Kalamazoo factory auction

strayedstrater

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May be the wrong forum, but the only reply I got in the Norlin section was "I doubt anything like that ever happened", and there was some talk about it here in the missing ledger thread.

I've heard vague stories that Gibson auctioned off the semi-complete bodies and necks from the Kalamazoo factory, along with some machinery.

Any details would be appreciated. Was it a public auction? Individual pieces, big lots, or what? Roughly how many necks were there -- a few, dozens, hundreds?
 

Uncle Vinnie

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While anything is possible, don't get your hopes up.

When I was a kid I heard stories of desert airfields in Arizona that were packed with every WWII plane ever made just waiting for me to come and buy them all. Needless to say ...
 

ARandall

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It would have been easy for the brass to estimate daily production numbers to halt initial stages of the process with enough time not to have a huge amount of leftovers.
A lot of stuff went to Heritage.......like most of it.

Is this a 'trivial pursuit' type need to know, or is there a practical underpinning to this seemingly obscure line of questioning??
 

strayedstrater

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It would have been easy for the brass to estimate daily production numbers to halt initial stages of the process with enough time not to have a huge amount of leftovers.
A lot of stuff went to Heritage.......like most of it.

Is this a 'trivial pursuit' type need to know, or is there a practical underpinning to this seemingly obscure line of questioning??
I've heard versions of the story for the past 20 years, and I'm curious. Back in the early 2000's I regularly saw necks on eBay that supposedly had come from the Kalamazoo auction.

My vested interest is that I have an old odd amateur/hobbyist/student built guitar with what appears to be an L6-S Deluxe neck and I'm sentimentally curious about it.

Duncan supposedly acquired his Leesona winding machine at the auction. Ed Roman claimed to have acquired a lot of Kalamazoo parts.

The story I've heard is that Norlin didn't decide whether to keep Kalamazoo open at reduced output or to shut it down entirely until the last moment, and then shut it down abruptly.

On a normal day they completed hundreds of guitars, and had hundreds of necks and bodies ready for the next day's assembling.

Heritage wouldn't have wanted to plug the tuner holes in order to reshape the heads. (And Norlin probably didn't Heritage to start with the legend that some of them had literal Gibson necks on them.)

Moving cut and shaped wood from one climate to another runs the risk of having the wood shrink, swell, warp, twist, and Gibson didn't want to add any hiccups to the new factory's QC.

Writing off the uncompleted parts wasn't any bigger loss than cutting up seconds or bulldozing Firebird X's.

In the missing ledger thread, Eric Ernest, PGguy, and Qam all mentioned the auction in passing. As I said, I've heard so many references over so many years that I'm not asking "if" it happened, just for details about how it happened. Public, by invitation, advertised, word of mouth? A couple of SG necks, a couple of LP necks, or bunches of them? Did people buy them as souvenirs, as raw stock, or what?
 

strayedstrater

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That last paragraph may have sounded cocky, arrogant, dismissive? I apologize.

For decades I heard the rumor that '68/'69 LP's were made from leftover '50s necks and bodies. Often enough that I assumed it was true. But nowadays that's pretty well debunked.

Maybe the auction was only for some machinery. I'd welcome any clarification of particulars.
 

eric ernest

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I've heard vague stories that Gibson auctioned off the semi-complete bodies and necks from the Kalamazoo factory, along with some machinery.
It was the proverbial "mother-load" of stuff... going back almost 100 years. All of the above. I've bought tons of stuff over the years that was sold at the auction.

Just in case anyone suggests it's all "folklore"...This is a fraction of what I have.

Follow my "abalone vintage" Instagram account to see MOST of my craziness. :rofl:

vintage_gibson_guitars_kalamazoo_factory_jigs_1_small.jpg
 

BrianB

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It was the proverbial "mother-load" of stuff... going back almost 100 years. All of the above. I've bought tons of stuff over the years that was sold at the auction.

Just in case anyone suggests it's all "folklore"...This is a fraction of what I have.

Follow my "abalone vintage" Instagram account to see MOST of my craziness. :rofl:

View attachment 476209
Eric...3rd row, last pic. My guess is form for an archtop by the shape. You wouldn't happen to know if it's 16 or 17 inch lower bout would you? Idly wondering if my '48 might have been born in that...
 

eric ernest

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Eric...3rd row, last pic. My guess is form for an archtop by the shape. You wouldn't happen to know if it's 16 or 17 inch lower bout would you? Idly wondering if my '48 might have been born in that...
Barney Kessel jig.
 

