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Thread: Recording King by Gibson

  1. #1
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Recording King by Gibson

    A fun find on eBay this morning. Somebody needs this. NFI

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Recording-K...8AAOSwm31di9VP

    This is basically a Kalamazoo KM-11 branded for Montgomery Ward.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    Yes I seen that sweet ole gal Mike! There are also some nice Cromwell mandolins and archtops on evilbay! There are loads of great old depression era guitars and mandolins on there that can be had for really great prices-just yesterday I won a super KOOL 1930's Orpheum fancy "New Yorker" archtop for well under 400 bucks and it sure looks sweet, I'm sure it'll sound the part as well? If one had the time and $ you can find all sorts of deals and steals on there if your into the vibe of the old stuff! A ton of those "budget brand" 30's guitars will give any high dollar name brand a serious run for the $$$ I think anyway.

  4. #3

    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    William Smith: That Orpheum is great To my eye it is 1940s. Nice tuners on it. Now, I would not be surprised if that is a Harmony pickguard on this Kay made guitar. I could be wrong but be ready to find another hole in the top a little below where the screw goes through the guard that is on it! I have somewhat similar markers on the board of my 1941 Silvertone Crest which was made by Kay. I need a pickguard just like that one for my Cremona IV! there is an Orpheum Kay 72 mandolin on ebay- I emailed the guy to tell him what it is- it is not a Stradolin! He's asking too much as it needs a neck reset but it is all there. I need a pickguard for one of those as well!

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    Yeah I figured it was 30's-40's, I thought it was quite nice, funny I have that exact Orpheum mando saved in my watch list! It needs a neck set-I guess I didn't look too much at her, I thought it was gorgeous at first look! What is a Cremona IV? There are so many great 30's and 40's instrument budget brands I can't keep them all straight! I thought I did pretty good picking up that Orpheum New Yorker for what I paid! I have a soft spot for all those odd ball 30's Guitars and mandolins!

  7. #5

    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    It;s a Harmony Cremona IV: http://harmony.demont.net/guitars/H1304/55.htm Mine was made in 1942 and I have another- with a rosewood pickguard from 1942 that was sold as a Biltmore Commando. I think this is from WW2 as well- not 1947. Mine originally had the rosewood tailpiece but I assume it broke:

    https://reverb.com/item/5817262-kay-...-1947-sunburst

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    GREAT stuff NickR-I think you helped open up a can of worms for me with all these fine old archtops as they can be had at spectacular prices and they are all gorgeous! I just popped on a 1932 Lloyd Loar ViviTone Hawaiian guitar that's about museum quality from Eric Shoenberg! She is awesome looking and from what I could tell has the sound! I sure don't need any other instruments but for the prices and quality of these things well what does one do? I'm happy I have a wife who always says "buy it" Now with a wife like that who can complain!

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    Okay, on that Recording King the last person to string it may have been a bit, uh, distracted? G strings cross below the bridge and one of the A strings is wound around backwards on the post.

    Maybe the owner was doing more than just playing "Tipping Back the Corn".
    1935 Gibson A50, 2018 Collings MT, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 1935 Kalamazoo KM-21, 1941 Strad-O-Lin, 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 1950's Californian
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  11. #8

    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    I saved this mandolin a few days ago- it has great potential- and I know from experience when I get a string wrong, I am tempted to leave it!

    I think I am going to give up buying from the USA as the import charges now levied by the crooks in the UK have become excessive. When I collected my cheap $49 Regal from the depot I had to pay a ludicrous charge. In our money an item up to 15 attracts no charge. This instrument was 39 yet that extra 24 over the threshold cost me 29 in charges- a minimal amount for duty but full "value added tax" on the instrument and outrageously on the shipping plus a "handling charge." It has become a mug's game trying to import from the USA. However, if we got a trade deal, this would end.

    The Regal was easily mended but the seller did not ship the bridge- I imagine it has been lost- probably chucked out. This is a real pain as it was an original item and I have no substitute.

    William Smith: I wrote this elsewhere on another thread here the other day:

    "On the matter of Chicago instruments. I managed to get my massively experienced mender/maker to work on my 1942 Harmony Cremona IV, which is hand carved. This was his first time with such an instrument and his comment was, that the workmanship and quality was every bit as good as anything he had seen from the more celebrated makers- you know who I am referring to. He went on to say that it was a great sounding instrument and he now understood why, with prices at their current levels, some would buy such an instrument which represented a good bargain- assuming others were made to this quality."

    I will not go into detail about this man- I did post up a video of one of his restorations- a historic instrument now owned by a household name.

