Museum: Gibson Guitars

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1930 Kel Kroydon KK-1

FON 9641. The Kel Kroydon guitars built by Gibson from late 1929 into 1931 are some of the very first truly modern steel string guitars ever made. Like Martin's OMs of the same period, the very earliest of these guitars were built more lightly than any instrument that followed and are magical in their tone. And just like the OMs, the construction became more robust over the very short period of the model's production run.

Among the most famous of Gibson's fabled early flat-tops is the sparkle-bound Argentine Grey L2 -- a model of guitar that that's so rare, most players will never have a chance to play one. What makes the L2 so special is its exceptionally light build, with tiny braces (both top and back), super-thin bridgeplates (we've measured them as thin as .040" -- or 40% the thickness of a 'normal' Gibson bridgeplate from the mid 1930's), and their comfortable and quite modern feeling neck. The early Kel Kroydons are, without the sparkle trim and various other cosmetic touches, essentially the same guitar as an L2 -- but without an adjustable truss rod.

This example is the earliest Kel Kroydon we have had through the store and was built in 1930 along with the Argentine Grey L2s. It's a local guitar, complete with the Made in USA stamping on the backside of the headstock typical of guitars that were originally exported to Canada. It arrived at Folkway in need of a neck reset, bridge reglue, bridge plate replacement (the original was about gone, and measured .040" thick), and had a few open top cracks. The work has all been cleanly done, and the replica bridgeplate has the same footprint as the original, but measures .065" thick (which is still much thinner than anything else in the world). Frets are original, as are the nut, tuners, bridgepins, and endpin. Original finish throughout, with next to no playwear and with very few dings, dents, or scratches. The neck has a full thickness fingerboard (later Kel Kroydons and other L-body Gibsons from 1931-2 have thickness fingerboards), 1-3/4" nutwidth, and a very comfortable rounded feel that's not at all hefty.

An extraordinary guitar, it's an instrument that responds profoundly to a light touch. It's also the lightest guitar you'll ever hold, and is deeply woody, open, and resonant as a result. Hard-hitting players shouldn't consider this one as an option as a heavy attack makes the guitar recoil, losing all its tone. It's really for a fingerstyle player who seeks a guitar that's fantastically easy to energise, and one that offers its best tone under a controlled right-hand attack.

Red spruce top, Mahogany back and sides, rosewood fingerboard and bridge. Original ebony nut and new aged bone saddle, nickel plated three-on-a-plate tuners with black buttons, bound top with unbound back.

With non-original case

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