In many ways, the '30s and '40s defined and shaped the modern acoustic guitar. On the heels of Maybelle Carter, more and more players began to use guitars as lead instruments in string bands. Relative to other instruments, guitars were also more affordable—and more portable! Not only did guitars fit depression-era budgets, but guitars were the perfect companion for thumbing a ride out on the dust-bowl or hopping in a boxcar to get to the next Juke Joint.
In today's market, prewar models often come with exorbitantly high price tags, and because of their historical significance, they mostly deserve to. Nevertheless, there were many low-cost, workingman's guitars built in those days, too, and perhaps these more accurately embody the era. While these guitars might not demonstrate the same level of impact on the future of the guitar industry, they can still be inspiring guitars, more than capable of capturing the sound, feel, and mojo of yesteryear.
From 1933 to 1942, Gibson used the "Kalamazoo" name to sell a line of low-cost, no-frills department-store guitars. The Kalamazoo KG-21 is essentially an L-00-shaped archtop guitar. While its small size make it extremely comfortable on your lap, the KG-21's deeper side depth gives it a thicker, warmer sound, reminiscent of larger 15-16" archtops. While the pressed Spruce top is supported by heavy X-bracing, the KG-21 still produces the mid-range chunk we want from a good archtop guitar. Unlike earlier Kalamazoos, the '40s KG-21s also have a rounder C-shape neck profile, which makes this guitar much more approachable for modern players who aren't used to strong V-shaped necks.
Because of the lighter amber color of its sunburst, its round neck profile, and the Gibson-shaped headstock, this KG-21 appears to have been made in 1941. It is in nice shape all-around. There is a small repaired crack on the back, and there's a small repaired crack on the edge of the bass F-hole. On the treble side, a stretch of top binding was replaced along the waist. It sports its original bridge, original tailpiece, and generic three-on-plate tuning machines that do the trick nicely. Its neck was likely reset at one point because the neck angle remains true and the action is playable and inviting. although it still has its original frets (which are fairly worn), every note on the fingerboard rings out clear and true. This KG-21 includes what may be its original chip-board case.