|500 series||600 series||700-800|
Kent headstock logos changed between the series as shown above. I believe the 700 and 800-series guitars were sold at the same time while the 500 and 600 may have been during different time periods.
The solid bodies of the 500-series guitars were true solid bodies, not plywood. Most of them were made of mahogany and were finished in either "Shaded Mahogany Finish" (sunburst) or "Century Red Lacquer". The necks were usually maple or some other unspecified hardwood with a rosewood fretboard featuring "heavy nickel-silver frets". The necks were reinforced with a double steel T-bar and were truss rod adjustable.
|Model #||Type||Body Type||Mfr||Year mfr||Name||Comment||Verified By||Retail Price||Photo|
|510||Standard||Solid||Guyatone||1964-65||Las Vegas||2 pickups, referred to as "professional"||Catalog||$109.90|
|530||Standard||Solid||Guyatone||1964-65||Las Vegas||2 pickups, referred to as "professional"||Label||$85.00-$97.90|
|531||Standard||Solid||Guyatone||1964-65||Lido||2 pickups, referred to as "professional"||Label||$99.90-$113.90|
|532||Standard||Solid||Guyatone||1964-65||Copa||3 pickups, referred to as "professional"||Label||$119.90-$137.90|
|534||Bass||Solid||Unknown||1964-65||Basin Street||1 pickup||Label||$139.90|
|540||Standard||Solid||Guyatone||1964-65||Polaris I||1 pickup||Label||$48.00|
|545||Standard||Solid||Guyatone||1964-65||Polaris II||2 pickups||Label||$59.90|
|550||Standard||Solid||Guyatone||1964-65||Lido||2 pickups, referred to as "professional"||Label||$129.90|
|560||Standard||Solid||Guyatone||1964-65||Copa||3 pickups, referred to as "professional"||Catalog||$149.90|
I suspect that the features of the 600-series are about the same as the 500s. I haven't found any good literature on them yet.
|Model #||Type||Body Type||Mfr||Year mfr||Name||Comment||Verified By||Photo|
|630||Standard||Solid||Guyatone||1966||Las Vegas||2 pickups||Label|
|640||Standard||Solid||Guyatone||1966||Polaris I||1 pickup||Label|
|645||Standard||Solid||Unknown||1966||Polaris II||2 pickup||Label|
|649||Standard||Solid||Guyatone||1966||Polaris III||2 pickup||Label|
The 700-series might be thought of as solid-body equivalents of the 800-series. Many of the same parts and design elements are used.
|Model #||Type||Body Type||Mfr||Year mfr||Name||Comment||Verified by||Photo|
The Kent 800-series guitars are true hollowbodies. There is no center-block running through the body. The advertisements of the time refer to the bodies as "semi-acoustic". I believe they describe them that way because they are thin bodied, compared to acoustic guitars. Available colors were white,blonde,burgundy, yellow sunburst, and cherry-red. They were available for left-handers for $10.00 more.
|Model #||Type||Body Type||Mfr||Year mfr||Name||Comment||Verified by||Retail Price||Photo|
|820||Standard||Hollow||Kawai||1966-67||None||2 pickups||Own One||$110.00, with Bigsby: $165.00|
|833||Bass||Hollow||Kawai||1966-67||None||2 pickups, violin-shaped body||Label|
|834||Standard||Hollow||Kawai||1966-67||None||2 pickups, violin-shaped body||Own One|
|835||12-string||Hollow||Kawai||Unknown||Unknown||2 pickups, violin-shaped body||Label|
|836||Mandolin||Hollow||Kawai||1966-67||None||1 pickup, violin-shaped body||Photo|
I try not to put anything here unless I am reasonably sure it is correctly identified. Usually if there is a photo of the back of the headstock with an intact label, or printed material (advertisement or catalog page), I consider it valid.
I'm thinking that the model 636 12-string may have been made by Guyatone. It is a hollow or semi-hollow body with unusual gold-foil single-coil pickups. The headstock is shaped unlike any Kent shown here. It is asymmetrical with 6-on-a-side tuners, a mirror-image of the Guyatone hollow-bodies of the time. The truss rod cover has "Adjustable Steel Rod" printed on it. The script that says "Kent" on the headstock is different from all the others and the sticker on the back of the headstock just says "636". Moreover, the body design indicates that the Americana series may also be Guyatone with necks from the solid-body Kents.
