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Odd sound question - help needed


ccravens

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Hello all,

 

Longtime lurker, first time poster!

 

I have a choice to make between 2 Gibson guitars that I am heavily interested in. Any help would be appreciated. I am choosing between a 1963 F-25 "Folksinger" and a 1936 Kalamazoo KG-11. I know all of the specs about the guitars, I just need info on one aspect: sound/tone.

 

I have played the F-25 that I am interested in, and it sounds great! Only problem is, I've had my eye on the KG-11 for a few weeks now. I'm interested in knowing what the sonic differences are between the two, for anyone that has played/owned both. I know the KG is awesome for fingerpicking blues,and I have heard it do that on a number of youtube videos, but I also am interested in doing some light crosspicking as well.

 

I know that tone is VERY subjective, but any general help you could give me as to the difference in sound and tone between the two would be greatly appreciated!!

 

Thanks so much!!

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I've owned an F-25 and played a few KG-11s. I think the F is overall a deeper sounding guitar while the KG would be bright and boxy, great for blues and rags. The F can be a more expressive guitar if your fingerstyle is inclusive of different genres.

Light crosspicking would be slightly harder on the F due to its wider string spread at the bridge. Good luck with your choice. Either guitar can be a whole lot of fun!

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I've owned an F-25 and played a few KG-11s. I think the F is overall a deeper sounding guitar while the KG would be bright and boxy, great for blues and rags. The F can be a more expressive guitar if your fingerstyle is inclusive of different genres.

Light crosspicking would be slightly harder on the F due to its wider string spread at the bridge. Good luck with your choice. Either guitar can be a whole lot of fun!

 

Cameleye, how well does that F-25 intonate with steel strings and a straight saddle? It's a bit of a counterintuitive set-up. Probably not a problem if you play primarily with first-position chords.

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The F-25s (and the one FJN) I've played have been extremely strong sounding guitars, more appealing to me than the equivalent LG/B series and J series models. I believe they're more lightly braced, which would account for this. The neck size is a handful for me but I do really like them.

 

The Kalamazoo should have a quicker attack and shorter sustain than an X braced guitar, and a little less bassy. Definitely a picker's guitar rather than a strummer's but they're great for fingerstyle. I've never played a Gibson of that era that didn't have a really nice neck profile. I love the KG-11 - it's a bit of an ugly duckling but I've never played one I didn't have fun with.

 

If I were buying a Kalamazoo sight unseen I'd want to check the relief was correct (they do have a trussrod but there's no access to it, so straightening the neck is a pain), that it didn't need a neck reset and that the top was still fairly flat. They're old guitars that were fairly delicate in construction.

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We have both. We have a few recordings

 

1934 Carson Robeson (KG-11)

 

1965 F-25

 

Note that the last song on the F-25 recording is the same as the only song on the KG-11 recording -- that is what you should compare..

 

As far as I know, the KG-11 had similar specs throughout their production. The have a lovely tone, albeit the slightly boxy and a little raw and sparse. The F-25, along with the rest of the Gibson line, underwent some substantial changes during it's production life -- the tipping point is in mid 1965. As near as I can tell some of these guitars are quite raw, powerful, and in-your-face (ours is) while others are fuller and more blended. We always use ours with steel strings.

 

We like that raw sparse sound for backing up traditional folk materials. Here are a couple of examples.

 

Hide you in the blood

 

On that train and gone

 

When played with a flatpick, that rawness feels like responsiveness and it can be really beautiful.

 

Good luck,

 

Best,

 

-Tom

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Nick, some intonation can be done at the saddle. Was enough to take care of any potential problems for me.

My hearing is pretty good and I never noticed any intonation issues and I also play all over the neck.

Anyway sold that one in a fit of "I think I need another guitar". Unwise decision in retrospect (but we've all been there).

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We have both. We have a few recordings

 

1934 Carson Robeson (KG-11)

 

1965 F-25

 

Note that the last song on the F-25 recording is the same as the only song on the KG-11 recording -- that is what you should compare..

 

As far as I know, the KG-11 had similar specs throughout their production. The have a lovely tone, albeit the slightly boxy and a little raw and sparse. The F-25, along with the rest of the Gibson line, underwent some substantial changes during it's production life -- the tipping point is in mid 1965. As near as I can tell some of these guitars are quite raw, powerful, and in-your-face (ours is) while others are fuller and more blended. We always use ours with steel strings.

 

We like that raw sparse sound for backing up traditional folk materials. Here are a couple of examples.

 

Hide you in the blood

 

On that train and gone

 

When played with a flatpick, that rawness feels like responsiveness and it can be really beautiful.

 

Good luck,

 

Best,

 

-Tom

 

 

Thanks so much for the videos - that was awesome! Like you said, the first 2 videos, especially in the F-25 when you started playing the same song as the Kalamazoo video, were very instructive as to sound.

 

[smile]

 

And thanks for all of the other advice - I should have a decision by today or tomorrow.

 

I may end up going with the KG-11 for a couple of reasons:

 

For one, it will come in at a total of $1600, while the F-25 will be about $1800. At this point in my finances, $200 is a difference maker.

 

Secondly, I already have an awesome spruce-hog, D-18 type of guitar (a Leo Posch dred), and I am looking for something totally different. I believe that the KG would definitely fit that bill, while the F-25 would be more similar soundwise to what I already have.

 

 

If I could trouble anyone for one more piece of advice, could you tell me if the sound in the first 40 seconds of this video is typical of the 30s KG when played with a flatpick? I'd love to do a little crosspicking with it, and the sound of this flatpicked during the first half of this video is the kind of sound I think I'd like:

 

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Thanks so much for the videos - that was awesome! Like you said, the first 2 videos, especially in the F-25 when you started playing the same song as the Kalamazoo video, were very instructive as to sound.

 

[smile]

 

And thanks for all of the other advice - I should have a decision by today or tomorrow.

 

I may end up going with the KG-11 for a couple of reasons:

 

For one, it will come in at a total of $1600, while the F-25 will be about $1800. At this point in my finances, $200 is a difference maker.

 

Secondly, I already have an awesome spruce-hog, D-18 type of guitar (a Leo Posch dred), and I am looking for something totally different. I believe that the KG would definitely fit that bill, while the F-25 would be more similar soundwise to what I already have.

 

 

If I could trouble anyone for one more piece of advice, could you tell me if the sound in the first 40 seconds of this video is typical of the 30s KG when played with a flatpick? I'd love to do a little crosspicking with it, and the sound of this flatpicked during the first half of this video is the kind of sound I think I'd like:

 

 

Sounds to me like a KG-11 to me for sure.

 

Good luck,

 

-Tom

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