1933 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-11 Flattop Guitar




A customer bought this guitar and sent it in for work. This is the earliest KG-11 I've worked-on. I've never seen another one quite like it. It looks like your average '33 but it has a tobacco-brownburst finish rather than a "small sunburst" with black edges. The bridge is finished in natural rather than painted black like other '33/'34 models and it has the rounded-around edges like on an L-00 or the like. The bracing is a little lighter, the neck is a thinner C-shape rather than V, and the fretboard is flat rather than radiused and made from ebonized maple instead of rosewood. It's like a late-'20s cheaper Gibson flattop met a KG-11 in the middle somewhere.

It also has the slightly-dodgy "no uppper-bout-brace" design with a wedge-shaped neckblock that runs all the way out to the end of the fretboard extension. It's not a bad idea in itself (it removes an extra step in building), but eliminating the crossing-brace right near the neckblock meant that the obvious happened as it took abuse -- the neck caved into the top a little bit -- causing hairline cracks at the side of the fretboard and a shift of the whole block and neck about 1/16" forward. I solved this while I was resetting the neck by hacking-away at the top of the neckblock with my Foredom (don't peek, it's not so pretty working upside-down and backwards on endgrain) and then making a heavy-duty rosewood brace/wing extension that wrapped around the block and serves to basically "extend" it outwards to hold the top together.

After work, this thing plays and sounds nice. It has a woody, mellow quality to it that makes it a little more fun to just sit around with and play. It's not quite as "ballsy" as later KG-11s, but the sweet tone is easier on many folks' ears. With the '36 that I just finished and this '33 in the shop, taste-tests landed 50/50 on which guitar players preferred.

Work included: a neck reset, fret seating (a lot of it) and level/dress, side dots install, saddle-slot fill (with rosewood) and recut (it wasn't compensated to begin-with), new bone saddle, minor seam and brace repairs, neckblock/neck joint reinforcement, a new bone nut, minor cleaning, and a setup. The neck is almost straight tuned to pitch (it deflects just a hair), but action is bang-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret, strung with 52w-11 gauges.

Scale length: 24 13/16"
Nut width: 1 3/4"
String spacing at nut: 1 7/16"
String spacing at bridge: 2 3/8"
Body length: 17 3/8"
Lower bout width: 14 5/8"
Waist width: 8 3/4"
Upper bout width: 10"
Side depth at endpin: 4 1/8"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: solid mahogany
Neck wood: mahogany
Bracing type: ladder
Fretboard: Brazilian rosewood, bone nut
Bridge: rosewood, bone saddle
Neck feel: medium C-shape, flat board

Condition notes: modified neckblock area, new saddle and nut, new ebony bridge pins, plenty of medium wear-and-tear to the finish, some not-quite-perfect old seam repairs and brace repairs (not mine), and visual wear to the maple fretboard.













How about the cool pearloid binding? I've never seen that on a Gibson from this era before.


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