I included mandolins just to fill in the number series.
If you look around online for photos of vintage Japanese guitars, even a search as narrowly-focused as mine, you will be thrown curveballs. Count on it. Consider the 533 and 595 Videocasters pictured above and discussed below. And now I have found and verified six Americana hollow-bodies, all in the 500-series.
But, wait! It gets weirder! Until now, every 500-series Kent guitar I have seen has had the glued on "K" logo on the headstock like the one on the left side of the row of photos at the top of this page. The Kent 552 Americana in the table just above has the glued-on script "Kent" on the headstock. Just another anomaly, I guess.
I have also come across a photo of another Kent guitar oddity. The body appears to be the same as the Kent 820 but does not have the Kent Logo on the body, pickups, or tailpiece. As you can see, the peghead is shaped a little bit differently (maybe) and has a truss-rod cover, indicating that you adjust the rod there instead of at the body-end of the neck. Of course, the cover could be just for looks. The neck has a zero-fret like many other Kents. The vibrato tailpiece is similar to most of the ones coming out of Japan at that time, but the bridge is different from all the others I have seen. Moreover, the pickups appear to be black humbuckers.
|Kent oddity||Kent 700-800 series|
Most Kent guitars up to around 1967 are equipped with single-coil pickups, however some of the bass guitars have pickups that look like humbuckers.
Dates are educated guesses, at best. There is a catalog page online with a 1965 copyright that shows an Americana with a K-logo, a short-scale bass (possibly a 534), and a couple of 4-pickup guitars that look like the 533 Videocaster. Likewise, there is another catalog page online, copyright 1967 showing a model 741 and an older bass, not visible enough to identify.
Within the 500-series there was suposedly a Professional group and all the rest. This was according to information on a catalog page. The model 595 Videocaster has the same body shape as the 560 Copa, so it would be reasonable to assume that the 595 is part of the Pro group and the 533 a "regular guy". The 533 Videocaster appears in an advertisement.
Many, if not all, of the 500-series solid-bodied model names carried over into the 600 series. It looks like the K-badge logo of the 500-series gave way to glued-on "Kent" in script letters in the 600-series. I haven't seen one in person yet, so I don't know exactly how that branding is accomplished.
It looks like they stopped giving the guitars model names after the 600-series.
I have also seen photos of a guitar identified as a Kent 650. It bears no resemblance to any of the guitars in the table above. The headstock is shaped like those in the 7-800 series guitars, but without binding. There is no logo or design in the middle of the headstock. At the top of the headstock is a rectangular brass-colored plaque with the name KENT in black block letters. The neck has dot markers. On the back of the headstock, instead of the ugly little black on white paper label, is a little round foil label with model number punched in. The tuners are the exposed-type, which get dirty more easily but are easier to clean.
The body is shaped a little bit like a Gibson Les Paul Junior with a single pickup near the neck. The pickup cover is chromed and seems to be in two pieces. The piece closest to the neck has six screws that resemble adjustment screws. There is no way to tell if the pickup is a humbucker or a wide P90-type.
There is also a two-pickup version.
Kent 670, 690 and 600-something
Last week someone sent me a photo of a Kent 690. The identity was confirmed by a photo of a little foil label on the back of the headstock the same size and shape as the little paper labels on most Kents. Unlike most 600-series Kents, it has the Big-K logo on the headstock. It has four gold foil pickups and vibrato tailpiece. The body shape and neck markers indicate that it may have been made by Teisco, perhaps right around the time Teisco was acquired by Kawai. A very interesting ax. I wonder if it was called Videocaster.
I've seen photos of another guitar I originally called a Kent 500-something because of the K-logo, but judging by it's similarity to the two other guitars in this section, it must be part of this 600-group. It vaguely resembles a Kent 531 Lido in shape and control layout, but it has a metal bridge instead of plastic and fret markers on the upper edge of the fingerboard. Those fret markers (I've seen them called "thumb markers") are most often seen on Teisco-made instruments. It has two gold-foil pickups.
The Kent 670 bass (left) may have come from the same source. The neck is very similarly marked and the headstock is somewhat similar. The body appears to be from Guyatone, however.