9 Best Hollow Body Guitars (2020) – Perfect Playability & Tone

Updated on by Ross McLeod | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

Hollow body guitars are known for their resonance, and ability to produce thick tones that are ideal for chord progressions. Not to mention, they often boast stunning designs that set them apart from other electric guitars.

When deciding on the right hollow body guitar for your style of playing, it's important to consider the materials, pickups, and unique features on offer.

Best Hollow Body Guitars - My Top Picks

If you’re looking for smooth playability and clear projection, the G5422TG by Gretsch offers both in abundance. With its double-cutaway design, this hollow-body guitar remains true to the highly-sought-after Gretsch twang.

Littered with high-end features and components, the G5422TG looks like a guitar made half a century ago. Authenticity is a quality closely associated with Gretsch, so it's no surprise that they have managed to pull this off.

With vintage-voiced Black Top humbucker pickups, the guitar produces a warm, immersive sound. These pickups are great for rhythm guitar, as they enhance the thickness of grouped notes.

The addition of an Adjusto-matic bridge makes this guitar versatile, and capable of playing in a variety of tunings. The aesthetics are complemented nicely by a Bigsby B60 tailpiece, which also sprinkles pitch modulation in the signature Gretsch way.

A three-way pickup selector further improves the versatility of the G5422TG, with the neck pickup adding snarl to your output and the bridge pickup slightly warmer and less tinny-sounding.

The gold hardware installed on this hollow body guitar completes the vintage look, and with four added controls for adjusting the master volume and tonal properties of the guitar, you can adjust it to your liking.

  • Bright-sounding humbucker pickups
  • Signature Gretsch slight pitch modulation
  • Produces smooth vibrato
  • Vintage aesthetics
  • None

The SE line has brought the impeccable performance of PRS’ guitars into a more affordable format, while still retaining the unquestionable qualities that make them some of the most highly sought after instruments.

The SE Hollowbody II has the revered piezo system installed; ensuring that the legendary PRS tone is successfully translated. Tonally, the Hollowbody II covers all genres and styles, with many variations possible within the guitar's performance.  

Featuring a figured maple top and back combined with classy mahogany sides, the projection of this guitar is second to none. In fact, it has such a powerful voice that you can play it unamplified and still hear all of the notes clearly.

The Hollowbody II also has a Wide Fat mahogany set neck for added comfort and playability. Its exceptional ebony fingerboard makes chords and melodies a joy to play, and with the iconic PRS bird inlays, it looks the part too.

A pair of tone-promoting 58/15 S humbucking pickups have been installed on this guitar. These pickups can bite when the time is right, or produce warm breakups ideal for rhythm guitarists. 

  • Extra-wide neck enhances the midrange
  • Piezo pickup
  • Sturdy maple top and back
  • Extremely resonant tone
  • The wide neck may not be suited to small-handed guitarists

The Ibanez Artcore AG75 is a beautifully designed hollow body guitar with striking gloss-finished red aesthetics. The linden body of the AG75 is marginally thinner than that of your standard hollow body, resulting in a mid-range boost and less unwanted bass frequencies.

There’s a useful 3-way pickup selector that offers a range of humbucking tones, provided by the pair of Classic Elite pickups. For further tonal and dynamics adjustment, Ibanez has fitted independent volume and tone controls for the bridge and neck pickups.

The sound produced by the humbuckers is well-adept at producing thick, luscious blues tones. Combined with a distortion pedal or a tube amplifier, this ax is capable of red-hot, gained-draped solos.

With 22 medium-sized frets and an extensive scale inch measuring just less than 25 inches, the Artcore AG75G is spacious enough for complex blues riffs and chords. It produces a good amount of sustain for those rung out notes too.

The neck is constructed from solid and smooth nyotah, a material that is known for its longevity. Additionally, the laurel fingerboard is extremely playable and responds well to the dynamics of your playing with absolute precision.

  • Slightly thinner body for midrange boost
  • Smooth laurel fingerboard
  • Dual Classic Elite Humbuckers for thick tone
  • Produces plenty of sustain
  • The thinner body makes the guitar feel lightweight

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of playing a D’Angelico electric guitar, you’ll know just how incredible these instruments feel, and sound. The Excel EXL-1 is a top-notch blues axe with a unique and exceptional tone.

Fitted with a Seymour Duncan mini-humbucker that delivers everything from relaxed jazz tones to bluesy twangs, the EXL-1 is the type of guitar that makes you wonder how you survived without it!

