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10 Of The Best Hollow Body Guitars

10 Of The Best Hollow Body Guitars

Ten great semi-acoustics to tempt you

You could say hollow body guitars are the pessimism/optimism dilemma of the guitar world. Is it an electric? An acoustic? Both? Neither?! However you see it, semi-acoustic guitars have cemented their place in guitar folklore thanks to their versatility across a number of styles. From their iconic big-body looks to their unmistakably warm tone, these guitars ooze class.

Hollow body guitars have been around since the 1930s when the big band players of the time wanted a way to make their instrument loud enough to compete with the cavalcade of other instruments sharing the stage. Building a guitar which was both able to be played through an amplifier, yet resonant enough to have a loud unplugged volume in its own right, was hugely appealing to plenty of players. Gibson was among the first to introduce hollow body guitars to the market with their ES 150 (an abbreviation of Electric Spanish, fact fans) guitar. In truth, it was an experiment. Gibson wanted to see if there were any interest and subsequent financial sense in creating the range.

hollow body guitar
Thankfully, there was indeed interest. So much so that we still see ES series guitars among the first names announced each year when Gibson announces a new range. Largely the new designs echo the characteristics of the old ones, even down to the choice of colours, but as manufacturing and production techniques improve each year, so does the quality of the guitar. Now, most of the big manufacturers have some form of hollow-body entry on their ranges. Here’s a look at 10 of the best hollow body guitars around today.

Gibson ES-335

Gibson 2018 ES-335

Makes sense to start with an icon. The bona fide first guitar most people will think of when you say ‘hollow bodied guitar’ to them. The Gibson ES-335. It’s chambered hollow-body features a maple centre block, which works to reduce the shrieking microphonic feedback which can plague this style of guitar. Its Burstbucker pickups and hand-wired electronics deliver a superb basis for your tonality, while the included hard case will keep this monumental guitar safe on its travels.

Epiphone Dot

Epiphone Dot 335

For the more value-conscious, there is a superb quality Epiphone version of the above guitar to consider. The Epiphone Dot 335 uses a full maple neck and body with a rosewood fingerboard, and comes equipped with two Alnico humbuckers which deliver superlative vintage tones.

Epiphone Tom Delonge

Epiphone ES-333 Tom Delonge

Proof, if it were needed, that the hollow body guitar is more than a jazz and blues machine. The Epiphone ES-333 Tom Delonge is the signature model for one part of pop-punk kings Blink 182. Traditionally, players of heavier styles like punk and rock would steer clear of hollow body guitars on account of their susceptibility to create piercingly loud feedback at higher volumes. The ES-333 gets around that by featuring a solid mahogany block within the body, which negates the feedback and also improves the guitar’s sustain.

Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor

Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor

The Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor is the signature guitar of one of jazz’ greatest known players. Joe Pass played with some of the biggest names in the genre, and his signature guitar will get you right in the ballpark of his distinctive style. What’s interesting about the Joe Pass Emperor is the way it demonstrates Epiphone can really put on a good show when it wants to. It’s hard to reconcile an instrument of this quality with the more entry-level stuff Epi is famous for – no criticism here – but this is a truly stunning guitar which wouldn’t feel out of place in the line-up of Gibson itself.

Gretsch G2420 Streamliner

Gretsch G2420 Streamliner

We couldn’t talk about hollow body electric guitars without Gretsch! The Gretsch G2420 Streamliner is the brand’s budget-friendly option for those who want that unmistakable Gretsch sound and feel but aren’t able to stretch to the higher budget options. The G2420 is a modestly priced guitar that certainly doesn’t mess around when it comes to quality of build and tone. Beautifully crafted rich, warm tones are achieved through combining a maple body with signature Broad’Tron humbucking pickups whilst the Adjusto-matic bridge and Brooklyn Burst finish turn heads. This guitar definitely sounds as good as it looks!

PRS SE 277

PRS SE 277

One from slightly leftfield now. This superb PRS SE 277 is actually a baritone, meaning it has a longer scale length (27.7″) and is tuned a few steps lower than a regular guitar. Baritones were made to bridge the gap between bass and guitar, and are closely associated with certain styles of music like surf, spaghetti western and metal. This PRS SE adheres to the usual high standards of production and will last you a lifetime.

Epiphone Casino

Epiphone Casino

Well we couldn’t have a best hollowbody guitars blog without including the Epiphone Casino, could we? The likes of Thom Yorke from Radiohead, Noel Gallagher of Oasis and of course John Lennon of The Beatles have favoured the Casino, and for good reason. The build quality and sound out of the P90R and P90T single coil pickups is absolutely beautiful. It’s been utilised by both Jazz and rock musicians owing to the powerful sound that the Casino is capable of and its versatility. If you haven’t played one of these yet, you really should try them out.

Fender Classic Series 72 Thinline Telecaster

Fender Classic Series 72 Thinline Telecaster

Another traditionally solid-body guitar appearing in a hollow guise here; this Fender Classic Series 72 Thinline Telecaster is a lean, mean blues machine. Its semi-hollow ash body is complemented by a pair of beefy humbuckers which will soak up overdrive from your amp and provide you with a uniquely open, rounded tone. Famously played by Southport’s finest, Gomez, too.

Gibson ES-330

Gibson Memphis ES-330

Another Gibson here, offering a slight variation on the first entry in the list. The Gibson Memphis ES-330 could be seen as the ES-335’s slinky cousin, offering a slightly more refined tonal experience on account of its dual P90 pickups, which offer rounded warmth where the 335’s ‘buckers offer grit. All the same, this is an iconic guitar in its own right, and well worthy of a place here.

Gretsch G6136T White Falcon

Gretsch G6136T White Falcon

Rounding off the list is perhaps the most ostentatious, most eye-catching of the lot. The Gretsch G6136T White Falcon is, essentially, peak hollow-body. It marks the high point of Gretsch’s considerable experience in the world of hollow-bodied guitars, and features best-of-the-best hardware throughout. Let’s be honest though, you’ll have to be some player to pull this off…

We hope this list showing 10 of the best hollow body guitars was enough to inspire you. Perhaps you’re an acoustic player looking for a smooth entry into the world of electric, or maybe you’re a die-hard electric player looking to vary and develop your tonal palette. Either way, there’s something for every player – check our selection here, or call 01925 582420 and speak to one of our product specialists for more information.

About The Author

Chris Corfield

Journalist, PR and multimedia specialist. Write professionally on subjects ranging from musical instruments to industrial technology.