1933 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-11 Senior Flattop Guitar

Most longtime blog readers will have read about myriad KG-11 and KG-11-style guitars that I've had through the shop, but I think this is only one of two Kalamazoo Seniors I've had through. The only difference compared to a "normal" KG-11 is the extra back binding, and in the case of this '33 -- the cool checker soundhole binding and smaller L-00-style pickguard shape.

This is a great-looking guitar. It has the small sunburst, the thinner/black-painted bridge type, and the non-tigerstripe, smoky-looking pickguard. It exudes country-blues aesthetic.

I find KG-11s, for my own use, to be strictly fingerpicking instruments. They're bright and snappy and have just a little more of a round bass than their longer-bodied KG-14 counterparts. Folks with a light touch will find them nice for crosspicking or lead/fill work with a flatpick, and folks with just the right touch can make them into good old-time backup flatpickers. I, sadly, am not blessed with those types of fingers, so I prefer them as fingerpicking guitars.

These first-year-of-production KG-11s are hard to find compared to the big-sunburst, big-pickguard later models. The necks seem to be ever-so-slightly slimmer front-to-back on them, too, and the build is a teensy bit lighter as well. I think these sound a hair warmer than later KG-11s, but the later KG-11s often pounce out with their sound a little more.

Work included: a neck reset, fret level/dress, side dots install, bridge reglue, new bridge pins, new compensated bone saddle, cleats and sealing to a couple of longer hairline cracks on the back, general cleaning, and a good setup. The neck is straight, action is spot-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret (with plenty of saddle for adjustments), and it's strung with 50w, 38w, 28w, 22w, 15, 11 gauges. For standard tuning, I'd stick with 11s. For slack tunings, regular 12s are probably OK. These are lightly-built and will not tolerate heavy strings, though -- so fair warning!

Scale length: 24 13/16"
Nut width: 1 3/4"
String spacing at nut: 1 9/16"
String spacing at saddle: 2 3/8"
Body length: 17 1/4"
Lower bout width: 14 3/4"
Upper bout width: 10"
Side depth at endpin: 4"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: solid mahogany
Neck wood: mahogany
Fretboard: rosewood
Neck shape: ~10-12" w/medium-big soft-V rear
Bridge: original rosewood
Nut: original bone
Saddle: new, compensated bone

Condition notes: this is completely original save the bridge pins, side dots, and new bone saddle. There's plenty of pickwear to the top and mild scratching throughout, but it's actually pretty clean for its age. Often these KG-11s are quite beat. The top does have the usual doming/bellying that you'd expect of a ladder-braced guitar this old, but it's stable in service.

A bone nut is another nice upgrade compared to the basic Kalamazoos. Oh, and right -- two of the tuner ferrules are replacements from my parts-bins.

The fretboard (and inside of the body, for that matter) was super-grungy when it arrived. It still has evidence of use-wear throughout but isn't heavily-pitted at all. The frets are the usual small, low, vintage Gibson type.

Here's one of the repaired back cracks on the upper-bout-bass-side.

Here's the other, longer one on the lower-bout-bass-side. Both of these are filled, sealed, and have cleats installed inside over their entire lengths.

The 732 factory order number suggests 1933 manufacture considering the rest of the design features on this instrument.