This is a vintage 1959 Kay Barney Kessel Aritst 6701(B) hollowbody electric guitar. This particular example, serial number 1121 (on the headstock plate) with an “L9374” and “2425” stamped designation visible through the treble f-hole, is in extremely excellent 100% original condition with the original Lifton case. I have owned several vintage Kay Kelvinator Kessels, and this is my favorite. While not quite the same quality as a concurrent production Gibson guitar (albeit some might argue otherwise), nice Kay guitars such as the 6700 were very expensive. The 6701B was $265 and the matching Lifton hard shell case cost an additional $52.50, bringing the total package to an ultimate cost of $317.50 before tax and/or layaway fees. Keep in mind you could have purchased a 1959 Les Paul Standard “Burst” with a matching case for $10 less than this Kay! (Don’t tell the original owner, or he’ll have a heart attack… again!) Due to the very high cost of the 6700 line when new, they are extremely scarce, and rarely come up for sale online.
This Barney Kessel Artist 6701B is in very fine condition. It is the cleanest Kessel I have ever seen, with no playing wear on the neck, no fret wear on the fingerboard, no buckle wear on the back of the body, and no arm wear on the top of the guitar. Even the case is in very excellent condition. The guitar is in perfect structural condition; with no breaks, no cracks, no repairs, nothing. The finish is pristine and intact, with no weather-checking and no fading. The guitar is very fine, but is not in mint condition. The original Kevlinator plastic headstock veneer has several inevitable stress cracks around the Grover tuning machine posts. The original “Kleenex box” pickup is also in excellent functional and cosmetic condition, with a couple small cracks in the mirrored pickup ring. The original Melita bridge is perfectly intact and beautiful, and the original German-made Hofner-style nickel tailpiece is in correspondingly excellent condition. The original Grover tuning machines are in very excellent original shape, as is the rest of the hardware.
Features of this Kessel include: a spruce top, flamed maple back and sides, maple neck with a bound Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, pearl block inlays, (1) Kessel/Kleenex box pickup, Melita bridge, German-made trapeze tailpiece, Grover tuners, and the original Lifton hard case.
The neck is perfectly straight, and the neck angle is great. The action is not very low, but is comfortable with the vintage flat wound strings currently on the guitar. As previously mentioned, the original frets display almost no wear. The large neck profile is very comfortable, and is very similar to a traditional ’59 Gibson style neck. The only issue with the instrument, is that when the pickguard was removed by the previous owner, he accidentally re-installed it by adding another hole right next to where it should have been mounted. He filled the original hole with a toothpick to make it less unsightly. Otherwise, nothing else has been modified. The guitar comes with the original Lifton brown case with original keys, as well as, an original set of Black Diamond strings. Simply stunning. The guitar weighs 6 lbs 4 oz.