In terms of the materials used by D’Angelico, as you’d expect, they are all of the highest standards. For this reason, the guitar even sounds powerful and resonant unplugged. The flame maple body is coated in laminate, giving it character in abundance. 

Then there’s the spruce top, which adds warm coloration to the guitar’s tone. Inspired by their earliest models, D’Angelico has employed the classic set “C” neck which is easy to navigate with your fretting hand.

The neck is made from a 3-piece combination of maple and walnut and leads to the 22-fret pau ferro fingerboard. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, there’s also an ebony wood bridge and bone nut at either end of the guitar to add even more clarity and definition to the output.

The Floating Duncan mini-humbucker is responsible for the versatile amplified tones that emerge from the EXL-1. Custom wound to ensure perfect interaction with the guitar, these pickups have a fairly low DC resistance that adds sensitivity to your output.

  • Pays homage to the original John D’Angelico archtop guitar
  • Combination of laminated spruce and maple for improved acoustic response
  • 3-piece, robust neck
  • None

If there’s one thing that Epiphone is best known for, it’s their selection of hollow body guitars. Two of their most popular and best-loved offerings over the years are the ES-339 and the Casino.

The Casino Coupe is a mixture of those two. By taking the design features from the renowned Casino, and compacting it into the smaller body size of the ES-339, the manufacturer has created a dynamic hybrid guitar.

P-90 pickups have an army of loyal fans, and it's easy to see why that is. Offering a unique tonal output that defies the commonplace stereotypes of single coils or humbuckers, the P-90s give the Casino Couple a polished tone with plenty of attitudes.

The high-end output of this Epiphone hollow body can be reigned in for more melodic guitar parts by simply rolling back the volume pot. Alternatively, you can embrace the sharp bite by cranking up the gain on your amp and letting it rip.

The great thing about Epiphone hollow body guitars is that they have been used by so many musicians, and transcend genre. Whether you play light, jangly chords, or screaming solos, the Casino Coupe is proficient.

  • Legendary P-90 pickups
  • Brilliant treble response
  • Oval soundhole
  • 3-way toggle switch and 3 controls pots
  • Some users report a lack of tuning stability

The Guild X-175 Manhattan is an excellent archtop hollow body guitar that produces a rich array of tones and plays like a dream. Well suited to both rhythm and lead guitar playing, the X-175 can be smooth or snarling, depending on your dynamics and style.

The X-175's vibrato tailpiece adds an expression of its output and produces a little bit of wobble to add character to your tone. With a combination of mahogany and maple making up the neck, this guitar feels modern but sounds classic.

The body of the X-175 Manhattan is made from maple and is topped with nuanced spruce to magnify its accuracy and detail. The solid construction of this hollow body guitar minimizes the risk of intonation issues that are common with cheaper models.

Dual DynaSonic pickups give the X-175 a single-coil bit reminiscent of the legendary P-90, but with more detailed highs. When you play this guitar clean with no effects, it still has a surprising snarl and punch across the fretboard.

There’s also a 3-way pickup toggle selector for tonal variety, and four independent rotary controls for adjusting the volume and color of the guitar’s output.

It’s safe to say that Guild has succeeded in their mission to bring the feel of a 50’s jazz box into the modern era.

  • Based on the revered Manhattan Jazz Box
  • Smooth & articulate ebony fingerboard
  • Guild vibrato tailpiece for added expression
  • Dynasonic pickups produce crisp and biting tones
  • None

The LGB30 hollow body is the signature model of legendary jazz and R&B guitarist, George Benson. Known for his incredible sense of harmony and smooth, irresistible licks, Benson collaborated with Ibanez to add some of his individual style to this model.

Super 58 Custom humbucking pickups are installed in the LGB30, chosen for the expressive tone they provoke. They negate the 60Hz hum that plagued early hollow body models and hone in on the guitar's bluesy punch.  

Flamed maple and spruce were combined to create the body, back, and sides of this guitar. These tonewoods were selected due to their unrivaled ability to add warmth to the tone while leaving plenty of room for the guitarist to express their unique nuances.

The ebony fretboard was chosen by Benson for its smooth-playing ability. To play his style, it’s imperative that the guitar facilitates fast and accurate fretting hand movements, which the LGB30 certainly does.

The finishing touches are made by the addition of gold hardware, a classy bone nut, and a custom tailpiece. The frets have then been treated to ensure maximum comfort and playability.

  • Maple body combine with spruce
  • Warm, smooth tone
  • Dual Super 58 Pickups provide a touch of snarl
  • Gold hardware completes the look
  • None

The G100CE Synchromatic Hollowbody by Gretsch looks exquisite and performs brilliantly. With its matte finish and old-school 40s jazz style, this archtop guitar is loaded with impressive features.

