5/29/2014

c.1933 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KM-11 Flattop Mandolin




Update 2015: A friend of mine had been using this for about a year but he decided to concentrate on fiddle instead, so it's available again. Aside from cleaning it up when it came back it was good to go, though I also re-intonated the bridge for a bit cleaner breaking points. Here's how that looks right now:


Now back to the original post...

These KM-11s are pretty cool instruments. They're awfully similar in feel and tone to a Gibson Alrite "pancake" mandolin but have the added benefit of slightly more airspace and a "pear" body shape similar to Gibson A-style instruments which, to my ears, makes them a bit rounder and a lot louder. The bracing is different, too: it's a "bridged" ladder bracing with some angled wings for structural support around the soundhole. I love the old-timey chime coupled with the Gibson dark creamy flavor as well -- it gives this thing a voice all its own compared to other flattop/back mandolins.

Work included a neck reset (also filling of the dovetail's void), fretboard extension removal, recut and realignment, lower top brace reglue, seam work, and hairline crack cleating/repair. The frets also got a level/dress and setup was of course involved, too. It plays spot on and has that "Gibson" feel with a medium V neck and long 13 7/8" scale.

Unfortunately for all of you out in cyber-land, a friend of mine decided on picking this thing up only 15 minutes or so after having finished it off. I hadn't even taken the pictures yet!


What's nice is that everything on this is original... and doesn't that sunburst look ever so Depression era classy?


Ebony nut...


Nice rosewood board with pearl dots...


...and can anyone ever really not swoon for a firestripe pickguard?

I added a "patching brace" below the fretboard extension as the mandolin had the usual signs of "stress creeping" where the neck wants to fold into the top. With that and the other repairs in place as well as "Doctor's Orders" to keep to a set of 9s or 10s, this should stay in good stead for the future.


Luckily, that cloud cover is still attached to its tailpiece.



Solid spruce top and solid mahogany back, sides, and neck.


The brass-plate tuners work nicely and they appear to have been lubed prior to my taking this instrument in.




I love the "flat A-style" aesthetics.



Here you can see that weird hybrid ladder bracing with its "wings" to support around the soundhole.


Here's the case that comes with it.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jake I want this one. Still there? Hope to visit someday.

Jake Wildwood said...

Still available. Pop me an email. :)