J160e Gibson

j160e gibson

The J-29 has amazing headroom. It’s a fantastically loud guitar if you want it to be—you can positively hammer the thing with a flatpick without generating confused harmonics. You get projection and raw horsepower that rivals any dread. The trade-off for all this volume—one many players will like—is brash, bright upper mids, which can get white-hot at times. These qualities remain pronounced through the otherwise agreeable and transparent L.R Baggs Element electronics. If you’re a rock strummer, you’ll probably love the J-29’s power and presence in a band mix. Meanwhile, that dynamic sensitivity means that you don’t have to strum too vigorously to get it. That said, it can be hard to back the J-29 down into those softer, smokier moods at which the mahogany J-45 excels.

Our J-29 was set up with slightly higher action than the J-15, presumably to highlight the guitar’s ample horsepower and definition when flatpicked. While the J-29 can excel at fingerstyle—especially high-harmonic detail in open tunings—it has a fast, excitable reactivity most at home in rock, bluegrass, and country.

The custom shop’s second and third renditions are limited to 70 guitars each, one for every year since John’s birth in 1940, and both include a special 70th Anniversary Certificate personally signed by Yoko Ono and sent to the final purchaser by Certified Mail. As for construction, each version is an accurate rendition of the J-160E of 1962, a guitar originally released in 1954 as one of the world’s first successful “electro-acoustic” guitars, with built-in pickup and electronics and ready to hit the stage for the professional performing musician. Beloved by Lennon, and kept close throughout his too-short life, the 70th Anniversary John Lennon J-160E is a guitar every Beatles fan will want to make their own.

I have bought a few other higher end Gibsons all with problems as well. This J160E had Scratches and imperfections in the finish. The bridge and nut height was way too high. The nut was cut with the high E too far out to edge so the string would slide off when used. The pick-up wiring was too long and picked up interference and was not grounded properly either. After I buffed out the finish, lowered the bridge by shaving the bottom of it off .002 inch, built a new nice BONE nut and leveled and crowned the frets and fixed the grounding problem, this is one fine guitar.

This means that the wood material was good and that it was assembled well. But the quality of the employees workmanship on the finishing line was sad to say the least and bad overall, this was not a scratch and dent either. Gibson should pay me back for the work I had to put into it to bring it’s finished quality in line. Gibson Just isn’t what they use to be.




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.