Will Ray’s eBay Prizes 1959 Kay Upbeat

June 1, 2009
A couple of weeks later the Upbeat arrived. It was left at my doorstep by UPS and the box for the Upbeat was beat up. I was thinking the worst as I opened the half-crushed box, but the seller had packaged the guitar to withstand a small nuclear blast. It took me 15 minutes to get through all that bubble wrap, but when I did, I was treated to the beaut pictured here.

So how did it play? Actually, not so great. The frets were badly worn down and hard to bend strings on. Also, the neck had a warp that was impossible to get out with Kay’s abysmal cantilever-style trussrod system. So, I took it to my old friend and repairman John Wescott. He said he could easily refret it and sand out the bow in the neck with a belt sander, and it would be pretty cheap to boot. I took him up on it, and when I got it back a few days later, it was like a whole new guitar! The action was just right, I could bend strings easily, and it played wonderfully.

The seller had done his best to describe the guitar, but the worn frets and warped neck were not a blip on his radar. Will Ray tip #731: It’s always up to the buyer to ask questions before an auction ends. It was my fault for not doing so because I had stars and Kelvinators in my eyes. Still, I feel like I got a good deal on it, even factoring in the extra $125 refret, since I see these on eBay now for $1,800-$2,500.

Will Ray tip #732: Always keep a good guitar tech/repairman handy for those acquisitions that need a little help. It’ll make you feel better about the purchases you’ve made that you’re on the fence about. I’ve had this Upbeat for almost 12 years and it is one of my favorite guitars. It’s still very easy and fun to play, and it sounds great. I guess that means it’s a keeper.

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