Here is a vintage 1950s Orpheus branded Kay “K125” electric guitar. Kay’s first solid-body, the K125, was initially released in 1952 and featured a sunburst finish with both a tortoise pickup ring and control plate. However, when branded under the “Orpheus” moniker, it received a luxurious gold finish, much like that of Harmony’s Stratotone or Gibson’s Les Paul, both of which were also released the same year. With a peanut-shaped silhouette, and a complete neck-through construction, the Kay K125 is in fact so similar to the Harmony Stratotone, even some dealers have claimed them to be such. Though this particular K125 happens to play far better than any Stratotone I’ve ever owned, it has been modified to accomdate a Hot Rod enhancement, which includes; replaced Thin Twin (Jimmy Reed / Howlin’ Wolf) pickup with a mid-70’s Gibson PAT NO humbucking, upgraded Tele-style knobs, replacement metal-button Kluson Deluxe tuning machines, and the re-location of the input jack into the top of the pickguard, as opposed to utilizing the hard-wired instrument cable which dangled out the side of the body. Otherwise it remains original, and there are no strucutral defects.
Incredibly, the neck is perfectly straight, and the action is as low as it could possibly get. With better playability than a new Custom Shop Les Paul, this is NOT the “slide guitar” that most Stratotones are commonly called due to severely warping necks. Also, the guitar happens to sound fantastic. The combination of the mid-70’s Gibson humbucking pickup installed, with the highly transparent acoustical qualities of the body, is absolutely perfect. Articulate yet rich, with shimmering presence, the guitar sounds awesome.
Generally, modified guitars are disasters and abominations, but that is clearly not the case with this one. It was thoughtfully executed, with as minimal originality impact as possible, in the effort to enhance the guitar and breath new life into it. It plays great, sounds great, and still looks great.. what more could you ask for?