• Kay Vintage Reissue

    Kay Classics Reborn

  • Barney Kessel

    Jazz Guitar Signature Series

    More Info
  • Thin Twin

    The Jimmy Reed Guitar

    Learn More
  • Jazz II

    Super Thin Jazz Guitar

    More Info
  • Pro Bass

    Kay's Big Electronic Bass Guitar

    Learn More
  • Jazz Special Bass

    Double Cutaway Monster

    More Info
  • Shop Kay Reissue

    Kay Official Online Shop

    Shop Kay

THE KAY GUITAR COMPANY

The Extensive and Complete Story.

The Kay guitar company's origins date back to the 1890's, starting with the Groeschel Mandolin Company of Chicago, Illinois. The company's name was changed to "Stromberg-Voisinet" in 1921, and shortlyafterwards, in 1923, Henry Kay "Hank" Kuhrmeyer (the origin of the name "Kay") joined the company and quickly worked his way up to the top. By 1928, Kuhrmeyer had bought the company and that same year the company started producing electric guitars and amps.

Kay was indeed one of the earliest American manufacturers of electric guitars. Things progressed, and by 1934, the company was officially known as the "Kay Musical Instrument Company". The company became larger and more successful over the years, leading to the addition of a new factory in Elk Grove Village, Illinois in 1964. But somehow by 1965, the company had hit rough times and was bought by Seeburg, a jukebox manufacturer that sold Kay to Valco in 1967.

Kay/Valco went out of business soon afterwards, and in 1969 its assets were auctioned off. Syl Weindling and Barry Hornstein of W.M.I. (the main importer of Teisco Del Rey products) purchased the Kay brand name during this time. As a result of this, the names "Teisco" and "Kay" were used on Teisco Del Rey guitars for a while in the early 70's. In 1980 the Kay Guitar Company was purchased by Tony Blair and is currently active selling Kay brand and Santa Rosa brand guitars, Chicago Blues harmonicas and accessories and of course the Kay Vintage Reissue line of professional guitars and basses.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kay manufactured guitars under several different brandnames, so for those interested here is our best attempt to match some of the more common brandnames to the stores that distributed them:

               - Airline - distributed by Montgomery Wards
               - Barclay - Unity Buying Service
               - Beltone - distributed by Monroe or P&H
               - Custom Kraft - St. Louis Music
               - Holiday - distributed by Aldens
               - Old Kraftsman - distributed by Spiegel
               - Orpheum - distributed by Wards Catalogue
               - Penncrest - distributed by J.C. Penney
               - Sherwood Deluxe - Montgomery Wards
               - Silvertone - Sears & Roebuck
               - Supertone - Sears & Roebuck
               - Suprema - distributed by Eaton's Canada
               - Truetone - distributed by Western Auto



KAY VINTAGE REISSUE

The Greatest Kays Ever Made!


The Kay Guitar Company has been the major producer of guitars since 1890. Most players do not realize that in 1928, Kay was the first company to start production of electric guitars in the USA. From 1952 through 1964, The Kay Guitar Company excelled at producing quality professional electric guitars with unique designs and features. The Kay Gold Line professional series became synonymous with that rich gutsy Blues/Jazz sound that eventually became known as Rock and Roll. This unique Blues sound was not available from any other guitar of that time. For the past decade, vintage Kay instruments have been fetching high prices and have had increasing interest from collectors and players because of the cool look and unique Blues/Jazz sound. Part of this special Blues sound came from the triple chamber design and the hand-wound blade pickups on the Kay K161V Thin Twin and the Kay K162V Electronic "Pro Bass" Guitar.

