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Kalamazoo KB Bass Guitar
Short scale solid-body bass, made by Gibson

Kalamazoo KB1 Bass | Pricing and Shipping totals | 1966 Kalamazoo Catalogue


The Kalamazoo KB bass

Kalamazoo KB Bass Guitar
Kalamazoo KB Bass Guitar

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Kalamazoo KB bass
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The Kalamazoo bass, or KB (sometimes referred to as KB1), arrived in 1966, as a companion model to two Kalamazoo KG guitars that had been launched a year earlier.
Modern styling in solid-body 4-string bass that offers full, true bass tones in a sleek, rugged economically priced instrument. With one pickup of extremely powerful design and full volume and tone control, the Kalamazoo Bass creates the full driving bass sound that sells a combo.
The vintage Kalamazoo-brand bass guitars are perhaps not that well known outside the United States, due to their short production time (just a few years in the mid 1960s) and the lack of endorsement by well known musicians; however being made by Gibson, in the USA, out of genuine Gibson parts meant that they were better instruments than many in the same price range. Good condition examples can change hands for reasonable sums amongst vintage guitar enthusiasts, and players alike.

There were two body shapes - later models are SG shaped (have a closer look at a 1967 KB bass), but the majority are more like a Fender Mustang (see a 1966 KB bass). They have a bolt-on maple neck; something that Gibson (up until this point) didn't do, rosewood fingerboard, and were short scale. There were two subtley different headstock shapes, the first again suggests Fender, though a bit rounded off - the second has the characteristic 'beak' and is almost identical to that of the non-reverse Thunderbird (see images below). The Kalamazoo logo is engraved on the headstock. This bass used some standard Gibson components; a typical EB series humbucker right up at the neck, as used in the EB0, EB2, EB3, Melody Maker bass and Epiphone Newport This pickup in this position, has more affect on the sound than anything else. This bass does sound quite a lot like an EB0. Tuning keys are the japanese-made closed keys that were also used on the Melody Maker bass and a few EB0s. The bar bridge had been in use on all bass models, but around 1966/67 this was replaced by the two-point intonatable bridge. From this point, the KB bass was the only one using these bridges - likewise the only one using the old-style (and position) chrome handrest. The scratchplate is almost identical (except some minor screw hole differences) to the Melody Maker bass, but the fingerrest is not rosewood as on all Gibsons, but actually plastic. The body material is not specified in Kalamazoo literature, but is supposedly a wood-laminate of one or more unspecified species, produced by a toilet-seat manufacturer in Wisconsin. There were three colours: Flame Red, Glacier White, and Las Vegas Blue - the same three colours of the Fender Mustang of this period. These were not the expensive nitrocellulose finishes applied to Gibsons, but again catalogue descriptions are not specific, presumably polyurethane.

Gibson, Epiphone and Kalamazoo

Dianne Bowens of the Soul-Choppers.jpg
Dianne Bowens, of Tony Bowens and the Soul-Choppers with a Kalamazoo KB bass. Have a listen to Dianne getting down with her KB bass on the track Boilin' Water from the album The World's Rarest Funk 45s on Jazzman records. The deep mellow bass tone is perfect for this kind of early seventies funk - doesn't it sound great?
Kalamazoo, rather than Epiphone was Gibsons Budget brand. A common misconception about Epiphone is that its 1960s guitars and basses were cheaper imitations of the Gibson lines. This is simply not true. From the late 1950s until 1969 Gibson and Epiphone instruments were made side by side at the Kalamazoo factory in Michigan, using the same woods, techniques and components. The purpose of the Epiphone range was to continue to provide Epiphones high-end instruments; those that had been Gibsons competition, and to circumvent certain supply agreements (Gibsons protective territorial policy). There was actually a waiting list to become a Gibson dealer, and to avoid upsetting existing dealers, Gibson was able to offer its (almost identical) Epiphone models to newcomers.

Kalamazoo KB Bass headstocks
Two Kalamazoo bass headstocks: above, the more angular Thunderbird-style, below the smoother Fender-style
There were a lot of younger musicians, requiring cheaper guitars. Between 1965 and 1969, Gibson revived an older brand, Kalamazoo. Gibson had produced cheaper instruments with this name on the headstock during the depression of the 1930s and post war 1940s, but it had not previously been used on a solid-body guitar. Sales were initially good, and during 1966-67 this was by far the best selling bass made in Kalamazoo. See the compiled Kalamazoo bass shipping figures here. Unlike the Epiphone instruments, the Kalamazoo basses were not produced side-by-side with Gibsons; they were produced at Gibsons second Kalamazoo factory (plant II, 416E Ransom street) which had been opened in 1962 to produce pickups and electronics.

This was a useful way to use up obsolete Gibson parts, and provide an affordable, American-made instrument, with many characteristic Gibson features. However, with the sale of Gibson from CMI to Norlin in late 1969 the business was once again restructured. The Kalamazoo brand was discontinued, and the new Japanese-made Epiphone range became Gibsons budget brand, a position it still holds today.

Two Kalamazoo KB Bass Guitars, a 1966 Mustang-style and a 1968 SG-style

The two Kalamazoo bass body styles are shown here, with the Mustang shape top and the SG shape below.