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  13. #9
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    The more I study those 30's and 40's carved topped catalog/budget guitars the more I'm impressed! It seems even those there was serious pride going on in the building of these! I picked up a 40's Harmony Monterery A model mandolin a year or so ago off evibay as it needed a tailpiece, bridge, tuners but was all there and had the neat original guard, also the one tone bar a 2x4 was floating around on the inside, I gave it to my Dad to fix and he did a great job and what a great little A tone machine that turned out to be! I had all the hardware and he popped the back off and put in some tone bars in the correct Loar style position but it was well under 100 bucks! Once I get my little shop up and going this is the stuff I'll be doing-getting instruments like that and re-working them or getting those great old archtops and most just need a set up and I should be able to at least get them in players hands for what I have in them, maybe a touch more-I'm not doing this to make $ just a hobby to give new life to these things! I think they are all very gorgeous-I've seen some all black archtops from the 30's on evilbay and well I do love that all black look!

  14. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    According to Joe Spann's book in 1934 FON 961 related to a batch of KM-11 Mandolins, basically this mandolin with the Kalamazoo label. I'm going to hazard a guess that at least one wasn't branded Kalamazoo. That would fall in line with the headstock shape on this mandolin. A later use of the same FON (minus a letter) is actually a Recording King guitar. They could have also been cleaning out instruments that were already built at a later date and labeling them for Montgomery Ward. The Gibson second lines are all over the place.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    Now, I would not be surprised if that is a Harmony pickguard on this Kay made guitar.
    Harmony sold repair pieces like pickguards and tuners and bridges through distributors all over the country. Couple that with the fact that all of the Chicago builders bought parts from the same jobbers and the mix is inevitable. I've seen instruments obviously built by one company labeled as another. I assume when things got tight they even bought from each other to fill orders. In the 60's I was buying parts that were showing up on Harmony instruments from the catalog of the L.D. Heater Company in Portland, Oregon. I have no idea how long they had actually been in stock at Heater but it was an old company.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  16. #12

    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    Here is the same New Yorker. No pickguard but you can see the hole is further down the top than on William Smith's guitar. Harmony guitars always have a guard that goes to the extreme edge of the top. Kay guitars in 99% of them leave a margin to the extreme top edge. In the late 30s many Kay guitars also used a bracket- rather than a hole for the top fixing. However this shows a hole. The pickguard on William Smith's guitar goes to the edge- it is a Harmony guard- and the screw goes in just under the binding- as it would on a Harmony guitar which is why I think there will be another hole further down as in this guitar. As far as I can tell, the original guard was probably emblazoned with the Orpheum name- it was on the slightly earlier version which also has that top bracket which Kay decided to dispense with and went drilling into the tops! That is down below the later version like William's:

    https://reverb.com/item/11043628-orp...1940s-sunburst

    https://reverb.com/item/229769-orphe...930-s-sunburst

  17. #13

    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    i saw that one. it's probably well worth fixing up. doesn't look like it needs much

  18. #14
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    Here is the same New Yorker. No pickguard but you can see the hole is further down the top than on William Smith's guitar. Harmony guitars always have a guard that goes to the extreme edge of the top. Kay guitars in 99% of them leave a margin to the extreme top edge. In the late 30s many Kay guitars also used a bracket- rather than a hole for the top fixing. However this shows a hole. The pickguard on William Smith's guitar goes to the edge- it is a Harmony guard- and the screw goes in just under the binding- as it would on a Harmony guitar which is why I think there will be another hole further down as in this guitar. As far as I can tell, the original guard was probably emblazoned with the Orpheum name- it was on the slightly earlier version which also has that top bracket which Kay decided to dispense with and went drilling into the tops! That is down below the later version like William's:

    https://reverb.com/item/11043628-orp...1940s-sunburst

    https://reverb.com/item/229769-orphe...930-s-sunburst
    So you think the one I have coming would've had the fancy pickguard shown in the last "reverb" post of the one that sold? I'd like to find an original guard if that's the case but I highly doubt I'll find one as I imagine they only came with that "New Yorker-Orpheum" I doubt anyone makes a perfect replica? The price on the one on Reverb like mine that sold was a hefty price so I think I did rather well on what I paid even if the guard is a harmony-correct vintage replacement? I think all these from the 30's-40's regardless of the make are very nice and way underrated! I'll be on the lookout for more deals like these-Its too bad that the mandolin on evilbay needs a neck set that's an Orpheum-I like it but only if the price was right!

  19. #15
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    A decent luthier could replicate the guard and a decent artist could replicate the decoration. It was probably screened on there and not inlaid or anything. By the way, about half the "original" pickguards on a large number of Kay and Harmony archtops sold in a five year period on eBay were created and aged in my garage. I had a real cottage cottage industry going several years ago until it just got boring. It's not that hard after you get the pattern down. The best part is that old pickguard material can come from some interesting places. When you buy a restored antique automobile I can guarantee many of the parts are replacements.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    So Mike do you happen to have the empire state building guard I need for my new toy?

