the neck off, you may be able to rock it side to side and tap the heel with a mallet once its loose.
    Outlaw and J Bird like this.
  5. wildeman

    wildeman I Bleed Orange

    May 10, 2015
    This is a Kay that im working on, yours will look similar. 20210522_120026.jpg
    Outlaw, Archtops, new6659 and 2 others like this.
  6. mr coffee

    mr coffee Country Gent

    Oct 7, 2009
    It can be done right without driving a screw through the heel. Could be a good project to learn how to do a neck reset. My dad did a Supertone from the same era that belonged to my grandmother on my mom's side, it's not perfect but it's good and it's playable. As with any such project, go slowly, think about each move before you make it. Use hide glue to put it back together - it's a pain but it's the right thing to use and with good reason. I'd love to find an old Kay like that, it's what my dad learned on.

  7. oneforsorrow

    oneforsorrow Synchromatic

    May 15, 2020
    A quick trip to Dusty Strings for a consult might not be a bad idea? I had Mike Lull's shop do a couple of neck resets for me before he passed and the work was absolutely top notch. Not sure who actually did them but if you want it done by a pro, I'd hunt those guys down.
    mrfixitmi, J Bird and MotorCentaur like this.
  8. TV the Wired Turtle

    TV the Wired Turtle Gretschified

    Jul 25, 2009
    Sandy Eggo
    Guitars like this are ancient american woods, and worth a neck reset. Play them, love them.. pure history and full of songs! my model 57 kay/Aristocrat was totally worth reseting. I play it all the time.
    mrfixitmi, J Bird and lathoto like this.
  9. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    Best with your project @J Bird
  10. J Bird

    J Bird Synchromatic

    I see myself taking it to a professional. It's got too much intrinsic value for me to perform some kitchen table hack job.

    I may take it to Dusty Strings. There is also a small full-service shop in Bonney Lake, B Natural Music, that can give me a consult.
    Outlaw, slickfaster and mrfixitmi like this.
  11. mrfixitmi

    mrfixitmi Country Gent

    Mar 20, 2010
    Certainly take it in for a second opinion. More than likely, the woods used in this guitar are almost unobtainable. These necks are known to warp. It is a blessing that it is almost removed. If it were me, I would take it to someone who will be able to recut the neck or add a shim if needed, and reset it. This will increase the value because it will be a pleasure to play. But that is my opinion.

    Believe it or not, there is a demand for old guitars that are playable including Kay, Voisinet, Hofners, and Zenith, you will be surprised. People have realized that the quality of wood in the old days was excellent.
    new6659 and J Bird like this.
  12. oneforsorrow

    oneforsorrow Synchromatic

    May 15, 2020
    Wise choice. I've got a 1930's Slingerland May Bell and I've spent about 10x it's "value" between the custom case and the neck reset/refret jobs. Come to think of it, it actually came from Dusty Strings -- I didn't even think of that when I first suggested them for your repair.
    MrWookiee, mrfixitmi and J Bird like this.
  13. J Bird

    J Bird Synchromatic

    I'm taking it in today for a prognosis. I found the serial number. Presuming it gets fixed, what strings shall I put on it?
    Also, the Butterbean tuning knobs are falling apart. Should I replace the tuners or just the knobs?
    Last edited: May 24, 2021
  14. slickfaster

    slickfaster Country Gent

    Dec 29, 2009
    Lol... just put a screw in It!!
    Your dear friends memory is worth getting it done correctly...
    If you can’t afford to do it put it off till you have the $$$. Bet you won’t regret it!!
    Beautiful guitar...
    J Bird and mrfixitmi like this.
  15. J Bird

    J Bird Synchromatic

    The owner of the shop pushed against the neck to check for slop and there was none. Perhaps someone glued the neck in place. More and more, I'm thinking, especially since it will most likely just hang on the wall of my neighbor's cabin, that I should leave it as is and just string it up to open G and call it a slide guitar.
  16. wildeman

    wildeman I Bleed Orange

    May 10, 2015
    So, looks like everybody on this Gretsch forum is aghast at the thought of putting a screw through the heel........LOL:rolleyes:
    J Bird likes this.
  17. Archtops

    Archtops Country Gent

    Mar 4, 2021
    I’d steam the neck, including the tongue of the FB and fix whatever allowed it to come undone. You can use Titebond Original glue because it can be separated with heat.
    J Bird likes this.
  18. J Bird

    J Bird Synchromatic

    My man Matt, at B Natural, encouraged me to have him do the neck reset. After sleeping on it, I've decided to give him the go-ahead.

    He supposes that the glue flowed and then hardened due to environmental conditions. So, he'll be steaming the neck off and do the repair.

    wildeman, if circumstances were different, I'd definitely consider screwing the heel down. Thankfully, at this point in my life, I can afford to have it done professionally.

    I figure I'll replace the tuners, too. Matt, the tech, thinks it may be a war-time guitar, as the crumbling knobs indicate that they were lower quality plastic (celluloid) due to the war effort. The tuners themselves and the brass frets point more toward the 1950s, as far as my research takes me.
  19. bigjohnbates

    bigjohnbates Gretschie

    Jun 15, 2011
    I have something similar with the same issue. Solved by putting a bolt thru the neck with sort of a claw for a nut and using glue to fill the space. Then tightened and clamped for a couple days. Seems to have worked. The tech I brought it to told me it would cost as much as the guitar was worth to repair it professionally with no guarantee of the eventual outcome.
    J Bird likes this.
  20. mr coffee

    mr coffee Country Gent

    Oct 7, 2009
    In my opinion, it's not really a question of what the guitar is "worth." There are a finite number of those old guitars out there, and that number will continue to get smaller over time. No, they're not "highly desirable" like pre-war Martins or Gibsons, but they have a cool factor that is unique, and there are plenty of people who would like to get their hands on one. When there is an opportunity to keep one playable, I feel like there is justification in doing it right for its own sake. There's probably a point as you move toward cheaper brands and lesser quality builds at which I'd begin to say differently, but I think the old Kays, Harmonies, Supertones, and similar brands have at least some value, although perhaps not value best expressed in terms of dollars.

    J Bird likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.