Kay Guitars unveils reissues of Barney Kessel signature models

Recreations of three jazz guitars from the 50s.

Kay Guitar Company Barney Kessel Signature Reissue

Kay Guitar Company has reissued three Barney Kessel signature models: the K1700V Pro, K6700V Artist and K8700V Jazz Special.

Kessel, a legendary figure in jazz guitar history, had originally worked with Kay Guitar on three hollowbodies in the late 50s. Taking cues from their forebears, these reissues are a hat tip to the Wrecking Crew axeman. Here’s a closer look:

Elements from the original

Kay Guitar Barney Kessel reissue K6700V Artist
The K6700V Artist

The three reissues share features inspired by the original Kessels. The Artist and Jazz Special each sport a Bat Wing-shaped lucite pickguard with a gold leaf Barney Kessel signature and gold “K” chevron emblem. The Pro’s lucite pickguard, however, only features Kessel’s signature.

Other familiar elements include a Kelvinator headstock (a nod to Kelvinator refrigerators of the era) and a pair of gold, Kleenex box-shaped single-coils voiced for a warm 50s tone. These pups can be shaped by four reflector “radio knobs” – two volume and two tone – as well as a three-way pickup selector.

Design specifications

Kay Guitar Barney Kessel reissue K8700V Jazz Special
The K8700V Jazz Special

All three axes feature a single-cut, arched top hollowbody build. The Artist and Jazz Special have a parabolic arched flame maple back, flame maple sides and a three-ply spruce top with f-holes. The Pro shares similar tonewood specs, but features a three-ply flame maple top instead.

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All three guitars have a 24.75-inch scale length. Their body widths, however, differ. They measure 13-, 15.6- and 17-inches for the Pro, the Artist and the Jazz Special respectively.

Kay Guitar Barney Kessel reissue K1700V Pro
The K1700V Pro

All three models are available in Natural Blonde and Tobacco Sunburst finishes. The Pro has an added option of a Jet Black finish.

Each guitar lists from $800. More info at kayvintagereissue.com.

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