Gibson J160E Custom Shop 1962 Reissue

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Gibson J160E Custom Shop 1962 Reissue

Postby peter fusco » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:15 pm

I own a Gibson J160E Custom Shop 1962 reissue. To my dismay it features a laminated top and ladder bracing rendering it something less than a stellar acoustic performer. But, as I am like millions, a baby boomer in my twilight years hankering for a glimpse of past glory a la Beatles, I bought it and am now stuck with it.

I almost know the answer, but am hoping my brethren guitarists who know and understand the "guitar buying sickness" may have some suggestions as to how to make it sound, if not like a later model J160E with X bracing, spruce top etc., at least like the way Lennon and Harrison made it sound. I can't seem to get it though I pump it through a VOX AC-30.

I screwed around with the adjustable bridge and saddle, broke a screw, went through all kinds of misery finding replacement screws (Gibson doesn't have them), and now have a bone saddle to replace the ceramic one of the original, but I haven't put it in figuring it may not be worth the effort.

I was told by a trusted luthier friend there is nothing I can do to improve the sound as an acoustic. Is he right or is he wrong? If wrong, what do you suggest aside from a new bridge? I do not want to change the original, it just isn't right to do that to this guitar if you know what I mean.

Thank you all for whatever advice, positive, negative, whatever you can offer.
peter fusco
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Re: Gibson J160E Custom Shop 1962 Reissue

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:56 pm

It sounds like it was made close to the original spec's. and designed to be played through an amp. I would probably leave it as it is and use some sort of signal modification hardware to get the sound you want.
If you want an instrument that sounds good acoustically, trade it in for something you like the sound of.
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Re: Gibson J160E Custom Shop 1962 Reissue

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:04 pm

I and some of the other luthiers here have worked on original Gibsons of this era that had adjustable saddles and plastic bridges. We take the plastic bridge, the ceramic saddle and all the metal screws and crap and throw it in the trash can. Then we make a matching bridge from rosewood and install a traditional bone saddle without the adjustment hardware. The bridge gets glued on with hide glue after properly preparing the bridge footprint on the top.

These vintage guitars are worth the effort and the clean bridge improves the tone and the volume significantly compared to the hollow plastic bridge and a handful of metal hardware. However, your reissue being a laminate guitar that already has at least a real wood bridge would not have as much to gain. If the work was done it would not be necessary to install a new bridge, but just to have a wood inlay to fill in the overly large saddle slot, and then a new narrow slot cut for a bone saddle. The improvement would be marginal. I would take Clay's advice.
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Re: Gibson J160E Custom Shop 1962 Reissue

Postby peter fusco » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:18 am

Thanks very much. I don't like the expression, but in this case it truly is what it is. I did swap the ceramic saddle for bone, meh. I'll live with her because she's so darn pretty.
peter fusco
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Re: Gibson J160E Custom Shop 1962 Reissue

Postby Mark Swanson » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:43 pm

These guitars are very different from a regular laminated top guitar. I had an original one for a while, and it was amazing what i saw. the top is very thick and laminated and the bracing is gigantic and quite different from anything else. it will never be a good acoustic guitar no matter what you do to the bridge and as Clay says it's meant to be an electric guitar. If you want better tone through the amp, try a set of nickel strings. That's about all you can do!
    Mark Swanson, guitarist, MIMForum Staff
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Re: Gibson J160E Custom Shop 1962 Reissue

Postby peter fusco » Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:21 pm

Thanks Mark. The luthier I go to is one those guys, an artist in his craft, kind of aloof, but very, very good. He told me pretty much the same thing, that you could park a semi on the top of this guitar, that it will never be a good sounding acoustic and that I can either sell it or keep it and live with what it is.

I'm sure most of the people on this site have the same kind of affinity for their guitars. I mean, once you're hooked on a particular guitar, you "gots to have it". That's the way it was for this J-160E. Now that I "gots" it however...well, enough on that.

Thing is, it's not that bad, just not that good as an acoustic. Still, it has a distinctive chime when using electrics instead of acoustic strings. I understand the Beatles used Premier flatwounds on theirs. I haven't tried them, but I will along with your nickel suggestion.

Again, thanks for all the comments and suggestions. I'm going to keep her no matter what.
peter fusco
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Re: Gibson J160E Custom Shop 1962 Reissue

Postby Gilbert Fredrickson » Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:36 pm

Is the heavy top to reduce feeback?
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