Semi-hollow guitars have been around since the 1950s, back when the guitarist had the need to increase their playing volume to fit in jazz bands. Since then, their popularity has increased dramatically and many players have been looking for that warm, full-sounding, rich tone they produce.
Today, we’ll give you some pointers of what to look for in a semi-hollow guitar as well as review our top 5 Best Semi-Hollow Guitars Under $1000.
Here are our top 5 picks for semi-hollow guitars under $1000
Ibanez AS53TKF Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar – Check Price here
- Body: Sapele
- Neck: Mahogany
- Fretboard: Rosewood
- Bridge: Stop Tail
- Electronics: Two Infinity R humbucker pickups
The Ibanez Artcore semi-hollow guitars have been praised for their affordability and quality of construction. This guitar comes from Ibanez Artcore series and is well suited for someone looking to not overextend their budget.
The Ibanez AS53TKF comes with a laminated sapele body, back, and sides. It also comes with a mahogany neck and a rosewood fingerboard with 22 medium-sized frets. Lastly, the ART-ST bridge gives you solid intonation without constant tuning issues. A great thing about this guitar is its neck-body cutaway that joins around the 17th fret. This allows you to get to the higher range of the instruments without difficulties.
Sound-wise, the Ibanez AS53TKF has two Infinity R humbucker pickups (neck and bridge) with volume control, tone control, and a 3-way pickup switch. The Infinity R humbuckers are dark in nature but balanced and well-rounded. Paired with overdrive, these pickups shine.
The Ibanez AS53TKF is a great choice for someone who is looking to try out semi-hollow guitars without spending too much. If you are already sold on the semi-hollow guitar sound, I might recommend another of the models included on this list.
- Versatile tone for any styles.
- On the low end of price-range, very affordable and great quality
- Nice transparent back flat finish
- Tone lacks a bit of presence and high end
- Not recommended for someone who is specifically looking for a high-quality semi-hollow.
- Body: Soft Maple
- Neck: Maple
- Fretboard: Maple
- Bridge: 6-Saddle Strings Through-body
- Electronics: Two Fender Designed Wide Range humbuckers
Fender is one of the most renowned companies out there and their Telecaster models need no introduction. Interestingly enough, Fender is not known for making semi-hollow guitars. However, the Squier Classic Vibe 70’s Telecaster Thinline is a fantastic choice for someone looking for that Telecaster sound.
The Telecaster Thinline is made out of 50% soft maple and 50% poplar wood. Both the neck and the fretboard are made out of maple, giving the guitar nice continuity. Its bridge is a hardtail, string-through-body piece that ensures good prevailing tuning and intonation. Finally, it comes with a natural finish that brings a very organic, vintage look to it.
As for sound, the Telecaster Thinline features dual Fender Designed Wide Range humbuckers, giving it that authentic Fender tone. This guitar has solid low-end and a lot of presence in their high-end, making it a very well-rounded guitar. You also get a tone control, a volume control, and a 3-way pickup selector, which gives you a lot of tonal versatility.
The Classic Vibe 70’s Telecaster Thinline is a great choice for someone looking to get their hands semi-hollow guitars that have that classic Telecaster sound while still maintaining versatility in their sound.
- Classic Telecaster sound
- A vintage-styled bridge that provides optimal resonance
- Old-school aesthetic vibe
- Tone is not optimal for blues or jazz styles
AMAZON: Squier Telecaster Thinline
- Body: Laminated Maple
- Neck: Nato
- Fretboard: Laurel
- Bridge: Anchored Adjusto-Matic
- Electronics: Dual Broad’Tron BT-2S humbucker pickups
Gretsch is one of the oldest companies around and since 1883 they have been positioning themselves on the market as one of the most successful guitar manufacturers. The Gretsch G2622T comes from the Streamliner series, which looks to provide the guitarist with more affordable semi-hollow guitars that maintain everything you would be looking for on a Gretsch model.
The Gretsch G2622T is made of laminated maple with a spruce center block. This reinforces the overall volume of the guitar while limiting potential feedback issues. As for its neck, it is made out of nato wood and a laurel fingerboard that has 22 medium jumbo frets.
Speaking of sound, the Gretsch G2622T comes with dual BT-2S humbuckers. Their main characteristic is that they have very high-output with a tighter bass response and clear highs. There is no doubt that the sound of a Gretsch is particularly good and the G2622T does not disappoint. To control your sound, you get two pickup volume controls, a master tone control, a master volume control, and a 3-way pickup switcher. Finally, the Bigsby tailpiece included allows you to enhance your playing through vibrato and tremolo, making this guitar very expressive.
The Gretsch G2622T is one of the best choices for someone looking for a high-end semi-hollow bodied guitar.
- An affordable Gretsch guitar that maintains its classic tonal qualities
- Bigsby B70 vibrato tailpiece gives you a lot of expression.
- Old-school aesthetic vibe
- A bit on the heavy side
AMAZON: Gretsch G2622T
- Body: Linden
- Neck: Nyatoh
- Fretboard: Bound Walnut
- Bridge: Gibraltar Performer bridge
- Electronics: Two Classic Elite humbucker pickups
The Ibanez Artcore AS73G has some popularity of its own. Favored by jazz guitar legends such as George Benson, Pat Metheney, and John Scofield, this guitar is nothing short of an excellent instrument.
This guitar is made out of a linden body, back, and sides. Its neck is made out of nyatoh wood and has a bound walnut fretboard. Electronics-wise, it comes with two tone controls and two volume controls, as well as a 3-way pickup selector.
