12 Best Semi-Hollow Body Guitars in 2018
From the jangly sound of the Beatles the sweet reverberation of B.B.King’s Lucille, the best semi-hollow body guitar is a thing of beauty, but like many high-quality instruments, you might be intimated when you start shopping around.
We’ve done a bit of the work for you, and we think we can help you narrow down your choices when you’re looking for the perfect combination of tone, action, and that resonant voice that makes the semi-hollow guitars so special.
Top 12 Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitars Table
|Design||Name||Pickups||Body Type||Rating (1-5)|
|1. Ibanez Artcore AS53 Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar||2 ACH-ST open-coil humbuckers||Sapele top with mahogany neck||4.9|
|2. D’Angelico EXL101 EXL-1 Natural Hollow-Body Electric Guitar||Floating mini humbucker||Spruce top with maple sides||4.9|
|3. Epiphone “Tom Delonge” Signature ES-333 Semi-Hollowbody Electric Guitar||Single humbucker||Laminated maple body with mahogany center block||4.8|
|4. Dean BOCA 12 String Semi Hollow Body Electric Guitar Trans Cherry Sun Burst||Dual humbuckers||Mahogany body||4.6|
|5. Epiphone ES-339 Semi Hollow body Electric Guitar||2 Pro humbuckers||Laminated maple body with mahogany neck||4.4|
|6. Squier by Fender Classic Vibe Thinline Telecaster Electric Guitar||2 vintage style single-coil pickups||Mahogany body||4.3|
|7. Epiphone DOT ES Style Semi-Hollowbody Electric Guitar||2 Alnico humbucker pickups||Laminated mahogany body||4.3|
|8. Epiphone Riviera Custom P93 Semi Hollow Body Electric Guitar||3 Epiphone Dogear Alnico humbuckers||Laminated maple body with mahogany center block||4.3|
|9. Washburn Oscar Schmidt OE30 Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar||2 Washburn HH pickups||Laminated maple body||4.2|
|10. Epiphone “B. B. King” LUCILLE Signature Semi-Hollow-Body Electric Guitar||2 Epiphone Alnico classic humbuckers||Laminated maple top and sides||4.1|
|11. Fender Classic Series ’72 Telecaster Thinline||2 Fender wide-range humbuckers||Ash body with a natural finish||3.7|
|12. Kona Guitars KEL5TSB Jazzed Hollow Body L5 Electric Guitar||Twin Washburn humbuckers||Laminated maple body||3.1|
How to Choose a Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar
So you’ve seen the stats, but let’s take a look at a few additional points that you’ll probably want to keep in mind while you’re whittling down the list of the best semi-hollow body electric guitar.
Knowing your style is important, but it’s not everything – If you need smooth action or if you’re looking for a more bluesy tone, then you’re in the right place, but don’t choose your guitar just based on what other people are using. BB King’s first version of Lucille was the only guitar he could afford, and he turned out okay, right? Play what feels best for you, and we think you’ll find that you get exactly the sound that you want.
- Size Is Serious Business – Part of the allure of these instruments is the sound, but the look of a giant Gretsch or Rickenbacker just can’t be beat. No other instrument looks like that, but it also follows that a lot of other electric guitar options are going to be a bit smaller. Just like buying jeans, fit is important.
If you’re a smaller player, you still have options. Instruments like the Telecaster Thinline or Ibanez Artcore will provide you with a less substantial profile, while still giving you the high-quality construction and wonderfully resonant sound that you’d expect from those brands or any other reputable maker of hollow-body guitars.
And we’re not just talking about the top-to-bottom dimensions, but sometimes the depth of the instrument matters as well. Generally speaking, the thickest hollow-bodies will usually have dimensions similar to a traditional acoustic guitar.
- Don’t Skimp on Your Amp – The real hallmark of a semi-hollow body guitar is that jangly sound, and while we don’t want to tell you how to spend your money, we do want you to get the most from it. A good amp, preferably a tube amp, is going to really capture the unique tone that these guitars are known for.
If you can’t go with a tube amp, then we’d advise you to head toward something with a few more watts and a bright tone. Don’t worry too much about the effects right away, although down the road we think that you’ll really enjoy putting a bit of reverb toward your new favorite instrument, but that’s just us.
- Have We Talked About Practicing Yet? – That bright, ringing sound doesn’t happen by magic; it’s going to come from you. And while practicing isn’t sexy, you’ll want to make sure that your fingers are honest and confident when you play. It seems like an obvious point, but having more sound coming from your guitar also means that you’ll have more squeak and scronk from poor fingerwork and chord placement. If you’re going to make the most of your jangly new pal, then take a few hours to tune up your basics, and you can really enjoy what these guitars have to offer.
