The Kay Musical Instrument Company was established in Chicago in 1931 by Henry Kay Kuhrmeyer. It offered its first electric guitar in 1936 – the same year as Gibson’s ES-150 – although Kuhrmeyer’s Stromberg-Voisinet brand was responsible for what was arguably the world’s first commercially available electric Spanish guitar, the Stromberg Electro, back in 1928.
Kay went on to manufacture numerous electric guitars with its own branding and for other Chicago-based instrument brands and major department stores. This rare 1950s archtop was once owned by Alex Trimble from Northern Irish indie-rockers Two Door Cinema Club and, after being sold via the band’s official Reverb store, made its way to Matt’s Guitar Shop in Paris, where it’s currently available for the relatively affordable sum of €1,299.
It’s a hugely vibey instrument with a chunky neck and a woody old-school archtop tone. Like many a 1950s Goldtop or ES-295, the bronze particles suspended in the gold paint have oxidised over the decades and the resulting verdigris has given this Kay a striking patina.
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