After I was in my early days of researching guitar historical past, I embraced all types of guitars from far and wide, from kitchen countertop guitars to low-cost rusty resonator jobs. I actually had no focus in any way. Each matter, because it associated to guitars, was reasonably fascinating. Finally, although, I moved in direction of loopy electrics and away from folksy acoustics. I needed loud, fascinating, and uncommon, and in my eyes acoustic guitars had been all form of the identical. I do know, I do know … they aren’t the identical in any respect. However within the Nineteen Sixties, acoustic guitars had been copies of copies, they usually simply by no means actually held my curiosity. For this month, after I was tasked to write down about an acoustic guitar, the selection was simple since I solely personal one.
My acoustic guitar is an early Nineteen Sixties Kay mannequin that has seen its share of damage and stuck cracks. Primarily based on the scale, it’s most probably the Kay Plains Particular, with mahogany sides and a strong spruce prime. After I first noticed this worn-out previous boy with the artwork deco headstock, I may inform somebody actually cherished it. The neck has a stunning deep-V form, and despite the fact that the guitar was in disrepair, I needed to present it a second likelihood. So, off it went to a couple completely different techs who gave it a refretting (Kay used some fairly unhealthy frets), crack repairs on the highest, a neck reset, and a reglued bridge.
I suppose most people wouldn’t wish to put that type of cash into an affordable guitar, however, in my eyes, it’s like recycling. The Kay Musical Instrument Firm was considered one of two Chicago-based manufacturing behemoths, together with Concord. (Valco, the opposite notable Windy Metropolis-based instrument maker, merged with Kay in 1967.) Each corporations specialised in fascinating fare, typically geared in direction of newbies and intermediate gamers. I really like so lots of the previous Kay and Concord guitars.
Classic Kay Acoustic Demo with DeArmond Mannequin 210 Pickup
Hear guitarist Mike Dugan slide and strum on the writer’s Kay/DeArmond mixture.
With this acoustic, I knew what I wanted so as to add, and that got here from Toledo, Ohio. I’ve typically talked about that I grew up and stay close to the Martin Guitar Manufacturing facility in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. After I was a child, I took my first guitar classes at just a little music store referred to as the Nazareth Music Heart (and it’s nonetheless open for enterprise). All through the ’80s, as my love affair with guitars started to develop, I frequented the quaint little store that was a transformed two-story house. The ready room was the previous kitchen and the lesson rooms had been within the basement. On the primary flooring was a counter on the left and a few devices on the market on the correct … type of like a sitting room. I want I may journey again in time as a result of that retailer, again then, had amassed all types of stock from a number of many years of enterprise. One merchandise that all the time held my curiosity had been the blue and white containers of DeArmond pickups that had been nonetheless new within the package deal. These had been the early days of my curiosity in “hot-rodding” guitars and mixing and matching elements, so I ended up shopping for a couple of of those previous pickups.
The DeArmond Firm was began in Toledo by Harry DeArmond and, because the mid-Thirties, they specialised in guitar pickups that could possibly be hooked up to acoustic and archtop guitars. They undoubtedly stuffed a necessity, since electrical guitar reputation was simply across the bend. The corporate made all types of loopy pickups and nearly all of them sound wonderful.
My favourite of the previous DeArmond pickups is the mannequin 210, which all the time gave the impression to be probably the most highly effective sounding to my ears. Plus, this pickup is totally adjustable by way of the threads on the polepieces. There’s a complete laundry checklist of execs who’ve used the DeArmond 210, and I can perceive why—it simply has that classic sound constructed proper in. (After all, again then, that sound was up to date!) I exploit this pickup with my previous Kay as a slide participant with open tunings.
There’s a lesson right here for all you acoustic gamers that shun the brand new and fancy and modern. Take an previous American-made acoustic and an previous American-made pickup, and you actually have one thing.