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Kalamazoo KG Electric Guitar

The Kalamazoo KG1 and KG2 guitar (1966-69)

The Kalamazoo KG solid body electric guitars were produced between 1965 and 1969, in, as the name would imply, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. The Kalamazoo KG1 and KG2 had one and two pickups respectively, and were respectable entry level instruments, aimed at the student guitar market. Available in primary colours: Flame Red, Las Vegas Blue and Glacier White. The Kalamazoo KG mixed some of the styling and construction of Fender guitars, with the hardware and pickups used in guitars by Gibson.

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 its hardware (and latterly body style) with the Gibson Melody Maker, the two instruments were quite different in terms of construction. The Melody Maker, with its 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 gibson Kg-14 1939 acoustic vintage guitar rare

Kalamazoo gibson Kg-14 1939 acoustic vintage guitar rare

Altadena, California, 910**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Incredible sounding and playing kalamazoo kg-14 that has been completely gone through by my luthier!
The neck and fretboard were in bad shape after being played to death since 1939. A neck reset was done with a neck fretboard being made (the original was like a pothole road and left it unplayable) with fresh frets, a new nut and saddle. The guitar plays like a brand new
The back does has some cracks that are shown in photos that were reglued years ago that are stable. If you want a ... more
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guitar Continental Music Co Cromwell Gibson Kalamazoo KG-14 acoustic case 40S3

guitar Continental Music Co Cromwell Gibson Kalamazoo KG-14 acoustic case 40S3

Williamsburg, Virginia, 231**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This is a vintage item and has been used Please see the pictures for condition, completeness, and what is included We did not perform any cleaning or restorations and left the item just as found The unit is completely untested, we do not know how to play guitar, selling as found for parts or restoration We have been told a few different histories on where the guitar was made and who may have made it. Selling as pictured
This instrument is vintage, we are making no guarantees on any of the ... more
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1933 Kalamazoo KG-11 Senior Flat Top an excellent solid example & plays great !

1933 Kalamazoo KG-11 Senior Flat Top an excellent solid example & plays great !

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 333**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


What a cool guitar made as a lower priced line by Gibson during the 30's & 40's as an option from its more expensive L-0. Its unusual bell shape was ahead of its time giving it lots of bass & treble tones on a budget. Its 2-tone Dark Sunburst finish is in pretty fine yet slightly weathered shape w / lots of cool patina. Its got a very pretty flamey tortoise'gard that we all luv on older Gibson guitars. Its got a mahog flat back & sides also showing some age appropriate wear. Its neck... more
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Fort Gaines, Georgia, 398**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


I  am Selling my early 1930s Kalamazoo kg11. I  think it is a first year production. Maybe1933. I  have had this guitar for about 13 years. Back in the late 80s early 90s, I traveled and played with the Legendary Johnny Shines   We did over 200 shows together and traveled 10s of thousands of miles together. His stories were priceless   He told me him and his travelling companion, the Legendary Robert Johnson,   played Kalamazoo  guitars most of the ... more
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Kalamazoo 1936 KG-14 Acoustic Guitar Sunburst w /  Case "Good Condition"

Kalamazoo 1936 KG-14 Acoustic Guitar Sunburst w / Case "Good Condition"

La Plata, Maryland, 206**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This is a used item that's tested and is in good condition. We do our best to accurately portray the wear and tear of each used item we sell. Please keep in mind this item has been previously owned and will naturally show signs of wear and tear. If you have additional questions or would like additional photos, please feel free to reach out to our Online Sales Department.
Top Material: Spruce
Body Material: Mahogany
Inlays: Dot
Number of ... more
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1940 Kalamazoo KGN-12 Oriole the cleanest coolest Museum Quality example extent.

