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1940 Kalamazoo Oriole KGN-12 Vintage Acoustic Guitar, Adirondack Spruce & Maple, Gibson-Made w/ Case


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Up for sale, a 1940 Kalamazoo KGN-12 vintage acoustic guitar in excellent condition, complete with a hardshell case. Manufactured by Gibson under the Depression-era "Kalamazoo" banner, this KGN-12 is an impressive Pre-War instrument with ladder bracing, figured maple back and sides, and a solid Adirondack spruce top, sharing its body dimensions with Gibson's LG-00. As Gibson's most popular sub-brand produced in the 1930s, “Kalamazoo” was one of numerous names affixed to Gibson flattop instruments to keep the company afloat during the lean years of the Great Depression.

This KGN-12 has a feel and tone consistent with Gibson's Pre-War output, boasting a significant U-shaped neck profile carve. This Kalamazoo yields a sound which is brilliant and sweet, with excellent percussive cut and the bouncy, snappy quality of maple as a tonewood. The Adirondack spruce top has incredible detail and tonal breadth, worked in to perfection over the course of the better part of a century. The wound strings have good clarity and a smooth, blooming sound when notes sustain, and the plain strings are sparkling and punchy. Featherweight at 3lbs 7oz, this Kalamazoo is strung with 12-53 strings, offering easy-playing action all the way up the fretboard.

The mahogany neck has a proper U-shaped profile carve, particularly full and round, indicative of this era of production, measuring .935" deep at the 1st fret and 1.060" at the 9th. The Brazilian rosewood fretboard is an extremely dark, tight-grained cut of this particular tonewood, refretted with slender, vintage-spec fretwire that currently shows only moderate wear beneath the plain strings on frets 1-3, with light wear into the rosewood in this area as well. The guitar features 14 frets clear of the body, with a traditional Gibson 24 3/4” scale length. The original carved ebony nut measures 1.725", and the headstock retains the original open-gear strip tuners which still work as intended and feature black buttons. The headstock has a clean “Kalamazoo” silkscreen on the face, along with the upscale Oriole inlay that's surprisingly uncommon on this model. The factory order number with F suffix is stamped on the heel block.

The neck has been reset in the guitar's lifetime, meeting the body at an ideal angle. The Brazilian rosewood bridge (finished over from the factory) is fitted with a modern tall carved bone saddle, and the action is easy-playing in every register, measuring 8/64" on the bass side at the 12th fret and 6/64" on the treble side.

The Adirondack spruce top and maple back are framed by tortoise binding, and the top is accented by the original tiger stripe tortoise pickguard. The original nitro lacquer finish is intact, with clear lacquer overspray that's more notable for its higher gloss on the back and sides. There are a few repaired splits between the soundhole and bridge, and a similar array of repairs behind the bridge on the lower bout, and one additional shorter repaired split on the bass-side lower bout edge on top. The back and sides are crack-free, and there is prominent lacquer checking across the body, a spot of buckle rash at the bass-side waist on the back, pick scuffing across the strum path, and various minor marks on the body as a whole consistent with honest use. The smooth gloss finish on the profile shows light palm wear through the finish central to the carve behind frets 2-5.

A modern black tolex hardshell case is included.