5 Great New Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitars

Updated on August 21, 2017
Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.

Fender American Select Thinline Telecaster Electric
Fender American Select Thinline Telecaster Electric

The semi-hollow body electric guitar is just that, only semi-hollow in the body. They typically have solid wood centers which allow them to maintain a degree of sturdiness and stability. They are not exceptionally loud played unplugged. In fact, the semi-hollow body electric guitar was meant to be played plugged in. The hollowed out chamber or chambers in the body have a distinct impact on the guitar's tonal character.

Tonal character is the goal here. The semi-hollow body electric guitar sounds distinctly different from the solid body one may be similar in design to. Semi-hollow body electric guitars have seen renewed interest in recent years as rock luminaries such as Tom Petty continue to rock on, and Dave Grohl has certainly also been at the fore of the trending ship of guitars.

Why buy a semi-hollow body electric guitar?

There are many reasons why persons may choose a semi hollow body electric guitar over a solid body. Tonality is one reason, as the semi-hollow body has a distinct clear tone when played cleanly through an amplifier. This is not to say the guitars can't be used with distortion and any number of effects pedals, they most certainly can.

Another reason why a body may lean towards the semi-hollow body electric guitar is because they weigh considerably less than a comparable solid body electric. If you've ever stood with a non-chambered Les Paul or Fender Strat strapped around your neck for an hour or two, you know those guitars can start to wear a bit on the shoulders.

Then, there is the utility involved with having an electric guitar you can literally play a little even without amplification. You have a room with a good acoustical response, and you can certainly use the semi-hollow body to get a good practice or composition session in.

While most guitarists are pure tone chasers, there is also the visual aesthetic appeal some find in the semi-hollow body electric guitar. There are certainly more solid body electric guitars out there in the clubs and stadiums being played. Why not differentiate one's self by being the person with the semi-hollow body? You'll also get a different tonality, to be sure. Even musicians playing a supporting role wish to stand out and be recognized. Being the one with the semi-hollow body couldn't hurt.

Fender Select Telecaster Thinline Electric Guitar Gold Hardware Violin Burst
Fender Select Telecaster Thinline Electric Guitar Gold Hardware Violin Burst

1. Fender Select Telecaster Thinline

By the late 1930's guitars were being hooked up with electronics. They weren't especially great, but things tend to improve over time, especially things involving electronics. Leo Fender's solid body guitar which became the Telecaster was the first viable solid body electric. So it is little wonder a semi-hollow body version of the original has also become a mainstay.

These guitars have a semi-hollow ash wood body. The top is beautiful flamed maple. The finish is known as a 'Violin Burst' finish and has a gloss lacquer top coat to protect it. The neck and fretboard are both of maple. The people at Fender are especially proud of the compound radius fingerboards. If you decide to own one of these Fender Select Telecaster Thinline semi-hollow body guitars, you will be sure to be proud of it too.

Fender Select guitars get the best materials Fender has, including the electronics. The pickups are voiced specifically for these guitars. These aren't the pickups found on other American made Telecasters. Played on your amp's clean channel, and this thing sounds terrific. It sounds like a typical Telecaster with some slight acoustic guitar effect added into the mix, but that is just the beauty of the semi-hollow body and Fender's best pickups.

What kind of damages are we ringing up here? Plan to spend two thousand bucks at the least, unless you go used. Further specifications below:

:Fender American Select Thinline Telecaster features:

  • Body Material: Semi-Hollow Ash with Flame Maple Top
  • Body Finish: Hand-Stained with Gloss-Lacquer Topcoat
  • Neck: Birdseye Maple, Modern C-Shape
  • Neck Finish: Satin-Lacquer Back, Gloss-Lacquer Front
  • Fingerboard: Birdseye Maple, 9.5-14 in. Compound Radius
  • Frets: 22, Medium Jumbo
  • Scale Length: 25.5 in. (64.8 cm)
  • Nut Width: 1.685 in. (42.8 mm)
  • String Nut: Synthetic Bone
  • Truss Rod: Bi-Flex
  • Pickups: Fender Select Telecaster Single-Coil
  • Pickup Switching: 3-Position Blade: Position 1. Bridge Pickup, Position 2. Bridge and Neck Pickups, Position 3. Neck Pickup
  • Tuning Machines: Deluxe Staggered Cast/Sealed Locking
  • Controls: Master Volume, Master Tone
  • Control Knobs: Heavy Knurled Chrome Flat-Top
  • Bridge: American Standard Bent Steel Saddles and Stamped Brass Plate
  • Hardware: Chrome or Gold
  • Pickguard: 4-Ply Aged White Pearloid
  • Case/Gig Bag: Fender Select Tweed Case

Fender 2013 Select Thinline Telecaster Violin Burst - Quick Look

Gibson 2016 ES-Les Paul Hollowbody - Faded Lightburs
Gibson 2016 ES-Les Paul Hollowbody - Faded Lightburs

2. Gibson ES-Les Paul Hollowbody

The Gibson ES Les Paul Faded Lightburst is a thing of beauty for sure. This guitar is meant to combine the essential elements of two Gibson legends, the Les Paul and the Gibson ES-335.