  22. #17

    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    William Smith- you need one with King Kong- or David Bromberg atop the Empire State Building!

    I think your guitar is from the 40s- can't be too certain about when. However, if it is early 40s, I would reckon it had the same guard- but just screwed into the top- not having the second bracket. When it arrives, check for that second hole! Likewise, the tailpiece is not original. My luthier made me a fantastic replacement guard for my Ward's A50- he has given it the thin white plastic binding like the original and made the thicker part by layering on a slice of celluloid- it is identical to the crumbling original. However he did add that transparent layer of Plexiglas to make it less prone to bending. He charged me pennies for this- I got the celluloid from China. Apparently, there are moves afoot to stop it being shipped- some kind of hazard- or some other reason that is probably total BS.

    That Kay 72 Orpheum may go down a lot further. Mine did not cost that much. There was one in perfect condition- the blond K74 that did not fetch that much, either. This is it on Reverb- I once bought an old Harmony/Supertone from this guy. When it arrived, he had "double boxed" it. The inner box was a soft case for a Harmony Sovereign- something I needed. He said he did it because of my very prompt payment. I'm always prompt in coughing up but he's the only seller who has responded in such a generous way. Anyway he sold it on eBay for a lot less than the price shown here on Reverb. He had an identical model that was battered that went for about $150 as well- he said it played well and sounded good- it had a post inside it and quite a lot of finish damage. I can't remember if it had its guard. As I wrote- I want a guard! I think my Kay 72 needs to go to the luthier -it plays fine but there is a bit of a bend up near the nut. I think the neck has been meddled with in the past.
    https://reverb.com/uk/item/12615940-...birdseye-maple

  23. #18
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    Maybe PM on who could do the guard/tailpiece etc...Funny on the Bromberg mention as my Uncle Gene Johnson played mandolin in his quintet in the mid 80's, they had a great recording Live in NYC-for some reason they couldn't say it was Carnegie Hall but that's where that recording took place-great stuff!

  24. #19

    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    You may be able to get an old Kay pickguard that is white and the same shape- then you could get an artist to paint it up!

    Fancy, your uncle playing for David Bromberg! I was in Manny's Music in 1995- my first trip to the city. There was a man who played great flat top and mandolin. I got talking to him and told him he was a "real David Bromberg." This did not please him one bit- he was not a Bromberg fan- said they had fallen out on some Peace Corps tour back in 1967! Anyway, he was pretty damned good!

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  26. #20

    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    This guy makes pickguards. He may be happy to make up one for you in white. I bought a guard off him over four years ago. Here is one of his Kay guards. Wait until you get your guitar- it may have been a two bracket model- but I think it is a single bracket and you will find that second hole. He might be able to do one by adapting this style to being similar to that other New Yorker that shows the pickguard. Take a look at his other pickguards:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Pickguard-F...oAAOSwiUhc2p6I

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  28. #21
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    Any luthier worth his salt could look at the picture and your guitar and get that guard right. The painting will take a little more. I gave my templates away to one of the guys I was making guards for. Get a good picture of the one you want and ask around. Those guards didn't have binding or anything.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  29. #22
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    A fun find on eBay this morning. Somebody needs this. NFI

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Recording-K...8AAOSwm31di9VP

    This is basically a Kalamazoo KM-11 branded for Montgomery Ward.
    These are good mandolins. I've owned more than a few of the Kalamazoo labeled ones.

    Maybe I ought to bid on this one, too. My daddy was a big Monkey Wards fan. It was his Amazon.com.

    Mick
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  30. #23
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    I know this thread is on the Recording King "Gibson depression budget stuff" But I find all these old 30's and 40's Chicago built instruments fascinating! The build quality is there and sound as well from previous examples I've played. I just don't believe how cheap some can be had for in the world of arch top guitars and for sure the ones with obvious carved tops and backs? I take it the ones with segmented F-holes would be pressed tops while the normal F-holes would be carved? But then you have to look at period budget brands like Cromwell and they have regular F-holes and are heat pressed rather than carved and way overbuilt at least my 36 Gumby F-style Cromwell is, the back brace is like a 2x4, as is the original bridge, I don't believe I've ever looked inside the top to check the bracing but I imagine its pretty stout! Its all really neat history.

  31. #24

    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    I have two Harmony Cremona IV guitars- they are both stamped CARVED TOP and have the same year of build- F42. One was sold as a Biltmore Commando and this has single cut f holes while the Harmony branded version has segmented f holes. It seems to me that in the 30s the segmented variety was all the rage and this died away in the 1940s.

  32. #25
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King by Gibson

    There is no correlation between segmented F holes and pressed vs. Carved that I have ever seen.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Sep-30-2019 at 12:44pm.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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