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

Shopping for a hollow/semi-hollow electric - any tips? advice?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by SecretSquirrel, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Jul 2, 2015
    A modest windfall came my way, and naturally I'll be buying a guitar. I'm GASsing for a hollow or semi-hollow body electric, mainly for jazz tones, but also just because I haven't had one in ages. I can spend up to about $400.

    There are some candidates around town including a couple of Epiphones I'll be trying. I'm shopping locally because I want to inspect and play before buying. New or used, it just has to sound & feel right to me.

    I know hollow and semi-hollow guitars are rather different animals, and a hollow-body would be okay, e.g. I don't encounter feedback situations.

    So: are there any aspects of these guitar types, or individual makes and models, that I should be checking for? Histories of problems? That sort of thing, and any tips anyone has along these lines.

    Thanks in advance for any knowledge, recommendations, warnings or general thoughts!
  2. ac15

    ac15 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    May 9, 2005
    Based on what you said, I would suggest getting a hollow body, rather than a semi. A semi hollow essentially sounds like a solid body guitar. You say you’re looking for jazz tones and aren’t worried about feedback, so to me that seems like what you’re looking for. They are not the same at all.
    SecretSquirrel likes this.
  3. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Jul 2, 2015
    Thanks for that! Very useful, since for one thing, I'd like it to be on the lighter weight side, and some of those semi-hollows are heavy. Also I'm sure you're quite right about the tonez.
  4. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 16, 2014
    Auburn, California
    I did a lot of research a few years back when I was in the market for a semi-hollow. Go used and you can get a good quality player. Here's what I'd recommend:

    1. Used Epiphone Sheraton from Korea. I had one of these, it was built as well as any Gibson I've ever owned (possibly better) - except the pickups and electronics. Buy one, save up a couple hundred bucks and upgrade the guts at a later time.

    2. Hagstrom. Never played one, but people who own them love them. Supposed to be a ton of guitar for the money.

    3. Used Ibanez AF or AS series. You want to get the 90 series rather than the 70 series. Better pickups, better hardware.

    4. If weight is a factor for you, look at the Epiphone ES339. You can afford this one new. Never plugged one in, but all the ones I've picked up at my local GC felt fantastic.
  5. Boomhauer

    Boomhauer Friend of Leo's

    Aug 18, 2013
    Ibanez. Every time I play one of their semi-hollows, I want one more and more. To me, they feel better than comparable Epiphones. Like most things though, it's about getting your hands on one and seeing how it feels to you.
    Hiker, ce24, tdoty and 6 others like this.
  6. Alex W

    Alex W Friend of Leo's

    I have an old Gibson ES-125T that I love. I keep it strung with flatwounds and it a very sweet sounding instrument. Now you can't get one of those for $400, but The Loar makes a version of it called LH-301T that sells new for about $550. I see one used on GC's website for about $360. I can't necessarily recommend ordering it sight unseen, but I would recommend keeping an eye out for a used one to see what you think of it in person.

    If I were to order a new one, I would order from a place like Elderly Instruments, who will do a nice setup on it.
  7. MDent77

    MDent77 Tele-Holic

    Jun 13, 2016
    New England
    I bought an Ibanez Artcore AF105 years ago and still love it. I tend to change pickups in guitars but found the Custom 58 pickups are sweet. I won't change them. I find the neck very comfortable/fast. These guitars can be had used in the $400/475 range. Just another option!
    mitchfinck and SecretSquirrel like this.
  8. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    +1 on a used Epi Sheraton II from Korea. As dismalhead mentioned, r&r electric components as money is available and you have a great 335 with a great neck.
    SecretSquirrel likes this.
  9. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

    Dec 6, 2015

    I use a very acoustically loud hollowbody, and I've never really had feedback problems. At high volumes in a theater I've had feedback, but it's been the beautiful kind that works like a sustainer. I'll usually roll back the volume and clean it up a bit if I think it's too much. I love having that when I can.

    And you're right, a semi-hollow is really nothing like a full hollow.
    SecretSquirrel likes this.
  10. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    Ibanez and/or most MIJ semis made in the last 35ish years.
  11. adamlovesgin

    adamlovesgin Tele-Holic

    Mar 3, 2016
    North Shields
    Do yourself a HUGE favour and get an Epiphone 335 PRO - Looks fantastic, great player, decent pickups, stays in tune, effortless playability, plus the almost unlimited versatility of a semi with coil-taps. Absolutely huge range of tones.

    ... and all for £299 new. I still can't get over it.

    full details here..
  12. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

    Another vote for Ibanez here, but I have an AS-153 which costs about twice as much even on sale.

    You are quite right to try them yourself. There's a wide range of feel and sound in this niche, especially
    if you are open to both full hollow and semi hollow.

