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KALAMAZOO | KG | 1966 KG2A

1966 Kalamazoo KG2A

Solid-body two pickup electric guitar

The Kalamazoo KG-2 was a low priced solid body electric guitar built by Gibson in Kalamazoo, Michigan, between 1965 and 1969. Simple, but well-built, the Kalamazoo KG guitar, came with one or two pickups, with and without a Maestro tremolo tailpiece, and in a choice of three colours: Flame Red, Glacier White, and in this case Las Vegas Blue. This guitar, from 1966, is model KG-2A - signifying dual pickup and vibrola / tremolo.

The example pictured is one of 2687 blue Kalamazoo 2A guitars built between 1966 and 1968 (see the Kalamazoo KG shipping totals). This is an early Kalamazoo KG - later instruments had a more typically Gibson 'SG' body shape, but were otherwise more-or-less identical.

1966 Kalamazoo KG2A

1966 Kalamazoo KG2A (2 pickup) in Las Vegas blue finish

Model: 1966 Kalamazoo KG2A
Pickups: Two single-coil Gibson Melody Maker pickups.
Scale: 24 3/4"
Weight: 3.57kg
Body: Pressed board body. 16 1/2" long, 11 3/4" wide, 1 5/16" thick.
Neck: Maple bolt-on neck, rosewood fingerboard. Adjustable truss rod. 22 frets. Width at nut 1.57"
Hardware: 2 volume and 2 tone controls. Three-way pickup selector switch. Gibson TPBR bridge and Gibson GV19 Vibrola.

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 desperate 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.

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.

Soundclips

Have a listen to this guitar - more soundclips here.

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.

1966 Kalamazoo catalogue

From the 1966 Kalamazoo catalogue

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

The Kalamazoo KG2 was equipped with two Melody Maker pickups
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
Kalamazoo KG2 - close up of the pickups
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.
Kalamazoo KG2 plastic control knobs
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.
TPBR8513 bridge and GV19 Vibrola on a Kalamazoo KG2 guitar
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.
Kalamazoo KG2 pickup selector switch
Pickup selector switch - the Kalamazoo KG2 switch is wired for: neck pickup only (up), both pickups (middle), bridge pickup only (down).
Kalamazoo KG2 guitar - reverse body detail
Reverse body detail including neckplate
Kalamazoo KG2A guitar headstock
Kalamazoo KG headstock detail; the Kalamazoo logo is engraved into the wood.
Kalamazoo KG2A headstock - reverse view
Kalamazoo KG reverse headstock detail - six on a side strip tuning keys.
Kalamazoo KG2A serial number
The open gear strip tuners used on the Kalamazoo KG solid-bodies.
Kalamazoo KG2A truss rod cover
The Kalamazoo solid bodies had very thin, one-ply, curved truss rod covers, held down by two small screws.
Kalamazoo KG2A truss rod detail
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.
Kalamazoo KG2A serial number
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).

Under the scratchplate: the wiring loom of a Kalamazoo KG2 guitar

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.

Kalamazoo KG2A with original case
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Vintage Gibson Kalamazoo KG1 KG-1 Electric Guitar 1960s with hardshell case

Vintage Gibson Kalamazoo KG1 KG-1 Electric Guitar 1960's with hardshell case

Olympia, Washington, 985**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$525

Mid-Sixties Kalamazoo KG1. A cool little guitar that has it's own sound and is very fun to play. It has an adjustable aftermarket bridge to more fully enable proper intonation; the original bridge is included. Very nice straight neck; the tuners work well. Minimal fretwear. The body is in great shape with no dents or serious dings. The pickguard has scratches and some warpage and cracks. Electronics all original and working fine. Copper foil was added in the cavity for shielding. Playable as is,... more
eBay logo
1965 Gibson Made Kalamazoo KG-2 Vintage Guitar

1965 Gibson Made Kalamazoo KG-2 Vintage Guitar

Mesa, Arizona, 852**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$525

Great player. Killer tone. Nice thin neck. Check out pics closely. Pro setup!
... more
eBay logo

Find more Kalamazoo KG guitars for sale at vintageguitarsforsale.co

There are 6 comments on this article so far. Add your comment

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Carla Janssen Comment left 9th November 2012 17:05:59 reply
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.
J Gilbert Comment left 21st December 2017 01:01:07 reply
I have a blue one in very good condition. I would sell for $400 plus shipping. I could text photos or email.
Jason Burns Comment left 22nd September 2012 17:05:33 reply
hey, can you tell me, did these kalamazoos come with a black scratchplate? or only white? What about tortoiseshell? thank you JB
moncalimari Comment left 30th July 2012 06:06:23 reply
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?
kingkungfu Comment left 13th June 2012 17:05:12 reply
What size is the truss rod nut please. gibson standard size 5/16 inch?
travelling man Comment left 15th March 2012 04:04:56 reply
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.

