Dipping a toe into semi hollow guitars

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Wooly Fox, Sep 20, 2021.

  1. Wooly Fox

    Wooly Fox TDPRI Member

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    I feel I need a semi hollow guitar in my life though not sure where to start.

    Been watching a few videos to get some idea of what tones/looks I like and wanted some more feedback for what I should be looking for.

    I currently have an MM Albert Lee, AO 70s Telecaster Custom and Squire Telecaster modified. Mostly playing blues, classic rock and grunge/90s alternative.

    Most interesting to me so far are the Gretsch Falcon and Gibson 335. Also like the Duesenbergs and Godin guitars but cannot try these where I am.

    If there was a AO Telecaster Thinline with proper WHRB then I would be all over it. I like the filterton sound so think Gretsch if the front runner so far.

    Look forward to seeing your suggestions.
     
  2. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    The absolute best thing you can do is play a bunch before you buy. Yeah, opinions from others about playability and tone help, but there's no substitute for getting a guitar in your hands to try it.

    I mention this because the ergonomics of many semis are vastly different from what you may be used to playing. Most have larger bodies and you have to reach around them to play 'em. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's a very personal thing.
     
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  3. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's

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    The Epiphone ES-335 Pro's are supposed ot be very good, and I've seen great prices on used ones. An ES-335 is probably what you're thinking of if you think "semi-hollow".

    [​IMG]

    There are also 339's if you prefer something smaller.

    [​IMG]

    And of course there are various Gibson models of the same.

    The Ibanez Artcore Series also gets a lot of praise. Couldn't tell you which are hollow vs. semi, though.

    And of course there are tons more options the higher your budget goes.

    I have a Reverend Tricky Gomez that I love:

    1.jpg

    The pickups look Filter'Tron-like (they're even called Rev'Trons), though I"ve bsince been told that spec-wise they're more like mini-humbuckers. Pretty cool regardless. Between various Tricky Gomez models and their Manta Ray models, Reverend has a few semi-hollow options with different pickups, headstocks and trem/hardtail.

    My (admittedly limited) experience with semi-hollows (which seems borne out by others here) is that there isn't a huge tonal difference with a solid body, though the louder you play the more you can take advantage of pretty controllable feedback. It's great to feel the guitar "breathe" against your arm.

    I've read here before that the semi-hollow Tele's don't give as much of that, perhaps due to their smaller size (and therefore less hollow room) compared to most of semi's. I've never played one myself though, so no personal thoughts on that, or any idea how common the notion is.

    Good luck! A nice semi-hollow is its own kind of cool.
     
  4. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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    The new thinlines get a lot of love. If you don’t like pu swap out. The Gretch and 335 are totally different animals. All 3 are. I like them all but for different stuff.
     
  5. Wooly Fox

    Wooly Fox TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for that, I know it's entirely subjective and each to their own but wanted to try and narrow down what makes/models I should be looking at.

    Only hollow body I have tried was an Ibanez Artcore Jazz Box going cheap in my nearest guitar store. Felt massive and I didn't like the pickups at all.
     
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  6. tenthstreet

    tenthstreet Tele-Meister

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    I’ve also been looking at semi or hollowbodies - started to think about it, and decided to save it for actually trying things out at a shop. I’m all over the map between a Gretsch (like the 5422TG), an Epiphone Casino (“hey, what about a P90!?!,” and so on.
     
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  7. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    do you mean a falcon with a center block? the original falcons are fully hollow.

    i think you should go for 335 style. the construction is its own thing - sort of built like an archtop but with a center block. an es-135 is pretty cool too, with a balsa center block, a little thicker than a trad thinline hollow and sounds a little closer to a real hollow (though still sounds like a semi). underrated guitar, they don't seem to get much love, you could probably pick one of those RIs up for an okay price too (sub 2k).

    a tele thinline-style is just a hollowed out block of wood with another layer of wood slapped on. it's cool, i like them, but it's not really the same thing at all.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2021
  8. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

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    +1
    I was going to mention that as well. The formed back and top really make it a different animal than a chambered Tele type guitar -- the rest (centerblock) and all being roughly equivalent.
     
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  9. Wooly Fox

    Wooly Fox TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for the Thinline info, never seen one in person to try. Played a Cabronita and loved the pickups just couldn't see how it would have fitted into my playing style and ended up with the 70s Tele Custom.