1940 Kalamazoo KGN-12 Oriole the cleanest coolest Museum Quality example extent.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 333**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


The Kalamazoo Guitar brand was a subsidiary of the Gibson Guitar Co. from Kalamazoo Michigan. At that time, it was a budget model offered price wise but these have come into their own over the last 30 years, some being fabulous original guitars from the late 30's thru the early 40's. This KGN-12 Oriole model was like Gibson's L-oo & is probably the most beautiful 100% original example extent. Its all Blonde finish is stunning from its Spruce top to its very figured Maple back & sides. ... more
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Kalamazoo 1936 KG-14 Acoustic Guitar Sunburst w /  Case "Good Condition"

Kalamazoo 1936 KG-14 Acoustic Guitar Sunburst w / Case "Good Condition"

La Plata, Maryland, 206**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This is a used item that's tested and is in good condition. We do our best to accurately portray the wear and tear of each used item we sell. Please keep in mind this item has been previously owned and will naturally show signs of wear and tear. If you have additional questions or would like additional photos, please feel free to reach out to our Online Sales Department
Top Material: Spruce
Body Material: Mahogany
Inlays: Dot
Number of Frets: 19
Scale Length: 24 75 ... more
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1960s Kalamazoo KG-2a Red Finish Electric Guitar w / OSSC

1960s Kalamazoo KG-2a Red Finish Electric Guitar w / OSSC

San Diego, California, 921**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


1960s Kalamazoo KG-2a Red Finish Electric Guitar w / OSSC
Located At IVG Burbank
In Very Good Overall Condition (Please See Photos)
Red Finish Shows Light Playwear
Maple Neck With Rosewood Fingerboard
Weight 7lbs 6oz
Nut Width 7lbs 6oz
Neck Depth At 1st Fret .78 "
Neck Depth At 12th Fret .90 "
Comes With Original Softshell Case
Made In USA
... more
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1940 Kalamazoo KGN-12 Oriole Natural Left-Handed Conversion Acoustic w / OHSC

1940 Kalamazoo KGN-12 Oriole Natural Left-Handed Conversion Acoustic w / OHSC

San Diego, California, 921**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Located At Out Brick'n'Mortar Store In San Diego, CA
1940 Kalamazoo KGN-12 Oriole Natural Left-Handed Conversion Acoustic w / OHSC
In Very Good Overall Condition (Please See Photos)
Guitar Has Been Professionally Refinished And Converted To Left Handed With Repro Bridge, Nut, Neck Dots And Pickguard
Neck Has Been Professionally Reset And Refretted
Spruce Top
Maple Back And Sides
Mahogany Neck With Rosewood Fingerboard
Weight 3 55lb

Nut Width 1 7 " ... more
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Vintage Kalamazoo KG21 archtop acoustic guitar 1930s

Vintage Kalamazoo KG21 archtop acoustic guitar 1930s

Apollo Beach, Florida, 335**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


For sale is a vintage all original (except strings) Kalamazoo KG21 acoustic guitar that was made by Gibson. This model was considered a budget brand and was popular for jazz or blues musicians back in the 1930s and 40s. This guitar dates to that period (1936-1941). The body is in good condition with some scratches. No breaks or damage. It was restrung and tuned several years ago and has not been played. Original case comes with purchase of guitar. The case is in fair - poor condition.... more
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1930s Kalamazoo KG-11 Acoustic Guitar Excellent Piece VHTF

1930s Kalamazoo KG-11 Acoustic Guitar Excellent Piece VHTF

Littleton, Colorado, 801**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


38?? guitar just left the shop ready to play and enjoy pretty rare item built in the Gibson factory pre WW2
... more
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Kalamazoo KG-11 "Senior" 1933 Vintage Gitarre im Gibson L-00 Stil - toller Klang

Kalamazoo KG-11 "Senior" 1933 Vintage Gitarre im Gibson L-00 Stil - toller Klang

Michelstadt, 64***, GERMANY


Kalamazoo KG-11 "Senior "

Super seltene Kalamazoo KG-11 "Senior" 1933 aus der Gibson-Fabrik - echter Gibson-Sound für einen Bruchteil des Preises!
Bevor Gibson Epiphone kaufte, gab es Kalamazoo. Benannt nach Gibsons Heimatstadt in Michigan, war Kalamazoo die Idee des Gibson-Präsidenten Guy Hart, der eine Lösung brauchte, um Gibson während der Großen Depression im Musikinstrumentengeschäft zu halten
Die Musikinstrumente der Marke Kalamazoo wurden als "The World's ... more
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Cameljoe311 Comment left 16th December 2014 08:08:31 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 31st December 2015 08:08:33 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 25th March 2013 06:06:49 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 25th March 2013 06:06:32 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 19:07:52 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 21:09:09 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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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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1961 Hofner Colorama I

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1971 Commodore N25 (Matsumoku)

