Original U.S. WWII Issue Four String Tenor Banjo by Kay in Original U.S. Marked Case
Original Item: Only One Available. The Kay Musical Instrument Company was a US musical instrument manufacturer of the United States, in operation from 1890. Kay was established in 1931 in Chicago, Illinois, by Henry "Kay" Kuhrmeyer, from the assets of the former Stromberg-Voisinet (founded as "Groeschel Mandolin Company" in 1890).
The company initially manufactured only traditional folk instruments such as mandolins, tenor guitars and banjos, but eventually grew to make a wide variety of stringed instruments, including violins, cellos, double basses and a variety of different types of guitars, including electric, classical, lap steel and semi-acoustic models. Some of Kay's lower-grade instruments were marketed under the Knox and Kent brand names.
This is a very nice example of a WWII Era Kay 4 String "Tenor" banjo, which has a shorter 23" scale compared to the standard size. During WWII, to improve morale U.S. forces were supplied with various musical instruments such as guitars, banjos, mandolins, and other familiar instruments. They supplied official song books, often with tablature for guitar and banjo, so that the troops could sing along while at camp.
The banjo itself does not have any U.S issue markings, but the case definitely has an old bronze powder U.S. silk screened marking on the lid. The case is the standard type of the era, made with tolex covered laminated wood, and lined with purple fabric.
The banjo itself is in great shape, as far as we can tell. It looks to have all parts present, except for one J hook and Nut, underneath the arm rest. We do not see any major structural or finish issues either, and we assume it could easily be returned to working order. The frets are secure, and do not show any major wear. We did note that at present it is strung reverse / left handed, and that the strings are not strung correctly. They are also quite old and corroded.
The banjo measures 34 1/2 inches in total length, with an 11 inch head and 13 1/2 inch resonator. It still has a wooden bridge as well as the tailpiece with tensioner. There are also some extra strings stored in the case compartment, but they appear to be quite old, and most likely are no longer usable due to oxidation.
A very nice WWII Military Issued banjo from a well-known maker. Ready to display or possibly use!
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