The Best Semi-Hollow Guitars

The Best Semi-Hollow Guitars

Semi-hollow guitars take all the great things you love about solid body electric guitars, but typically have a bit of an 'airy' acoustic tone, and are usually lighter weight (which your back will thank you for).

Semi-hollowbody guitars are super versatile instruments that can work great for for rock, jazz, funk, blues, or country.

As someone with a geeky gear problem who loves semi-hollow guitars, I've owned and demoed a lot of them over the years. The options for semi-hollow guitars are probably greater than ever, and this article dives into the best semi-hollow body guitars available in 2021.

It's probably worth pointing out that I have no affiliate or other type of relationships with any of these guitar manufacturers. I'm not trying to sell you anything here (if there's any shameless plug, it's that I'd love you to check out the new free guitar email newsletter that I will be launching soon 😏).

Carrying on...

While this is a 'best of' list, I decided to set a price cap at $3K (though the majority of the guitars in this list sell for under $2,000). While you can certainly have a semi-hollow guitar built for you custom, I wanted to keep this list focused on guitars that are generally available at guitar retailers.

While most of the guitars listed below fall in the $1000-$2000 range, many of these manufacturers have more budget-friendly versions of the same model guitars available.

Along those lines, it's important to point out that due the pandemic, some guitar manufactures have continued to face the same type of supply & distribution issues that have affected so many industries. Depending on when in 2021 you read this, some of the guitars listed here might be harder to find than others, but there are often great deals out there on used guitars if you're patient and do a bit of digging.

Let's go.

D'Angelico Excel/Deluxe DC

The D'Angelico Excel DC is a beautiful and inspiring double-cutaway semi-hollow guitar that combines classic tones with modern versatility.

A slim C-shape neck with a rosewood fretboard (or ebony on the Limited Edition Deluxe model) plays like a dream, and deep cutaways allow for easy access to the upper frets. The Seymour Duncan '59 humbuckers (in the Excel) or Duncan Seth Lover humbuckers (in the Deluxe) are 2 of my favorite humbucker pickups, and can cover everything from rock to jazz. Split the humbuckers with the push/pull tone knob and get very convincing glassy single-coil tones.

In addition to great tones and playability, with some of the nicest finishes & color options you'll find on any 335-Style guitars, these D'Angelicos really stand out among all the semi-hollow guitars out there.

Key Features:

  • Wonderfully playable C-shape set-in neck
  • Great finish/color options
  • Fretboard: Rosewood or Ebony (Deluxe Model)
  • 22 Medium jumbo frets
  • Bone nut
  • Mother of Pearl block inlays
  • Pickups: Seymour Duncan '59 Humbuckers (Excel) or Seymour Duncan Seth Lover Humbuckers (Deluxe) - split-able through push/pull tone knob
  • Max body width: 16"
  • Fretboard radius: 16"
  • Scale length: 24.7"
  • Set up very well out of the box
  • Made in Korea
  • Includes a hardshell case

If you are on a tighter budget, check out D'Angelico's Premier DC and Premier DC Boardwalk, which give you different pickup options, an ovangkol fretboard, and different color options at a much lower price.

D'Angelico Excel/Deluxe Mini DC

One of the biggest complaints guitarists often have about double-cutaway semi-hollow guitars is that the body on them is usually pretty big. They are usually fine to play sitting down, but can be a bit cumbersome to play standing up. D'Angelico stepped up (pardon the dumb pun) and boldly solved that problem with the outstanding Excel Mini DC.

While most guitars in this style have a max body width of around 16", D'Angelico's Mini DC (DC = Double Cutaway) packs a ton of tone into only 14" (for comparison, the max width of a Fender Stratocaster is around 12.7"). It's as comfortable as a pillow in your arms...well, almost.

D'Angelico's top-of-the-line Deluxe range of guitars are made in Korea, and the quality of them in recent years has been great.

In addition to the smaller size (which actually has a smaller headstock to match, to prevent the guitar from being neck-heavy), probably the biggest standout feature of the Mini DC are the pickups.

The main Excel Mini model features Seymour Duncan 59 humbucker pickups, and a Deluxe Limited Edition model has Seymour Duncan Seth Lover Humbuckers. On both models, the humbuckers can be split by pulling the tone knob, giving you single-coil tones. As with the larger Excel model featured above, the ability to split the pickups is something often not seen on ES-335-style hollow body guitars - making these guitars perfect if you only want to bring one guitar to a gig.

