The Bluesbox Collection

Kay Kraft Venetian Model - Style A (c.1933)

This model was Kay's stab at high style. It was designed by an Italian born violin maker named Joseph Zorzi (1878-1977) who had worked twenty-nine years for crosstown Chicago rival, Lyon & Healy, adding fancy inlay to their Washburn brand presentation guitars. The original finish would have been a tobacco sunburst with a gilt foliate decal fillagree around the bottom side of the lower bout, but when I received it, it had been painted black all over. I stripped off the black paint and refinished the guitar by lightly staining the face then applying 3 coats on lacquer. This close-up of the face shows the pickguard I carved to match what would have been on it originally, and the original wrap-around trapeze style tailpiece, which was badly corroded before I polished it up.

The back and sides are made from highly figured, fiddleback mahogany, which designates this one as a "Style A" (Styles B and C used maple and rosewood, respectively). The sides are similarly flamed. The neck is also maple, and is the only part of the instrument I left black. I installed a set of Kluson knock-off tuners. The neck attachment is a wonder! This curved bushing allows the neck angle to be adjusted, by loosening a giant wingnut accessable through the sound hole. The peg head is faced with simulated mother of pearl (sometimes referred to as "mother of toilet seat" by collectors) and trimmed with gold stencil, which has faded away to some extent. One of the interesting things about this guitar is that it is the only arch top I own that has a twelve-fret neck. This gives it a "Maccafferri-like" tone - very brassy with a lot of punch.

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