1930s Kalamazoo KHG-14 (X-Braced) Flattop Guitar

This Gibson-made Kalamazoo should be a lot less amazing than it is. Per its neck and body shape it should be a 12-fret "Hawaiian" version of the KG-14 model -- a KHG-14 (click to see). However, this sucker appears to be a regular Gibson HG-00 (a 12-fret "Hawaiian" version of an L-00 -- click here to see one of them) body with a KHG-14 neck mated to it. Perhaps someone needed a Kalamazoo Hawaiian to go out in a rush and this is what was ready to fit together?

Don't get me wrong -- the normal KHG-14s make great fingerpicking, country-blues boxes once they're converted to "regular" Spanish use, but a '30s HG-00 is an entirely different universe. These are some of my favorite '30s Gibsons (sound-wise) because they sound like an early-'50s LG-2 with about twice the get-up-and-go. They're punchy, loud, round, can't really be overdriven with heavy picking, and have a woody, satisfying sound that's just about as "Gibson" as it gets. For me, though, that big neck is the downer -- I like it for flatpicking but for chords it drives me bananas after 20 minutes. Other folks will be smitten like kittens!

Anyhow, this guitar arrived via a customer. He'd purchased it from a fancy-pants shop of good repute and sent it here for checking-out. It came with super-high action, '50s-looking repro Kluson tuners, and a really low saddle.

I went ahead and gave it what it needed -- a neck reset, fret level/dress, new bone saddle, and setup... and now it's singing happily and plays like a gem while wearing regular 54w-12 gauges. The action is currently 3/32" low to 1/16" high at the 12th fret with a nice tall saddle -- it was about double that height with a barely-there saddle when it got here and boy did it sound unhappy "back then." I also replaced the tuners with some StewMac repro-style ones more along the lines of the originals for the model.

The factory order number at the neckblock is unreadable (too faded), though I'm guessing this one was made in the mid-late '30s -- probably '37-'38 at a glance judging by that HG-00 body and its finish style.

Right, so yes -- it's got factory x-bracing in the tall/thin, sort-of rectangular style of Gibson at the time. Here's what it looks like:


Rob Gardner said…
Beautiful little guitar. A lucky find for somebody.