Documenting history as well as my experiences with repairing and restoring vintage guitars.

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Henry Kuhrmeyer's Patent (S-V Era) US1932975 [3] Filed on April 7th, 1930 Renewed March 2nd, 1933 Patent Granted October 31st, 1933 This...

The 'Zorzi' Adjustable Neck Joint

Henry Kuhrmeyer's Patent (S-V Era)


US1932975 [3]
Filed on April 7th, 1930
Renewed March 2nd, 1933
Patent Granted October 31st, 1933

This 1930 patent from Henry 'Kay' Kuhrmeyer during his time at Stromberg-Voisinet shows the early version of the adjustable neck joint as seen on a banjo. The core features are visible including the countersunk screw that passes through a hole in a mounting rod that connects to the body. 

Surprisingly there isn't any mention of a Joseph Zorzi in the patent documents. 

Stromberg-Voisinet Co. banjo label [2]
Image Credit: BanjoHangout - beezaboy

The Patent (Kay Era)

1930s Kay Deluxe with the Zorzi neck joint

Stromberg-Voisinet eventually became Kay and was headed by Kuhrmeyer and the neck joint began appearing on more instruments including the famed Kay Kraft line of 'venetian style' instruments.

The new joint featured a radiused, dyed wood block with a raised center rail that was secured to the body of the instrument with three small finishing nails. The end of the neck is radiused to match the body block and has a channel which slides along the rail on the block. A bolt protruding from the neck fits through a hole drilled in the neck block and is secured with a wing nut. That bolt is held in place by a wood screw driven through the heel of the instrument.

Instruction Sticker
Image Credit: Facebook - Thom R
The mounting hardware used in the Zorzi neck joint seen above


Who is Joseph Zorzi?

I'm unable to find any contemporary sources mentioning Joseph Zorzi and he seems to elude any digitized census records so his existence is something I'm uncertain about. 

Timeline of Zorzi's Life according to Michael Wright's book, The Histories of Cool Guitars - Guitar Stories Volume 2

  • 1878
    • Born in Messina
  • 1894
    • Began apprenticeship with Milanese luthier Leandro Bisiach
  • 1898
    • Recruited by Lyon & Healy and moved to Chicago
  • 1899
    • Promoted to production chief of Washburn instruments with L&H
  • 1924
    • First meeting of the American Guild of Luthiers of which Zorzi was one of the founders
  • 1926 
    • Zorzi advertised a Guild meeting at L&H and was fired
    • Zorzi was then hired at Stromberg-Voisinet
  • 1929
    • There exists, according to Wright, a 14 fret Kay Kraft guitar with Zorzi's signature and dated 12/29 
  • 1934
    • Joseph Zorzi leaves Kay to start his own private shop


Sources

[1] https://patents.google.com/patent/US542788A
[2] https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/368246
[3] https://patents.google.com/patent/US1932975A