Whether you’re searching for your first electric guitar or considering an upgrade, you have two general choices. A solid-body guitar, which is typically considered more rock and blues-oriented, or a hollow-body, seen most frequently in jazz music. The hybrid semi-hollow body acts as a midpoint between these two.
Based on your style of playing and the tone you seek, understanding the differences between solid and hollow-body electric guitars will better direct your search for the perfect guitar.
What Is a Hollow-Body Guitar?
Based on acoustic instruments and the earliest electric guitar offerings, the hollow-body electric guitar has a fully hollow interior. You’ll spot F-holes on one or both sides of the top but you won’t see a center block when looking inside – if you see a center block inside the guitar, it’s a semi-hollow body.
For your own sound, a hollow-body electric guitar has multiple distinctive characteristics:
- They tend to sound the closest to an acoustic, with a loud and clear tone as you strum the instrument, even without an amplifier. The clearer sound is ideal for practicing unamplified, a benefit if you live in a shared space.
- A hollow-body guitar tends to deliver a clean, precise and warm, yet soft tone.
- They also tend to be lighter and more comfortable to play standing up.
- The control knobs included offer additional tone-shaping possibilities by reducing overall output and limiting treble frequencies.
- Many of today’s hollow-body instruments continue to replicate arch-top guitar designs from the era before amplifiers became popular.
- Hollow-body guitars are not ideal for the heavy distortion playing that’s typical of rock and heavy metal music. They are easily susceptible to generating feedback with an amplifier, especially within the upper frequency range.
- To reduce feedback, you’ll need to experiment with the controls on the amplifier and possibly with the guitar’s body size. Some players opt for a narrower, thinner hollow-body guitar for this reason.
What Is a Solid-Body Guitar?
From classic rock to punk and heavy metal, solid body guitars are typically heard in various rock genres. Each instrument generally consists of three pieces of solid wood, plus the electromagnetic pickups and controls. Wood quality plays a role; denser materials result in a more focused and sustained sound.
Popular solid body guitars include Fender’s Telecaster and Stratocaster models, as well as Gibson’s Firebird and Les Paul. As the dominant type of electric guitar, solid bodies have a few advantages:
- They are ideal for use with higher gain amplifiers and/or effects pedals.
- Feedback is comparably minimal to what you hear from hollow-body guitars, which results in easier-to-control, more consistent sounds.
- Higher-pitched, trebly sounds emerge with greater clarity. However, the bass and mid-range can be limited and don’t always deliver the warmth of jazz and blues.
- They come in a range of shapes and sizes, as the instrument does not need a hollow interior or F-holes.
- While solid-body electric guitars are a staple of rock and metal, they are versatile enough to be used for other genres such as blue and country.
- While the solid body adds more weight, these instruments tend to be shaped for comfort and ergonomic playability.
What About Semi-Hollow-Body Guitars?
Semi-hollow bodies provide the best of both worlds for many players, albeit with a sound closer to a full hollow-body. They consist of two separate hollowed out portions of the body with F-holes or another opening for airflow, a center block to better control feedback and a sound channel for connectivity between internal portions.
Semi-hollow body guitars:
- Are less likely to experience feedback than a hollow-body, while still providing a warm, rich tone.
- Fit a range of genres, most prominent in rockabilly, alternative and indie rock for their crisper resonance.
- Deliver the precise tone of a hollow-body with the resonance and ability to sustain notes like a solid-body does.
- Are becoming the dominant form of hollow-body guitars, thanks to a wood center block that helps mitigate feedback and allows for broader use of the amplifier.
Are you searching for a new electric guitar? Explore our selection at DuBaldo Music Center, including semi-hollow, hollow-body and solid-body guitars, at our Manchester store today.