1939 Grinnell (Gibson) Kalamazoo KHG-14-Style Flattop Guitar

It's not often that I have the 12-fret, Hawaiian version of the venerable Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-14 model in the shop. This one's even cooler than normal, too, with its iced-tea-cherry-sunburst finish and Grinnell branding at the headstock. As you might've guessed, this was originally meant to be played as a Hawaiian slide-style guitar and originally it would've had a straight-compensation saddle and tall nut.

This one's in good shape save for a crunch-in cluster of cracks on the back, and post-repairs it plays fast and easy and has a substantial, robust, clear-and-present voice. These are ladder-braced a little heavier than their 14-fret compatriots and so they can take heavier strings and a more-aggressive picking approach. That's a good thing for folks who like the Kalamazoo sound but want to do flatpicking backup work.

The top is solid spruce and the back and sides are solid mahogany, just like other Kalamazoo flattops. It's interesting, though, in that it has an ebonized maple fretboard rather than rosewood. That's something I'm used to seeing on only the earliest Kalamazoo KG-11 models. They switch to rosewood for the run pretty quickly after introducing the guitars.

Be forewarned, though -- the necks on these are pretty dang large, so keep that in mind. I don't mind the feel for cowboy-style chords or melody work but it does fatigue me a bit if I'm playing closed-position chords a lot midway up the neck. It's killer for fingerpicking, though, as you've got so much separation string-to-string to keep your notes clean.

One funny thing about this guitar is that it has two bolts in the bridge. Those are original and are the same as used on the "Mastertone Special" Hawaiian guitars that were made concurrently. I can conceal them if desired but I think they're kinda neat.

Repairs included: a neck reset, fret level/dress, saddle slot modification to wider+compensated ebony saddle, side dots install, re-repair/shoring-up to a cluster of back cracks, cleaning, recut of the original nut, setup.

Top wood: solid spruce

Back & sides wood: solid mahogany

Bracing type: ladder

Bridge: rosewood

Fretboard: ebonized maple

Neck wood: mahogany

Action height at 12th fret:
3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: 54w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12

Neck shape: big V

Board radius: ~10-12"

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: low/small

Scale length: 24 3/4"

Nut width: 1 7/8"

Body width: 14 3/4"

Body depth: 4 3/8"

Weight: 3 lbs 5 oz

Condition notes: aside from a cluster of repaired back cracks (pictured) it's in overall quite good shape. Said cracks don't line-up flat on the back but are secure and cleated on the inside. Other than that, there's only minor wear and tear to the finish throughout -- light scratches and dings. Everything is original to the guitar, too, save new side dots, new bridge pins and endpin, and a new ebony saddle. I recut the original bone nut to reuse it. There are a couple bumps to the headstock's top but they don't detract.


Unknown said…
Are you selling this one Jake
Jake Wildwood said…
Yep, it'll be listed soon.
ChrisB said…
I’ve got a nearly identical Kalamazoo branded KHG that’s been converted to X bracing. It’s an incredible guitar and the huge neck is wonderful! Sweet, punchy and articulate.
I was wondering what the fretboard material is. Mine has a sort of sycamore look to it.