Recently I was handed down a mandolin from my grandfather and decided to do some research on the brand (which I knew absolutely nothing about) and the time period in which the mandolin was made. A photo of my new mandolin is shown below:
Initially, I had never heard of the "Kalamazoo" brand before and became interested in doing some research about where and when this instrument was made. Hopefully some of this information will be helpful to someone else as well.
After doing a little research I found out that the Kalamazoo brand was created in the early 1900's (more specifically, 1933-42 by Gibson's website) in an effort to produce low-budget musical instruments by the Gibson company. In an effort to cut costs to the consumer, Kalamazoo mandolins were created without an adjustable truss rod in the neck of the instrument. Aside from the different brand name and production quality, these instruments were very similar in appearance to budget Gibson instruments. Kalamazoo, Michigan was the origin of the Gibson corporation and thus the inspiration for the brand name itself.
After World War II, the Kalamazoo brand was revived once again to produce electric instruments and amplifiers for these instruments and in 1969, Chicago Musical Instruments (or CMI) which produced the Kalamazoo brand was bought by ECL and the new brand Norlin was created. The details for this have been very limited and scattered to say the least, so perhaps I can elaborate in later blogs if I can find any more information.
If you are interested in possibly finding out more about Gibson's brands over the past century, this link might be helpful for you. As always, any additional information you might have about the history of this brand or mandolin would be greatly appreciated. Comments can be added here at www.iantiqueonline.com on my blog.