Ever heard about accidents resulting in great inventions? The apple on Newton’s head, discovery of the element Phosphorous, and a million other historical incidents are all proof for this. The fun fact is that hollow and semi-hollow guitars fall in this list, too! The discovery of this type of guitars was an experiment that turned out to be way more successful and popular than anybody in that time could foresee. Today if we peek in hindsight, we realize it was probably because fusion of sounds holds a very high significance in music that these guitars became so popular.
Hollow and semi-hollow body guitars came out before a fully electric guitar was made. Back in the times, mainstream live music was mostly orchestral, and guitars were one of the many instruments being played on stage. Considering the only type of guitar at that time was acoustic, it was usually overshadowed by other instruments in an orchestral live setting. This is what created the demand for a guitar that could sound louder than an acoustic without being banged. Guitarists in bands wanted to play a bigger part than they could and for that, they needed a dominating sound.
Gibson identified that demand and market gap because there is a reason why they are Gibson, obviously. They started experimenting with the shape of the guitar and electronics. Different models came and went and finally, in 1936, they introduced their ES series, which was the first of its kind. The guitars were a mixture of warm acoustic tones and electronic versatility. The body was hollow, with F-cuts on the top and bottom of the guitar. They came with an attachable pickup that was supposed to be attached to the body. This pickup took the amplified vibrations of guitar strings in the body and converted them into electronic signals. These signals were sent out to the main sound system. Hence, the guitar became louder. Electronic signals can be given greater or lesser volume as per the need very easily.
As time passed by, Gibson kept experimenting and then released another semi-hollow body guitar with built-in pickups. Now it was even easier for players to play that warm, meaty tone and have the control of loudness in their hands only. With that, the popularity of these models further increased, and their usage started to expand beyond orchestral bands. The first genre that picked up these guitars was jazz. It was not long after jazz that they also entered into blues, pop, pop-rock, and even rock to some extent. Popularity in all these genres had one reason in common; the tone. It is unique, versatile, fused, and balanced. It fits perfectly in almost every genre. And this is why hollow body and semi-hollow body guitars sell like hotcakes!
Teleporting back to the present, numerous guitar manufacturers make these models. All of these have some of their patent technologies and possess a specialization of some sort. Therefore, hollow body and semi-hollow body guitars of different companies have different pros and cons. Given below is a list of the top 10 hollow and semi-hollow body guitars available in the market today.
10 Best Hollow & Semi-Hollow Body Guitars 2021
1. Ibanez AS53TRF Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar
Since that name, Ibanez, appeared in the world around 1945, it has been known to manufacture guitars that are light on the pockets and yet high in quality. This is clearly the case with Ibanez’s AS53TRF too. AS53TRF is made affordable and still makes sure nothing about it is a compromise in quality. It follows the standard shape and design of a semi-hollow body guitar. It contains 24 frets, has a large acoustic inspired body with two f-cuts, one above the strings and one below.
Diving into electronics, the AS53TRF uses ACH pickups to convert acoustic vibrations into electrical pulses. The best part about its pickups is that they are installed with a sustain block. One major problem with hollow and semi-hollow body guitars is the feedback. There are a lot of noise leaks and the guitar usually produces feedback. But with the sustain block installed with the pickups, the feedback and leaks are almost entirely eliminated. So, you can play this Ibanez on any gain you want to, and you will hear no feedback noises buzzing in your ears.
The body, including the top, the back, and the neck, are made from Sapele wood. This is what gives it the “classic” oldie look and the great finish. The fretboard is claimed to be Rosewood, which is usually used to make the fretboard sensitive, but it appears that it is a false claim. The fretboard is not made from the fretboard. It is okay to not use Rosewood for the fretboard, but it is not okay to make incorrect claims.
2. Gretsch G6136T White Falcon Hollow Body Electric Guitar
Gretsch is an American guitar company that has always aced in guitars, drums, and bass guitars. They have always been known for their quality. The name and the fact that their mechanics are top of the line point towards a connection to Germany. And yes, that is absolutely true. The 24-year-old guy who laid the foundations of the company in 1883 was a German immigrant.
