Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Semi-hollow questions

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by lammie200, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 11, 2013
    San Francisco
    I am not sure this the right section for this question, but I will give it a go. Also, I am not knocking semi-hollows, I just want to understand why people like them.

    Questions are:

    What is the allure of a semi-hollow like a Tele thinline or a 335 when it is essentially a planked neck/center block solid body? Are you really getting anything substantial from an acoustical standpoint that is different from a solid body? Is it just the reduction in weight and the aesthetics that do it for you?

  2. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 7, 2016
    Smyrna georgia
    First off I preffer light guitars hollow or not they are the ones that sound best to me..
    Now if you take a 335 and comparison it to a LP and a Strat, you will find it sonically fits right in the middle of the LP fat and Strat thin.
    I recon that alone makes them popular.
    I think the semi hollow design removes some frequency from the spectrum. It's not 'acoustic' it is 'cut out' if you will.
    Course they do sound louder unplugged and make great lap axes.
    lammie200 likes this.

  3. BryMelvin

    BryMelvin Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 4, 2014
    Arivaca AZ
    There is a big difference structurally between a 335 and a semi tele. The tele is a partially hollowed out slab with a top laid on it. the 335 is two thin laminated maple arched front and back pieces with a center block glued in between.

    A 330 type or full hollow is similar to the 335 but instead of a full center block there is more hollow space, often with just an acoustic guitar neck joint, and a structure under the bridge (sometimes) more resembling a violin soundpost than a block.

    Some brands of semi hollow fall somewhere in between, CArvin for example has semi hollows with carved arch tops and structure more like the semi hollow tele. ES les pauls too.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017
    brookdalebill and lammie200 like this.

  4. Artslap

    Artslap Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Mar 17, 2014
    Sydney, Australia
    The answer to your questions is Yes and yes. They are different from solid body guitars.

    Personally I like them because I can hear them unplugged, and the thinner body sits better with me than a conventional acoustic.

    Aesthetics are subjective, but I think they are among the coolest looking guitars ever built

    Big fan.


  5. Sunnyd_lite

    Sunnyd_lite TDPRI Member

    Jan 31, 2017
    So Cal
    What is the allure of solid bodies? Aren't they just semi hollow slabs without the semi hollow around them?
    Piggy Stu, Felino, jayyj and 2 others like this.

  6. rhcole

    rhcole TDPRI Member

    May 12, 2017
    Petaluma, CA
    I am a big fan of thinlines and hollow-body guitars. They have more "wood" in the sound to my ears, meaning that the acoustic properties of the body translate into a noticeable difference in how they sound. And yes, they also tend to be lighter guitars.
    markeyd123, Piggy Stu, 41144 and 4 others like this.

  7. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Thinlines are the toughest Teles to get a good sound from.
    brookdalebill and lammie200 like this.

  8. John E

    John E Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 17, 2003
    I love (and prefer) thinlines. never have a problem getting good tone, and love the sound acoustically. There is nothing like the whomp of air you get through an f-hole when you are cranking during a gig. So inspiring...
    lammie200 likes this.

  9. ZenGuitarist

    ZenGuitarist Tele-Holic

    Jul 25, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    I own two semi-hollowbodies (Epi Dot and Guild Starfire V) and one hollowbody (Guild Aristocrat), and yes, they are substantially different from playing a solid body.

    There's no real weight savings with my semi-hollows but my Aristocrat weighs in at a mere 4.8 lbs. and that's really noticeable. Not to mention that its Franz P90's sound amazing.

    I don't know how to best explain this but with the top guitars in my collection (and my Aristocrat is currently my Number Three) there's just a certain synergy I get when I play them that goes beyond what you would normally expect.

    If you don't feel it when playing a semi-hollow or full-hollow, then no harm, no foul. They're just not for you.
    Piggy Stu and lammie200 like this.

  10. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 21, 2012
    My Epi Sheraton semi-hollow is a pound heavier than my strat or tele. To me a more versatile sounding guitar than solid bodies and I love the unique sounds that come from one. The thin line tele is something too similar sounding to the solidbody version for me, but it is my step daughter's favorite. A hollow body or even a "thin line" hollowbody like the Casino are completely different beasts in my book.
    Piggy Stu and lammie200 like this.

  11. jaybones

    jaybones Friend of Leo's

    @ lammie200 If you'd every tried to play a 335 on stage in front of a cranked amp you'd realize that (in that guitar's, and other's cases) its more like an acoustic. Feedback is a very real problem with these.

    The thinline is more a chambered solid body in construction.
    lammie200 likes this.

  12. MrGibbly

    MrGibbly Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 19, 2014
    I really love having a semi in my collection. In my case it's a vintage Starcaster. It really rings out playing acoustically which is nice for quiet practice. Plugged in, it doesn't have the sustain of my Les Paul but it has much more definition and note separation. It never slurs like a drunk on fast runs, or devolves into muddy mush when chording. It has a quick attack with different harmonics and a different decay than the LP. Resonance and sustain aren't the same thing, to my ear, and that lends the semi a certain open/airy quality. Lastly, (and this might just be me hearing things...) I sense something that reminds me of the way an acoustic top generates a kind of subtle compression when played hard. I'm sure some of these characteristics can be partially attributed to the wide range pickups but most of these things I hear also from 335s that I've played over the years. I can't hear as much difference from thin lines, ES LPs, or the semi hollow PRS S2s.
    lammie200 likes this.

