12/06/2015

1938 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-11 Flattop Guitar




This one came in for consignment on Friday. I can't find any trace of a factory order number (FON) to reliably date it, but the owner's information when purchased originally was that it's a 1938. The wide burst and slightly-mellower v-neck point to that later era -- so fair enough, I say. Blog readers will know that I have a soft spot for KG-11s as they're quite a bit like the more well-known KG-14 (L-00 body shape) but have a "squashed" body and a lower-set bridge placement that gives them a little less snap and zing and smidge less volume but a bit more "open" lower-mids and a rounder overall sound. As with most Kalamazoo flattops, this one is ladder-braced and the general sound is catered to "country-blues" or "old-time" in its nature.

This particular example plays beautifully, has an above-average tone for its type, and has had some prior work done by Mr. Tucker down Brattleboro way. I'm not sure what's his work and what's not, but there's a quality replacement bridge, 50s-style Kluson-style tuners installed, and crack repairs/cleating to the back done. Let's face it, too -- the guitar has been around the block! It shows playwear/usewear throughout but all of that serves, to my eye, the mission of "lived-in charm." 



The top is solid spruce -- back, sides, and neck are solid mahogany. The board is Brazilian rosewood and the replacement bridge is ebony. Other than the bridge, saddle, pins, and tuners... it's original and hasn't had any overspray or the like.

The work I did when it came in was setup-related: I lightly-shaved the (already shaved) bridge, compensated and adjusted the saddle's height, swapped-in some ebony bridge pins (closer to the old 30s Gibson look of black pins), and dialed-in the rest of the setup. It plays spot-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret -- and I believe it's strung with 12s.


The original ebony nut is 1 3/4" in width and the board has a light radius, original-looking (great condition) frets, and a medium-v profile (comfortable) to the back of the neck.

Note the small paint dots here and there -- I actually cleaned-off a whole ton of them, but a few remain throughout where I didn't want to over-do my cleaning and muck-up the finish.


Pearl dots.

This has the standard 24 3/4" Gibson scale length.


The firestripe picguard looks excellent, as usual.


This is a fairly standard-issue ebony repro "pyramid" bridge that was installed. When it came in I noticed the center had been shaved a bit (par for the course on refitting to older guitars) and one of the "diamonds" had its top a little sanded-down. I sanded down the other side and smoothed it out to match the look and then shaved the center of the bridge just a tad more so I could both lower the action a bit more and also leave a healthy +/- 1/16" or so for future height adjustment. The drop-in saddle slot makes summer/winter/player preference height adjustment very easy, mind you.

I'm assuming Mr. Tucker installed the small "bridge plate cap" as well, which is exactly what I do on these to keep the ball-ends snug and tight at the (original, softwood -- spruce) bridge plate. You can blame me, however, for the addition of mild string ramps -- which help maintain good back-angle and clean stringing at the saddle.



While the top is crack-free, the back has one long and a couple short hairlines -- all of which have been repaired. It also has tons of use-wear! Mojo, mojo, mojo -- that's what they call it, I suppose. I like my guitars a bit bitten, personally.


These are older Kluson-style tuners that look like a parts-bin find to me of the good variety! They work well.








Original rosewood endpin...


...and some cleats along the cracks in the back.


This comes with a nice old period hard case that looks like it would fit a 16" archtop in a pinch.


It does have non-period stickers, though!

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