Looking back at the history of 20th-century music, it’s hard not to notice how hollow-body guitars defined the sound of an era: from B.B. King to The Beatles and the Grammy-award winner jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour, this model has empowered generations of musicians with a perfect sound that bridges the gap between acoustic and electric tones.
Hollow-body guitars are versatile instruments with a natural resonance that can enhance every melody or guitar solo. Their distinctive design allows hollow-body guitars to produce a rich and organic tone with a remarkable emphasis on the midrange frequencies.
While commonly associated with the mellow vibes of blues and jazz, it’s not unusual to see rockstars on stage playing a hollow-body guitar, like Jack White and Dave Grohl.
Today, we’ll take a look at some of the best hollow-body electric guitars in the market, with a focus on models that offer unmatched versatility, a unique sound signature, and the best value for money.
If you’re in a hurry, let’s just say my favorite hollow body guitar is the PRS SE Hollowbody II Piezo: a magnificent instrument that empowers musicians with a fully customizable sound and unique tones and resonance.
Nevertheless, the other seven hollow-body guitars on this list are excellent electric guitars that can upgrade your sound and enhance your creativity.
Let’s dive in!
Best Hollowbody Guitars
1. Best Budget Option for Jazz – Epiphone Broadway
- Body: Maple
- Neck: Maple
- Pickups: 2x Epiphone Alnico Classic PRO Humbucker
- Frets: 20
- Controls: 2x volume, 2x tone, 3-way switch
- Finishes: Wine Red, Vintage Sunburst
The Epiphone Broadway offers a rich and resonant sound characterized by its warm, full-bodied tones, which, combined with a timeless aesthetic and refined finishing touches, makes it one of the best hollowbody guitars within its price range.
The Broadway features a maple body, which enhances tonal sustain and depth, while the SlimTaper ’60s “C” profile neck ensures effortless playability, making it a great option for both beginners and virtuosos alike.
The guitar comes with a pair of Alnico Classic humbucking pickups, offering a versatile sonic palette that can seamlessly shift from smooth jazz to blues and rock.
An elegant design, exquisite mother-of-pearl finishes, and versatile tonal capabilities make the Epiphone Broadway an excellent option for guitarists who want to explore the world of hollowbody guitars without spending a fortune.
2. Best Hollowbody Guitar for Rock – Gretsch G6136T
- Body: Laminated Maple
- Neck: Maple
- Pickups: Broad’Tron BT-65 Humbucker + TV Jones Filter’Ton Classic Humbucker
- Frets: 22
- Controls: 2x volume, 1x master volume, 1x master tone, 3-way switch
- Finishes: Raven’s Breast Blue
Exceptional sound quality and a pure Southern rock vibe make this high-end hollow-body guitar an excellent choice for musicians looking for a punchy, distinctive sonic signature.
With a laminated maple body and ebony fingerboard and bridge, the G6136T offers a balanced blend of resonance and clarity without sacrificing comfort and playability.
The hollow body guitar’s distinctive combination of BT-65 and Filter’Tron humbucker pickups contribute to its unique sonic signature, delivering a harmonically rich tone that’s both articulate and dynamic.
The Bigsby Vibrato tailpiece adds a touch of vintage flair while maximizing the guitar’s expressive potential, allowing guitarists to express themselves across a variety of genres, from rockabilly to rock ‘n’ roll, country, and blues.
The Gretsch G6136T is also less prone to feedback than many other hollow-body electric guitars, thanks to a carefully crafted trestle bracing pattern that mitigates unwanted feedback and enhances the sustain.
3. Best Hollowbody Guitar Under $500 – Ibanez Artcore AG75G
- Body: Linden
- Neck: Nyatoh
- Pickups: 2x Classic Elite Humbucker
- Frets: 22
- Controls: 2x volume, 2x tone, 3-way switch
- Finishes: Brown Sunburst
The Ibanez Artcore AG75G embodies Ibanez’s dedication to producing accessible yet excellent hollow-body guitars. If you’re on a budget and looking for the perfect compromise between classy jazz tones and modern playability, look no further than the AG75G.
