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1931 Kel Kroydon KK1

FON 13. Among the finest L-bodied Gibsons ever made are those branded Kel Kroydon -- built between 1929 and '33. Kel Kroydon was Gibson\'s earliest budget line, and unlike those that followed (Kalamazoo, Cromwell, etc) it wasn't a department store catalogue brand. Kel Kroydon instruments shared many construction similarities with their Gibson equivalents; and the bodies of the Kel Kroydon flat tops built in the early 1930's are identical to those of the 'Argentine Grey' L2, but for the gold sparkle trim and greenish-hued sunburst finish. What differentiates these two models are the shape of the headstock, and the lack of neck reinforcement in the KelKroydon.

The absence of truss rods and the use of very thin fingerboards in Kel Kroydon branded Gibsons often resulted in guitars with terrible playability. Couple this with the smallish oval neckcarve used at the time, and the result is what we repair-people like to call a 'spaghetti noodle neck'. Almost all thin-fingerboard Kel Kroydon's have one. These necks are excessively flexible, bowing forward badly under string tension. (As an aside, the thicker fingerboard Kel Kroydons seem to fare much better in this department, but are uncommon).

A number of years ago, this Kel Kroydon arrived at Folkway with the normal symptoms. High action and way too much relief. It simply wasn't playable; but it was otherwise in very fine condition. The top was perfect and essentially crack-free and the top arch was even, there were only a few loose brace ends, and the original bridge wasn't modified. Folkway’s Mark Stutman brought renewed life to the guitar by installing a carbon fibre Martin-style T-bar neck support and replacing the guitar’s fingerboard. With properly positioned frets, 1930’s style side dots, a full-thickeness fingerboard, and a stiff neck the guitar plays as easily and in tune as a modern instrument, but feels, looks, and sounds like a great vintage Gibson. The work is top-notch, with a very accurate fingerboard and replacement aged bone nut, and a little bit of French polish used on the sides of the fingerboard to blend it all together; there was no overspray or refinish done, and there remains little evidence of the repair.

The neck is stiff, the neck angle is perfect, the relief is exactly where we would set it if there were an adjustable truss rod, and the frets play beautifully. The feel of the neck is heavenly and, thanks to those side dots, you play a heck of a lot better.

The best part, though, might be the guitar’s tone. With the stiffness added to the neck and more mass in the fingerboard the guitar now has a beautiful voice with a strong fundamental. A lovely array of colourful overtones compliment the fundamental without overshadowing it; and the guitar now has more headroom than most other Kel Kroydons. It takes a heavy right hand attack without complaint but still maintains its responsiveness to a light touch. It is very much like an Argentine Grey L2, or period L1 in its tone; clear, round, dark, open, and a little bit smoky.

Red spruce top, with an extra light X bracing; mahogany back, sides and neck. Bound top, unbound back, rosewood bridge, new aged bone saddle. Replacement high-grade German tuning machines machines, original finish throughout. 24-5/8" scale, 1-3/4" nut. A few previously repaired back cracks, and we suspect that the bridgeplate is an old very well made dimensionally accurate replacement. A K+K mini pickup has been professionally installed.

With deluxe TKL hardshell case

Shipping into the USA?

Sending this guitar to a US address is easy to do. We take care of everything – all you have to do unpackage the instrument when it arrives and play! Questions? Email us anytime, or call us toll-free at 1-855-772-0424.


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