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Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Wooly Fox, Sep 20, 2021.
Kinda mad they don't call them ES-Pauls.
Of course I also think Squier Esquires should be Esquiers.
Recentl dipped my toe into "Vintage brand" guitars. This brand is built in China and owned/designed by a UK company. Apparently Trey Wilkinson has had a hand in the design (etc) and the hardware including pickups are Wilkinson brand. The build quality and the play quality outshines the other "under $1K" semi-hollows I have played or owned. I have owned several Epi semis, including Dots and ES 339s, and this plays better and holds tune better than all of them. It is a little heavier, and weighs about 8.5 pounds, which is more than any of the Epis, but the sound and quality is way better in my own opinion. Just another direction to look, if you can find one. This one is a "VSA500CR". Epi hard cases fit them perfectly. Just my two cents...OK, maybe more than that.
I scratched the gotta-have-a-hollow-body-itch by grabbing, on sheer impulse, an MIK Gretsch Electromatic (which was relatively inexpensive at the time). The problem is that now I want a MIJ Gretsch. Newman!
I also picked up a 335 copy and installed '57 Classics. That scratched my itch for a Gibson 335 because I find the body a tad uncomfortable when I'm not standing.
I had a Gibson 347 (335 with added tone options), but felt it was just too big and heavy. I now have a Gibson CS 336, which is very comfortable and lightweight. It looks like a three-quarter size 335, has a nice fast neck with access to upper frets. Similar to a 339 except the top and body are both carved, with a center block. And the tone is often described as between a 335 and a Les Paul. Jon Herington of Steely Dan plays one of these.
My other semi hollow is a Chinese made Gibson modern player thin line with P 90s. It was cheap, but pretty well-made, and lightweight. I've replaced the pots and tuners because they were junk. I also upgraded the pick ups, although the originals weren't bad. I think it sounds great now.
As many have suggested, the best thing to do is play as many guitars as possible. We all like different things, as they say--'Different strokes for different folks...'
At the moment, I own a thin-line Strat, a thin-line Tele, a Collings SoCo 16 LC Deluxe (ES-335 type), a Gibson ES-330, and a Heritage H-530 (ES-330 type, fully hollow). I don't notice a lot of difference in tone between a solid body and a sem-hollow Strat/tele, though they are lighter. I love my Collings, but my favorites are the fully hollow ES-330 types. However, they're difficult to manage in a live setting if it's too loud.
I have a Wildkat Royale and I absolutely love it. Got it for $450 used.
playing is the only recommendation i have. they all feel so different.
I love my Gibson 2015 ES Les Paul. It's one of the few Lemonbursts that came with double creme dimarzios (which I prefer to the Gibson MHS). Great resonance, feel and playability (if you are comfortable tweaking an LP model guitar). I find Gibsons require tweaking/maintenance but if you can tweak it to your linking you will love it.
Rickenbacker 330 is worth trying out. One of my favorite guitars.
I likewise felt the need for a semi-hollow in my collection, just wasn’t budgeted for a Gibson 335…enter the new Epiphone “Inspired by Gibson” line, and their newly introduced Figured 335. The build quality on this $700 guitar is exceptional, and although the stock Alnico pickups aren’t bad, I went ahead and dropped in a pair of Duncan 59’s that I had laying around. I own and love many guitars, some Premium and some budget (if they look, play and sound good, I’m in!)…this is fast becoming a fave! Good luck with your search!
I also have an ES-335 Pro and an ES-339 Pro. I love them both. I purchased them preowned because I wanted a semi-hollow also, and originally I wanted a Reverend, but I got both of these for just about half the price of a used Reverend.
Great that there is no shortage of suggestions here! Fun reading. Here is my unconventional last purchase: The Eastwood Backlund Rockerbox DLX. Looks like an old Buick.
