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Restoration of 1950s Gibson J160E


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Hi all. I have the chance to buy a 1950s Gibson J160E that needs a lot of work at about the $1500 mark. I would guess $500-700 in restoration/repair. I understand it’s a rare guitar, but I just don’t know enough about Gibsons to know if this is reasonable. I would like to enjoy it,  not looking to sell. Would it be something of value to pass onto my kids? Thank you. 

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First, welcome to the forum.  And compliments to you for having the sense to ask questions before you buy.

Never having eyeballed the guitar nor having any idea what you are basing your "guess" as to what restoration will cost, I cannot comment on whether you are in the ballpark or not.  

While certainly not the most common Gibson acoustic on the face of the planet, the J160E is not as hard to come by as Gibson's other acoustic/electric the CF-100E (which I have owned).  The collectability of the J160E is, of course, based on the fact they are associated with the Beatles.  The model though did undergo changes though the years the most significant being the switch early on from a solid to a laminate top.  Not any kind of a deal breaker just something to be aware of.   But you also have to remember that the J160E was not a J45 with a P90 pickup added.  It was a very different beast designed solely with an eye to being played plugged in with Gibson's main engineering concern not being how the guitar sounded unplugged but on how to cut down on feedback.  

The bottom line though is at $1500,  I cannot imagine repairs costing near enough to put you underwater on what the guitar would sell for should you (or your kiddos down the road) ever decide to part with it. Whether you like it or not is something only you can decide.  

Edited by zombywoof
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Hi - As Zomb says these guitars were something else. Some people claim more than the tops were laminated on a number of them, I don't know.                                                                                                                            But the inside was characterized by the ladder-bracing and that's very far from the structures normally used in Gibsons (and most others).                                                                                                                                                                You have to consider this as bracing is such a huge part of an guitar's voice-feel & soul.

Remember they were built with amplification in mind. The logic was to make them heavyer in order not to feedback. Further logic tells us it made them lesser acoustic guitars. 

Tell us how it develops. Here's an old thread on the model. Worth reviving now you bring it up.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Good Luck


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My B-I-L plays a J160e.... I don't know the year, but it's a perfectly fine acoustic guitar.

I've played it dozens of times....unplugged and it stands up to my Dove just fine.

I think $1500 is too much for a J160e that 'needs work'..... I have a 2010 Hummingbird 12-String... was in the ugly Napa earthquake and got the headstock broken off.

The owner at that time (a member of this forum) sent it back to Gibson for repair as it's a very rare guitar, (only right-handed 'Bird 12-String made in 2010), and it cost $900, plus shipping and MONTHS of time.

However, being a 1950's adds some intrigue to the question.   You should post some photos.

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