10/15/2015

1935 Gibson-made Cromwell GT-2 Tenor Guitar




This "Cromwell" is identical to a Kalamazoo KTG-14, save that it has the cosmetics upgrades of a bound back and center-stripe fretboard inlay with big pearl dots. Otherwise it's still got that big, punchy, up-front sound that sits so well "in session" and, of course, the quality build and Gibson charm. The A-suffix factory order number at the neck block places this at 1935 and it still has the older, "small sunburst" finish to the top.

Work included a fret level/dress, new rosewood pins and endpin, new bone saddle, new tuners, and a light shave/respray of the bridge. It plays spot-on with 1/16" action at the 12th fret and at the moment it's strung up with DGBE ("Chicago tuning") strings. The saddle is compensated for that, CGDA, or GDAE with an unwound A string -- all of which the 22 3/4" scale length is happy with.


Yeah, this one has a crack-free body as well -- something I just don't see very often on older guitars. The top is solid spruce and appears to be made from three pieces. Back, sides, and neck are solid mahogany and the bridge and fretboard are both Brazilian rosewood.

With a body shape that's borrowed from the KG-14 and its ladder bracing, the short scale sets the bridge slightly higher on the soundboard and this is actually very beneficial to the tenor use of the instrument because this seems to impart a bit more of a mandolin-ish chime and cut to the overall tone. A normal 6-string version of this same guitar sounds a bit more bluesy and honky and has, perhaps, just a tad less sustain.


While the tuners aren't original, the ferrules are. The ebony nut is, as well. This has a bigger v-shape to the neck profile and matches some of the down-market tenor banjo necks made by Gibson at the time as well.


The stripe (celluloid) and big pearl dots are so very cool. I've always loved this feature of Cromwell-branded Gibson-makes.

The neck is nice and straight and the frets are in good shape after the level/dress.


The "firestripe" pickguard also has "the look" as well. There's a mix of use-wear on the instrument but overall it's pretty clean. The upper bout top on the treble side has a tiny area of dulled finish and the bass side has a few little pockmarks -- probably from someone bumping the instrument a few times.

The finish overall has that general crazing/weathercheck you hope to see on these.


Aside from a light shave and new bone saddle, I also filled and redrilled the bridge pin holes. They weren't perfectly lined-up when the guitar was made and they're still not (as I re-drilled them out in the same place), but it's a lot tidier now and the worn pinholes have been cleaned-up in the process.

After adjustments to the bridge I resprayed it with nitro to keep the look consistent with the original sprayed-over look.






While these Kluson-style repros aren't original, they're good tuners and make the simple use of the instrument far more enjoyable than the friction pegs supplied as original equipment.







Here you can see that checking to the grain.


Now, there's a line in the finish at the heel that looks suspiciously like a heel crack but I'm sure it's not. It goes all the way around the side of it but I see no break and flexing the heel and neck doesn't produce the gap of a hairline crack. It's A-OK but I like to be thorough in the pictures.

I see this sometimes when the grain opens/contracts with humidity and mars the finish but it's more common to see a spider-webbing effect instead.

No comments: