1960′s Vintage Ads for Kay Electric Guitars & Amps


Kay Musical Instruments of Chicago was the first company in 1962 to manufacture guitar amps that were 100% solid-state electronics. Here are some vintage advertisements from that time period.

The first ad, Transistorized Amplifiers, I found as a JPEG somewhere on the Internet years ago. Unfortunately I can’t remember where I found it, and can no longer find the source to give proper credit. If anyone knows, please give a shout. The second ad, Kay Vanguard, features the 1966 Kay Vanguard Electric Guitar and 704 Vanguard Amp, and was purchased from a seller on eBay.

Transistorized Amplifiers — An Exclusive

• Space Age Technology and Design

Published 1965. Triumph of top designers, engineers–and Kay! . . . Makes all others obsolete!

A real break-through in guitar amplification… Brought to you FIRST BY KAY. These Space Age transistorized amplifiers have so many long-hoped-for advantages, no serious musician will rest until he has one. First, they eliminate the annoying microphonics of vacuum tubes, giving you  stable, uniform true sound never affected by vibrations or voltage variations. What a boon for recording artists! Here, too, is reliable performance that eliminates tube-changing annoyance… performance that can be counted on through the most exacting engagements. And here is the most instantaneous sound with no need for warm-up or standby switch. Note, too, the new Kay easy-to-reach slant control panel and exclusive tapered cabinets. Then add to all this Space Age efficiency the further advantages of lighter weight and compact beauty of design and you’ll say Kay transistorized amplifiers deserve all the honors.

Kay Vanguard Electric Guitar and Amplifier

• Professional Sound & Style… On a Budget

Published 1966. Kay presents the most professional sound in an electric guitar and amplifier ever offered for under $200…

You can sound like the “pros” and look the part with this beautiful new Kay Vanguard Vibrato Electric Guitar and Vibrato Amplifier… And you get the exclusive “Thin-Lite” neck with adjustable truss rod for lightning fast action, vibrato tailpiece (for modern sound effects), 6 keys on one side, separate tone and volume control, adjustable rosewood bridge, inlaid position markers, shaded cherry red finish… Kay Musical Instruments— Division of Seeburg Musical Instruments, 2201 W. Arthur. Elk Grove Village, Ill. 60007.

A Briefcase Full of Blues

Kay 704A Guitar Amp with Tremolo

1965 Kay 704 Vanguard Vibrato

Find the full review here: Kay 704 Review

The Kay 704 Vanguard with Vibrato was the world’s first all transistor solid-state guitar amp, introduced by Kay Musical Instruments in 1962. Based on traditional tube amp design of that period, the vacuum tubes were replaced in the hand-wired circuits with seven germanium transistors and four diodes.

I bought this from a guy on eBay. According to the date codes found on the potentiometers, it’s a 1965 model. Completely original. A 5-watt wonder. A single front-loaded 8″ Oxford Alnico speaker. Not a whole lot of lower mid-range. But then again, no low end speaker flab either. The tone of this amp makes me think of Led Zep. Mild overdrive at full volume from my Gretsch 5120humbuckers. Fantastic OD howl from my Silvertone 1445 with its Teisco single coil pickups. The solid-state vibrato circuit is simply amazing! The vibrato effect alone was worth the price.

See more photos of the Kay 704 Vanguard Vibrato here.

Comments

tomas March 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm

glad you are enjoying it!

nice site, added it to my RSS reader….

REPLY

alex March 30, 2011 at 8:07 am

tomas, thanks for visiting the site! ~alex

glassdog March 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I have the same vanguard amp was wondering Its worth having someone look at it. It has some issues with the sound. It mostly crackles It was given to me by a relative. thanks

REPLY

alex March 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm

@glassdog, thanks for visiting the site. Personally, I like these amps a lot, and they are getting much harder to find. I do my own repairs to save $. I would definitely recommend having someone look at it to at least estimate the damage and repair cost. But I wouldn’t recommend spending very much to repair it. $75 to $100, max, and that’s pushing it. Unless yours is in pristine physical condition – and most are not! Good luck! ~alex

 

 

On eBay: Rebuilt 1960′s Harmony Stella

Auction Alert!

