7 Best Semi-Hollow Guitars of 2024

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A perfect compromise between the sonic qualities of a hollow body and a solid-body guitar, semi-hollow-body guitars have attracted generations of iconic guitarists, from Syd Barrett to Billy Corgan, B.B. King and Chris Cornell.

The one thing these legends have in common? All of them were mesmerized by the versatility, sonic clarity and distinctive tone of these unique guitars.

Whether you're a seasoned musician or an aspiring artist, here you'll find the best semi-hollow guitars and delve into the world of this fascinating instrument. And while the Gibson ES-335 is a legendary semi-hollow guitar and probably the best one on this list, there are plenty of alternative guitars that can meet your creative needs and budget.

Quick Summary of the Best Semi-Hollow Guitars

  1. Gibson ES-335 (Best Overall)
  2. Yamaha SA2200 (Runner-up)
  3. Gretsch G5622 (Best for Jazz)
  4. Ibanez Artcore AS73 (Best Budget [Jazz])
  5. Squier Affinity Series Starcaster (Best Budget [Rock])
  6. D'Angelico Premier Mini DC XT (Best Playability)
  7. Epiphone Wildkat (Best Budget [Country])

Best Semi-Hollow Guitars

Best Overall

Together with Fender’s Tele and Stratocaster, the Gibson ES-335 is one of the legendary electric guitars that defined modern music.
Why We Love It
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Timeless design and sound
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Versatile dual humbuckers
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Comfortable & easy to play

SPECS

  • Body: Maple/poplar
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Pickups: 2x Calibrated T-type humbuckers
  • Frets: 22
  • Controls: 2x volume, 2x tone, 3-way toggle
  • Finishes: Cherry, Vintage Natural, Vintage Burst

Regardless of the music genre you play, the ES-335 is a work of art that’ll enhance your artistry with its distinctive sounds and authority.

The Gibson ES-335 has a timeless design with a laminated maple body featuring a center block, which notoriously mitigates feedback while enhancing sustain. This construction made its durability and reliability legendary, with a design that's comfortable despite its size, eye-catching, and iconic.

Coming with dual humbucker pickups, the ES-335 offers a rich, well-defined sound that works across genres. It has a distinctive tonal character, defined by a smooth and balanced output that made it a favorite of countless guitarists, including Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Chuck Berry, working in the fields of blues and jazz to rock and beyond.

The Gibson ES-335 features a rosewood fingerboard, 22 medium jumbo frets, and a slim-taper mahogany neck profile. Whether you're performing intricate jazz chords or rock-oriented power chords, the ES-335's ergonomic design offers exceptional comfort and playability.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Higher price point compared to some other semi-hollow body guitars.

Runner Up

If your budget allows it, and you're looking for a semi-hollow electric guitar with unique tones and unbeatable craftsmanship, look no further than the SA2200.
Why We Love It
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Exceptional versatility
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Built for precision
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Push/pull coil splits

SPECS

  • Body: Laminated sycamore 
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Pickups: Dual Yamaha Alnico V humbuckers
  • Frets: 22
  • Controls: 1x volume, 1x tone, 3-way switch
  • Finishes: Brown, Violin

When it comes to musical instruments, Yamaha’s attention to detail and dedication to quality is undeniable, and the SA2200 is one of the most versatile and precise semi-hollow guitars you’ll ever play.

The SA2200 comes with a laminated sycamore body that sets it apart, providing a controlled but also deep and colorful sound. Together with a comfortable slim mahogany neck profile and ebony fingerboard, the SA2200 feels high-end as well as comfortable to play.

The SA2200 features Yamaha's custom-wound Alnico V humbuckers, which gives it a rich and versatile tonal character. These pickups can seamlessly transition from clean jazz vibes to more rock-like textures, making the SA2200 suitable for most musical styles. Push/pull coil splits further enhance tonal versatility with their spanky single-coil tones.

The combination of the slim mahogany neck profile, ebony fingerboard, and medium-jumbo frets ensures smooth navigation across the fretboard. Whether you're a seasoned professional or an aspiring musician, the SA2200 offers responsive playability and an inspiring sonic palette.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Higher price point compared to some other semi-hollow electric guitars.

Best for Jazz

Whether you're exploring rich, clean tones or pushing the boundaries with gritty overdrive, the Gretsch G5622 is an excellent combination of tradition and innovation, with a rich and dynamic sound that’ll leave you speechless.
Why We Love It
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Ideal for jazz
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Excellent action
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Great playability

SPECS

  • Body: Laminated Maple
  • Neck: Maple
  • Pickups: 2x Black Top Broad'Tron Humbucker
  • Frets: 22
  • Controls: 2x volume, master volume, master tone
  • Finishes: Aged Walnut, Black Gold or Bristol Fog

With a maple body and a double-cutaway design, the Gretsch G5622 gives guitarists a vibrant, bright sound combined with excellent action and playability. Its vintage aesthetic and high-end craftsmanship make it a great option not just for jazz guitarists but for anyone looking to recreate a unique retro vibe.

