23" Scale Ladder Braced 4-String Spruce & Mahogany Tenor Guitar - "In the Workshop" for restoration & already "pre-ordered"!

Preliminary Announcement - 25/10/2016 - showing photos of the guitar, prior to restoration, as it came to me.

26/10/2016 - Already reserved as provisional pre-order for a customer in Scotland, pending completion of the restoration.


If you follow my listings you will know that from time to time (i.e. as often as I can get hold of them) I do list Tenor Guitars regularly, most often H929TG Harmony made Stellas, which usually don't hang about long at all - with excellent feedback from buyers! Availability of the Stella Tenors is also limited, and I generally don't manage to get more than 2 or 3 a year, and they are usually pre-sold. The same is true of most of the types of tenor guitar I have sold. Most of these have been the various ones made by Harmony....as I say, most frequently the Stellas, followed by the H1201TG Sovereign, and the two archtop models, the H1215T Archtone & the H950T Monterey. In addition there has been a more limited number of Kay tenors.

My tenor guitar sales have been fascinating in regard to the quality of the players who have bought them, including one restored as a private project for the well-known Midlands-based Bluesman David Bristow. David is extremely happy with it, and footage of him gigging it is now available on YouTube - David Bristow - Three Fat Ladies! Sound is better on the one recorded at the Musician, Leicester.

Another, partly rebuilt and restored was sold to Richard Hawley, who has since bought another tenor...this time a Harmony Sovereign H1201TG from me, and again I have been in touch with Richard recently, and he is very happy with both of his tenors, and happy for me to use his endorsement. Amongst others tenors sold are the Archtop H1215Ts to both Steve Harrison & Graham Legge.

I am now finding that I regularly "pre-sell" my guitars, at the stage where I am still working on them, and although previously I had my doubts, this arrangement has now worked well in quite a number of cases, so I have decided to list some of the guitars coming through the workshop, in advance of them being fully ready, and welcome further enquiries.
Stock Numbers: VTG1088.

The Kay Company's guitar-making in Chicago ceased in 1968, several years earlier than Harmony, and in identifying Kay USA made guitars generally, we do not have the excellent facility of the The Harmony Guitars Database to assist. There are some online catalogues available via the Kay Vintage Reissue website, but not all years are available...for instance 1961 & 1962 are there, but then a gap until 1966 & 1967/8, when Kay USA finished. However, like Harmony, in this era, as throughout from the 1920s/1930s onwards, Kay made many guitars for various distributor/store/mail order companies, like Sears, whose post-war in-house guitar brand went by the name of Silvertone. None of these guitars are in the Kay Catalogs!

Various online information suggests that this model is the Silvertone 661, only available for a short period from 1964 to early in 1966...rather a late-in-the-day response to the early 1960s folkie boom, I'd have thought! It seems very similar to the Kay K3900 which appears in the 1966 Catalog, but that model has a Mahogany top, rather than Spruce...I sold one of those 4 years ago.

Into the 1960s, it seems that the tenor guitar, developed early in the 20th. century as a guitar usable by banjo players, was still in demand, but production had dwindled to a few manufacturers. In recent years the use and demand for Tenor Guitars has revived strongly, with some prominent players.

This Silvertone Mod. 661 tenor, and the similar one now "pre-ordered", are roughly the equivalent of Martin 000 or OM body-size....approx. 15"/38cm. wide, approx. 19"/48cm. body length, 23"/585mm. scale length, with a typically slim 29.5mm./1.15" nut width fingerboard. The top is Spruce, with tortoiseshell edged, cream & black binding to the sides and soundhole and teardrop-shaped tortoiseshell colour scratchplate. The Back & sides are Mahogany, again with tortoiseshell binding.
The condition is essentially original, but the guitar already has some alterations, and has previously seen some workshop attention to repairs which yet need to be completed. The parts that are not original are an added flamed Mahogany veneer facing to the headstock, and fitted heavy cast/enclosed Grover machineheads. The facing is part of a restoration started elsewhere following a headstock break. Break has been very successfully & strongly re-jointed and the veneer added prior to arrival here. It could be that the weight of the heavy replacement machineheads was a factor in the damage, on a very slim neck/headstock, but as it happened prior to arrival here, that is mere speculation on my part.

