Gibson J-160E Flat Top Acoustic-Electric Guitar (1956)

Gibson  J-160E Flat Top Acoustic-Electric Guitar  (1956)

Item # 6069
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Gibson J-160E Model Flat Top Acoustic-Electric Guitar (1956), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, sunburst top, dark back and sides finish, mahogany back and sides, laminated spruce top; mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, original brown tolex hard shell case.

One of the more specialized Gibsons of the 1950s was this electrified flat-top dubbed the J-160E and introduced in late 1954. Designed primarily for country/western performers getting drowned out by their increasingly well-amplified bands, the fairly fancy 16" Jumbo sported the same electronics (a specially adapted P-90 pickup) and cosmetic features as the earlier small-body CF-100E. Unlike that guitar (and all other period Gibson flat-tops), the J-160E features a laminated spruce top with a ladder-braced design, Gibson's engineers having found that the decreased top resonance helped reduce feedback when amplified.

The J-160E was a fairly successful guitar in its time but is now best remembered as one of the iconic Beatle guitars of the 1960s. John Lennon and George Harrison used early 1960s J-160Es as recording and touring instruments extensively during the first half of the band's most successful period, and this particular Gibson remains indelibly linked to the Beatles legacy both visually and sonically.

This 1950s guitar was built a bit earlier than theirs, but is nearly identical except for an older pattern adjustable bridge with large thumbwheels on the ends, and earlier non-capped bonnet knobs. The factory order number is very difficult to read but appears to date to 1956. The guitar is discreetly stamped on the headstock rear as a factory second, likely due to an unusually straight sunburst pattern across the bottom edge of the top as if the sprayer masked it incorrectly -- odd, but absolutely original!
Overall length is 41 in. (104.1 cm.), 16 1/8 in. (41 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 3/4 in. (12.1 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

Relatively clean overall. All original in extremely fine structural condition with a few cosmetic oddities! The finish has some wear overall, most notably some buckle impressions to the back, as well as pickwear, including a couple of deep dings just over the pickup mounting. The back of the neck is mostly clean with a few dings and couple of dents, the biggest near the heel. The fingerboard has some divots in the lower positions but the original frets are still in good playable shape.

At some point in the distant past someone wrote several names in small delicate script on the top just under the bridge (looks like with a ball point pen) that are still etched into the finish...we can read "Carol", "Luella", and "Dianne", and a couple more are illegible. We got this guitar from the original owner's son but he did not remember the signifigance of the names -- the guitar was bought the year he was born! This is a really cool old 1950s Gibson with a great vibe, complete with a nice original brown HSC. Excellent - Condition.