Key Features:

  • Wonderfully playable C-shape set-in neck
  • Great finish/color options
  • Lightweight (around only 6.6 lbs)
  • 22 Medium jumbo frets
  • Fretboard: Rosewood or Ebony (Deluxe Model)
  • Bone nut
  • Mother of Pearl block inlays
  • Pickups: Seymour Duncan '59 Humbuckers (Excel) or Seymour Duncan Seth Lover Humbuckers (Deluxe) - split-able through push/pull tone knob)
  • Max body width: 14"
  • Fretboard radius: 16"
  • Scale length: 24.7"
  • Set up very well out of the box
  • Includes a hardshell case


  • The light weight of the body results in this guitar being real neck heavy. The neck dive is real with this one.

D'Angelico also makes a lower-budget version of the Mini DC called the Premier Mini DC. Made in Indonesia, they are offered in some different colors, feature a slightly rounder 14" fretboard radius, have Seymour Duncan-designed HB-102 pickups, but don't offer the same ability to split the pickups like the higher end models.

While the Premier line does seem to have some reports of occasional setup issues out of the box, they are very good guitars for the money.

Ibanez Artstar

While often best known for their guitars geared towards shredders, Ibanez makes some killer semi-hollow guitars that jazz and funk greats such as John Scofield and Eric Krasno have been playing for decades.

The Ibanez AS153 is my current top pick from Ibanez, as it features an exceptional build quality at a great price. At a cost of around $999, the AS153 offers a ton of value, and is arguably a higher-quality guitar than many semi hollow body guitars over twice the price.

I'm a big fan of Ibanez's tri-sound switch, which lets you go between full humbucker (wired in series), single coil, and the humbucker in parallel.

Having a dedicated control for coil splitting (opposed to the push/pull tone knob) is a real nice feature. It's a bit faster to switch the pickup configuration on the fly, and an issue with push/pull tone knobs is they often end result in you unintentionally adjusting the tone at the same time you push/pull it.

While The AS153 only has a tri-sound switch for the neck pickup, Ibanez has a couple guitars (the AS2000 & AR520HFM) coming out soon that have tri-sound switches for both pickups (sweet!).

In addition to the AS153, check out the Eric Krasno Signature model (pictured in wine red above), which offers a slightly different take on this model (mainly, including vibrato).

Key Features:

  • Set-in neck
  • Flamed Maple top/back/sides
  • 22 Medium jumbo frets
  • Bound Ebony fretboard
  • Bone nut
  • Pearl/ Abalone block inlays
  • Super 58 Custom humbucker neck pickup
  • Super 58 Custom humbucker bridge pickup
  • Tri-sound switch for the neck pickup, which offers coil tapping & the humbucker in parallel.
  • Max body width: 15.75"
  • Scale length: 24.7"
  • Fretboard radius: 12"

A couple (slightly) negative things to point out:

  • There aren't very many finish/color options available. We'd love to see Ibanez refresh this line more frequently, and release some new colorways.
  • Depending on your tastes, they can often use a custom setup, as they sometimes ship from the factory with the string action being somewhat high.
  • Upper fretboard access isn't quite as good as some of the other options listed here.

Ibanez also makes a more budget-friendly version of this same style of guitar, known as their Artcore line. While their Artcore guitars use slightly lower-end materials, and don't include features such as the pickup coil tapping seen in the AS153, they feature the same Super 58 pickups as the higher-end models, for that unmistakable Ibanez tone.

Gretsch Players Edition Jet

While it might not look like a semi hollow guitar at first glance, the awesome Gretsch Players Edition Jet features a chambered (semi hollow) body, making it lightweight and giving it a bit more of an acoustic tone that you usually get with this style guitar.

While often associated with country and rockabilly, Gretsch (owned by Fender), makes plenty of guitars that break that mold, and the Jet is one of my favorites.

Offered with either a Bigbsy tremolo or hardtail, the Gretsch Players Edition Jet features a mahogany body with an arched maple top - giving it a rich and dynamic tone.

The Tim Shaw-designed Broad'Tron BT65 pickups give you powerful mids, extended lows, and a clear high-end, without losing the unique sound Gretsch is famous for.

While this guitar sells for over $2K new, it can be readily found used in the $1,500-$2,000 range.