One review (not mine)
Received one of these in Black/Mint about 5 months ago. Different from the red one here primarily in having Ebony rather than Maple fingerboard. It has the most powerful and crystal clear tone in the humbuckers of any center block semi-hollow thin body I have had my hands on. I have played as comparison several Gibson ES 335s as well as having owned a number of Epiphone, Guild, Gretch, Washburn and Ibanez in this general style over time. I was also pleasantly surprised by the Rockerbox' strong acoustic projection for this style body. It quickly became my favorite and is now the basis for judging any other similar guitar I play. It has a shorter neck than a true double cut 335 body style with the neck to body at the15th vs 21st fret but the cutaway makes lower neck access to 21st fret easy anyway. If you come from acoustic guitars like I do, it is almost the same feel as my J50 acoustic but with lower electric guitar string action. Roller bridge keeps it in tune with using the Bigsby but if you lubricate the nut as well it helps. I would find another if something happened to the one I own now. It is a permanent keeper.
I built a semi hollow tele style with p90s. It sounds and plays great. I also have a 335 and a '52 Tele copy I built, but prefer the sound of this tele. If you can get your hands on one of these bodies, they make a great platform for your build.
Be sure not to get your toe caught in a "F" hole- it's embarrassing! Don't ask me how I know...
I agree re the Epi 339, the stock humbuckers are very decent and they can be split to give even more tonal options.
Ergonomically friendly should be your first goal....They feel extremely different from one another, so test drive as many as possible. There are many choices
I'll throw a hearty 2 thumbs up for a Godin 5th Avenue. Made in Canada with North American Cherry, full hollow, P90's, reasonable price and good build quality. At first I didn't care for the D shaped neck, but it was easy to get used to, and now I prefer it. I've gigged a lot with it and my back loves that it's a couple lbs lighter than my Tele and a few lbs lighter than an Epi LP I just got. Body is a nice size (not too large), and it's very comfortable playing 3 sets. I love the P90's. I'm saving for another hollow or semi-hollow, and another Godin is definitely it short list.
Something I think is obvious but I didn't see it mentioned yet (yes, I looked through every entry but might have missed something) -- which guitarists do you like who play semi-hollows? What kind of sound are they getting that you would like to get?
Just a few examples of some famous ones, and I'm not trying to cover all their guitars:
Chuck Berry played an ES335, ES350 and ES355 (which was buried with him)
Clapton played an ES335 and a Gibson Byrdland
BB King played a Gibson Byrdland, an ES175, an ES335, and an ES345
George Thorogood played an Epiphone ES125 White Fang
George Harrison played the Rickenbacker 360 12-string and an ES345
I'm not sure who played the Gretsch semi-hollows.
Who's playing the tones you like? There are lots of others to listen to.
This is an important point: What are you trying to accomplish? All of us saying, "I like this or that" isn't practical until you frame it in terms of who YOU are. Generally,
*ES335 is THE classic rock / blues semi, wide bodied and full sounding.
*Rickenbackers are heavy with a unique neck + Beatles/Byrds/Petty chime.
*Gretsch has those filtrons, and always sounds to me like Chet and George; they come both wide-body and parlor-sized.
*ES175, etc, are 3" deep hollowbodies you've heard played 1,000 times by Steve Howe and jazzers.
*MOST others are variations on these types.
After choosing a family you can decide
*body size (width, depth, weight),
*pickups (PAF, P90s, Filtrons, high gain?)
*unique touches you like.
After playing lots of semis I wanted a 335, couldn't afford it, bought an Ibanez artcore, upgraded to a 90s MIK Epi Dot, added '57s, and my guitar tech never wants to give it back. Says he'd take it over most 335s he works on, and I'm all in for $500.
But at church this Sunday I'm playing a song that's begging to sound more like the Beatles and I wish I had a Gretsch (or a Rick 12!!). It's a world of trade offs, and that's why you ought to play as many as possible.
The Epi Dots get a lot of love but my experience is that the Gibson ES 335s are a huge step up in feel, sound and quality. If you decide to shop Epiphone, try a few.
I’ve not had chance to try one but the Eastmans look like a good option, too. The workmanship looked good on the ones I’ve seen in person.