Kalamazoo KM-12 Arch Top Mandolin (1939), ser. #EK-5150, brown chipboard case.

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Listed:5 years ago
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Retrofret Vintage Guitars
Brooklyn, NY, United States
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Kalamazoo KM-12 Model Arch Top Mandolin (1939), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # EK-5150, sunburst top, dark back and sides finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, spruce top, brown chipboard case. The KM-12 was the less fancy of two arch top, F-hole mandolin models Gibson offered their Depression-era customers under the budget-oriented Kalamazoo brand. This model sold for an astoundingly low $12.75 in 1937 (plus $4 for the case) and is one of the least expensive instruments Gibson ever offered. For this price it is quite an attractive and functional instrument, a very playable F-hole, arched top mandolin far cheaper than any Gibson-branded model. This economy could be achieved because the KM-12's top and back are "Arco-Arched", Gibson's term for pressed wood instead of carved. The spruce top is heavily X-braced, the mahogany back has one sturdy cross brace across the middle for support. The finish is a natural mahogany with a light sunburst on the top the company called "Mist-brown with shading". The top edge is bound in ivory Celluloid. The fittings are typical lower-end Gibson, with an elevated pickguard made of black Celluloid, a rosewood adjustable bridge, generic "clamshell" tailpiece and surprisingly nice Kluson strip tuners. This is an excellent playing mandolin and sounds quite good, surprisingly close to Gibson's own carved top models of the period. While lacking a carved top or adjustable truss rod, it is still built to Gibson's quality standards out of the same materials as the full-line instruments. It may be one of the best bargains Gibson ever offered in a mandolin, and remains so today!Overall length is 25 3/4 in. (65.4 cm.), 10 1/4 in. (26 cm.) wide, and 2 3/16 in. (5.6 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 14 in. (356 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/4 in. (32 mm.). This mandolin is in very nice original condition, complete and unaltered with some light pickwear to the top and scuffing overall. The top shows a bit of sinkage on the bass side; we checked it over and secured all the bracing, and the instrument is completely solid and actually a very good little player. All the hardware is intact including the Kluson strip tuners with attractive pearloid-like buttons, bridge, pickguard, and even the tailpiece cover, so often lost along the way. This remains a fine-playing pre-war f-hole mandolin at a relative bargain price (then and now) with a bright barky tone well-suited to string band use. Excellent - Condition.

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