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Thread: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

  1. #1

    Default Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zipper sound hole binding

    I have what is by all accounts an early 30s Kalamazoo KM-11 mandolin(square peg head).

    One thing, however, sets it apart from all the pictures, records, and period advertisements I can find: it does not have the typical soundhole rosette—it instead has the “zipper” black and white checker binding that can be found on a few select KG-11 guitars. I have yet to find any record or picture of a similar feature.

    Could this be a prototype? It is unmistakably original to the Instrument.
    Last edited by Jack1221; Jul-04-2020 at 12:46pm.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

    Pictures make the discussion a lot more fun.............

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack1221 View Post
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    I have also seen a few KG-11 guitars with this spec, but not a mandolin to my knowledge or memory. With this said, Gibson staff was notorious for using what it had available at-hand on any given day. Very cool looking mando!

  7. #5

    Default Kalamazoo Zipper Sound Hole--Mandolin Mystery

    I have a 30s Kalamazoo Mandolin (KM11) with a zipper sound hole binding. All similar looking KM11s still alive today, as well as period advertisements, indicate that the mandolin should have a simple white rosette instead. The "Zipper" appeared on a few KG11 guitars, but no mandolins to my knowledge. Has anyone seen one like this?

    No serial number w/ letter on the headstock--just a 3-digit stamp on the inside neck block.

    Note: I have also posted in the "vintage instruments" thread.
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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

    Depression era Gibson was famous for floor sweeps and different parts/specs within the same model! Very Nice indeed!

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  10. #7

    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

    Interesting! I'll go with that as the operating hypothesis. Thank you!

  11. #8
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

    Unfortunately I don't have photos of it, but do believe the first KM-11 I owned had that decoration. Bought it through Willie's American Guitars in St. Paul.

    Wonder if the purfling was left over after using it on guitars and someone figured out it would fit on the mandolin?
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo Zipper Sound Hole--Mandolin Mystery

    I've had two just like it, no mystery to me. The only thing consistent about Gibson has been inconsistency. The number inside is a Factory Order Number or FON. If you post that number somebody with the Spann book can tell you when it was built.

    I merged these two threads. You don't need to post multiple threads.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Jul-04-2020 at 4:28pm.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User Tom Sanderson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

    Nice looking Kalamazoo. I currently have 4 km11’s , 2 of the early square peghead versions and 2 with the “rooftop” peghead. One of the rooftops has a fixed bridge, the other has an adjustable bridge, white binding on the fingerboard, and a pearl (or bone) nut. All have the white/black/white rosette. I have seen pictures of the “checkered” rosette. Pretty cool looking.

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    Registered User dustyamps's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

    To my recollection, the earliest KM-11's had the checkered rosette.
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  19. #12

    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

    were the first KM-11s branded With Recording King??

  20. #13
    Registered User dustyamps's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

    Gibson made other brand labelled instruments for distributors in addition to their own Kalamazoo budget line. Recording King was a house brand of Montgomery Wards during the '30s. The most commonly seen are the Recording Kings and the Cromwells. Many Recording Kings had a Wards label inside.
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  21. #14
    Registered User Tom Sanderson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

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    Registered User mreidsma's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

    On the guitars I've always read the checkered rosette were the earliest models. Looks cool on the mandolin!

    And Tom, I think you might only have 3 KM-11s, since I have one of them now (my favorite instrument, played far more than my '15 Gibson A). Or did you restock? (I've still got my eye on one of your rooftops, just have to wait for my wallet to catch up with my eyes...)

    -Matthew

  24. #16
    Registered User Tom Sanderson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

    Yes, I bought another one that I couldn’t live without ��

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  26. #17
    Registered User mreidsma's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

    Ha! Love it. Nothing else sounds or plays like the Kalamazoo. I even bought a Cromwell tenor guitar (another 30s Gibson budget brand) and it has the same magic.

    -M

  27. #18

    Default Re: Kalamazoo Mandolin Mystery--zippier sound hole binding

    I have one of these as well, been my keeper since 1985. Identical with the zipper rosette. One of the few I have seen with a perfectly flat top.

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