Top 5 Best Semi-Hollow Body Guitar Reviews
Ibanez has a reputation for making pointy guitars that are only used by metalheads, but what they really do well is high-quality instruments that can play with a high, consistent quality after taking a beating. They’ve put all their skill to focus on a classic shape, and they’ve given us the AS53.
The classic, double-cutaway shape features a sapele top that’s pierced by a pair of F-holes. It holds a pair of active humbuckers that give a bright, punchy tone that’s excellent for anything from jazz to rock. It rumbles at the low end, and like any Ibanez, it really loves a healthy dose of distortion.
For the cost, you’re going to get a well-made instrument with a fantastic sound and a level of durability that you just can’t beat. When you hook this up to a quality amp, you’ll be amazed by the sound.
Some people call D’Angelicos the Cadillac of hollow body guitars, but they’re really more like a Bentley. Every piece is made of the best stuff, and the result is a sublime playing experience that gives you a voice that’s unlike any other instrument. Like a Bentley, it’s a bit pricey.
The expense is worth it because that single floating humbucker gives you a classic jazz sound right out of the box. The warm tone is ideal for any playing style that relies on a warm, expressive tone.
One of the strengths of this guitar is the factory setup of the high-quality hardware. The tuners, the saddle, and that classic D’Angelico tailpiece are obviously going to be some of the best money can buy, but the technicians at the factory tune and adjust every piece for maximum performance. A lot of new electric guitars require a bit of work before they sound right, but this one is perfectly tweaked and ready to go.
Tom Delonge has been the heart of Blink 182 for a couple of decades now, and he has poured his experience into his signature model ES-333. Designed for exceptional responsiveness, punchy tone, and extreme sustain, this guitar delivers for rock, but it’s got the goods for blues, jazz, and even country.
The center-mounted Gibson DirtyFingers humbucker pickup delivers an enormously wide sound that’s clear and loud enough for anyone. Its simple design doesn’t make for great adjustability, but it’s so good that it doesn’t really need adjusting.
The Tune-O-Matic bridge, stop-bar tailpiece, and precision-machined tuning heads give you a high-quality sound that you can dial into the exact spot where it works for you. A rosewood fretboard with a natural finish provides a smooth, quick action surface, and that racing stripe down the middle doesn’t hurt either. This piece gives you the classic form and construction of an Epiphone with the sensibility of a hard-rocking instrument.
Hollow-body guitars are known for their jangly sound, but if you really want to go the extra mile, then you need those extra six strings that you get with Dean’s BOCA 12-string.
A bolt-on neck gives you the ability to keep the neck in tune, even while it endures the quiet stress of having a dozen steel strings trying to snap it in half.
The intonation is excellent, and the humbuckers do an excellent job of capturing that jangly sound that makes this instrument so special. The action is smooth and easy to manage, and the low-cost lets you get the sound that you’d pay triple for with a 12-string Rickenbacker.
The high-output humbucker pickups are plenty loud. They’re actually so loud that we feel we should tell you to be careful the first time you plug it into a tube amp, so you don’t overload it. Best to start small on the volume and work your way up.
Big sound and a slightly scaled-down make the Epiphone ES-339 a great way for anyone to get their first semi-hollow body. If you’ve done any research, you know that Epiphone is a big name in this style of guitar, and this one shows all the reasons why.
A 3-way pickup selector lets you make the most of the Classic Pro humbuckers, and a pair of volume knobs give you even more travel between the sound of each pickup. 22 hand-set frets with a quick action will make it easy to travel across the fingerboard and create any note you need.
Part of an Epiphone’s quality is their rock-solid hardware and construction, and as you would expect, you get precision tuning mechanisms, a Tune-O-matic bridge, and a LockTone tailpiece. The bright, punchy sound and gentle jangle give this instrument a tone that you’ll really want to play in a whole variety of styles.
First off, we want to congratulate for going with a semi-hollow body guitar. The sound they make is unparalleled, and we think you’ll be happier for it. Did you find the best semi-hollow body guitar for you? If you’re still not sure, here’s what we think:
The D’Angelico would be at the top spot if it had a price that was a little more in the entry-level range. However, we’re still happy to see it at #2. Its sound is amazing, and maybe it could grace your home one day.
The Ibanez has surprised us recently because they weren’t always known for semi-hollow bodies. This offering, however, has really changed our mind. The tone and construction act like they should come from a more expensive instrument, and we had a ton of fun playing it.
If you love the classics, then you should definitely start with the Epiphone ES-339 or the Tom Delonge signature. They’ve got the look that defines the hollow-body style, and the sound to match. All you need to decide is which pickup configuration is going to sound best for your style of play.