MiniB

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It was the proverbial "mother-load" of stuff... going back almost 100 years. All of the above. I've bought tons of stuff over the years that was sold at the auction.

Just in case anyone suggests it's all "folklore"...This is a fraction of what I have.

Follow my "abalone vintage" Instagram account to see MOST of my craziness. :rofl:

View attachment 476209
Amazing stash of treasures. So I take it you're the guy to call when a luthier is doing a vintage Gibson restoration. Heck, I'd be interested in getting one of those complete fingerboards, but I'd be afraid to ask how much.
 

Adinol

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My first thought, when I read the OP, was that probably someone made up that story so they could sell fake stuff on eBay.

Then I started reading through the thread and there was this post...

...Back in the early 2000's I regularly saw necks on eBay that supposedly had come from the Kalamazoo auction...
...so I thought I was on the money.

But then Eric posted his thread along with photos.

I'm sure it's likely that a lot of necks in various stages of production went to Heritage because there must have been a lot of necks with unfinished headstocks, as seen in Eric's photo.

I am surprised about some of the stuff that Eric shows people were able to buy, such as headstock veneer with the Gibson logo. I don't see any necks with finished headstock apart from the 4th image in 1st row. I guess it would be kind of neat to assemble that neck with one of the bodies and make a one of a kind guitar. I'm not sure how many of the original luthiers form Kalamazoo are still alive, but it would be kind of neat if such project was put into the hands of such person.

Although it is in fact quite interesting to own a piece of history, such as unfinished necks and bodes, they are in a way just dead weight. But if they were assembled into an instrument, by one of the original luthiers, that would result in having a unique instrument that can be used to make music.

Personally, if I had anything like that sitting around I'd be really tempted to do that. It could even be a documented build for YouTube.

Thanks...
 

fleahead

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Back in the early '80s I purchased a FBVII in frost blue that had been purchased at Kalamazoo and was finished by a Chicago luthier. No serial #, but it was genuine and I had Gruhn validate it. It was spectacular however just looking at the Maestro trem was enough to throw it out of tune so I couldn't use it onstage - as I did with my Medallion FBV which never went out of tune and amazed everyone as I beat the trem all the time.
 

Adinol

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Back in the early '80s I purchased a FBVII in frost blue that had been purchased at Kalamazoo and was finished by a Chicago luthier. No serial #, but it was genuine...
That's the idea. Those kinds of guitars are somehow special, from a historic or collector's perspective.

It was spectacular however just looking at the Maestro trem was enough to throw it out of tune...
It sounds like yo no longer have that guitar, so it's a moot point, but I would keep the Maestro trem on the guitar and just lock it so it's like a fixed tailpiece. Just to keep the guitar original and make it more playable.
 

eric ernest

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I'm sure it's likely that a lot of necks in various stages of production went to Heritage because there must have been a lot of necks with unfinished headstocks, as seen in Eric's photo.
What could Heritage do with a bunch of Gibson Necks? Ever see any "Heritage" made Gibson guitars? I haven't.

Although it is in fact quite interesting to own a piece of history, such as unfinished necks and bodes, they are in a way just dead weight.
Until you need one for a repair....
 

Adinol

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What could Heritage do with a bunch of Gibson Necks? Ever see any "Heritage" made Gibson guitars? I haven't.
The 3 necks you show on your image have oversized blank headstocks. I think those rough cuts in that stage of production can be finished into Heritage necks.

But of course this is all debatable and speculative. The only way to know if it happened would be to get the information from a reliable source.

Until you need one for a repair....
That's a good point. Although most people don't replace the entire neck for a headstock repair.

Personally, if I had an odd neck and an odd body and if they fit together I would make a guitar.
 

eric ernest

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The 3 necks you show on your image have oversized blank headstocks. I think those rough cuts in that stage of production can be finished into Heritage necks.

But of course this is all debatable and speculative. The only way to know if it happened would be to get the information from a reliable source.
1. They are 60's Gibson neck blacks.

2. I bought those items in Kalamazoo from a "reliable source." :laugh2::thumbs:
 

Jumping@shadows

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Adinol

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Hm... Am I understanding correctly? Are you saying that this is a DIY LP kit from Gibson? Or did I misunderstand something?

And what does the headstock look like?

Thanks...
 

wmachine

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IF there was one or more of these sales, one was 1984? Any other dates tossed around?

It is also my understanding that there were also unfinished bodies and necks that went out the door in other ways too, like employees. And there were shops in the area that routinely sold "new" guitars that we made from these bodies and necks. True?
After extensive research on a '79 Explorer I have, I believe it is one of those.
 


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