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Gibson J-160E Acoustic-Electric Guitar (1960)
Gibson J-160E Model Acoustic-Electric Guitar (1960), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # R6614-35, 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 original 1950s incarnation 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 late 1960 guitar was built just about a year and a half before George & John's original pair of 1962 J-160Es, which they acquired as a set in fall '62 and used for much of the band's subsequent career.
This guitar is practically identical to those 1962 models, with features specific to the period including adjustable bridge with a ceramic saddle and small screw ends, capped amber bonnet knobs, Kluson Deluxe tuners with keystone buttons, and most notably a single sound hole ring pattern. This distinctive feature is recognizably different from the appearance of the 1964 J-160E purchased as a replacement for Lennon when one of the originals was stolen in December 1963. The band used their J-160E models on many Beatles' recordings from their first LP right through the end of the group, and Lennon used one during his early solo career, by which point the top had been stripped to natural.
The J-160E was one 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 admittedly a hybrid but is quite functional both as an acoustic and electric instrument. Purely as an acoustic guitar the sound is thinner than most other Gibson flat-tops with a high/midrange emphasis; the sound is distinctive and very notable on many Beatle recordings. As an electric guitar the tone is full if not particularly versatile; quite a few Beatle records feature this sound as well. This particular J-160E is a definitive Beatle style guitar as well as a superbly well-preserved 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 guitar is about as clean as we ever expect to see authentic vintage instruments nearly 60 years on. The finish shows only tiny wear spots -- mostly on the headstock edges -- and some minimal checking. The sunburst top has virtually no pick marks at all. There is one repaired crack on the instrument, on the back bass side's lower bout edge. This had been solidly but visibly sealed with some minimal touch-up.
The instrument appears completely original and undisturbed except for the tuner buttons (which are correct style replacements for the crumbled plastic "keystone" originals) and possibly the tone and volume knobs, which are the correct type but appear to be slightly later 1960s originals with gold caps instead of the silver normally expected. The original frets show only very light wear and this is an excellent-playing example of this Beatle-style classic. The original alligator grain cardboard case is present but is not completely functional; we have sourced a correct 1960s Beat-era gold-lined black Gibson logo case as more fitting protection for its long and winding road onward. Excellent + Condition.
Item # 8952
This item has been sold.
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