Inspired by the vintage Synchromatics of the 1940’s, Gretsch set out to create an axe that stayed true to the warm, jazzy tone of those models. To do this, they used a combination of spruce and maple to construct the top, back, and sides. 

This combination resulted in plenty of resonance and a crystal-clear high-end. The neck is also made from smooth maple, which caters to all styles of chord or melody playing, with fast transitions posing no issues.  

The pickups installed on a hollow body guitar have an unarguable impact on their overall tone. For this reason, Gretsch took matters into their own hands and installed their original floating single-coils to reproduce the jazzy tone they were aiming for.

With two controls for adjusting volume and tone mounted into the pickguard, a scale length of 25.5 inches, and parallel tone-bars for extra bracing, this well-constructed hollow body guitar is definitely worth considering.

  • 3-piece smooth maple neck
  • Laminated spruce top
  • Warm, jazzy tone
  • Gretsch-designed floating pickup
  • Great for jazz & blues, less suitable for rock

Godin’s range of fabulous hollow body guitars is a sight to behold. The 5th Avenue CW Kingpin II blurs the lines between vintage character and modern, tone-enhancing qualities to form a classy hollow body instrument.

With its archtop design, this sophisticated guitar lends itself to many styles of music. The dynamics produced by the Kingpin II are rich with detail, and it boasts a powerful projection across the frequency range. 

Godin chose to use Canadian wild cherry for the top, back, and sides, a tonewood that delivers full-bodied resonance. Coupled with the addition of a cutaway body, you are able to slide up into the higher registers with no trouble. 

The pickups used on this hollow body guitar are a pair of P-90 single-coils. Specifically designed to produce a warm, vintage tone, these pickups are very compatible with sub-genres of rock, like folk-rock, indie, or Britpop. 

The silver-lead maple neck is smooth and soft underhand. Additionally, the rosewood fingerboard feels inviting and makes complex chord shapes and transitions a much easier undertaking.

To finish off the Kingpin II, Godin installed a 3-way toggle switch, with a volume and tone pot. There’s also an adjustable TUSQ bridge designed by experts in that field, Graphtech.

  • Resonant archtop design
  • Pair of P-90 single-coil pickups
  • Classy tonewood combination
  • Polished finish
  • None

Which Tonewoods are Best for a Hollow Body Guitar?

Hollow body guitars' tones are impacted by several factors. There's the onboard electronics, the pickups, the dimensions, and the materials that comprise it.

With standard electric guitars, the choice of wood doesn't have as significant an impact as it does on a hollow body guitar. The design and shape of these guitars expose their tone and make them more individual, so the woods that the manufacturer uses can be directly heard in the guitar's tone.

Combination is the keyword here. Woods are chosen not only for their attributes but also for the way they interact with other woods, therefore shaping the tonal output of the instrument.

Mahogany 

Mahogany is an extremely resilient hardwood that is commonly found on hollow body guitars. It is partly chosen for its excellent durability, but also because this tonewood produces impeccable sustain, and can growl in the low-end frequencies if required.

Mahogany of good quality will improve in terms of sound as it ages, and it is very unlikely to warp over time.

Maple

Hard maple is commonly used for the body, neck, fingerboard, or laminate tops of a hollow body guitar. It's popular due to its extreme robustness and the slight boost it provides to a guitar's upper-mids and treble frequencies.

Ebony

Ebony is most frequently used for the fingerboards on a hollow body guitar because it has an inviting smoothness and boasts excellent longevity. Due to its naturally smooth feel, ebony doesn't need to be treated to be used for a fretboard.

Pau Ferro

Pau Ferro is becoming increasingly popular amongst manufacturers of hollow body guitars, primarily for fingerboards. Similar to rosewood in texture, Pau Ferro has a tight grain that results in a snappier, sharper tone, whilst remaining smooth under your fingers.

Final Thoughts

Hollow body guitars provide guitarists with a useful alternative to standard axes. Versatile and classy, these models allow you to explore new tonal dimensions, and let's face it, they look awesome onstage.

Hopefully, you've managed to identify the perfect hollow body for your requirements, and now it's time to enjoy getting to know your new companion!

Ross McLeod

About Ross McLeod

Ross McLeod is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. His most recent project is named Gold Jacket, and he is the frontman and bassist of the garage rock band The Blue Dawns with whom he has released 4 EPs and toured extensively.

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