KeyKord (Kay or Regal) Baritone push-button Uke

Guitartec

AxVault Record No.: 43

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  • Type: Acoustic
  • Manufacturer: KeyKord (Kay or Regal)
  • Model/Stylename: Baritone push-button Uke
  • Serial Number: Patent date- G 1917
  • Serial Number Location: On transposer unit
  • Condition: Very Good
  • Description: This push-button stringed instrument is listed in most of the best US vintage guitar identification books out there, but it's usually listed as a Tenor Guitar. I can totally see why so many authors think it's a tenor guitar, but they are absolutely and utterly wrong! This is a baritone push-button uke!!! It incorporates the most dawg-gone sophisticated mechanical push-button transposer mechanism known to man! It's honestly a miracle anyone could have thought of it, never mind build it, but it does work very well. NASA would be proud! When I first got it, I assumed it was what all my books said it was... a tenor guitar. But after stringing it up, it didn't work correctly-like at all! Virtually every button I pushed on the unit actuated totally different metal fingers than the fingering pictured on the buttons. Every chord was utterly wrong. I figured that a previous owner or repairman had disassembled the button unit, and then reassembled it incorrectly. But emails to other Key Kord owners confirmed theirs worked in exactly the same manner as mine. So here's the deal... This baritone uke was designed so you tune it in normal baritone uke tuning (which, BTW, is different from soprano uke tuning) and the push-button transposer simply converts it into soprano uke chords. This would allow one to play along with the fingerings listed on soprano uke sheet music. The reason there's confusion surrounding the KeyKord is because each button has written on it its "transposed" chord, which is NOT the fingering each button physically fingers. This is why I, and many other owner's, thought it had been reassembled incorrectly or just considered it a messed up tenor guitar. This is just my opinion, but I assume the makers really just wanted to make a much simpler push-button soprano uke, but due to the push button unit's big size, they couldn't fit it into a soprano uke neck. This ultimately made them turn it into a transposer and fit it into a baritone uke. PS. I want to highly credit my friend, Steve T." with figuring this out. He's truly brilliant! PPS. AxVault may want to consider making an odd-instrument listing section. This uke is globally mistaken for a tenor guitar, and someone else is sure to list some other instrument with similar misunderstanding accompanied by it. Unfortunately, the options given when listing a guitar do not properly allow someone to properly describe an instrument such as this. An odd-instrument section would allow for checking off more details if done correctly.
  • Vintage Guitar? No
  • Modifications: All Original

Additional Information

  • Original Owner: No
  • Where Purchased: eBay
  • Year Manufactured: 1920's (the "Roaring" type)
  • Country of Origin: USA (probably Chicago or Cleveland)
  • Original Factory Tags: No
  • Logo Location: Headstock
  • Logo Style: Script
  • Guitar Weight: 2lbs
  • Original Case: No

Guitar Body

  • Body Color: Natural
  • Body Shape: 2-point Zorzi style (Zorzi who was a designer at Kay Musical Instruments) Has 2 "lopped-off" florintine type cutaways, but oddly, this body style is often referred to as Venetian (which is a rounded cutaway) Humans.... UGH!
  • Scale: Bari Uke
  • Fretboard Radius (Neck Width): none
  • Body Wood: Mahogany (not "Mahagoney")
  • Neck Wood: Mahagoney
  • Side Wood: Mahogany (Axe Vault... fix your spelling)
  • Top Wood: Mahogany
  • Peg Head Veneer: Yes: White pearloid aceatate
  • Finish/Laquer: Nitro Cellulose
  • Body Options: Floating Bridge

Accessories

  • Pickguard: No

Control Knobs

  • Tremelo: No

Electronics

  • Neckshape: U shaped

Pickups

  • Fret Board Wood: Dyed wood
  • Position Inlay: No
  • Truss Rod Cover: none- no rod
  • Number of Frets: none
  • Tuners: Adjustable planitary tuners
  • Neckplate: No
  • Nut Width: Doesn't matter. Neck is not fretted by your hand
  • Special Features: Where do I start

Provenance Documentation

Auction Documentation

13 responses to “KeyKord (Kay or Regal) Baritone push-button Uke”

  1. Ron jeremy

    so cool. Not many of these out there.

    1. Peter j.

      i have any idea whats it worth thanks peter j.

  2. Peter j.

    I have one what is it worth,i have the orig case as well. Thanks Peter j.

  3. Kerry Krishna

    Howdy. Kerry here from Facebook’s “Kay Kraft Guitars” site. There have been a few sell on Ebay last year. Only one with the mechanism, and two fretted models ( exactly the same, headstock, just with regular fretboards) each only sold for just over 200 bucks. In case anyone is wondering, what makes these axes so nice in my opinion, was that KeyKord had Kay Kraft put on the uber- expensive Grover machines, and the fretboards of most were ebony. I think these axes are underpriced. I am looking for both of these models mentioned also, in case you are wanting to get rid of yours..

  4. joshua scheerz

    Great info!

    I’ve seen two of these (in person) in my life. The second, of which, I made my own. Traded an old Grestch snaredrum to a friend for it… a trade I’d make time and time again.

    As a point of interest, what gauge strings are recommended for this? While I got the instrument and original case, I don’t have the orignal booklet it came with.

    Additonally, if anyone has the booklet, and would be able to scan it – or tell me where a copy is available – I’d be eternally grateful.

    Cheers

  5. wannabe

    Dean knows his shit

  6. Guitartec

    Thanks!

    There’s been some argument buy one fellow that I’m wrong about this instrument being a baritone uke. Maybe he’s right, but so far, he’s offered no proof (he says “even Kay called this instrument a tenor guitar”). Only problem I see with this is that the KeyKord was probably built by Regal, like the B&J Serenader two-point tenor guitars, not by Kay.

    He also said that in the 1920′s, tenors were often tuned to the same D,G.B,and E tuning, which is true, but it’s undeniably obvious to me that the KeyKord is totally “purpose-built”, it’s purpose being to allow a non-uke player to strum along with soprano ukes by following the KeyKord sheet music. This music had button numbers on it.

    One has to remember that in the 1920′s, soprano ukes were all the rage. The KeyKord’s simple button transposer allowed non-players to play along and give the music more depth tone-wise.

    I told this person that we should just agree to call it a “hybrid” (both a tenor guitar and a baritone uke), even though the scale length is that of a bari uke.

    Maybe he’ll argue that too???

    Dean

  7. PhilUSAFRet

    Sorry, no evidence of a baritone uke being made before 1948

    1. wannabe

      Easy to say but where is your back up. Post some proof. You can’t just come on and speech shit and leave no proof

    2. Guitartec



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