J160e

J160e

The Epiphone Texan is a long-scale, x-braced guitar with a solid top. The version available currently (the Inspired by 1964 Texan) is akin to the Epiphone EJ-160E, which is also a long-scale, x-braced guitar with a solid top and fixed saddle. Neither sounds like the short-scale, ladder-braced, laminated-top Gibson models to my ear, as they are superior acoustically.

The IB 1964 Texan is a pretty good budget-priced ($400) acoustic. Though it shares some specs with the J160e, it is braced like the well-regarded Epiphone Masterbilt AJ-500M. Its bracing is also different from a Beatles-era Texan, and its neck is wider. Look for a used Paul McCartney 1964 Texan (with adjustable saddle) if you want a ’60s-spec model.

What is amazing, is how many of the early recordings were done with the J-160 (plugged in to a Vox AC-30) and not the iconic black Rickenbacker (in John’s case anyway). The J-160e was primarily a jumbo electric guitar with the single-coil P-90 pickup. It’s actually not much of an acoustic guitar at all with its laminated, ladder-braced top and adjustable bridge (the saddle on their J-160’s was ceramic) and that material gave the guitar a signature “ping” sound which can be heard in many of the songs and contributes to the “sound” most people associate with the Bealtles’ J-160’s.

Many of the songs on the LP “Meet the Beatles” were done with John playing rhythm on the J-160 (“I Want to Hold Your Hand” “Till There was You” for instance). Also, the recordings of “She Loves You”; Please, Please Me: ‘From Me to You” saw John using the J-160 on rhythm. In the studio, John and George often had the guitars plugged in to a Vox amp and had the guitars mic’d with expensive Neumann mics. This combination of P-90 pickup and high quality mics gave them that “sound” that you’re searching for. Actually, the J-160e appeared on more Beatle recordings than any other of their guitars—-from “Meet the Beatles” through at least “Sgt. Peppers”. John continued using the J-160e through his solo years.

Electrified guitars were the norm by the early ’50s, but a true flattop acoustic guitar with a pickup had yet to be produced. Gibson introduced the CF-100E in 1951, which was an electrified version of the CF-100, introduced shortly before. The CF-100E featured one single-coil pickup mounted at the bottom of the fretboard—a far cry in design from the acoustic/electric guitars of today. Both models had a small body and sharp Florentine cutaway, but were discontinued in 1958, as they were not very popular.

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