1962 John Lennon Gibson acoustic/electric, sunburst finish. Lennon and Harrison each bought one of these “jumbo” models (price: £161) in Rushworth’s Music House in Liverpool on 10 September 1962 (shown at right with guitar/amp department manager Bob Hobbs). Mersey Beat, in the caption from its photo commemorating the event, noted the guitars were “the only ones of their type in the country — which were specially flown to England by jet from America.”
This was probably hyperbole, as they’d taken two months to arrive after being special-ordered. (Additionally, these photos may have been taken a few days after the sale, for they already sport straps and smudges.) These john lennon gibson guitar Gibsons were used on the 11 September recordings of “Love Me Do,” but those tracks sound nearly identical to the earlier takes of those songs, which tends to confirm an earlier purchase date. Lennon’s J-160 E was used through the Please, Please Me sessions, then stolen during the ’63 Christmas show at the Finsbury Park Astoria Theatre, London. (Pity poor Malcolm Evans, who had to break the news to Lennon.) By this time, however, Lennon and Harrison had gotten their identical guitars mixed up, so it was the one registered to Harrison that disappeared.
The J-160E will never replace any high-quality flattop acoustic in terms of sound, but as one of the first John Lennon Gibson guitars to allow a player to use it acoustically and electrically, it succeeds wonderfully. Any guitar associated with the Beatles is a treasure in my book!
If you’re interested in exploring this subject further, check out Gibson’s Fabulous Flat-Top John Lennon Gibson Guitars by Eldon Whitford, David Vinopal, and Dan Erlewine. Lennon bought this to replace the above guitar, even though he often used Harrison’s for recording. It was first used in concert in Montreal on 8 September 1964 and served as a backup for the ’65 world tours. Except for an extra rosette around the sound hole — and a visible orange label inside — it was identical to his first J-160E, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long.