    I need to try a 335 and 135 if I can find somewhere that has them in stock.
     
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  10. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    oh even the center block is different, in the 335 (or 135) it's a separate piece sandwiched between spruce braces glued to the top. the thinline is really more of a "chambered" tele.
     
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  11. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    ABBA992B-DD46-4D50-96AD-4CC45B56CAAA.jpeg D57467B1-284F-4836-8BA8-F72CEE532581.jpeg 96107409-4A5F-43F8-A111-723785CE6B2E.jpeg Here’s mine.
    The Chet is fully hollow.
    It has no center block.
    It also sounds best, IMO.
    The semi hollow Duesenberg sounds almost as good, and has much better upper fret access.
    Both tremolo systems work perfectly.
    The 1981 MIJ Washburn is also cool.
    It’s the only string-through semi hollow I’ve ever seen.
    Anyways, semi-hollow guitars have a cool, unique tone.
    Whatever you get, consider TV Jones pickups.
    They sound incredible, IMO.
     
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  12. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Friend of Leo's

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    Play a bunch. Dont buy a Gretsch without a tremelo.

    That's the big important pieces I think.
     
  13. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    yeah, it definitely depends on how you play. i'm a small guy and i don't play from the arm much, so i park my elbow right up on the side. but i can see if you play more with your arm you can run into the same problem with pain/pinching some people get with dreadnoughts.
     
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  14. Willie Johnson

    Willie Johnson Tele-Afflicted

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    I scratched this itch with a Squier Starcaster Classic Vibe. 25.5" scale length, WRHB pickups, and maple fingerboard make for a more familiar platform if you're coming from other Fender-ish guitars.
     
  15. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Many folks overlook the ES339. I like a smaller body, so I am partial to those & Tele Thinline as far as semi-hollows go.
     
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  16. Wooly Fox

    Wooly Fox TDPRI Member

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    I always like the Duesenbergs apart from the pickguard (says a Custom owner). D'Angelico is another I've seen pop up.[​IMG]
     
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  17. Controller

    Controller Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Play some hollowbody and semi-hollows to get a sense of what they give you tonally. I agree the ES339 is a really nice package for a semi-hollow. My favorite is a hollowbody with Filtertron type of pickups, green one below, red one is an ES339, white is Cabronita.

    IMG_20210601_210540611.jpg
     
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  18. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Epiphone Wildkats and Alleykats are also good, inexpensive options.
    The Wildcat has dogear P90s and a Bigsby.
    The Alleykat has the same body style (slightly bigger than a Les Paul), but with bridge humbucker and neck mini-humbucker.
    I prefer Akkeykats, but YRMV.
    The Alleykat is out of production but the Wildkat is still made.
    You can find em’ on CL used for $250-400.
    I prefer the somewhat older MIK ones to the later MIC ones.
    Good luck!
     
  19. Telecaster88

    Telecaster88 Tele-Afflicted

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    I have an Epi ES-339 Pro, and I absolutely love it, totally stock. Paid $350 for it. Last weekend I was at Dave's, and got to play a "real" Gibson 335 for the first time. It was a great guitar, no doubt, but was it 14x the $$ as great as my Chinese Epi? Not in my opinion. But your cash situation may be different.

    I've said before, that Epi is like a time machine to 1966. Fantastic, vintage sounding guitar.

    I also have an MIM Classic 72 Thinline, and in my experience you can definitely hear the airiness in it vs a standard solid body Tele, but it's a very different animal than an ES type guitar.

    Good luck!
     
  20. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I agree, what turns me off after buying some hollow/semi's is the ergonomics. It ain't your Strat or Tele comfort wise for play a 3 hour night...
    I wanted to buy a Peerless Epi Emperor for years and found a super nice one. I played one gig and realized I cant play that big guitar and sold it!

    The Epi Johnny A is a superb guitar, not too big and very nice. My neighbor bought one a little while back.
    My Ibanez George Benson is great, not a huge body or too thick, the Johnny A is similar.
    We compared them playing together, man those two guitars are both very much the same ....but look very different.
    [​IMG]
    Sheratons , 335's etc are nice, be aware, they are quite heavy!
    I had a Gretsch Streamliner that I liked a lot. Bigger than the Geo Benson but pretty comfy. I sold it when I got the Benson, but sometimes wish I had kept it also. I liked it much better than the Peerless Epi Sheraton I tried for a while.
    [​IMG]
     
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