It also contains all the newest and best technologies and materials Gibson USA has to offer. You get Adirondack spruce braces, titanium saddle, a genuine bone nut, and some fancy neck binding. Have we mentioned Plek technology yet? Yeah, all new Gibson USA guitars feature a Plek CNC machine doing very very fine calibrations for the set-up. No human can reproduce what the Plek German technology makes common for Gibson USA guitars like this one.

You can see this ES Les Paul has two sound holes in its maple soundboard. This will allow for this guitar to provide more unplugged volume than, for example, the Telecaster with one sound-hole. The guitar is still intended to be enjoyed by all plugged in. In a quiet room you should have enough volume to get your practicing in, and perhaps some songwriting too.

The pickups here are especially calibrated for this semi-hollow body Les Paul. They are described as 'PAF-like' in intonation and tonality. Officially they are the MHS humbucker pickups.

Gibson is using a thicker truss rod than in previous years. The new ES Les Paul is featuring it, and so the neck of the guitar should be more stable than those from previous years. The bone nut and titanium saddle combination should ring loud, true, and clear. And the titanium saddle should absolutely never need be replaced. These guitars go new at about thirty-three hundred bucks, but they elicit jealous stares wherever they go, for years uncounted.

Gibson ES-Les Paul Hollowbody features:

  • Body shape: ES-LP
  • Body type: Semi-Hollow
  • Body material: Maple, Poplar, Maple
  • Top wood: Maple, Poplar, Maple
  • Body wood: Maple, Poplar, Maple
  • Body finish: Hi Gloss Lacquer
  • Orientation: Right


  • Neck shape: Rounded C
  • Neck wood: Mahogany
  • Joint: Mortise and tenon
  • Scale length: 24.75
  • Truss rod: Historic
  • Neck finish: Nitrocellulose Lacquer


  • Material: Rosewood
  • Radius: 12"
  • Fret size: Jumbo
  • Number of frets: 22
  • Inlays: Trapezoid
  • Nut width: 1.681"
  • Nut Material: White Bone


  • Configuration: 2 Humbucker
  • Neck: MHS Humbucker Alnico II
  • Middle: Not applicable
  • Bridge: MHS Humbucker Alnico III
  • Active or passive: Passive
  • Series or parallel: Series


  • Control layout: 2 Volume and 2 Tone Controls
  • Pickup switch: 3-Way Switch
  • Coil tap or split: No
  • Kill switch: No


  • Bridge type: Fixed
  • Bridge design: ABR-1
  • Tailpiece: Lightweight Stop Bar
  • Tuning machines: Kluson Single Ring Tulip Button


  • Color: Nickel
  • Number of strings: 6
  • Special features: Adirondack Spruce Top Bracing
  • Case: Hardshell
  • Accessories: Certificate of Authenticity
  • Country of origin: USA

Gibson ES-Les Paul

Music Man Axis Super Sport Semi Hollow Body
Music Man Axis Super Sport Semi Hollow Body

3. Music Man Axis Super Sport Semi Hollow Body

Music Man, as a guitar manufacturing company, has the influence of the great Leo Fender all over it. When Leo sold Fender to CBS in 1965, he had signed a 'no compete' contract which was valid for a number of years. Leo had time to think about guitars. Lots of time. While Leo is gone from the world now, his influence and legacy of innovation lives on at Music Man guitars.

The Music Man Axis Super Sport semi-hollow body guitar is a real looker. It is available in several terrific finish options. I chose to display the one which appealed to me the most here. But there are several others, all perfectly gorgeous. The 'M' design sound-hole in the soundboard's top chamber is very distinct and classy. This guitar was designed to emulate guitar tones from big box jazz guitars from the 40s and 50s, but it provides more utility than those did.

