Vintage Gibson Acoustic Repairs: Gibson J 160E

This old Gibson J 160E has seen a bit of action throughout its life. It has a serial number that indicates that it was made between 1966 and 1969.

This was the model that John Lennon owned. It was also used by George Harrison and features on several famous Beatles recordings including Please Please Me, With The Beatles and A Hard Day’s Night and many more throughout the 60s. More J160E and Messrs J Lennon info Here…

The Problem

It has been brought into the workshop because it will not play in tune. It plays in tune on the first few frets but as the player gets above the 5th fret it begins to sound out of tune, and the higher you go the worse it becomes.

On inspection it is revealed that the bridge is not the original but has been added at a later date. The original 60s bridge had an Adjustable Saddle System, this bridge has a fixed saddle. It is easily evident from the repairs to the soundboard around the bridge area that something had occurred in this area .  It begs the questions as to what and why?

It’s possible that the original bridge could have lifted and have been torn off by the tension of the strings with the resulting damage. This could be due to several factors the most obvious being an unstable Ladder-Brace System that supports the soundboard.

It is quite probable that the soundboard had bellied up in the past and had been the cause of the bridge lift.

An Intonation Issue

The bridge saddle’s position is measured and a discrepancy of several millimetres (mm) discovered. The bridge saddle has been mis-placed by a few mm towards the pins. This will cause the guitar to play flat (♭) as the player approaches the upper part of the fingerboard. More intonation info Here…

The Solution

Fill the slot

Calculate correct saddle position

Rout a new saddle slot

Click to enlarge some images


A new saddle is made and fitted, the action is adjusted and a new bone nut made and fitted. The end result is a guitar that plays in tune.

Meet Saul Ashby the owner of the J160E, he’s very happy with the results.

Here’s his twitter comment:

Saul Ashby
saulashbySaul Ashby
Thanks @gparkerluthier for making my Gibson play like the hot shit. Can’t put it down.

Catch up with me on Twitter @!/gparkerluthier

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