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by Catfish Keith

Catfish Keith with KK-3

Tony Klassen and Catfish Keith with Kel Klassen GuitarTony Klassen is a gifted and unique luthier. He retired from a career in graphic design several years ago and began his new journey: building guitars inspired by some of his favorite vintage builders, including guitars from the Chicago-based Larson Brothers, Bacon & Day and others. He has built stunning reproductions of Prairie State, Euphonon and Maurer guitars, based on pieces from his own collection. He has also done some early Gibson designs including this model, the Kel Klassen. The Kel Klassen is his take on the 1930 and '31 Kel Kroydon guitars, a rare Gibson offshoot.

A very lightweight build at just over 3 lbs., the Kel is the classic L-OO body shape with Mahogany back, sides, and neck and Adirondack Spruce top. This model, the KK-3 is a stenciled and handpainted top that faithfully reproduces the two-volcano scene of the original Kel Kroydons. He also does the version with the two birds (KK-2) as well as a plain topped version (KK-1). The KK-3 guitar has a pearloid fingerboard with the original jaunty brown and orange rectangle design. A gorgeous, fantasy tropical scene! I love it.

The sound is big, the tone is well rounded and warm with a satisfying cutting power to it. The neck feels great, and a nice width at the nut for me of 1 13/16."

Tony Klassen and I first met at a gig in Vaparaiso, Indiana over 25 years ago. I had been looking at his work online, and when I saw the Kel, I just knew I had to have Tony make me one! I'm so glad I did. It is such a beautiful and joy-filled guitar.

Tony's reputation has been growing. His guitars are played by myself and Roy Book Binder, Bob Carlin, Peter Frampton, Stefan Grossman, Country Joe MacDonald, Henry Kaiser, Chris Valillo, Joe Henry, Dakota Dave Hull and others.

Buy your Kel Klassen through Catfish

UPDATED Sept. 25, 2015

I am offering two Kel Klassens for sale here. Tony has scheduled the next builds for completion March of 2019. Start the order now, email or call me for details. You can get any neck width, scale length or any of the three Kel designs.

Prices below include hard case. Shipping is additional and is the actual cost. Call me at 319-338-3614 or email for more info regarding deposit, options, etc. NOTE: Prices subject to change, build times are now approximately 3 1/2 years.

Prices below include Mahogany back & sides and Adirondack Spruce top. Inquire for other wood prices.
KK-1 $3725.00 
(plain top and wooden fingerboard, painted headstock)
KK-2 $4825.00

(two birds design, pearloid fingerboard and headstock)
KK-3 $4825.00
(tropical scene, pearloid fingerboard and headstock)


BELOW LEFT: the Kel Klassen KK-3, completed, front and back. BELOW RIGHT: Luthier Tony Klassen stencilled, then handpainted the two-volcano tropical scene, as well as the dancing rectangles and headstock, a beatiful modern reproduction of the old Kel Kroydon KK-3 guitars:
:
Kel Klassen KK-3Detail of Kel Klassen top and fingerboard




Below is the KK-2, or Birds design, with the super-cool pearloid fingerboard and headstock. Also available by order through me, to be completed by March 2019.

Kel Klassen KK-2 Birds with Pearloid Fingerboard 












Call me anytime at 319-338-3614 or email me for more info. Thanks, always, for tuning in! 

yours truly,   Catfish Keith



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Catfish Keith is a world-touring acoustic bluesman and is one of the original Artist/Endorser/Dealers for National Reso-Phonic Guitars and Fairbanks Guitars.

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