Back to the Kalamazoo INDEX | comment



Kalamazoo bass guitars for sale


US ebay listings

Vintage 1967 Kalamazoo KB-1 KB1 Electric Bass Guitar Metallic Blue

Current price: $749.00
buy it now
Time left: 2d 4h 54m
1960s Gibson Kalamazoo KB-1 USA Bass Body Luthier parts

Current price: $1.30
buy it now
Time left: 5d 7h 18m
Vintage 1966 Gibson Kalamazoo Bass Neck

Current price: $125.00
buy it now
Time left: 28d 7h 49m
Gibson Kalamazoo bass late 60s vintage

Current price: $449.00
buy it now
Time left: 1d 3h 22m
STRING COVER HAND REST FOR 1960's GIBSON EB BASS EPIPHONE KALAMAZOO

Current price: $149.00
buy it now
Time left: 9d 14h 50m
VINTAGE 1966 USA KALAMAZOO GUITAR KNOB KG KB BASS ORIGINAL

Current price: $39.00
buy it now
Time left: 1d 11h 17m
Vintage Kalamazoo Gibson Bass 30 Amplifier Tube

Current price: $499.99
buy it now
Time left: 22d 2h 49m
1960's Kalamazoo Bass 30 Electric Guitar Amplifier - Vintage Tube Guitar Amp

Current price: $379.87
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Time left: 23d 13h 12m
1960s Gibson Kalamazoo KB-1 USA Bass Pickguard parts

Current price: $1.04
buy it now
Time left: 5d 7h 23m
VINTAGE 1960'S KALAMAZOO U.S.A. GIBSON BASS NECK GOOD USED CONDITION

Current price: $175.00
buy it now
Time left: 13d 1h 8m
VINTAGE 1966 USA GIBSON KALAMAZOO BASS GUITAR TUNER PEG

Current price: $28.95
buy it now
Time left: 17d 8h 21m
VINTAGE 1960'S GIBSON / KALAMAZOO BRAND GUITAR BASS NECK PLATE & SCREWS (JUL)

Current price: $25.00
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Time left: 17d 9h 57m
1966 USA KALAMAZOO BASS GUITAR NECK FLAMED MAPLE w SLAB ROSEWOOD FINGERBOARD

Current price: $349.00
buy it now
Time left: 18d 12h 51m
VINTAGE 1960'S GIBSON / KALAMAZOO BRAND GUITAR BASS NECK PLATE & SCREW GOOD (Z)

Current price: $35.00
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Time left: 21d 8h 15m
VINTAGE 1960'S GIBSON / KALAMAZOO BRAND GUITAR BASS NECK PLATE & SCREW GOOD (GJ)

Current price: $35.00
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Time left: 15d 11h 51m
See more results on eBay here


UK ebay listings

Vintage 1966 Gibson Kalamazoo Bass Neck

Current price: £79.15
buy it now
Time left: 28d 7h 49m
1978 Gibson G3 Grabber Bass Guitar SG Made in Kalamazoo USA

Current price: £650.00
buy it now
Time left: 21d 7h 29m
Vintage 1967 Kalamazoo KB-1 KB1 Electric Bass Guitar Metallic Blue

Current price: £474.25
buy it now
Time left: 2d 4h 54m
VINTAGE 1966 USA KALAMAZOO GUITAR KNOB KG KB BASS ORIGINAL

Current price: £24.69
buy it now
Time left: 1d 11h 17m
VINTAGE 1966 USA GIBSON KALAMAZOO BASS GUITAR TUNER PEG

Current price: £18.33
buy it now
Time left: 17d 8h 21m
1965/67 Kalamazoo Bass Chrome 4-Bolt Neck Plate X-Tra Hole For Button Ref#477

Current price: £15.83
buy it now
Time left: 21d 7h 55m
VINTAGE 1960'S KALAMAZOO U.S.A. GIBSON BASS NECK GOOD USED CONDITION

Current price: £110.81
buy it now
Time left: 13d 1h 8m
VINTAGE 1960'S GIBSON / KALAMAZOO BRAND GUITAR BASS NECK PLATE & SCREW GOOD (GJ)

Current price: £22.16
buy it now
Time left: 15d 11h 51m
VINTAGE 1960'S GIBSON / KALAMAZOO BRAND GUITAR BASS NECK PLATE & SCREW GOOD (Z)

Current price: £22.16
buy it now
Time left: 21d 8h 15m
VINTAGE 1960'S GIBSON / KALAMAZOO BRAND GUITAR BASS NECK PLATE & SCREWS (JUL)

Current price: £15.83
buy it now
Time left: 17d 9h 57m
VINTAGE 1960'S KALAMAZOO GIBSON BASS GUITAR BODY GOOD CONDITION (#007)

Current price: £63.32
buy it now
Time left: 13d 1h 10m
KALAMAZOO Bass 50 Primo Tube Set 6EU7 EL34

Current price: £42.09
buy it now
Time left: 11d 18h 17m
1960's Kalamazoo Bass 30 Electric Guitar Amplifier - Vintage Tube Guitar Amp

Current price: £240.52
buy it now
Time left: 23d 13h 12m
VINTAGE 1966 USA GIBSON KALAMAZOO BASS GUITAR TUNER PEG SET

Current price: £56.35
buy it now
Time left: 4d 12h 51m
Vintage Kalamazoo Set Of Four In Line Bass Tuners With Grommetts MIJ Ref#468

Current price: £47.49
buy it now
Time left: 2d 13h 2m
See more results on eBay here

There are 1 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
anonymous Comment left 14th August 2012 09:09:28
Did they get to a 2 pickup Kalamazoo KB2 (or would it be KB3 - like EB3?)

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