Check out this very cool, nicely restored, Harmony Stella from the 1960′s. Rebuilt with Martin-style X-bracing by Barton Lane Guitar Company. This guitar is on ebay right now at: 1960′s STELLA HARMONY guitar w/ Martin 0-18 X-bracing!!. This auction ends March 26, 2011 15:50:27 PDT

NOTE: Guitar sold at end of auction for $356.

Text from original auction:

Rebuilt Harmony Stella. Martin 0-18 X-Bracing. Barton Lane Guitar Company.

Here is a really cool 1960’s Stella guitar made in the USA by Harmony.

This guitar was professionally repaired/restored by the Barton Lane Guitar Company.

They rebuilt the top with Martin style forward shifted, tapered X-bracing (these guitars were originally ladder-braced) and also put a small, pre-war style, maple bridge plate in place of the original, extremely large mahogany one. The back, sides, and top, are all made of solid birch.

The many cracks in this instrument were all professionally repaired.

I imagine that this guitar sounds worlds better than it did with its original, heavy, ladder braces.

This instrument sounds REALLY COOL!! It would be ideal for a folk or blues guitar picker/strummer. The tone is reminiscent of an old Gibson L-00 or maybe a Martin 0-18.

Beatles Amp Rediscovered

Vox UL730 Head

The Vox UL730 amp played by George Harrison on the Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s recordings

The Northwich Guardian reported today that a man in Wicham England discovered that a guitar amplifier he’s owned for awhile actually belonged to George Harrison in the mid-60′s. Apparently that fact went unnoticed for decades until the man took the amp in for repair. The technician discovered Harrison’s identification inside the amp during the repair.

Read the article here: Wicham man finds amp owned by the Beatles

More info about the Vox UL730 Amplifier from www.voxshowroom.com.

Photo courtesy of www.guitargeek.com.

First Solid-State Guitar Amplifier

Kay Vanguard 704 Vibrato
Courtesy Mass Street Music

Lucky me! I was looking for a vintage solid-state combo amp to use at practice, and to give my trusty tube Silvertones a rest. Just scored this one off ebay today for cheap! The very first solid-state guitar amp was introduced by Kay Musical Instruments in 1962. Can’t wait for it to arrive.

 

Roger McGuinn and the Regency TR-1

Long before iPods, CD’s and Walkmans there was the transistor radio.

The advent of the transistor radio is integral to the history of rock and roll. The first transistor radio, the American-made Regency TR-1, arrived on the scene in 1954 about one year before the Sony transistor. In this video Roger McGuinn, founding member of The Byrds, tells how he received his first transistor radio and how it inspired him to become a musician. The rest of course is history, as The Byrds became one of the biggest groups of the 60′s and transformed rock music with their own style called folk-rock.

More info:

Regency TR-1 Transistor Radio History

Roger McGuinn’s Home Page

Roger McGuinn’s Transistor Radio Collection

Roger’s Transistor Radio Collection

Danelectro DC-1 Cool Cat Chorus

Birthday’s are great! This pedal was a gift! My son and his wife remembered my affinity for chorus pedals and found this Danelectro at a used music shop. It’s the 18-volt version, all analog, made about 1996. It sounds great! Very warm and lush sounding with a broader depth and speed range than similar analog pedals. Maybe it sounds so good because it’s a clone of the legendary Boss CE-2, with the following chips on-board:

  • MN3007 — 1024-stage analog Bucket Brigade chip (BBD). Panasonic, Japan.
  • MN3101 — BBD driver chip. Panasonic, Japan.
  • TL072CP — JFET Op Amp. Texas Instruments.
  • TC4013BP — Dual D-Type Flip Flop bypass circuit (switch). Toshiba, Japan.

Along with my other analog chorus effects pedals, I hope to have a full review posted here in the very near future. Stay tuned…