Vintage Kalamazoo Guitars

Guitars, basses and amplifiers made by Gibson

Kalamazoo guitars

Kalamazoo is, of course, a city famous for it's guitars. It was the hometown of Gibson for most of the twentieth century, until 1984; many people would say the best Gibson guitars ever built were the Kalamazoo-built models. But Gibson also produced a US-built budget line in the 1930s, and again in the mid-late 1960s, and these guitars were branded Kalamazoo - in honour of the town in which they were produced. Most were good quality guitars, especially the higher end 1930s and 40s models, but even the 60s guitars were fitted with quality Gibson components. Kalamazoo guitars typically had a KG model prefix.

1930s-40s Kalamazoo

In the years before and during the second world war, the Kalamazoo line consisted of acoustic guitars, banjos and mandolins; relatively well-built with quality woods, but definitely a cut below Gibsons of the same period, most obviously in having no adjustable truss rod, and little ornamentation, e.g. silk-screened rather than inlaid logo. The first run of Kalamazoo instruments was available between 1933 and 1942.

Models included:

Archtops

  • KG-32 available: 1939-1942. 16" wide f-hole archtop. Carved spruce top, with maple back and sides. Checkered binding on the top, plain white binding on the back. Unbound mahogany neck with Brazilian rosewood fingerboard. Effectively the same guitar as a Gibson L-50. Sunburst finish, natural (KGN-32) from 1940.
  • KG-22 available: 1939-1942. 16" wide f-hole archtop. Carved spruce top with maple back and sides. 25" scale maple neck, rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays.
  • KG-31 available: 1935-1940. 16" pressed spruce top with mahogany back and sides. Unbound mahogany neck.
  • KG-21 available: 1935-1941. 14-3/4" wide body. Pressed spruce top with mahogany back and sides. Front binding only. Unbound rosewood fingerboard. Sunburst finish. Equivalent model to the Gibson L-30.
  • KG-16 available: 1939-1941. Bound spruce top, mahogany sides, back and neck. Brazilian rosewood fretboard, 24-3/4" scale. Equivalent model to the Gibson L-30.

Flat-tops

  • KG-14 available: 1936-1940. KGN-14 available: 1940-41. This is the famous Robert Johnson model. 14 3/4" wide body flat top acoustic. Spruce top with mahogany back and sides in sunburst (KG) or natural (KGN) finish. Bound top. Unbound mahogany neck with Brazilian Rosewood fingerboard. Rosewood bridge and a tiger stripe pickguard. 25” scale length.
  • KGN-12 available: 1940-1941.
  • KG-11 available: 1933-1941. Spruce top, mahogany back and sides. Smaller 14 3/4" wide body with square shoulders. Square headstock profile. 24 3/4" scale length.

1940s Kalamazoo KG-32 archtop Image Heritage auctions

1960s Kalamazoo guitars

1960s Kalamazoo KB basses

The 1960s solid body Kalamazoo KG guitars and Kalamazoo KB basses came in two body body styles; Fender Mustang-style, then later SG-style; from top to bottom 1966 Kalamazoo KG2a, 1966 KB bass, 1967 KB bass (SG style).

1966 Kalamazoo catalog

In the mid-1960s, guitar sales increased dramatically; though many of these sales were to new players, inspired by the rock and roll and beat booms of the previous years. A high-end Gibson was out of the question to these players, so Gibson re-introduced the Kalamazoo line, with great sucess.

There was one acoustic guitar, the KG10, four versions of a solid body electric the KG1/KG1A/KG2/KG2A, and the KB bass. Features of the guitar models are summarised below.

