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Gibson J-160E

Joe M

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I just picked up a used one of these beauties about a week ago. Bought it mainly to use as an acoustic, without plugging it in. After playing it for about a week, I thought I'd try it amplified. Sounded pretty good through my Fender Vibroverb RI but thought it would sound better through an amp made for an acoustic. I was lucky enough to find a used Fender Acoustasonic 30 on my local CL for a good price so I bought it. The guy selling it had an Ovation that I tested out the amp with. Sounded great. When I got it home and plugged in the Gibson, I was underwhelmed with the volume. Even with both the amp and guitar volume on 10, it's not very loud. Now I'm wondering if there's something wrong with either the amp or the guitar? The guitar had plenty of volume through the Vibroverb and the the amp sounded loud with the guy's Ovation; is the J160E and the Fender 30 just a bad combination? I know the passive pickup on the Gibson won't be very loud compared to the active one on the Ovation, but it sure had the volume through the Vibroverb.


Any insight would be appreciated...


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The Acoustatic's input may be designed to accept the output of a piezo pick up, which is much higher in impedance than a magnetic pick up. Most modern acoutic-electric guitars have a piezo pick up, but your J160E has a P90, which is a magnetic pick up.


I don't know for sure whether the P90 creates an impedance or output mismatch with your amp, but that's the first thing that comes to mind, since your guitar plays loudly through the electric guitar amp. Best to call Fender Customer Service and see what they say.


Let us know. Good luck!


Red 333

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Joe, first off congrats on the J160E...great guitars, much misunderstood in my humble opinion. A great an idiosyncratic instrument which doesn't just have to be for Beatlemaniacs.


Your problem with regard to your 160 and your Acoustasonic is twofold:


Firstly, your Vibroverb RI (great amp!) is an all-tube amp, as I'm sure you know, and although the RMS output in terms of Watts may be similar, the actual output volume of your Acoustasonic (which is solid state) will be around 1/3rd lower, due to the disparity in output levels between solid state and tube amps of comparable wattage.


As an electric guitar amp, the gain stage of your Vibroverb is tailored to bring the best out of passive pickups (such as the P90 in your 160), which naturally have less output than modern preamp-equipped piezo acoustic pickups. The gain stage on your acoustasonic will, on the other hand, be designed for higher output modern piezo pickups, and, as such, will sound a mite underpowered when used in conjunction with the passive P90 in your guitar.


The way around it, or at least the way I would get around it, is to get hold of a nice EQ/Boost pedal (I use a brilliant Analogman

modded Boss GE7 EQ for live work), and use it between your guitar and the front end of the Acoustasonic to boost your line level and bring the output of your guitar in line with that of a preamp equipped electro acoustic. That way, you could use the EQ pedal to tailor your acoustic tone too-a win/win situation!


Have fun experimenting! There are some truly unique and cool tones in those J160Es. Have fun finding them :-)

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Jinder, thanks for your very easy to understand explanation of what I thought my "problem" is. It makes perfect sense to me and, it's pretty much what I thought was the reason for the difference in sound level(s). As I said, I bought the guitar mainly to play acoustically, it's just so cool looking I could sit and look at it all day. I very seriously doubt I would ever use it to gig with since I'm not doing much of that at all anymore. In fact, in 40+ years of playing, I very rarely play acoustic guitar, I consider myself an electric player, just had to have the J160E when I saw it on consignment in a local shop.


I probably should have explained that I never intended to use the guitar anywhere except in the house. That being said, the combo is probably loud enough for in-home use. Might have to see if I can find an inexpensive boost pedal anyway just to see what kind of sound(s) I can get from the guitar.

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