KALAMAZOO | KG

Kalamazoo KG Electric Guitar

The Kalamazoo KG1 and KG2 guitar (1966-69)

Kalamazoo KG2a (blue) and KG1 (red) guitars, both built in 1966

A Kalmazoo KG2a (blue) and KG1 (red) guitars, both built in 1966

Kalamazoo was an American budget guitar brand, created by Gibson to market cheaper guitars than the fine instruments they were already making for professional musicians. This marque had been used by Gibson previously in the 1930s and 1940s, and was resurrected to cope with the massive demand for entry level guitars after the beat boom of 1964/1965. They were made in Kalamazoo, but not at the Parsons street facility (plant I), rather a newer building at 416 E. Ransom Street (plant II).

1966 Kalamazoo catalogue

The KG guitar was a simple solid-body electric, using Gibson parts on a fibre-board body made by a manufacturer in Wisconsin. The neck was reasonable good, solid maple with a rosewood fretboard; bolted on (rather than set as was Gibson's norm). Many of the components used also appeared on other lower-end Gibson solid-bodies: the pickups and scratchplate were straight from the Gibson Melody Maker, whilst the bridge and vibrola were used on the Melody Maker, Gibson SG Special and Gibson SG Junior. Likewise, electronically it was the same as many more expensive Gibsons. Few parts were unique to this guitar - really, just the tuning keys and curved truss rod cover.

Kalamazoo KG vs Gibson Melody Maker

Although the Kalamazoo KG shared much of it's hardware (and latterly body style) with the Gibson Melody Maker, the two instruments were quite different in terms of construction. The Melody Maker, with it's solid mahogany body, glued in mahogany neck and sunburst finish simply exuded Gibson tradition. It required some level of craftsmanship to produce, and was very much a product of the main facility in Kalamazoo (plant I - 225 Parsons street). It was a beautifully crafted guitar with simple electronics. In contrast, the use of a maple bolt-on neck, and new solid colours on the Kalamazoo KG was firmly following Fender's guitar building ethos, doing away with 'craftsmen' in favour of lower-paid assembly line workers. The Kalamazoo KG series were assembled at a second small facility, still in Kalamazoo, known as plant II. This was previously Gibson's electronics plant, that had made pickups and amplifiers, at 416 E. Ransom Street, Kalamazoo. The KG was a simply built guitar, though with the same simple electronics.

Kalamazoo guitars: Mustang style and SG style

The KG was aimed at younger players; primary colours and surf styling. Early models had a Fender Mustang body shape and were available in the same three colours of the Mustang, red, white and blue. This represents the bulk of production through 1965 and 1966. As the sixties wore on, this body style changed to the Gibson SG style, with more-or-less the same dimensions, and no change in hardware. The design had became more fashionable, and was perhaps more appropriate for a guitar named Kalamazoo. However production numbers of SG styled instruments dropped - possibly more due to over-production in 1966 than lower demand in 1967. In any case, SG-style Kalamazoo guitars are seen less often than the Mustang, and are somewhat more desirable, no doubt because they seem more 'Gibsony'.

Despite the fibre-board body, the good quality neck and relatively good components made for pretty decent guitar, all-round. With the Gibson association, components, and a fair price, it is not surprising these guitars sold well. A total of 23994 Kalamazoo KG guitars were shipped between 1965 and 1969, in three colours: Flame Red, Glacier White, Las Vegas Blue. See the Kalamazoo guitar shipping totals.

There were four guitar models: KG-1 (one pickup), KG-1A (one pickup with vibrola), KG-2 (two pickups) and KG-2A (two pickups with vibrola). There was also a Kalamazoo KB bass.

1967 Kalamazoo advert

The advert reproduced here was placed in a 1967 music trade magazine, and was aimed at music dealers, persuading them to stock Kalamazoo. Becoming a Kalamazoo dealer was somewhat easier than becoming a Gibson dealer.

Beginners won't outgrow Kalamazoo right away - which is the problem with most equipment a beginner buys. It doesn't cost much, so it doesn't do much. Pretty soon he can play a lot more than it can. And he feels he was rooked. Or worse, his parents do.
Kalamazoo makes a great save, because it answers everybody's problem.
Beginners get what they want. Brand new equipment with a big time sound.
Parents get what they want. A modest investment while they find out how far the youngster's interest and ability really go.
You get what you want, too. Another customer. Because a beginner will have to be a pretty big talent before he'll outgrow Kalamazoo very fast.

Kalamazoo KG soundclips

The following clips are of a 1966 Kalamazoo KG-2A played through an early seventies WEM Clubman. You can hear more soundclips of this guitar here



The amp is on a fairly clean setting: volume 5/10. Guitar: both pickups, volume 10, tone 10. Played with a pick.


Now with a cranked amp: volume 10/10. Guitar: neck pickup only, volume 10, tone 10. Again played with a pick.