Key Features:

  • Broad'Tron BT65 Humbucker pickups
  • Individual control knobs for Neck Volume, Bridge Volume, Tone, and Master Volume
  • Master volume control with treble bleed
  • Low profile set neck
  • Locking Tuners
  • Graph Tech® TUSQ XL nut
  • Scale: 24.6"
  • Fretboard radius: 12"
  • 22 medium-jumbo frets
  • Ebony Fretboard
  • Made in Japan

Gretsch Players Edition Broadkaster Jr.

While Gretsch might be best known for their big-bodied semi-hollow and hollowbody guitars, the Broadkaster Jr delivers the famous Gretsch sound and design in a smaller 14" body.

The Broadkaster Jr features a center block to reduce feedback, 22 medium jumbo frets, Tim Shaw designed Full'Tron™ humbucker pickups, gold hardware, a matching headstock, a string-thru Bigsby, locking tuners and some amazing finishes.

Key Features:

  • Full'Tron™ humbucker pickups
  • Scale length: 24.6"
  • Fretboard: Ebony
  • 22 Medium jumbo frets
  • String-thru B7 Bigsby
  • Fingerboard Radius:12"
  • Locking Tuners
  • Gloss finish
  • Matching headstock


  • The Bigsby can produce some issues with tuning stability

Collings I-35

With hand-carved solid wood construction that includes high arches, and a 15" body size, the Collings I-35 is arguably the highest quality double cutaway semi-hollow electric guitar on the market.

The I-35's mahogany back and sides along with a maple center center block gives it a complex and airy sound that makes it versatile enough to cover nearly any genre.

The thicker C-shape neck profile is a dream to play, and the solid wood body combined with a thin nitro finish make it straight up tone machine.

Key Features:

  • 15" body size
  • Hand-carved solid wood construction
  • Nitrocelulose laquer finish
  • Premium flamed maple top
  • Honduran mahogany neck
  • Mahogany back and sides with a maple center center block
  • Thick C-shape neck
  • Lollar Low Wind Imperial humbucker pickups
  • 24 7/8" scale length
  • Rosewood fretboard


  • Being a very high-end solid wood guitar, that naturally comes with a bigger price tag

Eastman Thinline

Eastman typically flies under the radar of a lot of guitar players, but since starting as a violin maker in the early 1990's, they've been making high-quality, affordable guitars for many years now.

Eastman's Thinline stands out - not only due to its great design and build quality, but because it's actually offered in 3 different body sizes: 16" (the T186MX model), 15" (T185MX), and 14" (T184MX). The T184MX (pictured above) is probably my favorite of the group, as as I love the smaller body width, and Eastman is one just a few companies that make ES-Style guitars in this size.

The 25" scale of this guitar is a great length that falls between a Gibson and a Fender, and the low output Bare Knuckle humbucker pickups can deliver anything from warmth to grit.

Eastman offers a couple versions of their Thinline semi-hollow guitar line. The T184, T185, and T186 options are all built with solid wood, while the T484, T485, and T486 feature laminate construction, and are sold at a lower price point. While the solid wood models have their own dynamic character, the laminate versions are also great guitars that offer a bit of a more traditional es-style sound (keeping in mind that iconic guitars like the Gibson ES-335 also feature laminate construction).

Key Features:

  • Solid wood construction (on the T184, T185, & T186 models)
  • Pickups: Bare Knuckle BC Old Guard Custom Humbuckers
  • Great upper fretboard access
  • Scale length: 25"
  • Fretboard: Ebony
  • 22 Medium jumbo frets
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard Radius:12"
  • Neck Profile:Traditional Even "C"
  • 1.72" nut width


  • Wider fretboard and relatively thin neck might not everyone's thing

Suhr Alt T

Suhr is known for their exceptional quality, and the Alt T is no exception. Suhr makes some of the top t-style guitars around, taking the best parts about vintage teles, and adding a modern twist.

The Alt T stands out with it's 2 humbuckers, and a 5-way switch that gets you some of the most convincing split-coil sounds you'll find.

Suhr's are expensive, but feature top-of-the-line features such as stainless steel frets, great custom pickups, and a compound radius fretboard - things you'd be paying extra for at other guitar manufacturers.

Key Features:

  • Scale length: 25.5"
  • Neck profile: 60's C Vintage Medium .830" - .950"
  • Frets: 22 medium jumbo, stainless steel
  • Pickups Suhr SSV humbuckers
  • 5-way pickup selector for humbucker and single coil tones
  • 9" - 12" compound radius fretboard
  • Suhr locking tuners
  • 1.650" Tusq nut


  • Limited color/finish options without ordering from their custom shop

Fender Thinline Telecaster

While quite a bit different from all of the other semi-hollow body guitars featured here, Fender's Thinline semi hollow Telecasters should not be overlooked.