KG1 / KG2 Kalamazoo guitar specifications

  Pickups Tailpiece
Kalamazoo KG1 1 stop
Kalamazoo KG1a 1 Maestro vibrola
Kalamazoo KG2 2 stop
Kalamazoo KG2a 2 Maestro vibrola

To keep the solid bodies cheap, Gibson used inexpensive, easy to work with woods and easy non-skilled construction. The bodies were actually some sort of compressed chipboard/fibreboard, outsourced to a 'toilet seat' manufacturer in Wisconsin. Necks were bolt-on and actually quite nice maple/rosewood, whilst the electronics were assembled on the pickguard, remote from the guitar and simply screwed into place. They did have the foresight to use all Gibson hardware - admittedly some of it was obsolete, having been replaced on Gibson models, but it was still quality hardware none the less. Another nod to Fender came in the Fender Mustang style body of the early KG guitar and KB bass. This was fairly quickly updated to a more appropriate SG style. Kalamazoo KG guitar shipping figures do not show body styles, but the Mustang body shape seems to be more abundant.

Kalamazoo guitars for sale

Kalamazoo KG-14 Vintage 1930's Acoustic

NORTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS, 01060, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1500

Built in Kalamazoo, MI, these high quality, superbly made instruments were built right alongside their Gibson siblings and feature many similarities. One characteristic that Kalamazoo acoustics do not share with their Gibson brethren is the high price of admission. Oozing with vintage, Gibson-like mojo, this Kalamazoo isn't just aesthetically pleasing, it delivers big time tone! Constructed with a solid spruce top, mahogany neck, back and sides, rosewood bridge and fingerboard and ladder ... more

1940 Kalamazoo KG14 Acoustic Guitar made by Gibson

ENFIELD, EN1, UNITED KINGDOM

£1499

This is a very unusual example of a Kalamazoo KG14 - a natural finish which is quite a rare find, professionally re-lacquered so it feels like a modern guitar but sounds like a vintage guitar, with a Gibson logo on the headstock. Tonally it's everything you'd hope for in one of the most important guitars in blues history, effortlessly recreating the famous Robert Johnson tone. Although it's capable of playing any style, it's most at home with fingerpicked blues - it has a honk to it's voice that... more

Vintage Circa 1930's Kalamazoo KG-11 Acoustic Guitar Gibson Factory Made w / Case

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, 10003, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1499

Vintage original 1930's Gibson Kalamazoo KG-11. Kalamazoo was made by Gibson in the Gibson factory. Plays and sounds real nice. Just had a neck set so it's playing great. Killer little vintage acoustic for a fraction of the price of other vintage Gibsons. Has some repaired cracks they are all professionally repaired. Comes with a soft case. A killer little vintage guitar from the golden age! Guitar is exactly as pictured. Buyer pays $65 shipping in the USA, $125 to Hawaii or Alaska, $250 ... more

Vintage Original Circa 1934 Kalamazoo KG-11 Original Dark Sunburst Finish

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, 10003, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1495

Here's a stunning vintage original circa 1934 Kalamazoo KG-11 in original dark Sunburst finish. Stunning small burst finish. All original with a wonderful neck angle and excellent playability and tone. Our tech just did a neck set on it so it's playing great. Nice straight neck. No fret buzz or issues, just smooth playability. A large benefit to the instrument. Tone is out of this world. Nice warm vintage tones. Comes with a soft case. Pedal is exactly as pictured. Buyer pays $65 shipping in the... more

Vintage 1941 pre-war Kalamazoo Gibson KG-31 16" Archtop Acoustic Guitar L-50 VG+

LUBBOCK, TEXAS, 79411, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1007

Vintage 1941 pre-WWII Kalamazoo Gibson KG-31 16" Archtop Acoustic Guitar L-50-style == FON "3882G" (ink) "- 23" (red pencil) == VG or better with play wear, finish checking, scratches, hairline finish crack center of top below bridge -- but no cracks, breaks, or buckle rash -- Kluson tuner buttons have been replaced & then one replaced again == Wear to frets and fretboard but plays fine (where frets are worn so is 'board so it compensates) == Action is just under 1 / 8" 12th fret low E and a ... more

1967 Gibson Kalamazoo USA SG Shape KG-2 Guitar, Blue, ORIGINAL

ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS, 61201, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$650