If G6136T is to be described in one word, it is performance. Out of this world, high-quality performance. The primary edge of this guitar is the versatility it provides. The tones are so unique that they can fit perfectly into almost any genre. Not only unique, but it also sounds perfect, errorless in each genre. It can play blues better than blues guitars and it can pull off rock better than rock guitars. If you’re using a pedalboard with it, you have entered a universe of limitless possibilities. Its own unique tone merged with modulations of good pedals will result in sounds never heard before!
The uniqueness of its tone can be further described by getting into its details. It is a hollow-body guitar that produces a sound like an acoustic, but because the fretboard is similar to an electric guitar, the warm acoustic tone gets a variety of properties like sustains and reverbs. Something that musicians call “wetness” of the tone. But that is not it; above all that, the G6136T contains two pickups, and that too, humbucking pickups! So, an acoustic sound that has certain properties of electrical modulation is now amplified by humbucking pickups that give it the power and strength of rock. That is some insane fusion of sounds right there! The humbucker pickups are called the High Sensitive Filter’Tron pickups. Notice how they are known to be highly sensitive; like the name literally says it. From the grunge of power chords to the softness of harmonics, these pickups promise to make everything larger than life.
Hollow and semi-hollow body guitars usually weigh more because of their larger body size. But the Gretsch G6136T weighs only about 24 pounds, making it possible for you to jump around the stage and be in the moment while playing. You will still wake up the next day with no pain in your back.
The most eye-catching feature in this guitar is the tremolo. Yes, it has one of those too and it looks really unique. The color and design fit perfectly with the overall classic, “vintage” look of the guitar. It is known as the Bigsby B6GP Vibrato tailpiece.
However, the overall vintage look of this guitar is simply out of this world. The white and gold color theme is everything! The top, back, and sides are made of Maple wood so the white looks even classier. The bridge, pickups, and keys are golden. Even the inlays, the neo-classic inlays, are extremely exclusive!
3. Epiphone Riviera Custom P93 Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar
Epiphone needs no introduction. Epiphone is an inferior brand by Gibson for people who can’t afford Gibson. Epiphone guitars cost lesser than Gibson models, but they meet every standard of quality and are still better than a lot of other, “first grade” brands.
Epiphone’s Riviera was their first model. While Riviera was topping the lists of semi-hollow body guitars, Epiphone defeated themselves and released another model, even better than Riviera. This one is called Riviera Custom P93. The Custom P93 has the same vintage look the semi-hollow bodies are popular for, but the features and tones it has can be compared to none.
All the uniqueness of this guitar lies in its pickups. Unlike other semi-hollow body guitars that have 2 pickups, the Custom P93 has 3 pickups. And these are not just any pickups; all of them are Epiphone’s own Dogear classic P-90 pickups with Alnico-V magnets. 3 of those P-90 is what gives this guitar the power, loudness, and versatility it had. Moreover, all of the three pickups have their individual controls on the guitar’s body, so their tones and volumes can be controlled individually. This gives all the power in the player’s hand. The better the player understands the tones, the better the guitar plays. The tones of 3 pickups can be set individually and then the master volume can be controlled by the 4th control on the body. Considering the quality of Epiphone mechanics and the eye-catching design, the Custom P93 is definitely a guitar unparalleled.
4. Epiphone Wildkat Royale Semi-Hollow Body
Okay so here is another one by Epiphone. Now that all of us are already aware of the greatness of Epiphone as a brand, there is no need to dive into that. If this guitar is from Epiphone, it is supposed to be top of the line.
First and foremost, the Wildkat Royale is relatively smaller in size than usual semi-hollow body guitars in the market. It is probably the size of an acoustic guitar, more or less. The body has the classic single cutaway design for easier accessibility of higher frets, and also for maintaining the vintage look of a semi-hollow body guitar. The top and back of the body are made from Mahogany wood and this is exactly what gives its sound the “largeness” it deserves. Mahogany has proven to be the best choice of wood for guitar tops. They make the sound grand like no other. The neck, on the other hand, is made of Maple wood and the fretboard had to be sensitive, so they used Rosewood for that. The body has a beautiful glossy white finish and the secondary shade, of binding, tuners, pickups, bridges, toggle switch, and knobs are gold.