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Kalamazoo guitars for sale

c 1937 Kalamazoo KG31 (Gibson USA) 1937 arch top guitar

LEEDS, LS119BN, UNITED KINGDOM

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Circa: 1937 'Kalamazoo' (Gibson USA-made) KG31 Archtop guitar This is an original, late-1930s 'Kalamazoo' (Gibson Michigan, USA made) 16" wide acoustic archtop guitar. It has a great, resonant sound and projection, as is usually the case with these wonderful and yet still affordable vintage instruments. Though originally produced as a 'budget ' range in the 1930s, these guitars were nonetheless craftsman built by skilled hands at Gibson's legendary Parsons Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan factory, ... more

1960s USA KALAMAZOO TRUSS ROD COVER KG KB GUITAR / BASS

OCALA, FLORIDA, 34480, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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KALAMAZOO ORIGINAL TRUSS ROD COVER WITH ORIGINAL SCREWS IN VERY GOOD CONDITIONS, NO CRACKS SOLD AS IS, SEE PICS AND ASK YOUR QUESTIONS BEFORE YOU BUY... more

Vintage Gibson Kalamazoo KG series (KG1 / KG1a / KG2 / KG2a) maple bolt-on guitar neck

BROOKS, KENTUCKY, 40109, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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I recently started cleaning out my extra guitar parts and came across this long lost gem. It's been sitting in my spare parts cabinet for approx. 35 years now, wrapped in plastic and bubble wrap to keep it looking nice. I thought I would use it one day to restore a Gibson Kalamazoo KG series guitar, but I've lost interest in that particuliar project over the years. So now I'm just going to sell it and focus on a few (hundred) other guitar projects that need my attention. Up for sale is a 1967 ... more

Vintage 1960s Gibson Kalamazoo KG1 Guitar ~ Red ~ USED

TULSA, OKLAHOMA, 74120, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$429

Items sold include what is described and pictured, which from time to time may not include all the accessories included with the items original new purchase package. Our items are used and arrive in our hands with limited accessories Due to the recent eBay policy change, we will no longer be able to accept returns You are bidding on a Vintage 1960s Gibson Kalamazoo KG1 Guitar. This guitar is used but in good condition with what I would consider normal signs of wear especially for its age Please ... more

1930's Kalamazoo KG-11 Guitar, Repaired, Mostly Original, Case, Shipped!

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA, 73107, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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No reserve auction starting at $1000 for this mostly original Kalamazoo KG-11 Guitar. Brazilian Rosewood fret board and bridge, mahogany body and neck. 3 piece spruce top. No cracks other than a seam separation in the top lower bout between the bridge and the butt of the guitar on the treble side. It has been repaired. And a pic guard crack that has been repaired. No markings other than "3911" or it could be "391A" on the neck block. Neck was reset, professional job and although the neck has a ... more

Gibson Kalamazoo Guitar KG-1 1965 Red Fender Mustang Style . Single Pick Up KG-1

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, MICHIGAN, 48035, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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Gibson Kalamazoo KG-1 1965 Red 1965 Used Electric Guitar. Condition is Used. This is a survivor, USA Made by Gibson. Fender Mustang Style Single Pick Up KG-1` The first design, made from 1965 to 1966, was really a copy of the Fender Mustang; the second, made from 1967 to 1969, resembled the Gibson SG. See Kalamazoo KG series shipping figures[3]. Models were the KG-1 (with one single-coil pickup), KG-1A (single-coil pickup and tremolo arm), KG-2 (dual single-coil pickups), and KG-2A (dual ... more

Kalamazoo KG-14 Vintage 1930's Acoustic

NORTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS, 01060, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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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

Vintage Gibson Kalamazoo KG Archtop Acoustic Guitar & Gigbag

DOWNINGTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA, 19335, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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WELCOME Up for sale is a vintage Gibson Kalamazoo KG Archtop Acoustic Guitar Includes padded Gigbag Guitar has a straight neck and low action and is very playable. It sounds great with a rich tone. Frets are solid and upgraded Grover tuners hold nicely. As you can see this guitar originally had pickups- all electronics have been removed and are not included. Body is in solid condition with wear as expected from a guitar this age. See photos for details. Gigbag is in great shape. Smoke free ... more
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Cameljoe311 Comment left 15th December 2014 21:09:31 reply
Just snagged a kg-1a in glacier white. Sg body style. Got it at goodwill for $10. All original except 1 tuning peg. Am I right in thinking this is a 1968? One of 59 ( based off shipping numbers). Thanks
Vintage Guitar and Bass Comment left 30th December 2015 21:09:33 reply
It's hard to say precisely when the change from Mustang to SG style occurred, but I would say late 1966.. yours could easily have been produced earlier than 1968
brotherX Comment left 24th March 2013 21:09:49 reply
Kalamazoo restoration - I'm looking for a few parts for a vintage Kalamazoo restoration - primarily pickups, but also loom and scratchplate. I would use new pots if I can't find the originals. Can anyone give me a heads up. Also, is there a wiring diagram?
vintageguitarandbass Comment left 24th March 2013 21:09:32 reply
There's a close-up of the wiring (of a two pickup KG-2a) here - will try and get a schematic posted soon
Cory Saiz Comment left 1st February 2013 08:08:52 reply
Looking for a tremolo for a Kalamazoo guitar. Do you have any idea where I can find one or find one that will work. The holes are there but no tremolo. Thank You
tonyice Comment left 3rd March 2012 10:10:09 reply
Would a vintage (1960s) kzoo guitar sound more like a 60s SG junior or SG special than a newly made Gibson? - or what defines sound more, old pickups or same wood?

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