The K161 Kay Thin Twin electric guitar was originally introduced in 1952 and was known as the "Jimmy Reed" or "Howling' Wolf" model. "T-Bone" Burnett played a Thin Twin with Robert Plant and Alison Krauss at the 2009 Grammy Awards. The Thin Twin was the first guitar that was able to create that unique Blues sound. The special Kay interior bracing made the instrument a favorite among Blues players as well as rockers of the '50s and & '60s. The hand-wound pickups and separate center chamber allowed an extra biting natural distortion without feedback. The combination was a mellow clean gritty sound with natural sustain. The pickups are so hot that they needed to be contained in the center chamber, which is why the Twin Thin and Pro Bass made anyone who played it feel there was nothing else like it. The Pro Bass had a unique feature of a switch that cut off the high frequencies to reproduce an "upright Bass" sound but in the off position the Pro Bass gives a punchy Jazz sound. The Pro Bass comes with electric flatwound bass strings.

So why now?

At Kay, we knew this project was not just assembling parts and a Kay "Kel-von-a-tor" chevron headstock logo and calling it a Kay Vintage Reissue. The 1950's guitars of that time not only have a special look, but a special sound. To just make another mass-produced vintage looking guitar, as other companies have already done, was not enough. Only an electric guitar that could duplicate the '50s sound would be successful. To remake the products in the United States was a challenge, but it was more of a challenge to reproduce the instrument off-shore and still maintain the necessary strict quality control. The Vintage Reissue Line sat on the back burner for many years until all the components were able to come together. The Vintage Kay Reissue project came alive when Roger Fritz came into the picture.

Along comes Roger Fritz.

Roger Fritz is a professional luthier who makes guitars and basses for musicians like George Harrison and Randy Jackson. Roger is also a bass player who fell in love with the old Kay 1950's bass after having a friend recommend he play one. Roger, who had worked for Gibson in Nashville on their Bluegrass instruments, created his own company, Fritz Brothers Guitars in Alabama is making custom hand-made instruments for professional players worldwide. Roger was so enamored with the sound of the Kay (K162V) Pro Bass that he developed a clone and made them available for sale under the Fritz name. Roger Fritz was the missing link that was needed to make the project a reality: a Luthier that had a love for the instruments to be produced. Roger joined our team in early 2007 to help create and develop all the parts and features that made the Kay products different from all the rest. Most of the parts and molds were no longer available so everything had to be created from scratch. The pickguards, the knobs, the hand wound pickups, the tailpiece, and even the baseball bat style toggle switch cover all had to be manufactured using original parts as templates for the new reissued versions. Finding the parts was difficult and surprisingly expensive since we needed to search stores, eBay and contact collectors to find perfect originals to reproduce. The going price for a good vintage Jazz Special Bass today is $7,000. But after finding the parts and vintage instruments from avid collectors like Gary Walko, Vintage Kay historians like Michael Wright and Jay Scott, and dozens of avid fans, the project was able to take form.

KAY VINTAGE CATALOGS & FLYERS

Enjoy our nearly complete collection of rare catalogs and flyers.
For schooling on models & dates, courtesy of Michael Wright, click link icon

Need Help Recognizing a Kay Headstock?
Click link icon to visit our headstock gallery

KAY ARTISTS & PLAYERS

Kay Guitars have been played by some of the world's most recognizable musicians. From Paul McCartney, Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton..... the list goes on. Featured below are some of Kay's notable artists and players, past and present.

To see a full list of Kay players, please visit the link below.
KAY PLAYER'S LIST

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney
K5970

Barney Kessel

Barney Kessel
K8700

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton
K775

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow
K162

Jack White

Jack White
K148

T Bone Burnett

T Bone Burnett
K161

Tom Petty

Tom Petty
K8700

Colin Linden

Colin Linden
K161

Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello
K162

Jimmy Reed

Jimmy Reed
K161

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan
K161

Sarah McLachlan

Sarah McLachlan
K775

Jimmy Vivino

Jimmy Vivino
K161

J.R. Rose

J.R. Rose
K1160 Music Note

Davey Farager

Davey Farager
K162

Ardy Sarraf

Ardy Sarraf
K5970

Gaby Moreno

Gaby Moreno
K161

Leslie Lowe

Leslie Lowe
K162

Randy Jackson

Randy Jackson
K162 Custom

Sean Hurley

Sean Hurley
K162

KAY COMPLETE PLAYERS LIST

...and our family keeps growing!

