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Another Oddball Orphan Comes Home


zombywoof

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I have sworn to lay off these guitars. I keep telling myself to stash my loot away and use it to buy a nice new J-15 or something. Once again though I have been seduced by one of those strange little guitars that somehow manages to seek me out and move in with me for a bit.

 

The latest is one not only had I never run across but never even heard of - a Kay Kraft Resonator. I have played a bunch of pre-War Kay resos but never one with the Kay Kraft moniker on the headstock. Slothead 14 fret neck guitar with a fancy zipper binding. Don't have a clue when it was made but the name Kay Kraft generally disappears before 1934. This would place the guitar in the same time period Kay was making the bodies and necks for the National El Trovador (1932-1933). But this one has a Shireson Brothers cone and coverplate. As best I can describe it the cone is a Dobro style (like a bowl) but with a tall thin biscuit bridge. Although Shireson patented their design in 1932, National Dobro successfully sued them running Shireson out of business around 1937.

 

So what was I to do. Paid a couple hundred dollars north of stupid for it but I figured what the heck. The sound is kind of a combination of a Dobro and National. Warm sounding but not the loudest reso I have ever played. If anything it has a banjo vibe to it.

 

Anyway, here is a quick pic.

 

aKayKraftReso_zps13df227f.jpg

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Coolest of the Cool, ZombiWoof!

 

 

 

The body/neck are a ringer for my National Trojan - I will dredge a photo up later.

 

 

 

Open G tuning?

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

 

 

Cool! I have always had a real fondness for wood body Nationals. I gather the only one they made themselves was the Triolian.

 

The Trojans were, of course, made by Harmony. When National found out Kay was building bodies and necks for their competitors they were none too pleased so went to Harmony to start building bodies and necks in 1934.

 

Right now it is in Open D as I have been messing around with the Stones "Prodigal Son" and Son House's "Pony Blues."

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I don't blame you for buying that resonator. Once you get hooked on the sound of them, especially if you play a little "slide" on it, it's easy to want another one. You probably paid a decent price for it if it's in pretty fair shape. The pics look like it's in good shape for the shape its in. Enjoy.

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ZW, that music room is looking a bit crowded. Can you even get to that grand piano to play it?

 

 

I wish that was my music room - we took the picture down in a music store owned by a friend. He only has two rooms and that Chickering Grand takes up about 1/3 of one of them. I did figure though somebody would ask what was in the very distinct brown Lifton guitar case in the background. But to me this is exactly what a music store should look like.

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While we're talking about oddball resonators, here's my 1940 Harmony. Looks to me like a different body than the National Trojan, I didn't know that Harmony had a history making resonators - always wondered how this guitar came about. The plate has small lettering that says "Licensed by National Dobro Corp". It really needs a neck reset or something but has a nice, woody tone that I really like. It's very light but seems sturdy with a plywood top and thick neck, so I use it when I travel. BTW, that "woodgrain" is airbrushed on, and the binding is painted on. It was made to be inexpensive, no doubt.

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I have the same problem. If I can get it for less than 200 anything's game.

 

Latest example from CL this weekend.

 

I felt like I was yard shoppin' with BK777

 

I think the case is worth more than the mandolin

 

IMG_0316_zps5e72604f.jpg

 

IMG_0317_zpsb5cbc258.jpg

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I found another of SlimT's hubcaps....

 

 

 

1936? National Trojan photo as promised...

 

 

 

 

Lawdy, you do have some nice guitars. I have played some absolutely killer Trojans. I know one of the ways to narrow down the date on these is whether they have a neck stick or not. The earlier ones do not and the later ones do. Also, if I recall the body style amd headstock changed.

 

Very, very nice.

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While we're talking about oddball resonators, here's my 1940 Harmony. Looks to me like a different body than the National Trojan, I didn't know that Harmony had a history making resonators - always wondered how this guitar came about. The plate has small lettering that says "Licensed by National Dobro Corp".

 

 

Harmony loved slapping those faux finishes over birch. Starting in 1934, Harmony made the bodies and necks for the National Trojan (like BK's), Estralita and Rosita although I think Regal also got into the act. National and Dobro, of course, merged in 1932.

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Zomby - Your Kay Kraft looks terrific!

 

Back in the late '70s & early '80s, I'd go after this stuff like mad at flea markets, and recall picking up a solid topped Kay archtop & mandolin from the '30s. Also a very ornate Harmony Cremona with a carved solid top from the '30s, a carved solid topped Wards with X-bracing made by Gibson (a personal favorite - also from the '30s), solid Brazilian rosewood parlor guitars, etc.

 

Though I've lost the drive to go down those roads, you make it clear that some very cool pots of gold still remain!

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Lawdy, you do have some nice guitars. I have played some absolutely killer Trojans. I know one of the ways to narrow down the date on these is whether they have a neck stick or not. The earlier ones do not and the later ones do. Also, if I recall the body style amd headstock changed.

 

Very, very nice.

 

 

Thanks ZW.

 

I walked into the best music shop near me to try whatever it was that I had read about, and my eye went straight to the Trojan hanging on the wall among all the brand new National Resos way down the end of the shop! It must have belonged to one of their friends as they don't really like used guitars competing with their new guitar sales.

 

I played 3 notes on it and said to the guy that I am pretty sure this guitar has my name on it. I also probably payed way too much, but...

 

Michael Messer and Mark Makin kindly dated it to 1936 for me.

 

It sounds sensational, but it is set up high for 'slide only', so needs a setup for my style. It is also like driving an old car - you don't really know what is going on sometimes, but you do KNOW is sounds expensive. It can buzz and rattle one day and the next day play beautifully. I think there may be a large black spider in the cone area! So once the guitar tech gets his hands on it, well, where would he start?

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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Remember what Ry Cooder once said about his Gibson B45-12? Some days it sounded great and others like there was an armadillo inside of it (hence the graphic on the first LP).

 

In all the decades I have played I have only ever owned two other resonators a 1930 Style O (with steel body) and a 1932 Duolian. I have played a bunch of wood body resonators but this is the first one I ever brought home. Now I am thinking what took me so long. I never really set them up for bottleneck. I like a slightly higher action on all of my guitars anyway and just strung them with heavier gauge.

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