The guitar features a linden body with a nyatoh/maple neck and walnut fingerboard, crafting an articulate and deep sound signature with plenty of sustain.
The dual Classic Elite humbucking pickups provide a diverse sonic range, offering a warm and rich tone that works magnificently in jazz, blues, and rock genres.
Both beginners and experienced guitarists will appreciate the comfortable C-shaped neck, which makes the Artcore AG75G a joy to play, regardless of your skill level.
Finally, the attention to detail, from the Gibraltar Performer Bridge to the VT06 tailpiece, makes this guitar the excellent hollow body for anyone who wants to recreate the timeless jazz box sound.
4. Best Hollowbody Guitar Overall – PRS SE Hollowbody II Piezo
- Body: Mahogany
- Neck: Mahogany
- Pickups: 2x PRS 58/15 LT “S” Humbucker
- Frets: 22
- Controls: 1x volume, 1x tone, 1x piezo volume, 3-way switch
- Finishes: Peacock Blue, Black Gold Burst
The PRS (Paul Reed Smith) SE Hollowbody II Piezo is unlike any other guitar: a bridge between a semi-hollow body and a full-hollow body guitar that seems to encapsulate the best of both worlds.
While you might consider it a “hybrid” guitar due to the small block that anchors the bridge, there’s no doubt in my mind this is the most versatile hollow-body guitar, capable of seamlessly shifting from warm acoustic to punchy rock tones.
What sets it apart is the integrated Piezo pickup, which adds an acoustic-like dimension to its sound palette. This pickup system, combined with dual 58/15 “S” humbuckers, provides an astonishing array of tones from rich electric textures to a vibrant unplugged atmosphere, allowing musicians to effortlessly switch between electric and acoustic-like timbres.
The SE Hollowbody II Piezo comes with a premium ebony fingerboard, 22 frets, and a wide-fat neck profile, ensuring a comfortable playing experience. All in all, this is a guitar for the versatile artist who wants total flexibility over their creative process and sound signature.
For the price ($1300), the SE Hollowbody II Piezo is an exceptional piece of work that carefully combines the sound of an electric and acoustic guitar into a high-quality instrument.
5. Best Hollowbody Guitar for a Vintage Sound – Guild T50
- Body: Laminated Maple
- Neck: 2-piece Mahogany
- Pickups: Franz P90 Single-coil
- Frets: 20
- Controls: 1x master volume, 1x master tone, 3-way switch
- Finishes: Vintage Sunburst
Whether you play rock, country, or blues, the Guild T50 can recreate the signature sound of the 60s with rich and woody warmth while being extremely easy to play thanks to the comfortable thinline body and the two-piece, U-shaped mahogany neck.
Combining vintage charm with modern craftsmanship, this guitar offers a compelling blend of specs and sound.
It comes with a refined laminated maple body construction and a mahogany neck that enhances the resonant and articulate tone, while the P90 Single-coil pickup delivers a well-balanced sound with a touch of warmth, making it an excellent choice for jazz, blues, and rock music players.
The guitar’s eye-catching design is enhanced by its elegant f-holes and vintage-inspired details. Musicians looking for a classic yet versatile hollow-body guitar will love the T50’s authentic sound and modern versatility, so if you’re into the 50s and 60s guitar sounds, this hollow-body guitar will help you bring that sound to life.
6. Best Hollowbody Guitar for Acoustic Sound – Taylor T5z
- Body: Sapele
- Neck: Sapele
- Pickups: Hidden Samarium Cobalt Humbucker + Dynamic Body Sensor + Samarium Cobalt Humbucker
- Frets: 21
- Controls: 1x volume, 2x tone, 5-way pickup switch
- Finishes: Satin Classic Mahogany
If you’re a performer looking for the best acoustic and electric tones all in one guitar, the Taylor T5z is a fantastic option. Available in a variety of versions, including high-end custom Koa models, the T5z is an all-in-one solution to explore every possible musical landscape.
The T5z’s compact yet resonant sapele body enhances its balanced and rich tones with acoustic-like full sound.