Louis Allen
Phil Alvin, (The Blasters)
Chet Atkins
Beck
Bill Black, (Elvis Presley)
Francis Hillman "Scrapper" Blackwell
T Bone Burnett
Bob Casale, (Devo)
Eric Clapton
Anne Erin "Annie" Clark, (St. Vincent)
Ry Cooder
Elvis Costello
Sheryl Crow
Arthur Crudup
Robert DeLeo, (Stone Temple Pilots)
Dean DeLeo, (Stone Temple Pilots)
Bob Dylan
John Fogerty, (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
Jerry Garcia, (The Grateful Dead)
Dave Grohl, (The Foo Fighters)
Buddy Guy
George Harrison, (The Beatles)
Alvin Youngblood Hart
Jimi Hendrix
James Hetfield, (Metallica)
Roscoe Holcomb
John Lee Hooker
Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins
Sean Hurley, (John Mayer/Alicia Keyes)
Randy Jackson
Elmore James
Joan Jett
Darryl Jones, (Rolling Stones/Miles Davis)
Barney Kessel
Mark Knopfler, (Dire Straits)
Colin Linden, (Session Guitarist, Producer, Nashville T.V. Show)
Joe Hill Louis
Paul McCartney, (The Beatles/Wings)
Sarah McLachlan
George "Daddy Hot Cakes" Montgomery
Gary Moore (Thin Lizzy)
Tom Morello, (Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave)
Brad Paisley
Sam Pallidio, (Nashville T.V. Show)
Tom Petersson, (Cheap Trick)
Tom Petty, (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers)
Elvis Presley
Jimmy Reed
Keith Richards, (The Rolling Stones)
Mike Rutherford, (Genesis)
Rudy Sarzo, (Whitesnake/Quiet Riot)
Jose Silva
Bruce Springsteen
Paul Stanley, (KISS)
Pete Townshend, (The Who)
Jeff Tweedy, (Wilco)
Jimmy Vivino, (The Conan O'Brien Show)
Joe Walsh, (The Eagles)
Jack White, (The White Stripes)
Brad Whitford, (Aerosmith)
Robert Pete Williams
Big Joe Williams
Howlin' Wolf



KAY REISSUE DEALERS
( Listed Alphabetically By State )


A-M



CALIFORNIA


Alvas Music
1417 W. Eighth Street
San Pedro, CA 90732
Phone- (310) 403-3447
Fax- (310) 831-6110
info@alvas.com
www.alvasmusic.com

Sam Ash Music CA
7360 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Phone- (323) 850-1050
www.samashmusic.com

TrueTone Music
714 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
sales@truetonemusic.com
www.truetonemusic.com
(310) 393-8232

ILLINOIS


Rock N Roll Vintage
4727 N. Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
rocknrollvintage@gmail.com
www.rocknrollvintage.com
(773) 878-8616

KENTUCKY


Blackrider Guitars
208 Rosemont Garden
Lexington, KY 40503
(859) 278-8684
bvg@blackriderguitars.com
www.blackriderguitars.com

MAINE


Buckdancer's Choice Music Co.
248 St. John St.
Portland, ME 04102
(207) 774-2219
sales@buckdancerschoice.com
www.buckdancerschoice.com

Musictoyz.
60 Grey Road
Falmouth, ME 04105
(207) 774-2219
info@musictoyz.com
www.musictoyz.com

MICHIGAN


Elderly Instruments
1100 N. Washington
Lansing, MI 48906
(517) 372-7890
elderly@elderly.com
www.elderly.com

N-Z



NEW YORK


Rudy's Music Stop
169 West 48th Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 625-2557
sales@rudysmusic.com
www.rudysmusic.com

Sam Ash Music NY
333 West 34th St.
New York, NY 10001
(212) 719-2299
www.samashmusic.com

