Kalamazoo KHG-11 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1936)

Kalamazoo  KHG-11 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1936)
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Item # 8992
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Kalamazoo KHG-11 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1936), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 524B, sunburst top, dark back and sides finish, mahogany back, sides and neck,spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, original black chipboard case.

This is a lovely example of a rare variation on the smaller-bodied flat-top model from Gibson's pre-WWII budget Kalamazoo line, the KG-11. This 12-fret version was designated the KHG-11 and was originally designed as a Hawaiian style lap guitar. Student Hawaiian guitars were common in the 1930s, but this instrument appears to have been made in fairly small numbers and is far less abundant than its "standard" 14-fret neck sister. This one has a factory order number on the heelblock dating to 1936.

The KG-11 itself has no equivalent Gibson model. It features a shorter body with a truncated upper bout compared to the well-known KG-14 or Gibson's similar L-00 model. This rare Hawaiian version actually has sonic and structural advantages over the common 14-fret model as the fingerboard, sound hole, and bridge are all lower on the top, resulting in a better stability. The bridge is located at the apex of the top, making for a more efficient tone generator than the higher-mounted unit on the standard KG-11. The sound of this model is richer and more powerful than the average KG-11.

This KHG-11 has been neatly converted for regular "Spanish" playing. The medium "V" profile neck is nearly 2" wide at the nut so feels quite chunky in the hand, but is not uncomfortable when one gets used to it. Overall the KG-11 is built of the same quality materials as period Gibsons but is ladder braced and has no adjustable truss rod. The top is single-bound with a sunburst finish showing the medium-sized highlighted area typical of the middle 1930s, with a single-bound sound hole edge and firestripe celluloid pickguard. This is a punchy and powerful-sounding guitar, not as sweet as its Gibson-branded cousins but a fine-sounding instrument in its own right.
Overall length is 36 3/4 in. (93.3 cm.), 14 3/4 in. (37.5 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/16 in. (10.3 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 15/16 in. (49 mm.).

Overall this is a very clean guitar, showing not a lot of signs of playing since the years prior to WWII! It was likely sold to a student at some Hawaiian teaching studio who never got very far with their lessons, and quickly put it away. The finish has only small dings, dents, and scrapes, and retains a vibrant color in the sunburst top. The only major repair is the back lower edge of the body was likely exposed to dampness long ago; the seam has been re-sealed and there is one repaired crack on the back in this area. Some finish was lost around here on the edges, but on the whole the repair work is not overly conspicuous and is in fact quite solid.

The conversion for regular play involved a neck re-set and adding an angled saddle to the bridge, and that's about it -- these were fretted in the regular way from the factory, unlike some higher-end Hawaiian guitars. There is some finish lost at the base of the neck heel from the re-set, and one small crack to the top right off the bass side of the fingerboard. The tuners are modern repros of original early flat-plate strip Klusons. This very cool, slightly unusual guitar plays and sounds great, with a lot of pre-war bang for the buck! Overall Excellent Condition.