Vintage Kay K27 Elmore James Jumbo c.1950sKay
Vintage Kay K27 Jumbo c.1950s
The year is 1951 and Elmore James is in town with his Jumbo Kay. You can hear the freight train in the distance as it pulls in past the stacks of Chicago. Smoke fills the air as the jumbo rings out, loud and true through the din of a bar and the cut of the whiskey.
It’s not just your imagination, that’s what you’ll feel as soon as you play one note on this Kay K27 Jumbo. This monstrosity could be called the King of the Kays - with a mammoth 17.25” solid X Braced Spruce top, and hard maple back and sides finished in sunburst and bound in cellulose. The neck is fat as a bat but shaped well and surprisingly easy to play. This behemoth sound machine may say Kay on the headstock, but close your eyes and you may trick yourself into thinking you’re playing a J-200 - this baby BOOMS. This K27 may just be the best sounding Kay we’ve ever come across, louder than a howitzer and clean as a whistle, this baby has a dry tone and smokey character. Flat picking comes to life, and bluegrass cuts through beautifully. As you’d expect with a guitar of this vintage, this K-27 bears some marks and scars from a life well lived. Some miscellaneous scratches and wear can be seen, but all marks are purely cosmetic. For real - this bad axe still has one hell of a voice.
Tone is well balanced, with a slight frequency scoop in the midrange, and a smooth roll-off in the highs. The bass is full but balanced, and the tone overall sits right where it should in a mix. Rhythms speak with a quick attack and smooth release that captures that vintage flavor perfectly. If you play blues, folk, or bluegrass, you owe it to yourself to play a guitar that has the voice AND the character to do your music justice.