NEW JERSEY


Guitar Boutique
611 Bergen Blvd
Ridgefield, NJ 07657
(201) 945-5577
guitarboutique611@gmail.com
www.guitarboutique611.com

NORTH CAROLINA


Sound Pure
808 Washington St
Durham, NC 27701
sales@soundpure.com
www.soundpure.com
(919) 682-5552

OHIO


Woodsy's
110 West Liberty St.
Medina, OH 44256-4402
(330) 725-8575
greg@woodsys.com
www.woodsys.com

OREGON


Old Town Music
55 SE 11th
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 295-6808
oldtownmusicportland@gmail.com
www.oldtownmusicportland.com

TENNESSEE


Gruhn Guitars
400 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37203
gruhn@gruhn.com
www.gruhn.com
(615) 256-2033

TEXAS


Austin Vintage Guitars
1112 S. Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 428-9100
austinvintageguitars@yahoo.com
www.austinvintageguitars.com

WISCONSIN


Cream City Music
12505 West Bluemound Rd.
Brookfield, WI 53005
(800) 800-0087
service@creamcitymusic.com
www.creamcitymusic.com

INTERNET


Musician's Friend
www.musiciansfriend.com

CANADA

ALBERTA


Acoustic Music Shop
9934 - 82Ave.
Edmonton, AB Canada T6E 1Y9
folks@acousticmusicshop.com
www.acousticmusicshop.com
(780) 433-3545

INT'L

U.K.


Cranes Musical Instruments
5A High Street
Cardiff
CF10 1AW
Tel +44 2920 399205
Fax +44 2920 378221
E-mail: gabriel@cranes.co.uk
Internet: www.cranesmusicstore.com

Italy


FRENEXPORT s.r.l.
Via Enzo Ferrari, 10
62017 - Porto Recanati (MC) - Italia
Partita Iva 00260710439
Tel: +39 071 7595011
Fax: +39 071 7595099
info@frenexport.it www.frenexport.it

Japan


NIHON ELECTRO-HARMONIX
3-37 Hara-Machi
Shinjuku-ku
162-0053
info@electroharmonix.co.jp
www.electroharmonix.co.jp
Tel: +81 (0) 3 3232 7601

CONTACT US

We love our customers and strive to be as helpful in answering any and all questions you may have about our company. For general questions or comments, please use the form below and we'll get back to you in a timely manner!

Please do not use this contact form to ask questions about an old or current Kay guitar you may own.
Use the "Tell Me About My Kay" form provided at this link I.D. MY KAY


We cannot appraise any instrument nor are we collectors and do not buy "Vintage Kay Guitars".
We do not carry parts for any old Kay's that are not Vintage Reissues (see models that are reissued on our website).







Register Your New Kay

This form is for NEW Kay Vintage Reissue Instruments Only.
We do not accept registrations for original pre-2009 instruments.
We cannot honor warranties for any instruments other than brand new Kay Vintage Reissue instruments.



WANT TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR KAY?
WE MAY BE ABLE TO HELP


Online Assessment Form

Please fill out the form below with as much information as you have about your instrument. Make sure, and this is important, to upload at least 4 photos of your instrument including front, back, headstock face and headstock back. If you have an acoustic guitar, please also include the sound hole label.

We cannot appraise any instrument nor are we collectors and do not buy "Vintage Kay Guitars". We do not carry parts for any old Kay's that are not Vintage Reissues (see models that are reissued on our website).

Parts made for the Kay Vintage Reissues may not fit or lineup with the original and we do not guarantee that our part will fit your guitar. We do sell SELECTED parts and hard shell cases for the following: K161V Thin Twin, K775V Jazz II, K162V Pro Bass, K5970V Jazz Special Bass, K1700V Barney Kessel Pro, K6700V Barney Kessel Artist and K8700V Barney Kessel Jazz Special.


Copyright © 2018 Kay Guitar Company