What’s Your Kalamazoo?

I got an enquiry through the contact form on the GOV site, which is always exciting, whether it’s an enquiry about a guitar for sale of just to ask something. Stefan got in touch to ask if I knew the origin of his Kalamazoo guitar, which looked like the 1940 Gibson L-37 I have on the site. I did a bit of digging…and here’s my reply to Stefan, which I said I would post here if he sent a picture of his guitar.

“Thanks for getting in touch and hope you like the site. I’m no vintage expert but I do enjoy the research and finding the history behind an instrument. I know the Kalamazoo branded Gibson guitars were a way of producing lower cost guitars to fill a more affordable market. They often followed the same template as Gibson guitars but the KGNs made of plywood pressed archtop rather than a carved solid top, so could be more easily mass produced.

I think your guitar may be a Kalamazoo KGN-32 or 22, as shown in attached catalogue image shows. Here’s a link also with more info on these guitars. That said, there are often some cross over product versions of guitars that came out of the factory and identifying them from the Gibson FON system of the time isn’t always precise.


That’s great you brought an old Kalamazoo Gibson back to life. These “budget” guitars are not quite as collectible as the Gibson L’s but still an amazing piece of guitar history!“

Stefan replied with the photo of his Kalamazoo guitar:
The Kalamazoo (sorry the pictures are not the best), which I found in a junk-shop in a small town in Scotland, is original except for the bridge which had gone missing somewhere in the journey from Michigan to Scotland. It came with a hard case that had no handle but a pink shoelace instead, which I thought was a nice touch.

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