The guitar comes with a pair of Black Top Broad'Tron pickups that offer a balanced and articulate tone, ideal for most genres but best suited for distortion-free environments. In fact, its tonal versatility truly shines when playing jazz or fusion, thanks to its rich and dynamic clean sound. The Anchored Adjusto-matic vibrato tailpiece adds a vintage tremolo flair, enhancing the guitar’s tonal expressiveness.

The long spruce center block in the G5622 minimizes feedback, allowing guitarists to play louder and explore the unique sound of the instrument without worrying about noise interference. All in all, it's a "forgiving" guitar that allows one to experiment with genres and different sonic palettes, which makes it a great option for versatile guitarists.

What Could Be Improved:

  • The vintage-style setup might not be everyone's cup of tea.

Best Budget [Jazz]

An excellent combination of vintage aesthetics and modern playability makes the Ibanez Artcore AS73 a great option for musicians looking for a high-quality semi-hollow guitar without breaking the bank.
Why We Love It
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Excellent craftsmanship
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Affordable
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Smaller scale length

SPECS

  • Body: Linden
  • Neck: Nyatoh
  • Pickups: 2x Classic Elite Ceramic Humbucker
  • Frets: 22
  • Controls: 2x volume, 2x tone
  • Finishes: Transparent Cherry Red, Tobacco Brown, Prussian Blue Metallic, Olive Metallic

The Ibanez Artcore AS73's construction provides a vibrant and clean sound, reminiscent of jazz and blues iconic records. The guitar's smaller scale length (24.7 inches) enhances comfort and playability and should be a perfect option for guitarists with small hands or beginners exploring semi-hollow body guitars.

Coming with Ibanez Classic Elite humbuckers, the AS73 has a versatile and authoritative sound. The Classic Elite Humbuckers are versatile enough for rock players who look for a powerful and dynamic sound. However, these pickups are also well-suited for jazz and blues, with warm and clean tones that perfectly fit the genres.

The humbucker's carefully crafted design minimizes noise interference, preserves the guitar's natural tonal characteristics, and ensures a pristine sound output.

The smaller scale length of the AS73 provides extreme comfort while playing, perfect for guitarists of all skill levels. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned musician, the seamless playing experience offered by the Artcore AS73 will leave you speechless.

What Could Be Improved:

  • It loses a bit of clarity when playing at loud volumes.

Best budget [Rock]

I'm a firm believer that some Squier models deliver an impressive sound for their price, and while it might not be as popular as other blazoned Fender/Squier models, the Starcaster offers an impressive tonal palette and playability that makes it one of the best budget-friendly options in the market.
Why We Love It
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Impressive sound
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Great playability
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Budget-friendly

SPECS

  • Body: Maple
  • Neck: Maple
  • Pickups: Dual Squier humbuckers
  • Frets: 22
  • Controls: 2x volume, 2x tone, 3-way switch
  • Finishes: Candy Apple Red, 3-Color Sunburst, Olympic White, Black

The Starcaster guitar design pays homage to Fender's innovative designs of the 1970s and seamlessly blends vintage aesthetics with modern playability. Its lightweight construction and maple body delivers a bright and articulate sound that is perfect for rock, indie, and alternative genres. The maple neck enhances the guitar's overall stability and tonal character, making it a versatile instrument for virtually any musical style.

Coming with dual Squier humbucking pickups, the Starcaster offers a balanced and rich tonality with a touch of warmth that makes it a perfect option for indie rock and alternative genres. Its versatile sound palette allows guitarists to recreate timeless '70s vibes but is versatile enough to satisfy the needs of musicians working across genres, from jazz to funk and beyond.

The Starcaster features a C-shaped neck and a 9.5" fretboard radius, is comfortable to play, and is easy to navigate across the fretboard. Its fully customizable sound makes it an excellent choice for players looking to explore different tonal possibilities without breaking the bank.

What Could Be Improved:

  • It's a guitar designed with a 70s rock vibe in mind, so it's best suited for that genre.

