Semi-hollow guitars of high-quality require the best of materials and the best of craftsmanship. They also require capable people who are devoted to making a piece of wood into a beautiful instrument. All of these processes take time and naturally, the price will be reflected in the quality of their work.
In the last article, I reviewed the 5 best semi-hollow guitars under $1000, leaving plenty of room budget-wise to find higher-end products. Today, I’ll be talking about three semi-hollow guitars that are much more accessible in price. Rest assured, they will still maintain a high standard in terms of tonal quality, playability, and overall aesthetics.
So, without further ado, here are the 3 best semi-hollow guitars under $500:
Ibanez Artcore AM53TF Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar
- Body: Sapele
- Neck: Mahogany
- Fretboard: Rosewood and Laurel
- Bridge: Art-St Bridge
- Electronics: Dual Infinity R humbucker pickups
- Finish: Tobacco Flat
Ibanez Artcore series has been around since 2002 and has proven to be one of the most successful semi-hollow guitars manufacturers. These guitars are praised for their craftsmanship and their affordability. This makes them great options for someone on a budget. In the last article, we reviewed one of the guitars made out of this series (AS53TKF). Today we’ll be looking at the Ibanez AM53TF.
The Ibanez AM53TF features a sapele top, back, and sides for great wood continuity. It also comes with a mahogany neck and a rosewood/laurel fretboard. One of the sings to praise about the Ibanez AM53TF is its Art-St bridge. This bridge is very simple to use and provides really good tuning stability.
Sound-wise, this semi-hollow guitar comes with two Infinity R humbuckers. These pickups are known to be warm sounding with very balanced articulation. They are also known to provide a lot of versatility. This is particularly useful for anyone looking to play different styles of music on the same guitar.
This Ibanez AM53TF comes in a natural wood grain finish, which gives it a very nice, organic look. An affordable guitar that holds great quality and is an excellent choice of an introduction to semi-hollow guitars.
- A very versatile sound fit for various genres
- Very affordable
- Guaranteed quality of craftmanship from Ibanez
- Even though it's a versatile tone, the sound can be a bit dull sometimes
- The neck is quite thin, which might be an issue for someone with bigger hands.
AMAZON: Ibanez AM53TF
Squier by Fender Classic Vibe Starcaster
- Body: Laminated Maple
- Neck: Maple
- Fretboard: Walnut
- Bridge: Adjustable with Stopbar Tailpiece
- Electronics: Two Fender Wide Range humbucker pickups
- Finish: Vintage-Tilt Gloss
Fender released the Starcaster series back in the 1970s. They became an immediate hit and were a great alternative to both the legendary Stratocasters and Telecasters. Last year (2019), Squier re-released the Starcaster for their Classic Vibe series. The Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster has proven to hold up to Fender’s standards while giving it some modern tweaks.
This semi-hollow guitar is fully made of maple, which is a classic characteristic of Fender guitars. It also comes with a slim C-shaped neck with narrow frets, giving this guitar a lot of playability. Its adjustable Stopbar Tailpiece provides stable intonation and solid tuning.
As for sound, the Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster comes with the Fender-designed Wide Range Humbuckers that will give you that classic old-school sound. These pickups bring a fuller tone with a tight low end without straying from what you would expect from a Fender model. Each pickup will have its own volume and tone control as well as a 3-way pickup selector for versatility.
This guitar can be easily considered the winner in the 3 best semi-hollow guitars under $500. The Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster is a great choice for both beginners to the semi-hollow guitars world, as well as to someone looking to get a high-quality guitar without spending too much on it.
- An excellent guitar with a full warm sound
- Fender quality ensures a top-quality guitar with its signature sound
- Considerably affordable for the quality you get.
- If you are not looking for that Fender sound, it can lack versatility
AMAZON: Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster
Grote ES 335-Style Jazz Semi-Hollow Body Guitar
- Body: Maple
- Neck: Maple
- Fretboard: Rosewood
- Bridge: Tune-O-Matic
- Electronics: Dual Humbucker pickups
- Finish: Flame Black
The 335 semi-hollow guitar is one of the most sought after models out there. It was part of the first series of semi-hollows Gibson released back in the 1950s. Naturally, the original series will be very expensive and many companies have tried to replicate the sound, size, and feel of the vintage 335. The Grote ES 335 Style Semi-Hollow has proven to be successful at it.
The Grote ES 335 Style Semi-Hollow is made out of a maple body and neck, along with a rosewood fretboard. It also comes with a Tune-O-Matic bridge, which is one of the most used fixed bridge systems and provides the most possible tuning accuracy and resilience. All of its hardware is gold-tinted, which gives it a nice aesthetic touch.
Talking about sound, the Grote ES 335 Style Semi-Hollow comes with a pair of Grote-designed humbuckers that are extremely well sounding for their price. Very nice low-end and high-end ratio with a lot of warmth and fullness to the sound. These pickups react particularly well to low and medium gained output. Once you get to high-gain stuff, you might encounter feedback issues.
The Grote ES 335 Style Semi-Hollow was a very pleasant surprise and might be one of the best low-budget guitars you can find.
- A great version of the classic ES-335 style semi-hollow guitar
- Excellent warm-sounding tone
- One of the more affordable good-quality models out there.
- Some people might be uncomfortable with Grote’s anonymity
- You might need to do some set-up once you get it for optimal use
AMAZON: Grote ES 335-Style Semi-Hollow
Before going deep into analyzing and checking out the three guitars on this list, the Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster seemed to be the pretty obvious winner for the best guitar. However, The Grote ES 335 Style Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar proved to be a very nice surprise and the clear winner of this 3 Best Semi-Hollow Guitars Under $500.
It is a considerably affordable guitar, especially considering that its quality is far greater than you would expect. The fact that it is a replica of the ES-335 series is a big plus and would be my top recommendation for a low-budget semi-hollow.