The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

❌SOLD❌ Gibson Kalamazoo Award Archtop Guitar Natural, 1980


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The Gibson Kalamazoo Award was originally designed and built by Gibson craftsman Wilbur Fuller as a completely hand-tuned archtop using the finest materials available. It is a spectacular demonstration of the skills involved in building a top-rank archtop guitar.

This example dates to October 3rd, 1980 and was built in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It is in exceptional condition with wear limited to light fret wear in the lower positions. Its nitrocellulose lacquer finish is showing its natural sinking, but is not checked, scratched or worn. For electronics, a gold-plated Johnny Smith style pickup is mounted to the fingerboard tag, with the controls and 1/8 inch output jack on the pickguard. The tuners are gold-plated Grover Imperials with keystone buttons. The truss rod cover is engraved ‘Kalamazoo Award’.

Starting with a full sized 17 inch wide body, the Gibson Kalamazoo Award uses hand carved top and back plates of Sitka Spruce and highly figured Maple. These plates are hand tap-tuned, the top to C at the bass brace and D on the treble brace, while the back is tuned to D. This tuning was adjusted during development by tuning, dry assembling, checking the tuning once assembled, dismantling and correcting pitch variations.

The sides are figured Maple, as is the bound pick-guard. The neck is a five-piece laminate of Maple with two Ebony separators for stability. The headstock has two small Maple sections to build out its shape. The bridge, tailpiece insert, and bound fingerboard are Ebony. The headplate and backstrap are Gibson’s standard black material. The fingerboard inlays are Mother of Pearl blocks, while the headstock, pickguard and tailpiece inlays are Abalone and, aside from the script-style Gibson logo, are unique to this model.

The Gibson Kalamazoo Award was built from 1978 to 1984.

This rare and wonderful instrument is sold with a hard shell case.

In 2002, Vintage Guitar magazine ran a feature on the Wilbur Fuller and the Gibson Kalamazoo Award, and it can be read here.


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  • Model: Kalamazoo Award
  • Year: 1980
  • Finish Gloss Natural
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: 82770105, October 03 1980 in Kalamazoo Michigan
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Excellent
  • Date Posted: 24/11/2022

  • This instrument has been sold
  • Consignment Item

  • Including Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 6.248lbs 2.84kg
  • Scale Length: 25.354in 644mm
  • Nut Width: 1.666in 42.31mm
Gibson Website

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