Best Playability

The D’Angelico Premier Mini DC XT is a great option for those looking for a small-frame semi-hollow body guitar with a rich sound that works across all genres.
Why We Love It
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Easy and comfortable
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Seymour Duncan SH-2n pUps
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SPECS

  • Body: Laminated Flamed Maple
  • Neck: Maple
  • Pickups: 1x Seymour Duncan SH-2n Jazz Humbucker + SH-4 JB Humbucker
  • Frets: 22
  • Controls: 2x volume, 2x tone, 3-way switch
  • Finishes: Vintage Sunburst, Blonde

D'Angelico created a guitar that's small in size, but that brings to life a powerful, immersive sound and is effortless to play.

Crafted with precision and attention to detail, the D’Angelico Premier Mini DC XT features a reduced-size laminated flamed maple body that offers a comfortable playing experience without compromising on sound quality.

The solid center block enhances tone and sustain, while the maple neck with a slim C profile ensures effortless playability. With its vintage-inspired finishes and high-end aesthetic touches, including multi-ply binding and a tortoise pickguard, this guitar exudes elegance and style.

Coming with Seymour Duncan SH-2n Jazz and SH-4 JB humbuckers, the Premier Mini DC XT delivers a dynamic and expressive sound with warmth and clarity. Whether you're playing jazz, blues, rock, or country, these pickups offer versatile tonal options, from chimey rhythm parts to searing leads. The solid center block minimizes feedback, allowing for a focused and feedback-free performance even at higher volumes.

The Premier Mini DC XT features a bound ovangkol fingerboard with 22 medium vintage frets, offering a smooth playing experience. The 25-inch scale length ensures effortless bends and vibrato, while the double-cutaway body shape is ideal when reaching high-register notes.

Finally, locking Grover Rotomatic Stairstep tuners ensures rock-solid tuning stability, while a custom PPS nut enhances sustain and eliminates string binding.

What Could Be Improved:

  • High-end in performance and price.

Best Budget [Country]

A retro-inspired design, a compact size, and an excellent price make the Epiphone Wildkat a valid option for both beginners and touring artists alike.
Why We Love It
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Punchy and gritty sound
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Ideal for rockabilly & c&w
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Comfortable playability

SPECS

  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Maple
  • Pickups: 2x AlNiCo V P-90 Single-coil
  • Frets: 22
  • Controls: 1x master volume, 2x volume, 1x master tone, 3-way switch
  • Finishes: Antique Natural, Pearl White

The Epiphone Wildkat's compact size and semi-hollowbody design make it comfortable to play in any situation, while its mahogany body and maple neck enhance the guitar's durability and resonance. The rosewood fingerboard with 22 medium jumbo frets and SlimTaper "D" profile neck ensure comfortable playability during smooth chord changes and solos alike.

Coming with two Alnico V P-90 single-coil pickups, the Wildkat delivers a punchy and gritty sound that's perfect for rock, rockabilly, and country genres. These pickups offer a responsive tonal character, capable of producing rich, clean tones as well as overdriven textures.

The Wildkat's combination of high-quality tonewoods and pickups provides versatility and depth in sound, making it suitable for a wide range of musical styles.

With its comfortable neck profile and smooth rosewood fingerboard, the Wildkat offers an enjoyable playing experience for guitarists of all levels. The 24.75" scale length and 22 frets enable easy bending and vibrato techniques, while the Bigsby tremolo will add expressive possibilities to your playing.

The guitar's intuitive controls, including master volume, individual volume for each pickup, master tone, and 3-way pickup selector switch, offer effortless tonal shaping and experimentation.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Specialized in rockabilly and country. For other genres, it might lack tonal variety.

Best Semi-Hollow Guitars Buyer's Guide

When buying semi-hollow body guitars, you'll need to take into account several factors to ensure the perfect match for your playing style and musical genre. Here's a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the decision-making process.

Genre

Different semi-hollow guitars excel in various musical styles. For instance, if jazz music is your thing, a semi-hollow electric guitar with clear, smooth tones and good articulation, like the Gretsch G5622, would be ideal.

If rock, alternative, or indie music is your forte, you might opt for a semi-hollow with versatile pickups that can deliver both clean and distorted tones effectively, like the ES-335 or the Starcaster if you're on a budget.

Humbucker pickups, in particular, allow you to transition seamlessly between the edgier tones needed in rock and the smoother tones suited for alternative and indie sounds.

Construction Quality

A well-constructed guitar ensures longevity, resonance, and a comfortable playing experience, so look for precise craftsmanship, attention to detail, and durable hardware.

If you want the best semi-hollow construction quality and a guitar that'll last a lifetime, the Yamaha SA2200 is your best bet: Yamaha's renowned attention to detail and quality control ensures that each guitar is meticulously crafted, providing exceptional playability and tonal consistency.

