Updated: January 25, 2020 by Richard Cole
Gibson is one of the top five industry giants that can say they have been around for long enough to become a real authority in the world guitars.
Everyone who is even remotely interested in guitars knows about Les Paul. It is one of those models that will get recognized anywhere in the world.
Electric guitars are not the only thing Gibson knows how to do well. Their acoustic line brings the same kind of quality they are known for in the electric guitar sphere of interest.
One of their more interesting acoustic guitar models is the Gibson J165 EC. What may appear as your average country style acoustic, is actually a bit more complex and interesting.
As you are about to find out, this Gibson has a lot to offer, including some features that are surprising.
As you probably know by now, there are several different acoustic guitar sizes. These have been standardizes for a while now, and manufacturers generally use these sizes as guidelines for their guitars.
One thing that is true about different guitar sizes, and backed up by logic, is that larger guitars have better low end response, while smaller guitar pack a lot of treble and lack bass. With that said, when a manufacturer creates a guitar model that is small in size – nearly 00 – but has a lot of bass to offer, it turns some heads. That is exactly what Gibson J165 EC did.
The body of the Gibson J165 EC sports the standard Concert shape with the addition of a cutaway. As we have mentioned above, the size is somewhere between 00 and 000 , but it seems to be closer to the former.
The tonewood Gibson chose for this model is Sitka spruce for the top, and Rosewood for the back and sides. Needless to say, these are all solid pieces. Finish can be either antique natural, or Gibson’s legendary vintage sunburst. The consensus is that the latter is the way to go if aesthetics are a factor for you.
The neck is a mahogany piece that sports a nice Rosewood fretboard and a bone nut. The profile of the neck is CC, or Comfort Contour while the whole neck is under a 3 degrees angle.
Both the neck and the body feature nice creamy binding that gives the whole guitar a very attractive look. Hardware comes in form of a standard Belly Up bridge, a set of Nickel Mini Grover tuners and a custom line Tortoise pickguard. Finally, Gibson J165 EC comes with Fishman Aura Pro electronics.
The combination of wood Gibson went with gives this particular model much more bass capability than it appears to have when you first look at it. The sound Gibson J165 EC delivers is very balanced with defined trebles and spread out mids. Guitar is extremely playable, which is partially due to a nicely contoured neck that is comfortable to say the least.
Fishman Aura Pro work incredibly well in replicating the acoustic sound of this guitar. You can adjust the tone on the guitar itself thanks to a nicely designed preamp. So far so good, right? The only thing we need to mention is that you need to cherry pick these guitars. Some will come sounding great, others not so much.
What we like
Great quality of build and sound combined with a comfortable neck is what this Gibson has to offer. Electronics are very capable, and the whole package seems well made.
What we don’t like
The only thing about this guitar that is subpar is the quality control. Some of Gibson J165 EC models sound great, others don’t even though it is the same instrument. What exactly is the issue we don’t know.
Gibson J165 EC has its pros and its shortcomings, but it is still one of the best guitars in its price range. Whether you are judging it by sound or looks alone, it performs incredibly well.
The fact that Gibson managed to squeeze out a bit more bass from a tiny guitar such as this one is impressive. If you want a compact acoustic electric that has a decent tone, make sure to check out this Gibson.