10/20/2015

1934 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-11 Flattop Guitar




This is yet another consigned sunburst Ka'zoo! While the rest have been variations on the KG-14 body, this one is the "squashed 00" KG-11. While these don't have quite the same punch and volume as a KG-14 (they're about 85% of that), they do have a somewhat sweeter bottom end (compare bridge placement) and accept a flatpick with more leniency than the brash "gunboat" 14s. This makes them a bit more useful for the singer-songwriter or backing-chords type who will tend to strum or crosspick a bit more rather than fingerpick or chomp down on "old-time" chord/rhythm.

The factory order number places this one at 1934 and the small sunburst finish and cool-as-heck slightly-bigger pickgaurd concur.



Work on this one included a neck reset, fret level/dress, a bridge plate fix/pin-hole fill and redrill, light compensation of the original saddle, and new ebony pins all around. I also cleated a tiny hairline at the soundhole that's that pesky "next to the pickguard" usual crack. Anyhow, other than the pins it's all-original, plays spot on (3/32" E&A, 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret), and is happily strung-up with a set of John Pearse 11s.


Original ebony nut (1 3/4" width and slight chipout next to the low E) and nice "faded sunburst" at the headstock.


The Brazilian rosewood board has a radius, smallish old Gibson-style frets, and pearl dots. The neck profile is a medium-bigger V and, if you can hear in the soundclip above, I make a few mistakes here and there until I figure the profile out as it's just slightly different from the Vs from 1935-38 or so that I've been playing recently.


The 3-ply rosette and minimal top binding is classic "Gibson depression." This has the smaller sunburst finish that's also admired by collectors and bluesers.


The original Brazilian rosewood bridge (with original bone saddle) is full height and the neck-set let me dial in the action to where it was spot-on with the same saddle height. I did replace the pins with ebony and did compensate the top of the saddle for better intonation up the neck.

On the underside of this bridge, Gibson installed their bridge plate/brace slightly too "aft" of the bridge and the front edge of it tore-out on line with the pins. I installed a patch in the same area and then filled/redrilled the pinholes. This is all nice and tidy "under the hood" and holds those ball-ends secure and stable. The patch is made from the same stuff as the brace/wide bridge plate: top-material quartersawn spruce.


The guitar shows average use-wear and finish-wear with small scratching and plenty of finish crazing and crackle here and there. It looks good, though, and the very minor amount of cracks (only the one at the pickguard) is pretty amazing for an old KG.



Solid mahogany is used for the back, sides, and neck.



The original tuners are good to go.





Isn't it funny how Gibson never bothered to match the saddle with the slot edges? Unlike Martin, they didn't go the extra mile and I see this on the lowest-end Kalamazoo models straight through fancier x-braced flattops. They also glued the dang things in like crazy...



New ebony endpin, too.


It comes with a period, semi-hard arched-top case (better protection). I gather that this was original fare.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't believe this is a 1934-it has a pickguard. Don't believe the tuners are original-no brown spotting. And Gibson most certainly matched the saddle to the slot. You are playing games

Jake Wildwood said...

I call BS to your comment here -- this was the original, glued-in saddle that'd yellowed with age just like the finish on the bridge. I've worked on a ton of KG-11s and KG-14s that have the same, original, short saddle. They were cutting corners in manufacture. I don't lie about this stuff -- I know this from experience.

As far as the date -- I'm going by Spann's Guide to Gibson via the FON. Perhaps the book is incorrect.

Jake Wildwood said...

As for the tuners, they're original -- do you work on guitars or have lots of experience with this type? The same units are on this '34 L-50:

http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2012/09/c1934-gibson-l-50-roundhole-archtop.html

wrvh said...

My 2 cents (I just stumbled upon this website):

I have a KG-11 and have the exact same tuners. Look original to me. Might have been polished at some point though. The saddle on mine is also not matched to the slot (and I couldn't care less).

Dermot O'Sullivan said...

I have a KG-11 and the saddle doesn't match the slot and the tuners look the same, so the Anonymous commenter can get lost!