Wood

The type of wood used in a semi-hollow guitar significantly influences its tone. When it comes to semi-hollow bodies, mahogany often contributes warmth and depth, while maple can offer brightness and clarity.

The combination of top, back, and side woods impacts the guitar's overall sonic signature, so consider how the wood choices align with your desired sound. For instance, a semi-hollow guitar with a mahogany body like the Gibson ES-335 will produce warm and rich tones, while a maple-bodied option like the D’Angelico Premier Mini DC XT will offer a brighter and more resonant character.

Feedback Resonance

Semi-hollow guitars inherently possess a certain level of feedback due to their design. Most models nowadays incorporate features like center blocks or carefully designed bracing that minimize unwanted feedback while enhancing sustain.

It all comes down to personal taste: You'll need to find a guitar that offers the best compromise between a natural tone and playability, so you'll have to consider the environment where you usually play and the loudness you intend to reach.

If you're aiming for controlled feedback for expressive purposes, a semi-hollow guitar with carefully managed resonance, like the Gretsch G5622, might be the best choice.

Pickups and Electronics

Pickups play a crucial role in shaping your guitar's sound. Humbuckers, like the ones on the D’Angelico Premier Mini DC XT, are often preferred for their noise-cancellation properties and warm tones, while P-90s, like the ones on the Epiphone Wildkat, can offer a grittier, more vintage sound.

Finally, some semi-hollow guitars come equipped with piezo pickups, allowing to create tones of both electric and acoustic guitars. This feature, found in guitars like the PRS SE Hollowbody II Piezo, adds an extra layer of sonic versatility, making it suitable for genres ranging from folk to progressive rock.

Playability

A semi-hollow body guitar that feels great in your hands can significantly impact your overall playing experience and technique. If you're a beginner or have small hands, look for a semi-hollow body guitar with a smaller scale length than average, like the Ibanez Artcore AS73, which will make it simpler to progress and hone your craft.

Additionally, a slimmer neck profile, like the one found on the Yamaha SA2200, can contribute to easier fretting and faster playing, making it a great choice for players seeking more fluid playability.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which brands are known for making the best semi-hollow guitars?

With its iconic ES series, Gibson has set the standard for semi-hollow guitars. However, Gibson is far from being the only brand that’s produced excellent semi-hollow guitars over the years.

Among them, Gretsch is a celebrated brand known for its vintage-inspired semi-hollow models, while Ibanez, Yamaha and PRS (Paul Reed Smith) produce stunning semi-hollow guitars with a more modern sound and playability.

Are semi-hollow guitars suitable for beginners?

Semi-hollow guitars are definitely suitable for beginners. Some semi-hollow guitars offer user-friendly features like slim neck profiles, lower string action, and versatile electronics that accommodate different playing styles. They're a great stepping stone between an acoustic guitar and an electric.

Additionally, their balanced tonal characteristics can be beneficial for beginners exploring various genres, allowing them to experiment with different sounds as their skills develop.

Are semi-hollow guitars more prone to feedback?

Semi-hollow guitars are notoriously more prone to feedback than solid-body guitars due to their open design.

However, advancements in construction and design have mitigated this issue, with many modern semi-hollows featuring center blocks or clever bracing that minimizes unwanted feedback, especially when playing at high volumes.

Additionally, the type of pickups used can affect feedback: humbuckers tend to suppress feedback better than single-coil pickups.

What types of music genres are semi-hollow guitars best suited for?

Semi-hollow guitars are often used in jazz, blues, rock, and everything in between.

The guitars excel in jazz thanks to their smooth and warm tones, ideal for intricate chord progressions and melodic lines. Blues players love them because of their ability to capture expressive bends and dynamic range. Rock musicians find semi-hollows suitable for achieving both clean, shimmering textures and punchy, overdriven tones.

What are the advantages of a semi-hollow guitar?

Semi-hollow guitars offer a unique combination of tonal characteristics that make them a fantastic option for many players. One major advantage is their versatility: they can produce the warm resonance of fully hollow body guitars and the sustain of solid body electric guitars, providing a balanced and rich sonic palette suitable for various genres.

Next, hollow-body guitars are lighter than solid-body electric guitars, giving comfort even during long playing sessions. The semi-hollow design also has a naturally airy and open sound that's well-suited for a plethora of styles, from jazz to classic rock and everything in between.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this list of the best semi-hollow body guitars, and do let me know in the comments if I forgot to mention other excellent semi-hollow guitars worth trying!

In summary, if you're looking for a legendary, versatile sound, look no further than the Gibson ES-335. But if you're looking for a budget-friendly option, I'd recommend the Squier Affinity Series Starcaster: a retro-style guitar that offers fantastic value for money and a distinctive sound signature.

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