1950's Kay Soprano Ukulele with plastic fretboard

My "Special" Kay

Chicago Kay Ukelele
US made 50s soprano Ukulele Kay
Soprano plastic fretboard 60s Ukulele US
It has Rotosound Strings on and is tuned g~C~E~A



Kay Classic

For a long time I had a downer on Kay because for some reason I associated them with the Kay catalogue company in the UK, (ok the reason is fairly obvious), and assumed their instrument were very low quality, (because that's what the Kay catalogue company sold). There were a lot of perception in my mind over the whole selling of musical instruments through general store catalogues that weren't necessarily correct, and learning about Ukulele history has caused me to reassess them. Yes Catalogue selling in the UK was/is significantly different to that of geographically larger countries. I had what is considered a rural upbringing in the UK, a small village in rural Hampshire on no major roads, but it was 5 miles to the nearest town, 20 to the nearest city and only 60 miles to London. In the UK catalogue shopping wasn't the only way to get variety, it was just cheap! Anyway enough of my preconceptions, back to the Ukulele.

Kay was, at the time my Ukulele was made, pretty much a budget brand. The name did carry a far more illustrious history than I realised, but ownership wrangles and competition had made it pretty much a budget brand when my Ukulele was made. However like some budget brands of today, its lowly status doesn't necessarily make it a bad Ukulele; and its not! It is solidly and accurately built with no obvious flaws, even after 50 odd years. It is light and has a good tone; the plastic fretboard with a zero fret makes for good intonation and the tuners are the same as on my Kamaka so they can't be that bad, (I think they are Grovers). To be honest I think its a better made instrument that the contemporary Harmony and Regal offerings and the big headstock logo is another of those things that I use to think were really naff but time has changed my opinion to think its bold and retro cool.

For the nuts and bolts its scale length is a fraction under 33cm, (so a fraction under 13 inches), and 33mm wide at the nut (1 and 5/32 inches for the non SI people) with a 57mm, (2½in), deep sound box. It is laminate wood, probably birch or something but I wouldn't like to guess (lets call it Bass wood like they do today). The neck is one piece with quite a low profile D curve the fretboard is plastic, (really?), and looks identical to the ones used on contemporary Harmony models but I couldn't swear they were from the same maker. Its solid enough for any practical use and possibly still cheap and common enough to be an everyday beater if that is what you wanted? Some of the decorated Harmony contemporaries may make better wall hangers, but if I lost it and was starting the collection again I would definitely get another