Just like the Riviera Custom P93, Epiphone Wildkat Royale also contains the P-90 pickups with Alnico magnets. These pickups are capable of delivering the power where needed and being warm and soft, too. Hence, the Wildkat is also pretty versatile with its tones. It has three control knobs at the bottom; one is the master volume control and the other two are individual volume controls of the pickups. The volume of pickups, therefore, can be managed individually and then controlled together by the master volume control. It also has a toggle switch on the top left, just like the iconic Epiphone/Gibson style. The toggle switch is three-way, and it controls the pickups; both off, one on, and both on. That is not it; the Wildkat Royale also has a Bigsby tailpiece for orchestral music that follows the vintage style of the guitar and is pretty eye-catching.
5. Godin 5th Avenue CW Electric Guitar
A lot of people have not heard about Godin (at least not as much as Epiphone), but if you are looking for a great package at an affordable price, Godin is your solution. Hollow-body and semi-hollow body guitars are usually more expensive than normal acoustic and electric guitars, but Godin’s 5th Avenue is definitely a great deal in its price.
The back, the top, and the sides are made of Maple wood. The neck is called the Canadian Silver Leaf Maple neck. The neck is 24 inches long, with a full-scale fretboard made of Rosewood. The body, just like the Epiphone models, has a single-cutaway that makes it easier for players to access higher frets. The two pickups used in this model are Godin’s very own Kingpin P90 single-coil pickups. They are great for jazz and bluesy feel, but they might not be too amazing for genres like rock. 5th Avenue comes in a beautiful sunburst finish that looks perfect on a semi-hollow body design. It also contains a toggle switch to control pickups like the one in Epiphone and Gibson, probably because Godin is a North American company. The Les Paul style is a very North American style.
The best feature of this model is still unaddressed. It sounds pretty weird, but the most attention-grabbing fact about 5th Avenue is its weight. It weighs only 8 pounds! That is almost 3.6 in kilograms and for a guitar, that is almost nothing! It feels as if you are holding a school bag in your hands.
6. Epiphone ETZ2VNNH1 Hollow-Body Guitar
Yes, it is Epiphone again. As mentioned above, Gibson was the first company to identify the gap and also experiment to manufacture guitars that could fill that gap. Since they are first movers, they lead this category of semi-hollow and hollow-body guitars. They usually don’t sell it under Gibson’s banner, they sell it under Epiphone’s banner.
The Zenith series is one of the oldest semi-hollow and hollow body guitar series from Gibson, as old as their E series, and is now sold under Epiphone. The guitars in this series are pretty basic. They are more like acoustic guitars that have a pickup. Which is why they are also way, way cheaper than other Epiphone semi-hollow and hollow-body guitars.
The top of this model is solid Spruce and the back and sides are made of laminate Maple wood. The neck is made from a mixture of Mahogany and Maple and has the standard C shape. Inside it is a dual-action truss rod that keeps the neck and action unchanged. The inlays are beautiful; Epiphone calls it the Falling Leaves inlays and they are undoubtedly a cherry on the top.
There is only one pickup in this guitar. As said, Zenith series is a minimalist series of hollow-body guitars. However, this one pickup surely does the job. It is called Shadow SH-1000 integrated pickup; Epiphone’s classic. A vintage hollow-body guitar isn’t complete until it has a tailpiece. Therefore, this one is also equipped with a gorgeous vintage Trapeze tailpiece.
7. Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe Semi-Hollow Body Guitar
Hagstrom is a company that usually plays in the niche, so many people have not heard of them. Hagstrom is a Swedish company that has been in the guitar making scene since the 1950s. As said, Hagstrom doesn’t play in the masses, they make guitars for very specific audiences.
