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Kalamazoo KB Bass Guitar
The Kalamazoo KB bass
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.
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
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.
The two Kalamazoo bass body styles are shown here, with the Mustang shape top and the SG shape below.
Kalamazoo bass guitars for sale
|There are 2 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?)
|Richard brooks Comment left 18th December 2014 05:05:11|
Very nice guitars I really enjoyed reading about these guitars history Gibson and epiphone side by side I own a epiphone dot studio (worn cherry) pleased with construction and feel of this guitar and it holds up to alvin Lee licks (going home) 1969 I also own a sunrise bass guitar not sure about it haven't seen any pics on here to bring the bass identification to article fender shape bass percussion I believe walnut/oak materials very good condition label still shows the name (sunrise) I could send photos if you'd like just write me back hope to hear from you soon have a god day and thanks for the articles of Gibson and epiphone the history.