|1929 Brooklyn newspaper|
|1918 Gibson Advertisement|
|1939 Kalamazoo Brochure|
|KG-22 and KG-12|
From 1933 to 1940 the guitars, both arched and flat top, were made of solid wood for the tops, backs and sides. However Kalamazoo guitars made from 1940 through 1943 featured plywood bodies. All of the flat top guitars featured ladder bracing the instead of X-bracing found on more expensive Gibson models.
|1938 Kalamazoo Sport Model|
Despite this lack of features Kalamazoo guitars were a bargain with a starting price of only $12.50 USD for the Kalamazoo Sport Model aka the KG 3/4.
|'38 KG Sport & Gibson L-00|
The headstock which had a flat shape had a Kalamazoo decal on its top and open gear tuners were on a metal strip of 3 per side and featured black plastic buttons on the back side. The case sold for $4.50 extra.
|Late 1930's KG-11|
During this era, many tenor banjo players were doubling on the guitar, so 4 string tenor guitars were popular. Kalamazoo offered the KTG-11. This instruments body and accouterments were similar to the LG-11, but the neck was narrower and the headstock only had 4 tuning pegs.
This style was available as the KHG-12 Hawaiian guitar with a wider neck that joined the body at the 12th fret.
|1938 KGN-12 Oriole|
A similar guitar was the KGN-12 “Oriole.” What made this guitar different was the natural finish on its solid spruce top and the back and sides were made of flamed maple veneer.
|KGN-12 Oriole headstock|
|1938 KGN-12 Oriole|
In 1936 Kalamazoo offered the KG-14. This guitar looked spot-on like a Gibson L-00 and had a sunburst spruce top and dark brown mahogany back and sides. The bridge saddle and fretboard were made of rosewood and the neck had dot inlays. The headstock on this guitar was done in Gibson's "roof peak" shape and topped with a Kalamazoo decal. Once again the tuners were open gear models on strips of three tuners per side.
|KTG-14 Cromwell G2|
By 1935 Gibson was offering the first Kalamazoo archtop guitar. This wa the KG-21 and was very similar to a Gibson model L-30. This guitar had a solid spruce top that was pressed instead of carved. Gibson called the pressing process “arco-arch.” The back and sides were made of mahogany as was the neck. The rosewood fretboard had white position markers. The upper part of the headstock had the roof peak shape. The bridge was made of rosewood and the strings attached to a budget model trapeze tailpiece.
A tenor version of this guitar was also marketed and called the KTG-21. The body was the same, but the neck was narrower and only had four strings.
Only 15 Hawaiian style KHG-21’s were made. The necks on these guitars attached at the 12 fret instead of the 14th fret.
An upscale version of this same guitar was called the KG-22. It came with a bound neck that featured a non adjustable steel rod and a nicer trapeze tailpiece and in 1935 sold for $21.50 for the guitar and $5.50 for the case.
|1936 KG 31|
Gibson also produced some models of the KG-31 that had maple back and sides.
The KG-31 was available with a tenor neck and called the KTG-31.
By 1939 Gibson set out to make a more affordable archtop and called it the KG-16. This came with the arco-arched solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides. The body shape was similar to the KG-21. It too had the roof peak headstock and sold for only $18.25.
Some KG-32 Oriole guitars were sold with the roof peak headstock design and others had the Gibson open book headstock design. The headstock was topped with the Kalamazoo logo decal and below it was an orange Oriole bird decal.
In 1939 Gibson modified their Kalamazoo KG-21 archtop with the addition of a single coil pickup above the bridge saddle, It was known as the model KES (Kalamazoo Electric Spanish.) A single volume control was added below the pickguard and a jack was put on the guitars lower side. This guitar sold for $100.
By 1940 Gibson modified their Kalamazoo KG-12 model with the addition of a single coil pickup that was mounted over the sound hole. A single volume control was added to the guitar and a jack on the lower side for the cord. This model was called the KES-R.
The amplifiers for these instruments were the KEA and the KEA-R. The KEA had 8" speakers and 5 tubes with an output of aproximately 10 watts. The KEA-R was similar, but had a 10" Rola speaker.
Gibson made Kalamazoo guitars through 1943 when WWII interrupted production.
|KEA 10 amplifier|
Gibson offered a 10 watt Kalamazoo amplifer with a 10 inch speaker to go along with the guitar. Sometime in 1953 Gibson shut down production of Kalamazoo instruments.
It would not be until 1965 that Gibson would revive the Kalamazoo brand name. This time it would be on budget instruments that would include one acoustic guitar, four models of electric guitars and an electric bass guitar.
|1966 Kalamazoo Ad|
All models came with a bolt-on neck topped with a rosewood fret board and dot position markers.
|1966 KB Bass|
The Kalamazoo bass was known as the KB. The original body shape was similar. It came with one large single coil pickup in the neck position and a palm rest. The strings attached to a compensated metal bridge/saddle.
|1967 KG-2A and KB|
Despite the particle board construction, it was a pretty nice instrument that was much better than the Asian budget models that were flooding the market during that era.
|1966 Kalamazoo Amplifier Advertisement|
|1966 Model 1|
The model #1 came with an Alnico 10" speaker. It was a single-ended circuit with 6X4 rectifier, 6BQ5 output tube, 12AX7 input tube. It featured a single volume and tone control.
|1966 Model 2|
|1966 Kalamazoo Bass Amp|
|1966 Kalamazoo bass amp (rear)|
Although Kalamazoo made a 50 watt bass amp, I cannot find any information.
|Kalamazoo Model 3|
The Kalamazoo models 3 and 4 are both solid state amplifiers with 10” speakers. The model 3 controls featured tone/off/on and a volume control. The model 4 came with tremolo.
|Kalamazoo Model 4|
|1965 Kalamazoo KG-10|
©UniqueGuitar Publishing (text only)