Friday, November 22, 2013

1940 Kalamzoo KG-12 shade top

The shade top Kalamazoo KG-12 is a bit of a rare bird and was worth the time it took to find a good one.  You'll more commonly see the natural finished version called the KG-12N or Oriole.  Those have the Oriole decal on the headstock.  The shade top version was devoid of the Oriole but received an attractive sunburst and darker natural stain on the back.  This time period at Gibson is known for great craftsmanship and is considered the peak of the golden age of lutherie.

This model is constructed of an Adirondack Spruce top, solid flame Maple sides and a laminate flame Maple back.  The neck is made of Honduran Mahogany, the fretboard and bridge of Indian Rosewood and the nut of hard Ebony.  This model is one of the few branded Kalamazoo that has a hidden truss rod that's adjustable at the heel of the neck.   The top bracing is standard ladder bracing adding to the bluesy, boxey tone these are known for.  The Maple rounds out the package with nice sparkly top end.

This particular guitar

required a neck reset and a bridge reglue to be back in tip top shape.  I asked my luthier to add an access hole in the block so the truss rod could be adjusted after the neck was reset.  The hole is not visible unless the guitar is held at just the right angle.  Suffice it to say that you won't find it unless you know where it is and what to look for.    My luthier only needed to freshen the hide glue under the bridge and reclamp to reattach it to the top.  I like this method since it doesn't require removing the bridge from the top and leaves almost no signs of the repair.  


It took about a year for me to find this guitar.  They aren't the rarest Gibson or the most desirable but something about the combination of rare features and how few I've spotted in the wild drove me to seek it out.  I have no hard of evidence of its rarity other than my own opinion.  This guitar was worth the wait.  There's something about sitting on the couch with this gem and lightly fingerpicking a tune or two.  The top takes very little drive to have sweet tone and good volume.  The sunburst, flame Maple and tortoise shell binding are ever so aesthetically pleasing.  The lacquer is lightly checked but still smooth and glassy to the touch.  The original Geib soft shell case with leather handle and purple interior complete the time capsule feel I get every time I open the case.  

Do you have on of these that you would like to sell?  I'm looking for another.  Please email me about what you have for sale.

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