1967 Gibson Kalamazoo KG-2 USA Guitar, Blue, ORIGINAL hardware and finish. Made by Gibson as a lower cost model, to compete with the imports from the area. These are great players, with Gibson hardware, electronics, and vintage Strat feeling neck. Melody Maker pickups, Original pickguard, that has some cracks around the screws and wear that looks cool. Compensated original Bridge and Tremolo base plate. No tremolo when I acquired it, but they are easy to get online, reproduction or original. ... more

Vintage 1930's Pre-War Kalamazoo Gibson KG-11 Acoustic Guitar Sunburst w / Case

LYNWOOD, CALIFORNIA, 90262, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$600

NO SHIPPING TO P O.BOXES ON THIS ITEM. Up for auction is a vintage Kalamazoo (Gibson) KG-11 acoustic guitar. This was a recent find from a local estate, so I haven't done any work to it. It comes with what looks to be the original case. Based on my limited research, this is from the first few years (1933-1937) of production due to the flat top headstock. It has a "V" shaped back of the neck and there is a factory order number stamped on the inside, which looks to read: 1091, but the second ... more

1966 Gibson Kalamazoo KG-2A Vintage SG Style Guitar, Low Fast Action! Surf Vibe!

HANOVER, MASSACHUSETTS, 02339, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$569

Awesome Player Neck with Low Fast Action! A Real 60's Vintage Surf Vibe, at a Great Price! 1966 Gibson Kalamazoo KG-2A USA Guitar, Original Red finish, (see the KG-2A Original Stamp in the body). Made by Gibson in the USA Kalamazoo Plant, Volume & Tone Pots Date to 1966. It has Gibson hardware, Gibson electronics, and Gibson Melody Maker pickups, which somebody colored the covers Black(the bridge pickup cover has a worn grooved area at the 6th string, it does not affect the playing or sound). ... more
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George Jennings Comment left 20th November 2017 09:09:01 reply
I have a Kalamazoo acoustic flat top with EK 2030 stamped on the back of the peg head. I have not found any reference to that ID. I would appreciate any informaaion.
Annabelle Crow Comment left 6th September 2016 15:03:42 reply
Hal, your Kalamazoo sounds like mine- stamp saying made in USA on back of head, label inside,firestripe pick guard. Only difference is that the neck of mine joins the body at the 14th fret. Mine belonged to my father and I believe it dates from 1935, give or take a few years. I think you can be certain that yours is authentic.
SIMON Comment left 12th May 2016 05:05:12 reply
Thinking of selling a pre war Kalamazoo acoustic - serial number DK 3862. It's in very good condition with original case - I'd love to know an estimated value so I'm not ripped off. Can anyone help?
Herman Comment left 26th March 2017 11:11:52 reply
I have a Kalamazoo archtop serial DK-3345 but i want to know wich model nummer this is.
Jim Comment left 10th April 2016 20:08:15 reply
Hi, I have a Kalamazoo 1930's mandolin and recently went to the luthier for a couple of cracks that has to be repair. Now the instrument is in good condition and playable as well. If possible i want to have some informations on that vintage instrument and the value of it on the actaul market. Regards, Jim
Hal Comment left 1st April 2016 22:10:35 reply
I have a flat top Gibson Kalamazoo. No numbers, but the label inside says Made in U.S.A. by Gibson Inc. Kalamazoo Mich. Stamped into the rear of the head is what looks like Made in USA. The fingerboard is short, and joins the body at the 12th fret. Sunburst finish with fake tortoise shell pick guard.Plain white purfling and edge to sound hole. The bridge is white a NOT angled. Can anyone give me some indication as to authenticity (guide only ) and possible year of manufacture. Cheers.
Jacqueline Wyman Comment left 7th January 2016 08:08:27 reply
I had a v body style Kalamazoo electric guitar in the late 70s and have not seen any anywhere.. Not sure of the year.. :/ Mine was red.. Could you let me know if you know where I can find information on this guitar please ? Thank you... JAX
virgil stice Comment left 19th May 2014 19:07:58 reply
My mom has a kalamazo guitar,with the numbers 3803G-16.Need info if gibson made it or martin made it??????

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