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1960 Hofner Colorama II

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1968 Shaftesbury 'Electric Guitars' catalog

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

1970 Rose_Morris catalog1970 Rose-Morris catalog, dated April 1970. It featured 6 electric guitars, 32 acoustic guitars, 3 basses and 1 steel guitar. It contains the following instruments, over 20 pages: Electric guitars: Shaftesbury 3261, 3262, 3264, 3265, 3400; Top Twenty 1970; Bass: Shaftesbury 3263, 3266; Top Twenty 1971; Acoustic guitars: Eko Rio Bravo, Rio Bravo 12, Ranchero, Ranchero 12, Colorado, Ranger, Ranger Folk, Ranger 12; Aria 1674, 1675, 1676, 1679, 1680, 1695, 'John Pearse' Jumbo, 'John Pearse' Folk; Rose-Morris 15-11, Kansas, Georgian, Florida; Suzuki 1663, 1664, 1665, 3054, 3055, 3060; Tatay 1713, 1714, 1715; Peerless 3052; Steel guitar: Aria 3425

1971 Rose-Morris 'Exciting Electrics Wonderful Westerns' catalog

1971 Rose_Morris catalogThe sixteen-page 1971 Rose-Morris catalog featured electric guitars by Rose-Morris' own brand, Shaftesbury, and budget brand Top Twenty; aswell as acoustics by Eko, Aria, and for the first time Ovation. The catalog contains the following instruments: Electric guitars: Shaftesbury 3261, 3264, 3265, 3400, 3402; Top Twenty 1970; Bass: Shaftesbury 3263, 3266; Top Twenty 1971; Acoustic guitars: Ovation: Balladeer, 12 String, Glen Campbell, Glen Campbell 12 string; Eko Rio Bravo, Rio Bravo 12, Ranger, Ranger Folk, Ranger 12, Colorado, Ranchero, Ranchero 12, Studio 'L'; Rose-Morris Florida; Aria 'John Pearse' Jumbo, 'John Pearse' Folk

1972 Fender Precision bass

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1967 Vox Stroller

1967 Vox StrollerThe Vox Stroller was the brand's entry level electric solid body guitar, fitted with just one pickup and a fixed tailpiece. Although aimed at student guitarists, it wasn't a terrible instrument, but did lack somewhat in adjustability, having no accessible truss rod and only a floating rosewood bridge. But this example is actually quite an improvement on earlier versions, with a standard 1/4" jack and a solid mahogany body. 1967 price £18 2s. JMI ceased UK guitar production in late '67, and combined with decreasing demand for the Stroller, this surely must be one of the last examples shipped.

1963 Vox Clubman Bass (left handed)

1963 Vox Clubman Bass left handedA nice example of the Vox Clubman II bass, built by JMI in Dartford, Kent in 1963. This is a lightweight bass, short (30") scale and very easy to play. It is an early example, and as such has a thin black scratchplate and side mounted, coaxial output jack. JMI offered left handed examples of their solid body Vox guitars and basses at 10% premium. Production numbers are unclear, but left-handed examples rarely come up for sale

1977 Gibson ES Artist 'prototype'

1977 Gibson ES Artist prototypeNot to be confused with the Gibson ES Artist launched by Gibson in 1979; this ES Artist was an early model designed by the Gibson research and development team in Kalamazoo in 1977, the instruments themselves constructed by Gibson artist Chuck Burge. It was planned for launch as a high end semi acoustic with 335-style construction (central maple block) and innovative circuitry - but was pulled at the last minute, being deemed too expensive. Apparently, several examples were produced with varying specifications, though exactly how many actually left the Kalamazoo plant is unclear. Certainly two guitars were sold to LaVonne Music by Gibson in around 1980. Read more about the development of this guitar, with details from Chuck Burge and the story of it's sale to LaVonne music

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

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins TennesseanThe Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean, or model 6119 was Gretsch's best selling hollow body of the 1960s. This wonderfully faded example from 1965 was originally Dark Cherry Red, but has turned a mid-orange brown. The original color, however, can be seen underneath the pickup surrounds. 1965 specs: maple body, two-piece neck, Brazilian rosewood fretboard and Hi-Lo 'Tron single coil pickups. Nickel plated Gretsch Bigsby tailpiece.

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.