CUSTOM KRAFT
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CUSTOM KRAFT
Guitars previously produced in Chicago, IL during the early 1960s and Japan during the late 1960s. See chapter on House Brands.
This trademark has been identified as a House Brand of St. Louis Music. The St. Louis Music Supply Company was founded in 1922 by Bernard Kornblum, originally as an importer of German violins. The St. Louis, MO-based company has been a distributor, importer, and manufacturer of musical instruments over the past seventy-five years.
In the mid-1950s, St. Louis Music distributed amplifiers and guitars from other producers such as Alamo, Harmony, Kay, Magnatone, Rickenbacker, and Supro. By 1960, the focus was on Harmony, Kay, and Supro: all built "upstream" in Chicago, IL. 1960 was also the year that St. Louis Music began carrying Kay's Thinline single cutaway electric guitar.
Custom Kraft was launched in 1961 as St. Louis Music's own House Brand. The first series of semi-hollowbody Custom Kraft Color Dynamic Electric guitars were built by Kay, and appear to be Thinline models in Black, Red, and White. In 1963, a line of solid body double cutaway electrics built by Valco were added to the catalog under the Custom Kraft moniker, as well as Kay-built archtop and flattop acoustic.
In 1967, Valco purchased Kay, a deal that managed to sink both companies by 1968. St. Louis Music continued advertising both companies models through 1970, perhaps NOS supplies from their warehouse. St. Louis Music continued to offer Custom Kraft guitars into the early 1970s, but as their sources had dried up so did the trademark name. St. Louis Music´s next trademark guitar line was Electra (then followed by Westone, and Alvarez).
Custom Kraft models are generally priced according to the weirdness/coolness factor, so don't be surprised to see the range of prices from $125 up to $450! The uncertainty indicates a buyer-directed market, so if you find one that you like, don´t be afraid to haggle over the price. The earlier Kay and Valco built guitars date from the 1960s, while later models were probably built in Japan. Source: Michael Wright, Vintage Guitar Magazine.

From Blue Book Publications:


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