Tremar Viking Deluxe is a super classy unique model by Hagstrom. It has a glossy black finish that makes it look like a legit Viking! The entire body, including the neck, is made of maple. However, interestingly enough, they have not used Rosewood for the fretboard. Instead, they have used Resonator wood. It has two Custom Wound pickups that have individual volume controls and a collective master volume. These pickups are known for their warm, clean tones. They are a great choice for jazz and blues but might not really suit rock. It also has a toggle switch that is used to switch pickup settings.
8. Ibanez AG75BS Artcore Hollow Body Guitar
This Ibanez model is the only model that has truly done justice to the word hollow body. Pickups in other guitars usually have wood beneath them but that is not the case in the AG75BS Artcore. This one is truly a hollow body guitar and guess what does this mean? It means a large resonant sound, irrespective of being plugged or not.
The entire body including the neck is made of Mahogany and the fretboard is made of Rosewood. It has two humbucker pickups that give its tones a weight while still being ambient and warm. It has two control knobs for each pickup and right beside them is a toggle switch to control the status of pickups. But all of this aside, the look and “raw”, wooden design of this guitar is a treat to the eye. If nothing else works, its beauty will definitely melt your heart.
Playing wise, this guitar will prove to be the best choice for plucking and finger-styling.
9. Ibanez AF75T Artcore Hollow Body Guitar
The AF75T is a little more advanced than AG75BS. Although it belongs to the same series, the AF75T has more functionality than its other family members. The build quality otherwise is as amazing as ever; it is Ibanez, what else can you expect?
The top, back, and sides of the guitar are made from Maple wood, while the neck is made from Mahogany. The fretboard is made from Rosewood, as in its previously mentioned sibling. It has two Classic Elite (H) pickups, an ART-2 Roller Bridge, and a VBF70 Vintage Vibrato. There are four Sure Grip III control knobs for the pickups and for master volume, and with them is a toggle switch too. All of that variety in body making, vibrato, pickups, and bridge basically give this guitar the versatility Ibanez is known for.
The guitar has a gorgeous glossy finish and is available in single colors, no shades; like black or red. That is exactly what makes it look so classy.
10. Fender Modern Player Telecaster Thinline Deluxe
Let’s end this list with the coolest hollow body guitar. All of us are definitely aware of Fender and also of their best model ever, the Telecaster. Well, guess what, Fender also has a hollow body version of the Telecaster! If this doesn’t make you jump off your seat, are you even a guitarist?
All the specifications of the Thinline Deluxe are of the Telecaster, except some small differences. What it shares in common with the Telecaster is the body, the neck, the fretboard, the number of frets, and the basic tone. The body, which means the top and back, is made of Mahogany wood. The fretboard and the neck are made from Maple wood. It is 25 inches long and has 22 frets, just like the Telecaster.
The difference is in the body. Telecaster is a solid body, while Thinline Deluxe is a hollow body. But but but… it’s not like other hollow bodies. Interestingly, Fender used one F-cut above the strings instead of two. Also, the pickups are different from the Telecaster. Tele has 3 pickups; a humbucker, a Strat pickup, and a Tele pickup. However, the Thinline Deluxe contains 2 P-90 pickups. Because this model has a toggle switch, you can control the two pickups as you need. If you are playing on the neck pickup, the sound is warm and sweet and mellow. But as soon as you open the bridge pickup, the Thinline Deluxe unleashes the beast!
While choosing a semi-hollow or hollow body guitar for yourself, there are a couple of things you need to keep in consideration. First and foremost is your genre. You need to be sure what genres do you play and want a semi-hollow/hollow body for. Is it blues and pop-rock, is it jazz and country, is it pop and reggae, or is it all of them? Once you decide your genres, you’ll easily be able to shortlist some models. Secondly, you need to see your budget. Guitars are as great as your affordability. You need to set your minimum and maximum ranges and remove all the models but the ones that fall in your range. Lastly, the reliability of the brand. If a known, reliable brand is falling in your budget, it is better that you choose them instead of a lesser-known brand. Because there is a reason they are popular, isn’t it?