The Kalamazoo KG1 and KG2 guitar (1966-69)
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).
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.
It was aimed at younger players; primary colours and surf styling - early models had a Fender Mustang shape (and were available in the same three colours of the Mustang, red, white and blue), although this changed to the SG style as the sixties wore on, and that shape became more fashionable. Despite the fibre-board body, the good quality neck and relatively good components made for pretty decent guitar, all-round.
With Gibson quality and components, and a fair price, it is not surprising these guitars sold well; a total of 23994 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.