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1971 Selmer guitar catalogue

1971 Selmer guitar catalogueScan of 1971 Selmer guitar catalogue showing the range of electric and acoustic guitars distributed by the company: guitars by Gibson, Yamaha, Selmer, Hofner and Suzuki. 1960s Selmer had always placed Hofner at the front end of their catalogues, no doubt these were the better sellers - but into the 1970s Hofner were slipping somewhat and only appear at the tail end of this publication, pride of place going to Gibson, and to a lesser extent Yamaha. In fact this is the last Selmer catalogue to include the many Hofner hollow bodies (Committee, President, Senator etc) that had defined the companies output for so many years - to be replaced in the 1972 catalogue by generic solid body 'copies' of Gibson and Fender models. A number of new Gibson models are included for the first time: the SG-100 and SG-200 six string guitars and the SB-300 and SB-400 basses.

1968 Selmer guitar catalogue

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1971 'Pick Epiphone' Catalog

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1981 'Gibson Specials' Pre-Owners Manual

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It was the largest folder in the series, with 24 inserts, (19 guitars and 5 basses): Guitars: 335-S Standard, Melody Maker Double, Marauder, L-6S Custom, S-1, RD Artist, Firebird, Firebird II, Flying V, Flying V-II, The V, Explorer, Explorer II, The Explorer, The "SG" Standard, Les Paul Artist, Les Paul Artisan, ES-335 Heritage, ES-175/CC Basses: Grabber, G-3, L-9S, RD Artist Bass, Flying V Bass

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1968 Shaftesbury 'Electric Guitars' catalog

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1970 Rose-Morris 'Exciting Electrics Wonderful Westerns Celebrated Classics' catalog

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1967 Vox Stroller

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1963 Vox Clubman Bass (left handed)

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1977 Gibson ES Artist 'prototype'

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1959 Hofner Committee

1959 Hofner CommitteeThe Hofner Committee was a truly beautiful guitar produced in Germany, primarily for the UK market. It was a large bodied (initially 17 1/2") guitar with a carved spruce top, available as an acoustic or electric guitar. By the early sixties the carved top was replaced with a laminate, and although still a very fine guitar, the earlier carved top examples, with frondose headstock (like the example shown here) are far more highly prized amongst musicians and vintage guitar collectors.

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean

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1965 Gretsch 'For the Spectacular Sound of the Times' guitar and amp catalog

1965 Gretsch catalogThe 1965 Gretsch catalog, or catalog #32, featured 10 hollow body electric guitars, including the newly launched Gretsch Viking; four solid body electrics, including the Astro Jet - making it's only catalog appearance; just one bass, the single pickup PX6070; nine acoustics and 12 tube amplifiers. Pride of place went to the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman that adorned both the front and back covers. 24 pages, six of which are in full color.

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret ends

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret endsLoose frets are especially problematic in certain old guitars, but are generally very easy to fix. You'll be amazed at the difference you can make with just a few tools, a bit of knowledge, and a little time. Fixing loose frets can eliminate fret buzz, remove sharp fret ends, and greatly improve the tone of any guitar. If your luthier bill will be greater than the value of your guitar, definitely time to have a go yourself!

1966 Hagstrom 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog (Merson USA)

1966 Hagstrom guitar catalogHagstrom guitars were distributed in the mid-1960s United States by Merson of USA. This eight page 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog, printed in two-colors contained six solid body electrics, three solid body basses, two electric acoustic guitars, two electric acoustic basses and five acoustics.

1965 Hofner President

1965 Hofner PresidentThe President was produced by Hofner in Bubenreuth, Germany, specifically for Selmer, who distributed the brand in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other commonwealth nations. The President was a hollow body electric acoustic, available as a full body or thinline, and with blonde or brunette finish. It was a great playing guitar that sold fairly well in the second half of the 1950s, throughout the 1960s, and into the very early 1970s. The example shown here is a full-body depth guitar in blonde - and as a 1965 guitar, one of the last to feature the rounded Venetian cutaway. From late 1965 until 1972, the President sported a sharp Florentine cut. Naturally, such an electric acoustic suggests jazz and blues, but many of the original British Hofner President players were part of the rock 'n roll, skiffle and beat scenes of the late 50s and early 60s.

1963 1964 Fender catalog

Fender 1963 catalogue"The Choice of Professional and Student Musicians Everywhere" This eight page catalogue was included as an insert in the 1963 annual "school music" issue of Downbeat magazine (September 1963). As well as keyboards and pedal steels, this catalog contains seven guitars, three basses and ten amplifiers - from student guitars such as the Musicmaster and Duotone to professional models like the new Jaguar.