Kel Kroydon KK-1 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar, made by Gibson (1930)

Kel Kroydon KK-1 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar, made by Gibson  (1930)

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Item # 8051
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Kel Kroydon KK-1 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar, made by Gibson (1930), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 9766, natural top, dark stained back and sides finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, spruce top, black hard shell case.

The Kel Kroydon KK-I flat-top is one of those odd Gibson creations built for a specific time and place but eventually becoming recognized as a timeless player's classic. The Kel Kroydon line of banjos, guitars, and mandolins was conceived to enable Gibson to soldier through the worst part of the Depression by reducing the instruments to their bare essentials to enable the company to offer them at the lowest possible price.

The KK-1 is structurally the same as a 1930 12-fret Gibson L-1 and L-0 flat-top, with even plainer cosmetics and built without the patented adjustable truss rod. The Kel Kroydons retain the very lightly built X-braced spruce top (later Kalamazoo-brand flat-tops do not) and are the lightest flat-top guitars Gibson ever made, which has meant that not that many have survived intact.

Sold originally for $20 retail, by the standards of 1930 the KK-1 was still not an inexpensive guitar -- Sears had guitars for $2.00! Nonetheless, it did offer an unusual value and exceptional sound quality for that price. The natural-finish top is single-bound, there is a simple triple B/W/B sound hole ring, and the "Kel Kroydon" logo is stenciled on the headstock.

Some of these had an amazing colorful tropical bird design stenciled on the top. This is a "no birds" KK-1, but a fairly early one; the Factory order number stamp is 9766, which puts it well into the second half of 1930. This particular guitar was originally sold outside the US; there was a small "Made In USA" label in the sound hole. This is a lovely and fantastic-sounding little fingerpicker's guitar; an obscure but delightful (if unassuming) Depression-era gem.
 
Overall length is 38 1/2 in. (97.8 cm.), 14 7/8 in. (37.8 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 9/16 in. (11.6 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.).

This guitar has a decent amount of wear but is in very fine structural condition, all original with some typical cosmetic issues but no major damage. The top shows fairly heavy strumwear down into the wood on both sides of the fingerboard, extending well below the sound hole on the treble side.

It looks as if some sort of small pickguard may have been added and removed in the typical spot. There is some odd staining to the top where the player's arm crosses over -- we are not sure from what! Despite the cosmetic wear, the top is in very solid shape with only a very slight arch retaining its original bridge, which has been reglued.

The finish on the body is all original with dings, dents, and scrapes, but no other large areas of loss. The back of the neck has been oversprayed. These extremely lightly built Kel Kroydons have often had major repairs -- this one has survived with no cracks, which is rare on these.

It has had a very clean neck set and refret with a new replica rosewood fingerboard and a graphite rod neck re-inforcement, so playability is excellent. The sound of this guitar is magical; it is exceptionally responsive and sings at the lightest touch. While this is not the cleanest of this model we have seen, it is the best-playing one we have had and certainly one of the best-sounding. Excellent - Condition.