c.1940 KAY SMALL GUITAR with floral decoration

Sometimes you just luck out!

I bought this small guitar quite a few years ago now, and it had been sitting ever since in an old guitar case.  I bought it because it cost very little and I do like small guitars. It is made by the Kay Musical Instrument Company in Chicago. It had 2 horizontal braces on the top between the bridge and the base of the guitar (end pin end). A tell-tale trait of Kay’s, as is the style of bridge.

With the reasonable degree of workmanship, it has a spruce top and birch back and sides, with celluloid on the top and back edges.  Also 14 frets above the body and floral decoration that is either decal (decalcomania) or silk screened.  I’d say the guitar dates to about 1940. (See this post for information about decalcomania).

Fingerboard before

The floral decoration was originally all the way up the fret board, but it was removed to give the fret board some radius.  The fret-board is a beautiful hardwood which could be rosewood.

It is only 34 ¼” (87cms) total length and it has a 21 ¾“ scale. It is an unusually small size and here it is compared to a regular Weymann  ‘parlor’ guitar, total length 37” (94cms).

Left: Small Floral decorated Kay guitar, c.1940’s, Right: Weymann ‘Parlor’ Guitar c.1900

Recently I was thinking about a first guitar for my granddaughter, and I thought of this guitar.  I took a bit of a gamble and had it X-braced, neck reset and a re-fret, plus everything re-glued that needed re-gluing.  The bridge and tuners were OK.

Well pleasant surprise!  With some extra light (.010 – .041) steel strings it sounds really, really, nice.  I love it, and so does my granddaughter!


So here’s a couple of short youtube clips of my friend Mali playing it:

Thanks for stopping by

Charles aka Chaitanya das

5 thoughts on “c.1940 KAY SMALL GUITAR with floral decoration

  1. Yep. Fortune smiled on you that day, Charley. As the old sayin’ goes, “Even an old blind hog’ll find an acorn once in a while.” When you come to Texas, bring it with you. I’d like to strum a tune on it…if these poor old fingers still work. Best wishes, my friend.

    1. Thank you Guy and Brent for your comments. Guitars are not my whole life but nice ones sure make me smile 🙂

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