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Reviews Categories | Keys & Paddles | Kent Straight Key Help

Reviews Summary for Kent Straight Key
Kent Straight Key Reviews: 32 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $129.95
Product is in production.
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AE6PN Rating: 5/5 Mar 19, 2009 23:56 Send this review to a friend
good key  Time owned: more than 12 months
I used 3 kent straight key in the passed 10 years.

they all work very good.

I like heavy feel of key.

no other problem.

I belive it worth $100
VE3ES Rating: 0/5 Jul 26, 2008 07:46 Send this review to a friend
Piece of junk  Time owned: more than 12 months
Sorry. The one that I got from Kent was a piece of junk. Bought it at the Dayton Hamvention a number of years ago as a kit. It sat unopened for several months until I had time to put it together. Several pieces were missing. Not pleased but I contacted Kent and they sent out the required pieces. Unfortunately, they were for the wrong product. I contacted them again and as we were getting close to the next Dayton Hamvention they said to bring it there and they would exchange it. I did. Got another piece of junk with missing pieces. Found that out while at Dayton. Took it back, they replaced it again and once more, a single piece missing. They mailed that piece to me after Dayton. Wrong size. A year or so later I found a busted up key at a local swap. Bought it for the part. Finally got the key working. Piece of junk. My 30+ year old Ameco key that I first practised on was far better. Next Dayton I bought a new Vibroplex straight key. No problems since. Where's the Kent? Buried at the bottom of my parts bin. Have I mentioned piece of junk?
KC5CQD Rating: 5/5 Jul 1, 2007 23:19 Send this review to a friend
Great Key but.......  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This is a well built piece of machinery. No side-to-side play whatsoever. The adjustment screws are all finely threaded so as to give minute settings. It's a lot of brass mounted to a beautiful piece of wood. But....

This key is worthless if you're dead-set on the American way of brass pounding. I.e., resting the forearm on a flat surface and using the wrist to manipulate the key. That won't work with this key. You HAVE to use the "English/British" method of sending code in order to appreciate this key to its fullest.

The English method is quite simple. Pull the key to the front edge of your operating surface, suspend your arm in mid-air with only your shoulder as a support and manipulate the key with your wrist, forearm and shoulder all at the same time. Sounds ridiculous but let me tell you, it works perfectly with this key. This straight key is quite large and feels very substantial in your hand.

Definitely a keeper.
M0CUQ Rating: 5/5 Feb 11, 2007 11:22 Send this review to a friend
A joy to use  Time owned: more than 12 months
I belive that my Kent key was one of the first built when I purchased it as a kit in January 1987. Well 20 years (and a few keys later) I still have it. It is solidly constructed and definitely has stood the test of time. I find the direction of the spring in straight keys to be of great importance. If the spring is at the front, pushing up, any slack in the bearing will be felt and this has been a reason for me to ditch many straight keys. The kent key has the spring in the correct place, at the back pulling down on the bearing. The overall feel is solid and friendly. It holds a fine gap and the silver contacts rarely give a problem (I draw a sheet of paper through from time to time to keep them clean). I do not know what the current knob is like but mine was supplied with plastic one which, although functional, was not really in keepng with the high quality of the rest of the instrument. I changed it for a bakalite one from a damaged military key.

I do not think I will ever part with this key, and when my fingers get muddled on the paddle the kent straight always comes to the rescue!
KD1E Rating: 5/5 Nov 7, 2006 14:49 Send this review to a friend
Smooth & precise.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've been wanting to try one for a while and finally picked one up. Nice key. The motion is absolutely one dimensional. Up down with no side to side play. And it moves very smoothly and precicely up and down. Both adjusting screws are fine threaded so minute adjustments are easy on this key. I can set the gap very small and the tension very light for fast sending with full weight dots.

The base has one down side. As a partially hollow wooden thing it acts like a musical instrument and resonates rather loudly when operating the key. Yep, this one is a clacker, but I like it anyway.

In comparing it to other keys, it is head & shoulders above my Speed-X key, Nye Master key and my surprisingly good Chinese key. It is not quite up to the level of the Junker the difference doesn't emerge until you've lived with both for a while, its that close. The Junker is more of a machining marvel with fabulous adjustability and repeatability while the Kent has the upper hand on looks with slightly less mechanical quality. BTW, I believe the Junker is cheaper and is a better buy but you'll have to retro fit your own navy knob to it. The Kent comes with a fabulous knob right from the start. This knob fits me and my European style sending just about perfectly!
CT1FKC Rating: 5/5 Nov 1, 2006 08:04 Send this review to a friend
reliable  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
tested one, a few months ago, and decided it would be a good choice.
very happy with it. a good investment to my shack.
a rock solid instrument build to last.
congratulations to Robert Kent for is nice product.
AC4FS Rating: 5/5 May 28, 2006 05:17 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding Key!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I wrote my first impression review of the Kent straight key back in January. I've now had four more months to use the key on the air and form an opinion. Without a doubt, the Kent straight key is the best straight key I've ever used. That's not to say it is the best key made, just the best I've used. The action is tight and effortless, and thanks to the ball bearing pivot construction, has absolutely no side-to-side movement. Once you set your desired spacing and firmness, it stays there. I haven't had to adjust this key once since I fine-tuned it back in January, and I've pounded plenty of brass since then.

