1952 Kay K-161 Thin Twin

Here is a vintage 1952 Kay K-161 “Thin Twin” electric guitar. This particular example is in extremely excellent condition and features a beautiful blonde figured maple top and back, with dark mahogany sides. This incredibly classic and understated instrument has long been appreciated for being both a practical and well-designed very early electric guitar. Played by Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf, Bob Dylan, and T Bone Burnett, the K-161 has also recently been re-issued by several companies. In fact, the recent Kay Custom Shop ThinTwin, which was discontinued after they sold out, had an MSRP of $2,999.00. Why pay more for a reproduction when you can have the original for less? This 100% all original example includes the original soft case and a screw-on mic jack adapter for the early production harp mic style output jack.

This ’52 Kay K161 Thin Twin features; a flamed maple laminate top and back, mahogany sides and neck, a bound rosewood fingerboard with pearloid block inlays, (2) original single-coil “Thin Twin” blade pickups with all original harness, Kay lightning-bolt headstock veneer, the fire-stripe pickguard and neck heel cap, original white small cupcake control knobs, original mis-matching 1/2 no-name Kluson Deluxe tuning machines with 1/2 Pat. Pend. single-lines, original nickel tailpiece, original hardware, the original screw-on harp mic style output jack, and the original Geib soft case.

With a straight neck and an incredibly nice neck angle, this K161 plays effortlessly. While some are notorious for having high “perfect for slide” action, this specimen does not suffer from that often irreparable back-bowed neck due to the absence of a truss rod. The original frets are in excellent shape, with plenty of life remaining and a prodigious enough profile for effortless playability. The neck is large and bulky, but with a very comfortable shape.

The guitar plays great, and sounds even better. The pickups are loud, efficient, and very distinct. Great for powerful strumming and sensitive picking alike, this versatile guitar is an incredible alternative instrument. Aside from a couple very superficial dings, and the expected weather-checking, this guitar is otherwise almost like new. The original pickguard is perfectly pristine, with no shrinkage and no stress cracks. There is no evidence of playing wear, and just the slightest bit of storage wear is visible.

Also referred to as the “Jimmy Reed” guitar, the Kay 161 was one of the longest produced guitars by Kay Musical Instrument Company. One unique feature of the K-161 are the twin matching blade pickups with the three way selector switch. The units are mounted in a solid bar which is a continuation of the neck. This type of mounting makes the entire playing scale very rigid, and produces a pure, concise electronic tone with much greater sustaining power.