Sometime between 1964-1966 in Kawai Japan, this Kent 833 violin style bass was created, and not long thereafter, ended up in the able hands of an Ohio junkyard hillbilly, with desperate dreams of becoming Paul McCartney. My father managed to gig this graceful, sublime instrument behind chicken wire and strippers for a great deal of the mid to late 60’s.
For the next 40 years or so, the Kent became a sad reminder of past glories. Every aging rock & roller has at least one- under their bed- in the attic. Lots of old widows are ending up with them, desperate to find someone to take off their hands, carefully albeit.
The design is an obvious tribute to the Hofner that McCartney played, but with delightful horns that paint a pretty damn tasteful picture, considering this was a budget model.
Well, the old fool decided to take up the ghost again, and in his retirement can’t seem to stop playing.
I decided to do a full restore of the Kent. No small feat folks. Luckily, the neck was still straight as an arrow. Just needed a little shim at the heel. Solid triple-bound construction. Back then, even the cheap stuff was made to last. Still quality. Novel.
The electronics, on the other hand, were frightening. I had no idea if the pickups still worked. Plugging it in was risky, and produced screams and farts that would make your hair stand up. I thought of it as cries for help, or confused curses from an angry old man.
The tone and volume potentiometers might have been the best a Yen could buy back in the day, but now they were totally fried. Most of the solder points were broken clean as well.
I bought new pots and wiring, but had to end up reaming out the power plate holes to make the new ones fit. This was approached gingerly, as these guitars are brutally rare, and their little plastic parts more so. (This is the bane of all vintage guitar enthusiasts- the plastic parts that break like brittle little bastards).
New switch, input jack and capacitors. Tighten those tuning pegs (original and still in good shape), adjust the bridge. Clean off a heavy layer of dirt, dust, sweat, beer, blood……you get the picture. Fortify with oil. Beautiful and comforting in a way that can’t be articulated.
The pickups still worked. Success. Tone as tinny or creamy as you like. Loud and wild- like any good guitar. One of those instruments that jump up in your hands, begging to be played. Gave it back to the old man for a birthday present. He was pleased. I’m just glad he’s playing again.