1954 Gibson J-160E Electric Dreadnought Guitar

I wish I'd had time to get a soundclip because this guitar is a honey. It was brought-up today (a surprise to me) by a repair customer and, while it was pretty good to begin with, it was awesome when done-up. The frets got a level/dress, the pinholes got a fill/redrill, it got a spot-on setup, and both the owner and I managed to get a broken original tuner up to snuff and got them back on the instrument. It has no cracks (amazingly) and is, aside from the volume and tone pots, completely original.

The J-160E of 1954-55 is a ladder-braced, thickly-cut, solid-wood instrument that looks from the outside something like a Southern Jumbo but with a mysterious 15 (rather than 14) fret neck join, an electric pickup hiding at the end of the fretboard, and a couple of knobs stuck on the top. It doesn't sound at all like a J-45 or Southern Jumbo (it's thuddy and quiet acoustically), but it does feel like one in the hands and lap. As a bonus, for the 1954-55 years the saddle is adjustable for height via a couple of knobs on the bridge wings.

I'm amazed at the condition of this guitar -- it simply looks great!

If you've noticed the nickel strings with a wound G -- good on you! -- as they're needed, really, to drive the pickup properly. As I recall the nut width was 1 11/16" and this had a medium-sized C-shape neck profile.

While the pickup looks like it's probably something small, it's actually a P90 hiding under there! That's way cool in my book and it was no surprise to me when the owner plugged this in and zowee -- there's a flattop interpretation of that early ES-125 tone coming through the amp! Lovely, delicious, and warm/clear instead of thick and muddy.

This pickguard style was apparently used for just a short time, too.

The pins are not original.

The knobs are right but one has lost its indicator.

The owner and I had a fun escapade getting the D-string tuner back in order. Its button-shaft was broken at the worm, though thankfully the button and remainder of the button-shaft were still fine. The owner had taken the housing apart and so I took a worm/shaft from a parts-bin 40s Kluson tuner and installed it into the original housing.

I then carefully removed the button (I had to drill out the button at the "ring" and beyond the shaft's "paddle" to wiggle it off) from the original tuner and put it on the mated shaft. Voila! I was surprised the fix worked so well and now the guitar is wearing its (costly) original equipment.

Yeah -- the guy has the original pink-lined case, too -- albeit it with a lot of duct-tape around the back edges.


stefani fabiano said...

oooh man thats a beaut , is that a first year ? thought first year had solid top

Jake Wildwood said...

Yep, it does have a solid top.