The guitar’s distinctive pickup system comes with three pickups, allowing players to switch effortlessly between acoustic, electric, and blended tones. This makes the T5z ideal for an array of genres, from folk to rock, fusion, and classic jazz.
The guitar’s sleek design and quality craftsmanship make it both aesthetically stunning and easy to play without sacrificing the tonal characteristics of this refined instrument.
A comfortable neck, buttery ebony fingerboard, and unmatched tonal range make the Taylor T5z one of the best holloway guitars for artists of all levels who prize versatility above everything else.
7. Best Hollowbody Guitar Under $1000 – D’Angelico Premier EXL-1
- Body: Laminated Flamed Maple
- Neck: Maple
- Pickups: 1x Duncan Designed Floating Mini Humbucker
- Frets: 22
- Controls: 1x master volume, 1x master tone
- Finishes: Satin Walnut
Vintage aesthetics, modern playability, and superb quality construction define this reasonably priced hollowbody model by D’Angelico. The Premier EXL-1 celebrates the sound and aesthetics of a classic jazz box, with plenty of acoustic response and resonance even when unplugged.
With a laminated maple body and a maple neck, the EXL-1 offers a warm and resonant tone that carries a distinctive clarity, while the signature D’Angelico Stairstep tailpiece adds a touch of elegance while enhancing sustain.
The single mini-humbucker pickup produces a versatile sound that’s particularly well-suited for old-school jazz but can be customized to deliver a grittier sound without sacrificing the guitar’s acoustic response.
Furthermore, the Premier EXL-1’s slim C-shape neck profile ensures comfortable playability, making it a great choice for beginner guitarists.
8. Best Hollowbody Guitar – Runner-up – Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin
- Body: Canadian Wild Cherry
- Neck: Silver Leaf Maple
- Pickups: 1x Kingpin P90 Single-coil
- Frets: 21
- Controls: 1x volume, 1x tone
- Finishes: Cognac Burst
Crafting a timeless retro sound without spending a fortune is no trivial task, yet the Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin delivers a brilliant vintage vibe with effortless playability and tonal versatility, making it an excellent option for the guitarist on a budget.
Crafted with a Canadian wild cherry body and a silver leaf maple neck, the Kingpin produces a warm, resonant tone characterized by its rich midrange and harmonic depth.
The P-90 single-coil pickup brings to life a unique sonic identity with a touch of warmth and punch that’s well-suited for blues in all its forms.
The guitar’s distinctive design exudes timeless elegance, a trademark of Godin since its inception in the 1970s.
The rosewood fingerboard and comfortable neck profile make it a joy to play in any environment, and the perfect blend of classic tones and modern versatility makes it an attractive option for beginners and seasoned musicians alike.
Best Hollowbody Guitars Buyer’s Guide
When choosing your next hollow-body guitar, there are certain crucial aspects that can help you identify the one that can bring to life the sound you envision.
While budget is obviously one of the most important factors, understanding how each component can transform the tonal characteristics of a hollow-body guitar will allow you to choose the perfect guitar for your needs.
The pickup configuration of a hollow-body guitar has a huge impact on its tonal versatility. Most hollowbody guitars feature either a single-coil or humbucker pickup setup.
In general, single-coil pickups provide a bright and articulate sound, ideal for genres like jazz and blues, while humbuckers offer a warmer and thicker tone, making them suitable for rock and heavier genres.
Semi-Hollow vs. Full Hollow
I know it’s a bit confusing, but hollow-body guitars come in two main types: full-hollow and semi-hollow body guitars.
Semi-hollow guitars have a solid center block running through the body, reducing feedback and enhancing sustain, finding a compromise between the rich tones of full-hollow-body guitars and the reduced feedback of solid-body guitars.
Many iconic guitars are semi-hollow, including the legendary Gibson ES 335 and plenty of high-end Gretsch guitars.
Full hollow guitars, without a center block, produce a more resonant and acoustic-like tone but are more prone to feedback when playing at high volumes than solid-body and semi-hollow electric guitars.
It all comes down to the player’s tonal preferences and the level of feedback control required. A semi-hollow body guitar might be ideal for a musician playing heavier genres or used to playing solid-body electric guitars.