I have sets of correct vintage tenor guitar tuners, if not the exact type originally fitted, and a set of new Kluson 2x2 vintage style stamped-steel Tenor Guitar tuners. Black plastic oval buttons, Nickel finish, double-line housing. I will be hoping to fit these, or similar tuners, to restore the vintage character of the fittings. The headstock work will be completed by additionally facing the rear of the headstock, and further re-finishing work, which will be completed in conjunction with the highly respected luthier I work with, in his workshop. On completion of this work the damage will not be detectable.

Of the two Silvertone 661s I have this one, VTG1088, is the on the right-hand of the photo showing the pair and, apart from the headstock work & other restoration in progress & yet to be completed, generally has the better overall cosmetic condition of the two, compared with the same model, VTG1089, which is still available, but both show typical age-related wear and superficial knocks/scratches, typical of c.50 year old vintage guitars.

Further work needed to complete the restoration includes the making/fitting of a new bone saddle for the original Rosewood bridge(fixing bolts visible are factory original fittings, not later additions, and re-fretting, to provide a fully playable, well set-up, professionally restored player's tenor guitar.
Action, strings & cases
On completion of the restoration, we will be looking to achieve a 12th. fret at approx. 2.75mm./3mm. It will be strung with Bronze 12 gauge strings, although, in view of the variety of tunings available for tenor guitar, and the range of string gauges to suit, I would expect the buyer to settle on their own preference.

There is no case included with the guitar. I may have an contemporary pressed fibreboard case to fit, but old cases of this type, are not generally very robust or well-fitting. However, if you would be looking for a hardshell case, offering better protection, I may have a virtually unused Hiscox Liteflite case to fit at modest additional cost.
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Delivery details
You are welcome to come and try out the guitars available, and of course to collect your guitar. Alternatively I may be able to deliver in person, within reasonable distance, at cost. Otherwise, I will pack securely and post as per arrangements made with you.

Postage Costs:-
To U.K. Addresses 15.00 or 25 for Next Day Delivery.
To European Addresses 30.00 to 60.00, depending on size, weight, value and delivery location.

If you need further information postage costs/timing/insurance or advice on other matters, please contact me via Contact form above, telephone 01543 677140. If no immediate response, I may be contactable via my mobile number 07970 832955, and I will do my best to answer any questions.


In addition to hundreds of UK sales, during the last few years I have sold and had safely delivered many guitars to buyers in EU Countries, including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, and also to Switzerland and Norway. I am always happy to advise potential buyers from throughout Europe with regard to postage arrangements and delivery costs.


In addition to the Testimonials on The Home Page, and this page, to see the hundreds of complimentary feedback comments kindly left for me by eBay buyers, please check out my eBay ID "vintagetraditionalguitars", and eBay Shop "Vintage and Traditional Guitars".


I have a stock of guitars which is added to regularly, but some tend to take a little time to find their way through my workshop, so if you do not see what you are looking for on my website currently, please enquire - who knows, I may have just what you are looking for!

*** YOUTUBE ***

I have failed to find any demo clips of similar Kay/Silvertone tenors, but meantime have provided a couple of videos sent to me at one time or another by friends and customers. Firstly I have embedded a YouTube clip titled "Hard Luck Child" by "gadaya", sent to me by the customer who bought a Stella Tenor I'm restored. Although played on an older 1920s/30s Stella, to me it is a great piece of Tenor Guitar Blues playing.


There seems to have been a bit of a resurgence of production of Tenor guitars, in limited numbers, by the makers in Chicago, i.e. Harmony & Kay, in the 1950s & 1960s, but by the end of the '60s this had petered out completely as the "folkie" boom, gave way to electric rock. Hence the supply of all types of tenors from this period is pretty small, and some models are now becoming very hard to get hold of.

Experts and Tenor Guitar/Banjo players will know far more than I do about the tuning options for Tenor Guitars, but there is also information available on the web, and I previously had a copy of the very useful "Tenor Guitar Chord Bible" by Tobe A. Richards, which I passed on with one of the Tenor Guitars I sold. available on line from Fretted Friends, with chords for CGDA (Standard Tuning) and GDAE (Irish Tuning), as opposed to the Chicago tuning, derived from the 6 string. Various string makers produce string sets specifically for Tenor Guitar, and locally based Newtone Strings produce them in 3 sets:- "Chicago" 13/17/26W/34W, "Standard" 10/13/24W/32W, and "Irish" 12/18W/28W/38W - available on line from the excellent Eagle Music - I will leave the buyer's choice open to fit their own preferred gauge strings, according to the tuning they use, having fitted new Martin Bronze strings from a standard 6 string 12 gauge set....12/16/25W/32W.
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