2/17/2017

1934 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-11 Flattop Guitar





I really enjoy KG-11s and, considering that there's 7 or 8 more of them to be repaired around here, that's good news for me! A customer selected this from the bunch on-hand, and now that repairs are done, it just needs to settle-in and then will be cleared for shipping.

This one has a factory order number of 1171 on the neckblock which states that it's a 1934 build -- though the small sunburst and straight-cut headstock sort-of call it out as a Kalamazoo made in the "first batch" of 1933-34, anyway. It shares the usual KG-11 specs -- a 1 3/4" nut, usual Gibson 24 3/4" scale length, 14 5/8" lower bout, and a "squashed" body with a lower-on-the-bout bridge as compared to the more-iconic KG-14s. These design changes compared to the KG-14 push the nut closer to the left hand, impart an overall woodier, warmer tone, and locate the body in a super-comfortable way in the lap. The sacrifice is a small bit of volume and punch, but for my playing style I tend to prefer KG-11s most of the time as they're a more forgiving guitar -- something a friend of mine also concluded after giving it a whirl right after I'd finished work on it.

That work included a neck reset, fret level/dress (thankfully on an already-straight neck), replacement rosewood bridge, a couple of crack repairs/cleats (a couple to the side at the bass waist and one on the top below the bridge), and replacement bridge pins. It's playing spot-on with 1/16" DGBE and 3/32" EA action at the 12th fret. I tend to run "11s-comparable" strings on these, but with stiffer trebles -- gauges 52w, 38w, 28w, 22w, 16, 12.


This has a 3-piece, solid spruce top. The back, sides, and neck are solid mahogany and the fretboard is Brazilian rosewood with a 12" radius.


The tuners are replacements, but the ferrules are originals. Note the original ebony nut.


I add side dots standard, these days. The pearl dots and smallish Gibson frets are original, though.



I love the look of these pickguard-less early models.


The original bridge would've been Brazilian rosewood with a through-cut saddle slot and "ebonized" black with a nitro finish sprayed over it. My replacement is Indian rosewood and has a drop-in saddle slot. I re-used the original bone saddle, however, when I fit this one.

The original bridge had split along the pins and the back edge would've sheared-off over time (probably 6 months after tuning-up) if I'd attempted to glue it back together and leave it. I don't like having to waste customers' time with such things to preserve damaged originality.


The pearl-dot ebony pins aren't "to spec," but I didn't want to use the oversize pins that this came with as the holes are already so far aft (like the original bridge).


Celluloid binding is only at the top edge and soundhole.




The tuners are 1950s units I'm used to seeing on Harmony guitars. I tend to have a few sets on hand and use them on guitars like this one, when I get the chance, as its original tuners were long gone and the replacements were terrible, super-cheap, Ping units. They work as well or better than the originals and have the same vibe as 30s, openback machines.







The original endpin is extant, but has a small chip-out on its "bottom ring."

2 comments:

Farmer said...

Very nice guitar. How much is of tne kg-11 approximately?
Thanx.

Jake Wildwood said...

Depending on condition, I usually sell them $1200-1400 shipped, right now.