Many modern hollow body models come with pickup systems and technology that mitigate feedback, although it might result in altered tonal characteristics.
More than anything else, the type of wood used in a hollow-body guitar defines how the guitar sounds.
Maple is a common choice for the top, back, and sides of hollow bodies, delivering bright and articulate tones. Mahogany adds warmth and depth to the sound, while walnut strikes a balance between these two tonal qualities.
Hardware and Bridge
High-quality hardware and bridge components are crucial for tuning stability and the instrument’s longevity. Adjustable bridges allow you to fine-tune the intonation and action, enhancing playability, and some models feature Bigsby-style tremolos, adding a touch of vintage vibrato to your sound.
Especially if you’re a beginner, I’d recommend looking for models that come with stable tuning machines to keep your instrument in tune while performing.
The playability of a hollow-body guitar depends on the neck profile, scale length, and fretboard radius.
A comfortable neck profile ensures smooth movement along the fretboard, while a suitable scale length affects string tension and feel. Flatter fretboards are better suited for fast playing, while more curved ones are ideal for chord-based styles.
As you probably noticed, hollow-body guitars come in a wide range of price points. While expensive guitars often offer better craftsmanship, tonewoods, and electronics, there are also budget-friendly options that deliver excellent value for their price.
Once you set a realistic budget, prioritize features that align with your musical goals, and choose one of the hollow body guitars discussed above: whichever you choose, you’ll get an excellent musical instrument.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What advantages do hollow-body guitars offer in terms of tone and resonance?
Hollowbody guitars offer distinct tonal qualities due to their design. The hollow body and sound chambers deliver a warmer, airy sound with enhanced resonance and sustain.
The acoustic nature of these guitars, combined with the electric pickups, brings to life a unique blend of richness, depth, and character in the tone.
Which hollow-body guitars are known for their versatility across various genres?
Several hollow-body guitars excel across various genres. Models like the PRS SE Hollowbody II Piezo, Epiphone Broadway, and Taylor T5z are known for their incredible versatility, as their balanced tonal range makes them suitable for genres ranging from jazz and blues to rock and even heavier genres.
What are some popular pickup configurations used in hollow-body guitars?
Hollowbody guitars typically come with a combination of humbucker and single-coil pickups. Common setups include a pair of humbuckers for a warm, noise-resistant tone or a combination of a humbucker as a bridge pickup position and a single-coil or P-90 in the neck for enhanced versatility.
What are some well-known brands that produce top-tier hollow-body guitars?
Several brands are renowned for crafting exceptional hollowbody electric guitars. Both Gibson and Epiphone offer iconic models, while Gretsch is renowned for its unique signature sound.
Other notable brands include Ibanez, D’Angelico, and Godin, each bringing its own legacy, craftsmanship, and innovation to the table.
How do feedback issues often associated with hollow-body guitars affect performance?
Hollowbody guitars are prone to feedback due to their acoustic nature and resonance, which can be both a challenge and an advantage, depending on your style and desired sound.
Feedback can be managed by using techniques like playing position, adjusting amplifier settings, or using feedback suppressors.
What are the tonal characteristics of a hollow-body guitar compared to other types?
Compared to solid-body guitars, hollow-body guitars have a more open and resonant tonal profile. They produce a naturally “woody” sound with emphasis on midrange frequencies, perfect for genres like jazz and blues.
In contrast, solid-body guitars have a tighter, more focused sound with greater sustain, ideal for genres like rock and metal. That doesn’t mean you can’t use a hollow body guitar to play heavier genres; on the contrary, many rockstars embraced this type of guitar because of its versatility and natural tonality.
I hope this guide will help you choose the best hollow-body guitar for your needs! Each one of the hollow-body electric guitars on this list comes with its own distinct charm, but all of them offer an impressive sonic palette that can satisfy the needs of guitarists of all levels.
In short, the PRS SE Hollowbody II Piezo offers remarkable versatility by combining magnetic and piezo pickups, which makes it my favorite hollow-body guitar. Alternatively, the authentic acoustic resonance of the Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin delivers a classic hollow-body sound without breaking the bank.