  13. zhyla

    zhyla TDPRI Member

    Aug 30, 2013
    Northern Hemisphere
    I really like how the 335 shaped guitars feel. That wide body contacts a lot of your body which helps keep it super steady while playing. That's not a huge deal but it feels nice.
    lammie200 likes this.

  14. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 16, 2014
    Auburn, California
    I picked up an Epi Sheraton a few years back. It was immensely different from any sold body electric I've ever played. It had acoustical properties - if you played it unplugged you could hear the resonation. Not anything like an acoustic, but not anything like a solid body either. The pickups sounded deeper and warmer too. The construction definitely changes things.
    Piggy Stu, lammie200 and Obsessed like this.

  15. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Mar 3, 2003
    Μine is not tough at all,in fact it might be the best sounding tele I've ever had and I've had more than 50 (yes I know,I know....)

    Piggy Stu and lammie200 like this.

  16. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    Here's my take.

    First, I like a wide variety of guitars, from Teles and Strats, to Les Pauls, and Gibson archtops, both hollow and semi. Gretsch. Martin.

    I owned a AV69 Thinline. The only things I liked were the cosmetics, build quality, and the neck. Gorgeous and felt great. That's a lot! Which is why I kept it as long as I did. But even after swapping out the horrible 1M pots, and trying at least four sets of quality pickups, most of which I had liked in other Teles... I gave up. Definitely just a solid body Fender with an F-hole. Like a Tele, but didn't sound as good. Sounded "weak".

    On the other hand, the 335 is the farthest thing from "planked neck / center block solid body". It's a full hollow archtop, with a block. By the way, that maple block is heavy. The guitar weighs slightly over 8.5 lbs, so lightweight is not one of the features.

    The maple, whether it's the body laminate, or the block, adds clarity and snap. Piano-like attack. Like playing a baby grand.

    Even though they obviously sound different, I'd describe my 335 and Martins in similar terms: fundamental, articulate, balanced, incredibly resonant, with amazing craftsmanship.

    The angle of the neck, and the upper fret access make it a dream to play.

    I have guitars that cost more, and that are theoretically nicer. I have guitars that I occasionally like more. And it's not always the tone I want, and sometimes I don't feel like hugging the big body. But the 335 is consistently the best guitar I own. No question.
    Piggy Stu, lammie200 and Obsessed like this.

  17. ebb soul

    ebb soul Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 7, 2016
    Smyrna georgia
    Mr Gibbley said it best. note seperation and definition.
    But everyone seems to refer to semi hollows as acoustic. And that's not really right.
    And 335 and thin line are quite comparable when compared to their solid cousins.
    I regular tele does sound 'fuller' than a thinline, as does a Paul to a 335.
    There seems to me to be a scoop in the EQ of these guitars, some frequency missing, that actually helps make them sound sussinct, plugged in.
    It is not top vibration. It is less mass. This is not an acoustic fundamental. I'm quite certain they thought it would be when designed as a stop gap for feedback from the full hollow arch tops of jazz/ big band days.
    You know they designed the LP as the final answer to quell sustain and feedback.
    Big fat fail. ten years passed and a new generation were using The Paul for feedback and sustain.
    The semi hollow is a similar 'happy accident', not a 'semi acoustic electric', they just happen to have some small acoustic properties as a sidebar. The lighter weight is another + but not the point either.
    I'm shure the air inside creates some bloom,if played super loud or to close to the amp, but I don't think that makes them fundamentally 'acoustic', or it would show itself more readily in normal playing.
    Nor are the 335/thinline fundamentally different, because if you made a thinline with a ply top and back, it would still behave as the typical thinline, and it has been said that most people don't hear much difference between laminate semi Es type guitars and their more expensive solid wood top and backed custom variants.
    I don't, for one. So I save the big bucks and play the laminate ES. (339)
    lammie200 and Obsessed like this.

  18. Huey666

    Huey666 Tele-Meister

    Aug 23, 2016
    Manchester, UK
    I started playing semi hollows basically because I just thought they looked cool.

    And that remains a big part of the appeal. But i agree with a lot of comments above about their unique sound / vibe. The more Ive played them the more Ive appreciated that. Still also like strats, teles, LPs etc can only play one at a time right?

  19. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    Interesting. I definitely hear a difference, though obviously not the same exact model. Like, I haven't played the Collings I-35 and I-35 LC back to back. But in general, I much prefer the Gibson style laminate (maple/poplar/maple). Not sure if I hear the poplar, but I like the formula, and the maple snap. The "nicer" carved bodies are not worse (and definitely not better to my ear), just different. Perhaps I'm conditioned by so many years hearing laminate Gibsons, but it's the sound I prefer.

  20. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

    Dec 3, 2014
    Toowoomba, Australia
    I have had one semi-hollow, an '82 Westone Rainbow I. It was very well made, but it lacked sustain in the high registers, so I would not buy another s-h. OTOH, I would have a chambered design fro weight saving. - I classify Thinline teles and the like as chambered, not semi-hollow.
    Piggy Stu likes this.

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