In regards to sound, the Ibanez Artcore AS73G includes two Classic Elite humbucker pickups. The tone of these pickups is quite warm and full. Its low end is punchy and has silky high-end, making this a great sounding guitar.
The Ibanez Artcore AS73G is a great choice for someone looking for a warm-toned guitar that is perfect for styles such as blues and jazz.
- Warm tone with nice high-end
- Great string action that provides comfortable playability
- Good for jazz and blues
- Lacks a bit of versatility sound-wise
AMAZON: Ibanez Artcore AS73G
- Body: Maple
- Neck: Mahogany
- Fretboard: Rosewood
- Bridge: LockTone Tune-o-matic
- Tailpiece: Bigsby B700
- Electronics: 3 P-90 pickups
The Epiphone Riviera P93 is a semi-hollow guitar based on one of the first models Gibson ever made. It is modeled after its 1960’s ES series and has vintage look with an alluring wine-red finish and golden hardware.
The guitar’s body is built with laminated maple and incorporates a mahogany center block. It also includes a mahogany neck and a rosewood fingerboard with 22 medium jumbo frets. The latter increases the instrument’s playability, allowing you to have a smooth touch to produce a good tone.
In regards to sound, the Riviera 993 has three Alnico-V P-90 single-coil pickups (neck, middle, and bridge) with two volume and tone controls. This gives you a great variety to your sound and the option to combine all three pickups to further enhance your tone.
I must also mention that the P-90 single-coil pickups have a very warm, vintage sound that once helped define both blues and early rock and roll. The P-90 pickups have a sound similar to a regular single-coil but with a warmth similar to a humbucker, giving you that unique tone.
Guitar players such as Otis Rush, Lou Reed, and Nick Valensi (The Strokes) have favored these semi-hollow guitars.
- A quite warm tone that fits best styles like Blues, Jazz, and Country.
- Great versatility of tone provided by the three P-90 pickups
- Guaranteed quality from Gibson’s brand, Epiphone
- It’s on the higher side of the price range.
- Pickups can be too dark-toned for some people
AMAZON: Epiphone Riviera P93
Ibanez AS53TKF Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar
Acoustic-Electric Vs. Hollow Body Vs. Semi-Hollow Guitars
Acoustic Electric-Guitars are instruments that are hollow. This means they have nothing inside them and their sound comes from natural resonance. The type of wood used and the quality of their soundhole dictates how good the instrument is. The electronics an acoustic-electric guitar is equipped with, are meant to only amplify the sound without changing the guitar’s natural tone.
Hollow-bodied guitars are very similar to acoustic-electric guitars in terms of resonance. Furthermore, they are completely hollow and much of their sound relies on the soundhole. However, the pickups of a hollow-body guitar have a much higher impact on the tone of the guitar. These variations were first created in the 1930s.
In the 1950s, semi-hollow bodied guitars were designed to reduce the overall resonance of the instrument. These guitars are still made to be resonant by placing a solid block of wood in the middle of the guitar, as well as F-shaped holes on their sides. This helps maintain a higher volume than an electric guitar has. A semi-hollow guitar is an ideal candidate for someone who is looking to have a fuller-sounding instrument while still maintaining the feel an electric guitar would have.
Advantages Of Semi-Hollow Guitars
The sound quality of a semi-hollow guitar is one of the main reasons for its popularity. Its tone is very warm and rich, with a lot of overtones to give you a fuller-sounding instrument. This makes it ideal for styles such as blues, jazz, modern and old school country, and pop.
Electric guitars produce the most sustain as they don’t rely on their body, but on their electronics. On the other hand, hollow-body guitars produce the least sustain and rely much more on the overall quality of their wood. A semi-hollow brings the best of both worlds and provides you with more sustain, without losing the influence of their wood.
Construction And Shape
Solid-bodied electric guitars can be made in any desired shape as it does not affect the resonance of the instrument. Acoustic and hollow-bodied guitars, on the other hand, do need to be made in a certain shape and size to allow resonance to function properly.
The semi-hollow body guitar is, once again, the middle point. Constructed with that space to resonate in its sides (F-shaped holes), a semi-hollow guitar has a solid block of wood in the middle of the body. This is where the electronics are placed and it also helps dictate the amount of resonance the guitar will have. This will give you a good blend of acoustic and electric guitar’s properties.
A semi-hollow body guitar’s construction and shape will tie into one of the most crucial advantages, feedback.
Acoustic and hollow-bodied guitars experience a lot of issues with feedback when greatly amplified. This problem will be even more persistent if you decide to use a distortion or overdrive pedal.
Fortunately, since semi-hollow guitars have less resonance, they will experience fewer feedback issues that their hollow counterparts. This makes them ideal candidates to be submitted to any FX’s you use to shape your sound. You might still have some feedback problems, but they will be much more manageable.
Best Brands For Semi-Hollow Guitars
Most of the well-known brands have been in the semi-hollow guitar market for a long time. Companies such as Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, and Ibanez have a great variety of semi-hollow guitars at different prices and for different needs.
After looking at these 5 semi-hollow guitars, analyzing their specs, their electronics, and weighing in their pros and cons our two top recommendations are the following:
If you are on a budget, the Ibanez AS53TKF is your best bet. It is a great semi-hollow guitar with a lot of tone versatility and very smooth playability. At the same time, it is a guitar that will not need an upgrade for a very long time. Its quality is top-notch.
Now then, if you are looking for the absolute best sounding semi-hollow and are willing to do a strong investment, the Epiphone Riviera Custom P93 is definitely what you want to get. Great pickups, great sound, a tremolo bar for expression, and an aesthetically beautiful guitar. The Rivera P93 will not disappoint you.
Rock on, fellas!