1935 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KTG-21 Archtop Tenor Guitar

I don't see these all that often, so it was fun to have one of these pop into the shop locally for consignment. This is the tenor version of the 6-string KG-21 and shares the same fan/hybrid-X-bracing of its parent design. It seems to be a little more lightly-braced than the 6-string variety (a good thing) and as a result, this is a woody, powerful-voiced little sucker.

The owner brought it to me tuned GDAE (Celtic/octave mandolin tuning) with a plain A and it sounds so good that way, that I left it in that tuning when I restrung. If you're a tenor guitar hunter, you know how hard it is to find one that sounds full on the bottom in that tuning. This one does.

The caveat with this guitar is that it's totally beat, visually. There are a patch of old side-crack repairs on the bass side at the waist, a body-length back crack on the rear, and the finish is full of nicks, dings, scratches, and general wear-and-tear. It's ready to go, though, and perfectly stable after work.

Said work included adding a bunch of cleats to the sort-of cleated, old-repair to the back crack, minor sealing to the side cracks (there are original "fabric" cleats as well as old-repair cleats to them, too), a fret level/dress, side dots install, and minor adjustments to the saddle and nut. I also replaced the obnoxious original friction pegs with some '60s, all-metal, vintage-style (they were from a Gretsch) guitar tuners from my parts-bin.

Specs are: 22 3/4" scale, 1 3/16" nut width, 15/16" string spacing at the nut, 1 7/16" spacing at the bridge, 14 5/8" lower bout, 10 1/4" upper bout, and 4 1/2" side depth at the endblock. The neck has a medium, C/V neck profile and a flat fretboard. action is spot-on at 1/16" at the 12th fret and adjustable up/down.

The top is solid spruce and "Arco-arched" -- which means it was pressed into shape rather than carved. The back and sides are solid mahogany, the neck is mahogany, and the board and bridge are rosewood.

The original ebony nut is still extant.

The board is flat-profile and has pearl dots.

While the bridge is low, there's adjustment room up/down and the action is spot-on, anyhow.

The factory order number stamped inside seems to have an A suffix and that correlates to 1935 -- which makes sense because in that year the Kalamazoo models were supplied with these proper, Gibson-style tailpieces rather than the cheaper, stamped ones on later versions.

The "new" tuners make a heap of difference over 1:1 friction pegs. I used these for 6 months on my old Gretsch electric (which they're original to) from the '60s, but because one tuner was a replacement, the shift in gearing for the one tuner was making me a little frustrated, so I swapped them out.

The old crack repairs are sloppy on the outside but solid on the inside.

It even comes with a sticker-bedecked, old non-original chip case.


Ben said…
Nice Tenor swinger!
Didn't see a price. How much are you asking?