9/09/2015

1936 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-14 Flattop Guitar




While I've worked on a number of KG-14s, this one is pretty much the cleanest I've had my hands on. The B-suffix factory order number places it at 1936 and that's right about where it looks like it should be, anyhow. It plays great and has that sort of dry, brash, punchy blues/old-time quality that makes these such a hit with fingerpickers and flatpickers that are into crosspicking. Sustain, as usual for these, is excellent as well.

There was only one tiny crack (under 1") at the upper part of the soundhole (now cleated) and the only non-original bits are the brand new bridge, saddle, and bridge pins (the endpin is original). The neck angle was good to go and so this has a full-height bridge with about 3/32" height adjustment room on the saddle. The saddle is a drop-in so later setup adjustments are easily-made with shims and the like.


Gorgeous, huh? As usual for KG-14s, this is solid spruce (ladder braced) over solid mahogany with a mahogany neck and Brazilian rosewood fretboard. It has some general use-wear scratching here and there and the typical finish crazing, but boy is it clean for its age.


The original ebony nut and tuners are still holding-up just fine, too. This has a 1 11/16" nut width, standard 24 3/4" Gibson scale, and is strung with 50w-11s per my usual standard-tuning setup on Kalamazoo flattops. 12s are probably fine, too.


The board is radiused, the fret height is near full-height, those are pearl dots, and the neck has the mid-30s standard-issue bigger V-shaped back.

The only setup "issue" on this guitar is that the fretboard starts dipping down very slightly towards the body after the 11th fret (like a backbow that starts up the neck). Most pickers would never notice this but those who do acrobatics up past the fretboard joint (who are you, anyway?) might notice it's a little springier way up there.


The firestripe pickguard is great stuff...


This repro rosewood bridge actually fit the old bridge's pin holes and size perfectly. I added a compensated bone saddle of my own and some ebony pins to simulate Gibson's use of black celluloid ones back then.













The original endpin is extant, too.

3 comments:

J-Walk said...

Beautiful! Have you tried a Waterloo WL-14? A modern day KG-14 clone from Collings. A side-by-side comparison would be interesting.

Jake Wildwood said...

Not yet -- I can understand the desire for the x-braced version (like a cheaper L-00 with cooler styling) -- but at $1900 for the WL-14 I think I'd prefer a vintage Ka'zoo hands-down if we're talking the ladder-braced variant.

Anonymous said...

I play a 36 KHG14, all original modified with a bone saddle and NOS retro tuners. This is the best sounding 00 I've ever played, finger style or flat pick the Waterloo doesn't stand up to it especially as far as projection goes. The Kalamazoo is a great guitar and a good value. Its holds its own even with the Gibson L-00's.