There are a lot of options available beside fine finishes with these Music Man Axis Super Sport semi-hollow body guitars. The fingerboard can be of either rosewood or maple. You can have two humbucking pickups, or two P90 style single coils. But there is a lovely Piezo pre-amp with either pickup configuration you choose.

Whichever pickup configuration one chooses for their Music Man Axis Super Sport, the pickups will be DiMarzio. If you are a P90 pickup style fanatic, you know what to do. But my thoughts are that with the DiMarzio humbuckers and the coil tapping feature alongside them, one should be able to get most of the tones of the Thinline Tele and the ES Les Paul, and then some. For total versatility and maximum utility, go the Music Man Axis Super Sport with the humbuckers. This at least, is my opinion of the matter.

What does this very diverse guitar cost? Prices range from two thousand dollars on up to twenty five hundred dollars. Prices reflect the specifications desired and chosen. The specifications below are merely a suggestion, not specifications etched into stone, so to speak.

Music Man Axis Super Sport Semi Hollow Body features:

  • Body shape: Single cutaway
  • Body type: Semi-hollow or chambered body
  • Body material: Solid wood
  • Top wood: Maple Bookmatched
  • Body wood: Basswood
  • Body finish: Gloss Polyester
  • Orientation: Right handed


  • Neck shape: Info not available
  • Neck wood: Maple
  • Joint: Bolt-on
  • Scale length: 25.5"
  • Truss rod: Standard
  • Neck finish: Hand-rubbed Oil


  • Material: Rosewood
  • Radius: 10"
  • Fret size: High profile, medium width
  • Number of frets: 22
  • Inlays: Dot
  • Nut width: 1.62" (41.3mm)


  • Configuration: HH
  • Neck: Custom humbucking
  • Middle: Not applicable
  • Bridge: Custom humbucking
  • Brand: DiMarzio
  • Active or passive: Passive
  • Series or parallel: Switchable
  • Piezo: Yes
  • Active EQ: No
  • Special electronics: Piezo preamp


  • Control layout: Master volume, tone, piezo volume
  • Pickup switch: 5-way (magnetic pickup selector), and 3-way (piezo/magnetic)
  • Coil tap or split: Coil split
  • Kill switch: No


  • Bridge type: Tremolo/Vibrato
  • Bridge design: Piezo bridge
  • Tailpiece: Not applicable
  • Tuning machines: Schaller locking
  • Color: Chrome


  • Number of strings: 6-string
  • Special features: Versatile electronics
  • Case: Hardshell case
  • Accessories: None
  • Country of origin: United States

Music Man Axis Super Sport Semi Hollowbody electric guitar review demo

4. The Paul Reed Smith S2 Mira Semi Hollow body guitar

The entire S2 line of guitars by Paul Reed Smith ought to be enough to cause just about anyone to stand up and pump their fists in the air and should hallelujah! It's like Paul Reed Smith decided to give the working class people of the Americas something better than they knew they deserved.

Whether you realize it, or not, dear reader, I'm trying to understate my enthusiasm here. But there has never been a more exciting time to be alive than right now. There has never been a better time to live in this world. Oh, problems are all around us. We're beset on every end. And where we are in the middle of all this, is a land of plenty. We've more access to great food and technological comforts than any generation ever before. Oh, and fine guitars can be mass produced by masters like Paul Reed Smith right here in the USA and sold to you and I for terrific low prices.

The use of CNC machinery is employed on the S2 line of PRS guitars. This allows for the construction to involve far fewer man hours. The labor costs are decreased because of the technology, allowing for the consumers to have superior instruments at such great prices. Let's all take a moment to thank the God of capitalism and innovation, they are one and the same, for these amazing guitars.

Yes, the PRS S2 Mira Semi Hollow Body guitar can be had in more than white finish. The mahogany chambered body, mahogany neck, and familiar rosewood fingerboard with birds in flight inlay positioning markers, combined with low output pickups lead to a warm, harmonic rich tonality so characteristic of all PRS guitars.

I can never say enough about how great is the work of Paul Reed Smith. I can't tell in enough ways how highly I think of his products. But one thing I should point out here is these are not guitars with bridges and tuning machines and pickups already produced by some other manufacturer who specializes in those things. Nope. Paul Reed Smith guitars used pickups made by PRS, bridges made by PRS, tuning machines made by PRS. He is a true industrial hero in every way.