One word of caution to perspective buyers: The Kent straight key works best using the "English" method of sending. If you are an experienced "American" method sender, you will have problems, and may not like the key. I took it to a friends house and let him try it. He had been a Radioman in the U.S. Navy, and using a J-38 was second nature to him. He could not figure out how to use this key! I was a bit disheartened to say the least, but I did not let that dampen my enthusiasm for this piece of mechanical perfection from Kent Engineering :-)

The Kent straight key shares desk space with a Vibroplex Brass Racer paddle. I purchased it at the Orlando Hamvention this past March. Up until then, I had been using a Bencher BY-1 paddle. I'd have to say that eight times out of ten, when I reach over to call CQ or answer someone else's CQ, I reach for the Kent. It just feels more comfortable and controllable to me than the paddles do.

Would I buy the Kent straight key again? I'd have to say Yes! And I'd also recommend it to any ham that is looking to step up to a higher-end straight key.
N0MLZ Rating: 5/5 Apr 12, 2006 10:50 Send this review to a friend
An excellent value  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Ordered the kit directly from Kent, which was cheaper than buying from a U.S. supplier. The key is exceptional build quality, and it feels marvelous to use. I think it's an excellent value for a straight key.
W6KIP Rating: 5/5 Mar 11, 2006 20:19 Send this review to a friend
A NEW EXPERIENCE  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I ordered the key as a kit directly from Kent via their website. It was $30 cheaper than buying from a domestic distributor but that wasn't my main motivation. I really wanted to deal with the company directly. Their site isn't an innovative ecommerce experience. I wasn't issued an order number and didn't receive email confirmation, other than the PayPal notification. They don't offer secure account access or online order review. I'd just had an MFJ order sit in limbo with a PayPal problem, so I was a little concerned. I emailed Kent Engineering and received a personal email from Robert Kent within 12 hours, assuring me the order was in process and due to ship the following day. It took 3 weeks to arrive in San Diego so be patient if you go this route. The key went together without a hitch and was complete and ready to use within an hour. (I'm slow at everything. Others could do it much more quickly.) As mentioned elsewhere, the finished product is stunning. It would make a beautiful piece of art if I set it on the shelf, except this key is far too functional to be left in a display case.
I love CW but I have a horrible fist and am constantly challenged by Morse code. I was worried when I started using the Kent because it felt so awkward and ungainly. I was convinced I'd bought a pretty but useless turkey. Then I reviewed The Art and Skill of Radio-Telegraphy by William Pierpont, N0HFF ( and realized what my problem was. Bill describes the differences in keying styles between American, with the elbow and forearm resting on the table or British style, the key resting on the very edge of the table, your arm unsupported and inline with the key lever. I made the change and within an hour CW became a completely new and enjoyable experience. I feel like I have more control and for the first time I'm aware of tiny incremental adjustments to tension or contact spacing. I can't explain how much I look forward to sitting down at the radio and getting to use the key again. A sensuous pleasure.
I have only praise for the Kent key and the effect it has on my operations. I haven't touched an iambic paddle since December, 2005. I encourage anybody in the least bit interested in getting away from a keyer to get one of these keys and experience the difference a fine instrument can make.
AC4FS Rating: 5/5 Jan 27, 2006 13:05 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding First Impression  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My Kent straight key just arrived today. 12:30 PM Eastern time, to be exact. When I removed it from the box, the sheer mechanical beauty of the key took me aback. I quickly fashioned a cable for it and hooked it up to my trusty Kenwood TS-570S.

Up until now, I had been using a Wm. Nye Master Key that I got off of eBay last year. This key absolutely blows the Nye away! The bearing pivot is almost friction-free, and there is no side-to-side motion at all.

I have been practicing on and off since I got the key hooked up, and my impression is that the Kent key is a finely crafted piece of machinery. I truly feel that once I have more experience with it, I would be able to work effortlessly at 25 to 30 wpm.

I plan on writing another review after a few months of daily use. For those who were put-off by the two negative reviews below, forget about them. This key truly is a work of art and as close to mechanical perfection as I think you can get.

73, Howard
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