2/19/2017

1936 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-14 Flattop Guitar





Update July 2017: Since originally posting, I needed to do a "summer setup" on this guitar and so recently modified the saddle slot on this to a deeper, drop-in slot, made a new bone saddle, and reprofiled/lightly shaved the bridge top to a flatter (rather than deep wedge-shaped) profile to give more adjustment room on the bass side. It's still playing on-the-dot and now action adjustments are made much more easily. I've updated the pictures.

Another KG-14! I guess they're better in pairs, no? This one is loud, punchy-as-heck, has good snap -- and a lot of ring to it. It's mostly-original, too, but has new frets and a new nut and saddle. The pins are, amazingly, all-original and the guitar has that look -- with the firestripe guard and perfect bluesy sunburst.

This was almost-done last Saturday, but it took all week for me to find the time necessary to finish it off. This is because it needed more work than I expected. In the end it got a neck reset, bridge reglue, new bone nut and saddle, modification to the bridge itself, brace reglues, crack cleats and repairs to the top, and a board plane and refret (with new jumbo stock). The end result is a top-notch player with a straight neck, modern-feeling frets, and spot-on 3/32" EA, 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. I have it strung with 52w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12 strings in a "slightly lighter than light" set.

The usual KG-14 specs apply, too -- 1 3/4" nut width, 12" radius fretboard, medium-sized V-shaped neck profile, 24 3/4" scale (almost 24 7/8" in actuality), and 14 5/8" width on the lower bout. The ladder bracing compared to an x-braced L-00 means a less-creamy top and bottom end and an emphasis on lots of snap and punch in the mids. This is ideal for a fingerpicker but will also suit a flatpicker who needs a bit of cut and definition like an archtop.




I also added side dots. The board is freshly leveled/planed and feels like a new, boutique offering.



There are a few difficult-to-see cracks on the top that are all repaired. Two short hairlines are above the soundhole and cleated and there are three smaller ones below the soundhole and terminating at the bridge -- also cleated. Below the bridge the center-seam was a little open and that's been glued, cleated, and sealed for future stability.

I forgot to mention that I also reglued the pickguard a bit, too.


The bridge has its original pins -- though the saddle is a new, compensated, bone one. I cut a deeper, drop-in-style saddle slot and also reprofiled the top of the bridge to a flatter (rather than the original wedge) shape so that there's more adjustment room on the bass side of the deck. After that I added some light string-ramping to keep back-angle on the saddle ideal.


As you can see, there's some saddle left for action adjustments. Since this has settled-in, now (I'm updating this post a few months since finishing this), I'm guessing the only adjustment needed will be to shim the saddle up in winter, when the top is a little lower due to that usual "seasonal guitar shift."




Woods, right? The top is solid spruce and the back, sides, and neck are solid mahogany. The back on this one appears to be one piece, too.


There's an average amount of use-wear on the guitar but, overall, it looks great compared to many KG-14s which tend to get a lot of play over the years.


The tuners are mostly original but I've used spare parts from a donor set of the same type (only a few years prior) to replace missing bits.


The "fade" of the sunburst to the back/sides is pretty neat here at the neck.







The endpin is original, too.


People tend to request shots of string height at the 12th fret from time to time. The problem is, optical illusions kill this as a useful measure of action height. This reads as spot-on 1/16" DGBE and 3/32" EA... but who knows what the picture looks like via those tall jumbo frets? I can't tell, myself!

6 comments:

Robert Gardner said...

Very handsome Kalamazoo, Jake. Hope its around long enough for me to stop by and play it.

Supraphonic said...

I am selling an identical Kalamazoo KG14 flattop if any one is looking for one.

Jake Wildwood said...

Oh, come on, Supraphonic -- this isn't the Classifieds on a forum... ;)

Warren said...

I'll look here first...!

Jake Wildwood said...

Hee hee -- I couldn't help but at least give the reply a rub. :)

At least he's not spamming the blog trying to sell hoodinks and whatzits with links to Russian porn sites.

Thesoundword said...

Anyone want to buy a llama? I got llamas.