At around fifteen hundred bucks you will be hard pressed to find a comparable guitar. You likely will not find one made in the USA at that price. Here is a brief specifications list:

PRS S2 Mira Semi-Hollow Body guitar features:

  • Body Wood: Mahogany
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Scale Length: 25"
  • Neck Wood: Mahogany
  • Fretboard Wood: Rosewood
  • Fretboard Inlays: Birds
  • Neck Shape Pattern: Regular
  • Bridge: PRS Stoptail
  • Tuners: PRS S2 Locking Tuners
  • Hardware Type: Nickel
  • Treble Pickup: PRS S2 Mira Treble
  • Bass Pickup: PRS S2 Mira Bass
  • Controls: Volume and Push/Pull Tone Control with 3-Way Blade Pickup Switch
  • Gig bag included

Paul Reed Smith S-2 Mira Semi-Hollow Guitar Demo

5. The Taylor T3B Semi Hollow body guitar

Bob Taylor and his Taylor guitars rose up from small time builders to one of the biggest and most prestigious guitar manufacturers not just in the USA, but the entire world. One of the things Taylor guitars did was start to make production model acoustic guitars which more often than not featured a pickup and a pre-amp. Taylor guitars became the standard bearer for acoustic guitars with electronics. So it is little wonder they are now expanding into semi-hollow body electric guitars. It could be viewed as something which was only a matter of time.

The Taylor T3/B Semi Hollow Body guitar is as retro as rockabilly music, and as new as the sunrise. It's retro due to its styling, and by God, it has a Bigsby roller bridge. Hard to get more retro than that. It's new because Taylor just created the thing, and they created it using the tonewoods of today, not yesterday. The back and sides are of sapele, and the top is of maple.

This guitar's clean tones are perfect for jazz, country, or moody rock and roll. But don't be afraid to add some dirt into your signal. You can choose between neck, neck/bridge, and bridge settings, activate a coil-tap for single-coil tones, and even engage a second capacitor for even fatter tone. This means everyone from jazz aficionados to rockers can enjoy the T3/B's attributes - from cool and restrained to crunchy and rude.

The pickups are literally 'secret' in design. Bob Taylor and company are nothing if not innovative. The T3 incorporates enhanced electronics that include coil-splitting activated by pulling up the volume control. Taylor designer David Hosler talked about the thinking that went into the tone control circuit. "Many guitarists have learned not to expect much from a tone control. We decided to do something to make it useful. When pulled up, the T3' tone control adds a second capacitor to the circuit creating a quasi-parametric sweep throughout the range of the control. Players can use the boosted mids to add a little warmth to the single-coil or mellow out the humbuckers for an even jazzier tone without squashing it into a muddy sound."

These guitars come in various finishes. They're priced really well at just under two thousand bucks. These will also offer a bit more volume played completely unplugged than most other semi hollow body guitars. Below is a list of specifications:

Taylor T3B Semi Hollow body guitar features:

  • Body shape: Single cutaway
  • Body type: Semi-hollow or chambered body
  • Body material: Solid wood
  • Top wood: Maple Figured
  • Body wood: Sapele
  • Body finish: Gloss
  • Orientation: Right handed


  • Neck shape: C shallow
  • Neck wood: Sapele
  • Joint: Set-in
  • Scale length: 24.86"
  • Truss rod: Standard
  • Neck finish: Gloss


  • Material: Ebony
  • Radius: 12"
  • Fret size: Medium jumbo
  • Number of frets: 21
  • Inlays: Dot
  • Nut width: 1.687" (42.8mm)


  • Configuration: HH
  • Neck: HD humbucker
  • Middle: Not applicable
  • Bridge: HD humbucker
  • Brand: Taylor
  • Active or passive: Passive
  • Series or parallel: Series
  • Piezo: No
  • Active EQ: No
  • Special electronics: Volume control with coil split


  • Control layout: Master volume, tone
  • Pickup switch: 3-way
  • Coil tap or split: Coil split
  • Kill switch: No
  • Bridge type: Tremolo/Vibrato
  • Bridge design: 6-saddle roller
  • Tailpiece: Bigsby
  • Tuning machines: Taylor nickel
  • Color: Chrome


  • Number of strings: 6-string
  • Special features: Pickups
  • Case: Hardshell case
  • Accessories: None
  • Country of origin: United States

Taylor Guitars - Taylor T3/B - Semi-hollow Electric Guitar Demo by Scott Sill

© 2016 Wesman Todd Shaw


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    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      2 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I would only be able to give an approximation for the weight of any model of guitar. You know how things go - no two pieces of wood are the same. Density varies, and so weight does too.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Any chance of including weight in spec of these wonderfully light guitars ?..


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