Kent 834

TypeScalePick upsNeck Width at NutNeck Width at 12th fretNeck TypeWidth at Lower BoutWidth at Upper Bout Body Length

Body ThicknessTotal Length

Hollow

body

25.25

Inches

2 Single coil 1 5/8 in 2 in Bolt-on

13

Inches

10.5

Inches

17.75

Inches

1.5*

Inches

41.25

Inches

* The vibrato arm adds several inches to the thickness needed for a case

Please note that specifications shown here apply to the guitars that I have. Parts can be changed during a manufacturing run so you can't take my figures as the final word.

My Kent 834 is a kind of light natural wood in color, perhaps maple. The catalog of the time called the color "blonde". Overall it's in pretty good shape, especially considering it is 45 years old. The neck is fairly straight and the frets show no wear. I will eventually dress the frets, but they're fine as they are.

It is missing a knob. The knobs are unique and it will take awhile to find one just like the one that is missing. With patience I expect to find a replacement, but if I can find a set that looks good and fits I may put those on temporarily.

The electronics are very accessable in this guitar. Volume and tone pots are all mounted on a single faux tortise-shell on metal plate that can be lifted completely off the guitar, allowing full access. The pickup selector and rhythm/lead slide switch are mounted to another plate, equally accessable. As with the other 800-series guitars I have, all wiring is shielded.

834 potsThere was a disconnected ground wire inside. It is connected to the bridge at one end and, judging from its length, it only could have been connected to the jack socket at the other end. I soldered an extra length of wire to it so that I could solder it to the back of one of the pots instead, since that is where everything will end up grounded. The new, extended ground wire is the blue one in the photo.

The tone and volume pots, two of each, seem to be 500k and are attached to a the control plate with 10mm nuts. There are .04μfd/50v ceramic disk capacitors attached to the tone pots.

The original tone caps on my 834 didn't seem to be fully functional. Rotating the tone controls didn't have much effect and ceramic caps that were used then can go bad after 45 years. After replacing the tone caps with new .047μfd parts, tone control was reestablished. Radio Shack sells .047μfd/50V caps, two to a package. They're small, cheap, and readily available if you have a Radio Shack nearby that carries small parts. You can experiment with capacitor values and types easily if you want to look for slight variations in sound.

I also installed treble-bleed capacitors to keep it from losing the highs when reducing volume. It seems a little brighter now. In fact, the guitar's tone suggests that of the 1960's Rickenbackers. I'll bet that the model 821 or the violin-bodied 12-strings with these treble-bleed caps would do the Byrds thing very nicely. If the guitar was made too bright I could change the values of the treble-bleed caps. I think I like having a very bright-sounding guitar to choose from, for now.

The lead/rhythm slide switch required some bending to get it to hold its desired position. The disk capacitor, like the tone capacitors, may no longer be within specs but it does have some effect on tone, still.

834 bridge The bridge on my guitar was upside-down when I got it. Compare the first photo at top and the layout photo to it's right. When looking down from the playing position, the mute lever was on the bottom and the grooved saddles had the widest grooves where the thinest strings are. It was probably reversed to get the mute lever out of the way of the player. It also puts the mute on the back side of the bridge where it will have no effect, even if you accidentally flip the lever. To do it right, however, you have to remove the saddles and place them under the proper string, also. Then you have to readjust the intonation.

I removed the bridge, cleaned it up, and lubricated the saddle grooves to help the strings return to pitch when using the vibrato. Then I put it back on correctly. The cross-point intonation adjustment screw heads are on the wrong side of the bridge when it is reversed, also.

As mentioned above, the bridge on this guitar has the mute, properly known as the "thumb activated damper". There should be a thin piece of rubber or felt glued to the long shelf-like strip of metal shown in the photo. The rubber strip is missing on mine, probably on a lot of others, too. By pressing the lever, that strip is swung up into contact with the strings, deadening the vibrations so that the strings just go plink! when they are plucked. That sound is heard in a lot of surf music from the '60's. Most guitarists just mute the strings with their picking hand if they need to mute strings. Many of the early Fender guitars came with removeable mutes that we all took off and lost.

Most players will have to adjust their playing position so that the forearm with the picking hand doesn't accidentally flip the mute up. On this guitar the mute is only partially functional without the strip of damping material, so if it is accidentally deployed, it will just sound bad. The mute lever appears to be riveted on, so there isn't an easy way to remove it. You can probably jam something underneath one side of the lever to keep it from being pressed down, but the best solution is to play enough to get used to it.

This model 834 has a vibrato tailpiece and a zero-fret.

strapBtn

Players may have a difficult time finding a neckstrap for the 834. The reason, as you can see from the photo, is that there isn't much clearance between the strap button and the neck. A strap that is no wider than one inch at the end will be needed. Fender makes one it calls a "vintage strap". I just trimmed the leather end of a strap that I had down with a knife. You can also attach the strap "folk guitar style" by tieing the end of the strap to the headstock. Most straps come with a piece of cord or leather shoelace for that purpose. This appears to be a problem only with the violin bodied guitars.

About the demo

link to 834 demoDemo

In this demo the rhythm guitar track is played using the neck pickup into a 1965 Fender Princeton Reverb-Amp plugged into a speaker cabinet containing a pair of vintage elliptical RCA Golden Voice car radio speakers. The guitar is in open-D tuning (D A D F# A D) and the amp has a little reverb and a lot of tremolo. The lead guitar track utilizes the bridge pickup and is run into the same Princeton amp with an Eminence Ragin' Cajun speaker with a little more reverb and no tremolo.

The bass track is a Kent 833 through a Johnson J-Station amp simulator using a Fender Bassman patch.

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