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Thread: Kalamazoo?

  1. #1

    Default Kalamazoo?

    Are the Kalamazoo Mandolins worth restoration? I'm a novice player and would like to get this old gal into playing condition unless it just not worth putting good money into?

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  2. #2
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo?

    Those old Kalamazoo mandolins can be nice. Yours appears to be in good shape, you might want to have a look inside with a mirror to make sure the brace is not loose.

    If you have a repairman that knows mandolins I would have it looked at, it could be that all it needs is a little clean up and a fresh set of light gauge strings.

    I will mention that whoever put those strings on it had no idea what they were doing.

    Let us know how it turns out and welcome to the Cafe.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  3. #3

    Default Re: Kalamazoo?

    Thanks for the advice Charley. I agree with your observation about the strings. I'm leaving them that way for now since they seem to be holding the bridge in place. I also looked around inside with a dental mirror. Everything is intact and tight.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Kalamazoo?

    I bought a Kalamazoo KM21 last year, which is a sister model to yours but much the same. It surprised me what a good sound it has, different to my main modern Mandolin but a sweet and ringing tone and nice to play. If the neck is straight and the frets not worn down it would be easy to get it sorted out. Either take it to a repairer or I can tell you what I had to do to get mine set up. Cheers. David

  5. #5
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo?

    I've had any number of these KM11s over the years.

    They are fine sounding mandolins with (for me, at least) a very comfortable neck profile.

    They seem to hold their value on the used market, as well, which I guess is why I've had so many come and go.


    I'll triple down on Charles's recommendation of light strings.

    Even try going with extra light for your first set as you get it set back up again.

    That's what I've got on mine now and I don't regret it.

    I'm not going to be trying to drown out a banjo or djembe or an accordion with this mandolin.

    The top is very flat to begin with with no cant or cross curvature, and the braces can come loose as noted.

    One of these I had suffered a catastrophic top collapse. Made for an eerie crunching sound.

    It was a complicated repair but I got it back to playable again. Maybe even sounded better.

    You don't want to go through that.

    Fair play to you. Enjoy it.

    Mick
    Ever tried, ever failed? No matter. Try again, fail again. Fail better.--Samuel Beckett
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  6. #6
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo?

    I've had several KM-11's pass through my hands. That's from the first year they produced the KM-11. Don't restore anything, have someone that knows mandolins set it up and the strings are holding the bridge in place because they are supposed to. The bridge is a floating bridge. Don't glue it down.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
    --J. Garber

  7. #7

    Default Re: Kalamazoo?

    I reckon it might just be the cost of a packet of strings as the mandolin looks very good. Obviously, getting some extra advice does no harm but using GHS Ultra Light A240 strings which are 9-32 to start as suggested is a good idea, The mandolin appears to be all original and nothing is missing. You may know that Waterloo mandolins from Collings replicate this style of instrument for $1950!

    https://www.waterlooguitars.com/wl-m/

  8. #8

    Default Re: Kalamazoo?

    Nice looking mandolin. Should be a good one!

  9. #9
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo?

    Agree with the above advice, it looks to be structurally sound. A little clean up and some new light strings and it should be good to go. Even the frets we can see look to be in good shape. Nice find!
    Chuck

  10. #10

    Default Re: Kalamazoo?

    Gibson first produced the Army Navy model flat Top Mandolin prior to the Kalamazoo depression line of instruments. Your Kalamazoo is basically the same as the Earlier Army Navy model, just cosmetic differences. All the Kalamazoo, Cromwell and other branded Gibson’s are decent mandolins if in sound playing condition. Decades ago Flatiron’ copied Gibson’s little flat-top AN mandolin. Only use light gauge strings on the Kalamazoo’s. I have a 1941’ Kalamazoo KM-12 that I restored. It’s pretty decent. My main Mando is a 9 year old Elkhorn’ fern.

  11. #11
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kalamazoo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ishmon bracey View Post
    Gibson first produced the Army Navy model flat Top Mandolin prior to the Kalamazoo depression line of instruments. Your Kalamazoo is basically the same as the Earlier Army Navy model, just cosmetic differences.
    Except that's not quite true. Notice any differences in the shapes? That changes the construction a bit. They are are both flat topped round hole mandolins and they both have 8 strings and even the same tailpiece design.
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    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
    --J. Garber

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  13. #12

    Default Re: Kalamazoo?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Except that's not quite true. Notice any differences in the shapes? That changes the construction a bit. They are are both flat topped round hole mandolins and they both have 8 strings and even the same tailpiece design.
    I stated they are Basically the same flat top mandolin with cosmetic differences , but yes sir I stand corrected. There is a slight body shape difference. Thanks for pointing that out.

  14. #13

    Default Re: Kalamazoo?

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