Have a listen to this guitar - more soundclips here.
The mid 1960s was a magical time for American guitar manufacturers. The beat boom was in full force and kids up and down America were deperate to learn to play the guitar. But at this time, even Gibson's entry level instruments were of sufficient quality and build to be out of many student guitarist's price range. So Gibson resurrected the old Kalamazoo brand it had used in the 1930s and 1940s to market a range of American built guitars and amplifiers.
Distinctively styled, superb quality solid-body guitars of rugged, lightweight design. Available in brilliant Flame Red, Glacier White or Las Vegas Blue, one or two pickups, with or without Vibrola. Slim neck, streamline styling in an economically priced guitar for years of rugged use
To do this, Gibson took a leaf out of Fenders book, and made a guitar that could be easily assembled, by semi-skilled staff, out of components easily and cheaply available. They even stole the body shape from the Fender Mustang. Production was away from the main Gibson plant; still in Kalamazoo, but in a newer building that had previously housed pickup and amplifier construction. The lack of complicated woodworking massively reduced construction time and labour costs, allowing significant output right at a time when they were needed.
And although construction was simple, many above average Gibson components were fitted: Melody Maker pickups with associated wiring looms and CTS/Centralab pots, TPBR bridge and GV19 Vibrola. For this reason a lot of Kalamazoo guitars have been harvested for spare parts for Gibson SG and Melody Maker guitars. But they are really not bad guitars in their own right. The body material is dense and tonally quite resonant; far better than one might expect from a manufactured product. The maple neck and rosewood fingerboard are well made and the general quality of other components make for a highly playable instrument. And they sound great - have a listen to some Kalamazoo KG2 soundclips.
The 1960s Kalamazoo KG solid body guitars were fitted with Gibson Melody Maker pickups; single coil units used throughout the 1960s on Epiphone, Gibson and Kalamazoo instruments
These pickups are mounted onto the scratchplate with two screws, which are also responsible for height adjustment. In place of the spring in a higher-end Gibson guitar, there is a simple rubber washer between the scratchplate and mounting tabs.
The Kalamazoo guitars used these white plastic control knobs; completely different to the knobs being used on Gibson instruments at the time. But the circuit was typical gibson; a volume and tone control for each pickup.
The Gibson TPBR 8513 bridge and GV19 Vibrola used on this Kalamazoo KG2 were also used on Epiphone Olympic, Gibson Melody Maker and some Gibson SG models.
Pickup selector switch - the Kalamazoo KG2 switch is wired for: neck pickup only (up), both pickups (middle), bridge pickup only (down).
Reverse body detail including neckplate
Kalamazoo KG headstock detail; the Kalamazoo logo is engraved into the wood.
Kalamazoo KG reverse headstock detail - six on a side strip tuning keys.
The open gear strip tuners used on the Kalamazoo KG solid-bodies.
The Kalamazoo solid bodies had very thin, one-ply, curved truss rod covers, held down by two small screws.
The truss rod adjustment cavity is at the headstock end of the neck, and just like any other guitar made by Gibson, has a 5/16" nut.
The 1960s Gibson serial numbering system is famous for it's peculiarities; this guitar has two quite different numbers, one over the top of the other.
The wiring loom used for the Kalamazoo KG1 and KG2 guitars were identical to single and double pickup Melody Maker guitars; a volume and tone control for each pickup, and a three way pickup selector switch for the KG2. Both CTS and Centralab pots were used (Centralab in this case) with shorter shafts for scratchplate mounting. Volume pots are 500k, part BA811-3707 (part BA811-3707), whilst tone pots are 250k (part BA811-3701).
Kalamazoo KG2A with original case (910); this is a simple lightweight card case with a brown or blue interior. This is not a particularly durable case, but it was the only one offered with the Kalamazoo KG solid bodies.
travelling man Comment left 14th March 2012 19:07:56 Ahhh, my first guitar. A graduation gift from mom. Same model, same color, same body style, same year - and same terrible case. My one had a lot more battle scars too. I believe the body material is Masonite - same stuff they made Danelectros out of.
kingkungfu Comment left 13th June 2012 08:08:12 What size is the truss rod nut please. gibson standard size 5/16 inch?
moncalimari Comment left 29th July 2012 21:09:23 I have a 1966 Kalamazoo KG2 that is in 100% original condition. The serial number is quite hard to read, but it is clearly not a refin. What would such a guitar be worth?
Jason Burns Comment left 22nd September 2012 08:08:33 hey,
can you tell me, did these kalamazoos come with a black scratchplate? or only white? What about tortoiseshell? thank you JB
Carla Janssen Comment left 9th November 2012 06:06:59 I had one exactly like the Las Vagas blue one featured in this article that my parents bought for me in 1966. I would love to find one to purchase. If anyone knows of one for sale, or parts to put one together, I would appreciate the info. Thanks.