10/29/2014

1936 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-14 00-size Guitar




Gibson-made, ladder-braced, low-brow 30s sunburst looks... there's a reason why these guitars are so extremely popular these days: they're killer for old-time, blues, and folk stylings either fingerpicked or flatpicked and the Gibson build means they're built to last. Can't argue with that!

This is a consignor's instrument and I was pretty excited when this arrived and I found the only work necessary to be cleaning, leveling/dressing the frets, installation of a new bone saddle, and a good setup. It's currently rocking a set of lights (12s) and feels great (1/16" treble, 3/32" bass action). The neck has no warp, the frets are almost full height, there are zero cracks, the original tuners work fine... there's really nothing to complain about. Even the replacement pins (pastic and black) are at least the same color as the originals would've been.


Oona said: I want a picture of me with the guitar! Okay, okay, fine... but please just let me take the pictures, now?!


At any rate, being a KG-14 this instrument is built almost the same as a 30s L-00 except the top is ladder-braced rather than x-braced and there's no truss rod in the neck.

The top is solid spruce while the back, sides, and neck are solid mahogany. Both the fretboard and bridge are Brazilian rosewood and the nut is ebony while the saddle (new, replacement) is bone.


Ah the "rooftop" Kalamazoo headstock. I would've guessed this was built around 1935 based on the neck profile and headstock style but, luckily enough, there's a batch number stamped on the neckblock that dates this exactly to 1936 via Spann's Guide to Gibson (great book).


The Brazilian rosewood board is lightly radiused and has pearl dots inlaid. The frets are the smallish, thin stuff that Gibson used up until, pretty much, the 40s. I like the feel of them especially for slides and hammer-ons. The neck shape is that medium V typical to 30s Gibsons.

Later on these guitars got the sort of softer but big C/D shape that became standard on Gibs through the 40s.


Who doesn't like simple 1-ply cream binding and a firestripe pickguard?


The original bridge is doing just fine, though it came to me with a silly repro plastic saddle. It had also been lightly shaved to begin with so I cleaned up that job, added string ramps, and cut a new compensated bone saddle to fit the original slot.

This guitar also came with a bunch of random white paint spray here and there on it presumably from someone's sloppy spray painting in the garage this once lived in. I've cleaned almost all of it off though a few dots might be here or there that I missed. The finish itself has the usual age-related use-wear and some weatherchecking throughout. It's the normal "Gibson patina" sort of stuff from this time.

 

The mahogany back and sides are stained that blackish, murky ruddy dark brown typical of these Kalamazoos (and Gibson flattops) from the time.


The original tuners work well but don't turn ultra-smooth. They do hold pitch just fine, though. I lubed them up a bit.






A couple more "frontal beauty shots" can't hurt...



There's a bit of old tape residue near the plastic (replacement) endpin.

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