1930s Kalamazoo (Gibson) KG-32 Electrified Archtop Guitar

I can't remember where my buddy Charlie came across this but it sure is an oddball! It's a Kalamazoo KG-32 that someone modified into something like an ES-125. There's no legible factory order number, but I'd guesstimate its age to be late '36 to '37 based on the features. Someone went to the trouble to paint the f-hole edges, too, which is pretty cute!

It has an older Japanese-made P90 pickup fit at the neck with a very shallow dogear cover. They'd done a good job cutting the top and fitting it and so it sits right between the two braces up there at the top. The wiring harness and knobs that had been fit were junk so I tossed them and wired it fresh and with shielded cable. It also had a replacement tailpiece on it that couldn't be grounded so I replaced it with a same-period (right for a Regal, wrong for a Gibson/Kalamazoo) tailpiece that could be.

It also needed the usual work aside from that -- a neck reset, fretwork, etc. -- and while I did the neck reset, my guy Jose did the level/dress job, repaired and compensated the old Harmony-made bridge that it came with, and set it all up. This guitar has been very loved and is beat-up in all the best ways, however.

The giant face pearl dots and binding on the fretboard are usually things Gibson did for third-party vendors (like Cromwell or Montgomery Wards), so it's interesting to see them on a Kalamazoo-branded model.

Repairs included: a neck reset (shallow to suit the pickup's install), fret level/dress, bridge repairs, wiring work, cleaning, parts adjustments, minor crack repair (at bass-side f-hole), setup.

  • Weight: 4 lbs 4 oz
  • Scale length: 24 7/8"
  • Nut width: 1 3/4"
  • Neck shape: medium-big V
  • Board radius: 12"
  • Body width: 16"
  • Body depth: 3 1/4"
  • Body wood: solid spruce (pressed) top, solid mahogany back and sides
  • Bridge: rosewood, adjustable (currently wound-G compensated, can change that)
  • Fretboard: rosewood
  • Neck wood: mahogany
  • Pickups: 1x P90 dogear-style
  • Action height at 12th fret: 1/16” overall (fast, spot-on)
  • String gauges: 50w-11 with wound G
  • Neck relief: straight
  • Fret style: wide/low (replacements, feel like '60s Gib jumbos sort-of)

Condition notes: it's very beat-up with scratches, scuffs, nicks, and dings everywhere. There's wear to the fingerboard, too. The tuners are period replacements but not original. The bridge is probably a '40s or '50s Harmony one that was on it when it came in and Jose did a great job repurposing it. The tailpiece, pickup, and wiring harness and knobs are unoriginal. It is missing its original pickguard. There's a repaired tiny hairline crack on the top and a couple more small repaired ones on the sides. The frets were replaced with jumbos some time ago but they're of the lower/flatter variety you see on '60s Gibsons from time to time and have been heavily leveled/dressed over the years.

It comes with: I may have a chip case to fit it, but it doesn't officially come with one.

Consignor tag: CK