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Kalamazoo Electric Spanish KES Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar, made by Gibson , c. 1941

Kalamazoo Electric Spanish KES Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar, made by Gibson ,  c. 1941

Kalamazoo Electric Spanish KES Model Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar, made by Gibson, c. 1941, made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, sunburst top, dark stained back and sides finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, spruce top, original brown soft shell case.

This is a very historically interesting pre-WWII electric guitar, built by Gibson for their in-house Kalamazoo budget brand not long before both Gibson's custom brands and electric line would fall victim to the onset of wartime restrictions. This is essentially a stripped-down version of the 1941 ES-125 with a pressed arched top and back and the same metal-covered alnico pickup.

This unit replaced the familiar "Charlie Christian" bar magnet pickup in 1940 and was used on most period Gibson electrics. The Kalamazoo version has no adjustable pole pieces, but is internally the same. The fittings are typical period Gibson, with openback kluson strip tuners, a simple rosewood adjustable bridge, unbound tortoise celluloid elevated pickguard, and single radio-style volume knob. The guitar has a bright, snappy sound for a full hollow body instrument, and is an extremely nice-playing guitar as well as a rare piece of Gibson history.

The first Kalamazoo Electric Spanish guitar was a flat-top with an unusual pickup installation in the soundhole released in late 1939 or early 1940. This arched-top model replaced it shortly thereafter and is a more typical Gibson electric instrument. While intended as a student guitar, this Kalamazoo is built to the same quality as full-line Gibson instruments and compares favorably to similar Vega and Epiphone Electar instruments from the same period.

Kalamazoo instruments do lack the adjustable truss rod and the instrument is built of 3-ply woods instead of carved from solid, but many other period electrics, even more expensive ones, are built much the same. Had the Second World War not intervened, the KES might have gone on to be a very popular instrument, probably the best budget electric of its time. As it was, the model was discontinued very shortly after being introduced and is now a very rare and interesting piece of Gibson history.
Overall length is 39 1/2 in. (100.3 cm.), 14 7/8 in. (37.8 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

Extremely well-preserved; all original fittings and finish, and plays very nicely. Average light finish wear, but no evidence of damage or repair. Excellent + Condition.

Item # 3372
This item has been sold.

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