Gibson J-160E Flat Top Acoustic-Electric Guitar (1966)

Gibson  J-160E Flat Top Acoustic-Electric Guitar  (1966)

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Item # 7730
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Gibson J-160E Model Flat Top Acoustic-Electric Guitar (1966), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 844120, sunburst top, dark back and sides finish, mahogany back, sides and neck; spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, black hard shell case.

Gibson's J-160E electrified flat-top was a fairly successful guitar in its time, but is now remembered primarily as one of the iconic "Beatle guitars" of the 1960s. John Lennon and George Harrison both used 1962 J-160Es as recording and touring instruments extensively during the band's early '60s breakthrough period, and this particular Gibson model remains indelibly linked to the Beatles' legacy both visually and sonically.

This 1966 guitar is generally similar to John's second J-160E, which he acquired in summer 1964 after his first one was stolen during the Beatles' Christmas shows in December '63. This guitar shares many features with Lennon's 1964 model, including adjustable bridge with a ceramic saddle with small screw ends, capped amber bonnet knobs, and, most notably, a double soundhole ring pattern, which differs from the 1962 examples the group originally purchased. As seen on this guitar, by 1966 the headstock appears just slightly larger, while the neck width had been slimmed to 1 5/8" at the nut.

This guitar is still essentially the same as the one Lennon used (along with the band's other, earlier J-160, which by that point was technically Harrison's) on all of the Beatles' recordings from the "Beatles for Sale" LP through the end of the group, and also for much of his early solo career, by which point the top had been stripped to natural.

The J-160E was originally of the more specialized Gibsons of the 1950s. Designed specifically 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-160 is functional both as an acoustic and electric instrument. Purely as acoustic guitar, the sound is thinner than most other Gibson flat-tops with a pronounced midrange emphasis; the sound is distinctive and very notable on many Beatles recordings. As an electric guitar, the tone is fairly full if not particularly versatile; quite a few Beatles records feature this sound as well. This particular J-160E is not an exact Beatles-year guitar but is functionally the same, and a nice-playing example of the model.
Overall length is 41 in. (104.1 cm.), 16 in. (40.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 15/16 in. (12.5 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.).

This J-160E is a very good-playing example, all original except for later 1980s tuners (in the Kluson style but branded as Gibson Deluxe). There is typical finish wear overall, mostly dings to the top. The pickup coil has a blue tape overlay, indicating it may have been wax potted or rewound at some point -- it sounds as it should, in any case. This guitar as a whole has a nice ring to it and actually sounds better acoustically than some we have had. Excellent - Condition.