9/25/2012

c.1939 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-22 Archtop Guitar




The FON (factory order number) on the back of the headstock places this Kalamazoo at 1939. It's a KG-22 model, which is otherwise identical to the KG-31 model except that the sides are solid maple and the back is laminated maple whereas the 31 has solid mahogany "secondary" woods throughout.

Work on this guitar included a fret level/dress, one light hairline crack repair at the bass-side f-hole, cleaning, setup, and fitting and installation of a new bridge (since the original was missing).

Like all the Kalamazoos I work on, I really love the tone and feel of this guitar. Compared to my own, later-model (1940-ish) KG-21, the neck on this is securely in the "1930s" Gibson fashion, with a Regal-esque hard v profile with wider 1 3/4" nut that is strangely very comfortable to play (at least for me). This guitar feels (it's the same dimensions) and sounds close to the "actual Gibson" brand L-48s and L-50 models, which have carved tops, save that the pressed-top arching on this is a little flatter and the bracing is a bit different which (to my ears) brings more of an open or flattop tone to the lower register of the instrument. The 24 3/4" scale also feels nice and quick (action is spot on -- 3/32" at the 12th on the bass and 1/16" on the treble).


Like the best Kalamazoos, this one shows play-wear and use-wear, but not abuse, which is what I tend to look for in an old guitar. The tone is opened up and satisfying. Speaking of tone -- this has that Kalamazoo creamy/punchy fundamental but compared to the mahogany models is a little drier and airier with more sparkle. It's also got plenty of zing and snap for cutting lead work.


This one has the fun "pointed" Kalamazoo headstock shape. Note the original bone nut. It was shimmed up really high before work, which was curious. Maybe someone was using this for Hawaiian stringing for a time?


Pearl dots in a radiused, rosewood board.


I fit this replacement, rosewood (but stained dark like ebony), bridge to the top in the same fashion that the original Gibson bridge would have had -- with the whole base resting on the top surface rather than just the "feet."

Just FYI, I order a lot of my replacement parts that I don't make myself from eBay Canada seller "Bezdez" since many of the parts he/she/they sell are practical, good deals, and vintage-styled.


This is a pretty typical Kalamazoo-style tailpiece, and of course, in typical fashion -- is rusted up.


Only the top and back edges are bound in creamy-yellow celluloid.



Here you can see the "dark walnut"-stained maple back that's so typical from 40s and 50s Gibson products.


One tuner plate has been replaced, but at least all the black buttons are the same, and at least it's from the same timeframe. The Kluson set (to the left) is the original type on this instrument. The "EK-3363" dates this to 1939. Letter E was for 1939, K was for Kalamazoo, and the 3363 was the batch number.

I also lubed the tuners.


Neck set is perfect with a good, straight neck.



There's some fun birdseye and slight curly figure in the maple on the sides.


The endpin was missing so I replaced it with this ebony one.

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