Another Gibson/Kasha encounter in less than a year?

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Another Gibson/Kasha encounter in less than a year?

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

A few months ago I had a customer bring me a late 70s Gibson MK35. It needed cracks and bracing on the back repiared. It's one of those experimental Kasha bracing style guitars. So in the process of working on that guitar I learned about that experiment. There weren't very many of them made. It was interesting, but I wasn't particularly impressed, but I tend to reserve judgment on an entire experiment or a line of instruments when all I have is a sample size of one.
Fast-forward to earlier this week...
Another customer brought in another one of these; this time a MK53.
MK53.jpg
But here's what I noticed about this one that I thought was interesting...
label.jpg
Notice the sticker in the soundhole. I'm not familiar with this type of sticker. The other one I worked on did not have this sticker. is this just a production thing? or this something different than one of the normal production guitar? Possibly a pre-production run prototype? Does anyone know what the "Top .6 YMT" means? Either way, it seems an interesting little bit of Gibson history.
Last edited by Jim McConkey on Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fixed spelling in title

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Another Gibson/Kasha encounter in less than a year?

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

Another little piece of the puzzle...

I knew that when I researched these the first time that they only made these from 76 through 78. The serial number on this one indicates that it was made in February of 76, making this a VERY early model in this series. Maybe even before they actually went to production. The inside is pretty messy with a lot of glue squeeze out that probably would have normally been cleaned up. It was the 70s when they weren't as particular, but still... I wonder if this was an early test model that was never intended to see the light of day in public. Very interesting. Maybe I'll contact Gibson tomorrow when I go back to work and see what they know.

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Another Gibson/Kasha encounter in less than a year?

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

Okay, so I have got to the the bottom of this.
After a few conversations with the good people at Gibson, they didn't have any helpful information. So I talked to Joe at Gruhn Guitars. He knew all about these guitars. Turns out my suspicions about this guitar were pretty right on. This guitar was in fact a "test" model. They ran the test models as a sort of mock up BEFORE they ran any prototypes. Then they went to the production line where the prototypes were made just as a normal guitar, but they would have "prototype" stamped on the back of the headstock. So this guitar is exactly what the label indicates, one of the very earliest of any of the MK guitars to ever be built. Gibson has no record of the serial number because this guitar was never intended to be sold. How my customer came about it, I can't wait to get that story.

Bottom line, It's not a great guitar. These are not worth very much and it's not a particularly good instrument, but it's still a pretty cool piece from the perspective that it's an interesting piece of Gibson History.

I still don't know what, "Top .6 YMT" means.

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Another Gibson/Kasha encounter in less than a year?

Post by Barry Daniels »

At the time these were made, they were advertised as the next great innovation in guitar design. However, Kasha was scientist (acoustics) but not a builder. Richard Schneider, a well known builder, made the first prototypes and worked with Gibson to come up with their version. The top bracing was the focus of the innovations and it consisted of a sort of radial, but random assortment of braces. I got the impression they customized the braces for each guitar to optimize the tone. But when they designed the Gibson version, they simplified and standardized the braces to make it easier to build. There were reviews that the prototypes really did sound great, but the Gibson versions were panned. Definitely an interesting guitar but a failure as a commercial project.
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