1936 Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-11 Flattop Guitar

Some time back, a fella stopped by and picked this KG-11 out from the rack of "needing work" instruments for himself. Since then, it's been awaiting service to get it up and running. It's hard not to like the styling of these later-'30s KGs with their wide, bright sunburst and big, fiery-looking pickguards. They're bold. The tone is usually bold, too -- loud and with a lot if bite but not a lot of lower-mids warmth and grrr. That makes them perfect fingerpicking "country-blues" guitars as bare fingers warm the sound up and the extra volume and snap helps those bare fingers project.

This one, however, does the flatpicking thing really well, too. I don't know why, but this particular guitar has more of the lower-mids grunt and guts I expect from an L-00 or the like. It still has that open, old-time voicing that you expect from a ladder-braced KG-11, but it has a lot more grrr than I expect. It's also loud as heck.

Before this guitar arrived at the shop, it'd had a sloppy neck reset and someone had taken-down the bridge's height with a sander (leaving a nice little sanding mark to the bass side of the bridge). It wasn't bad logic -- he or she just took it down level with the "thin" side of the bridge (the treble side). These KGs often have really wedge-shaped bridges which can make installing new saddles really frustrating as the bass side will have to be low over the top while the treble side has quite a lot of saddle showing. At any rate -- that wasn't the biggest issue with the bridge -- the biggest issue with the bridge is that its saddle-slot had been deepened with a rat-tail file, wasn't in the right place anyway, and was certainly not going to suffice, hah hah.

Work included: a neck reset, seam repairs, brace reglues, cleats for two medium-sized tight hairline cracks on the top (one below bridge, one next to the pickguard), fret level/dress, replacement ('50s-style, but close in looks) tuners, replacement ebony bridge pins, a saddle slot fill (with rosewood) and recut, respray (with nitro) of the bridge to match the original look, a new bone saddle, cleaning, and setup. I also added two small extra reinforcement braces at the edges of the soundhole to box it in. The top wasn't deflected in that area but I have my suspicions about why KGs sometimes have a little bit of a spongy/less-sustained tone. I think this helped. At any rate, it's strung with 52w-11 gauges and action is bang-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret -- low and quick. The neck is straight.

Scale length: 24 13/16"
Nut width: 1 3/4"
String spacing at nut: 1 9/16"
String spacing at bridge: 2 3/8"
Body length: 17 3/8"
Lower bout width: 14 3/4"
Waist width: 9"
Upper bout width: 9 7/8"
Side depth at deepest: 4 1/8"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: solid mahogany
Neck wood: mahogany
Fretboard: rosewood
Bridge: rosewood
Neck feel: medium V-shape, ~10" board radius

Condition notes: one old repair to a hairline back crack (small/medium) on the back lower bout, one old repair to a hairline crack on the treble-waist-side, two medium-length tight hairline cracks cleated and repaired on the front, somewhat-modified bridge (now has a drop-in saddle slot), replacement tuners, new side dots, average wear and tear (with weather-check) to the finish throughout with one rubbed-up spot from a sander to the bass side of the bridge, new bridge pins, and new saddle. Finish is all original save a respray of the top of the bridge.

There's plenty of saddle height to adjust to your taste. It's a drop-in, too, so you can shim it up and down as well.


Rob Gardner said…
Love that "Tom's Guitar Shop" stamp.