    If you play loud I would avoid full hollow body. Too easy to get this awful, non-musical, howling feedback.
    Then again Ted Nugent was able to manage it so maybe you can, too.

    Semi-hollows have a different character to them, different from a solid body in my opinion. Slightly more prone
    to feedback but a much more musical , controllable feedback. Some of the overtones seem to resonate more so you
    get this wonderful thickness at lower volumes that is just great. If I had to have a single electric guitar
    for everything I like to do on guitar there's a good chance it would be my AS-153. They also sound much
    louder when playing unplugged than a solid body, so it makes for easy noodling without even plugging in.
    SecretSquirrel likes this.
  13. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

    Dec 6, 2015
    Nugent played at profoundly higher stage volumes than most people today. I wish I could get that much feedback, and my hollowbodies are much more acoustically live than most of the ones made today.
    Mostly on new hollowbodies that aren't specifically meant for jazz, I see bridges with moving parts on thick ply tops with heavy pickups mounted near the bridge, which all reduce acoustic volume and feedback. For me, too much so, but maybe you're playing through a dimed halfstack.
    I'm sticking with 60s guitars, but sometimes I check out contemporary budget hollowbodies for a potential backup. I like the Godin 5th Ave, but I'd have to cut a differently compensated bridge for an unwound third string. I like the Epi Broadway or Joe Pass, or Washburn j6 or j7, but I'd have to swap out humbuckers for single coils, and probably ditch the bridge pickup for a cosmetic cover.
    SecretSquirrel likes this.
  14. user34603

    user34603 Tele-Meister

    Dec 5, 2016
    Richmond VA
    ... one I had 2 of is the Epiphone ES339. The first had real Gibson '57 classics ... the other one I cannot recall. But the guitar itself is nice for not much, if used.
    SecretSquirrel likes this.
  15. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Jul 2, 2015
    Wow, thanks everyone for all the excellent advice! I'm making a page of notes to have with me while shopping. I'll be more or less limited to what I can find locally but there should be something appealing.

    I'll be heading to GC, I wonder if they have the Epi 339s in stock...

    I'm intrigued with the Epi 339...especially with the coil splitting (not just tapped, but split), which would extend the range of tones. As far as the more jazzy tone, I like what I'm hearing in this video at 5:44:

    And just for what it's worth, I'm avoiding vibrato arms/Bigsby's etc.; just don't need or want it for this (envisioned) guitar; too many moving parts, as they say! (I use whammy extensively for some styles but prefer stoptail or trapeze for this.)
    zippofan likes this.
  16. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Jul 2, 2015
    Sigh...looking at video reviews & demos and running into the usual problem of reviewers playing with distortion. Reviewers, please!—I just want to hear what the guitar sounds like!

    Even the official Epiphone demo video has too much gain plus what sounds like a chorus effect.

    Kudos to the guy in the video above for showing what the guitar sounds like.
  17. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

    I had an Epiphone Joe Pass and that thing howled like a banshee with any gain, even at relatively moderate volumes.

    Make sure to play a Godin 5th Ave before you pull the trigger-- it was on my list and the ones I played didn't do anything for me at all.

    Eastman guitars are real nice, too. Check out their website linked below. They make laminate tops if you want more damping of feedback, and solid tops if you want more resonance.
    They make bigger bodies and smaller bodies. Every Eastman I've ever picked up has blown me away at the price point. I'd expect to pay 2x or 3x as much for the quality I'm getting.
    dr_tom and SecretSquirrel like this.
  18. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA
    I agree that semi hollows just sound like solid bodies to me. I don’t see the point of them, other than looks.

    The thing you get with a good hollow body is a different kind of attack and decay. You can sort of mimic it if you have a light touch, but a hollow body has a thunk on the note and a shorter sustain that I love.

    A big jazz box-you can’t beat that sound. I have an old 16 inch guild artist award. It’s a great sounding guitar but just sitting down with it is kind of a commitment. It’s big. I made a series of completely hollow telecaster to try to get some of the sound of a hollow body in the form of a tele. It worked pretty well. In my opinion an experienc he whole thing in the attack/decay.

    I’d maybe look at some of the loars, or Ibanez
    SecretSquirrel likes this.
  19. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Jul 2, 2015
    Here's a good jazzy demo of a Epihone 339...I could live with this tone :)

    He says it's pretty much 'straight in' with the tone rolled back a bit.
    howardlo likes this.
  20. Piggy Stu

    Piggy Stu Friend of Leo's

    Feb 26, 2017
    Amazed no one has said a Casino. Those Beatles Boys knew they were great

    P90s/light/cheep/even good unplugged. Coupe version as well
    zippofan, Omiewise65, Quinn23 and 5 others like this.
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