While most hollow and semi-hollow guitars have a 24.75" scale, telecasters have the 25.5" scale Fender is known for, giving them a brighter and snappier tone, which works great for jazz, funk, country, rock and more.

This one is going to take a bit more explaining than most of the other options here.

First, Fender has made a various different semi-hollow Telecasters in recent years. Listing out specs for every individual model would be a post in itself, so I'm going to lump them together, and give some specific advice and recommendations.

Secondly, you might have to do some digging to find the model(s) you're looking for. At the time of writing, Fender is currently only producing Thinline Telecasters out of their Mexico facility.

A quick word on American vs Mexican Fenders: For anyone unaware, Fender primarily produces certain guitar models out of their facility in Corona, California, and certain guitars out of their Mexico facility.

Their American-made guitars typically cost about twice as much as their Mexican-made guitars, and are generally viewed as being higher quality (and people argue about this all day long on Reddit). Their American guitars are usually better overall guitars, but Fender Mexico is putting out great guitars at great prices these days, and they are a great value.

The area where (in my opinion) you typically see the most noticeable difference between their American and Mexican guitars is with the neck and fretboard (hey, if the guitars were equal, they wouldn't be able to charge more for the American guitars).

Fender's American fretboards often feature rolled edges, their necks have higher-quality finishes, are offered in more fretwire choices, and I honestly usually find them easier and smoother to play overall. Fender's Mexican necks frequently have frets with rough edges or 'fret bloom', which can be frustrating.

One piece of advice is that if you are patient, there are sellers on Reverb and eBay that sell stand-alone Fender necks and loaded bodies (bodies that include the pickups and all controls). You can sometimes put together a great guitar at a good price by buying a Mexican Fender body and pairing it with an American Fender neck.

Whew..Now that that's covered, let's get to some of the best Fender Thinline telecaster models that can be found pretty regularly, especially on the Used market:

American Deluxe/Elite Thinline Telecaster

Fender's Deluxe guitar line was renamed Elite a few years ago, but they are mostly the same guitar. They feature a thin compound-radius fretboard with 22 medium jumbo frets, and 9.5" fretboard radius.

They have Fender's N3 (Deluxe) or N4 (Elite) Noiseless pickups, which are very good - without the noise/hum typically associated with single coil pickups. They also feature Fender's S1 switch on the volume knob, which puts both pickups in series, allowing you to get humbucker-ish tones from a guitar with 2 single coil pickups. Available in a number of great colors, as well as a natural finish.

Deluxe Thinline Telecaster (made in Mexico)

This model is currently available at retailers, and is an outstanding guitar that holds it's own against similar American-made models.

It has a slightly thicker (compared to the Deluxe and Elite models) C-shaped neck, a flatter 12" fretboard radius, and 22 narrow-tall frets. It features Noiseless pickups (not the exact same pickups as the Elite model, but they're close), and a 4-way pickup selector to give you the option to have both pickups in series. Offered in either a killer-looking candy apple red or 3-color-sunburst.

American Original '60s Telecaster

Features Tim Shaw designed '60s-style Telecaster pickups, 21 Vintage Tall frets, a medium-C neck, and a 9.5” fretboard radius. Available in Surf Green, aged-natural, or 3-color sunburst.

G&L ASAT Semi-Hollow

Along the lines of the Fender Telecaster, G&L's American-made guitars are exceptional quality (and their Tribute Series models are solid guitars at low prices).

American-made semi-hollow G&L ASATS can be tough to find in retail stores, but G&L lets you order guitars to your custom specs (they usually fall in the $1,500-$2,000 range - a great price for what is essentially a Custom Shop guitar). Certain smaller retailers actually order and stock custom-ordered G&L guitars (I'm a bit fan of UpFront Guitars).

G&L ASAT's stand out with their MFD (Magnetic Field Design) pickups, which are higher output than most Telecaster pickups, but cover a very wide range of tones.

Due to the fact that G&L Guitars can be ordered with lots of different options, it's not worth listing specs here, but their ASAT Bluesboy (neck humbucker & bridge single coil), ASAT Classic (2 single coils), and ASAT Special (2 Jumbo single voils) are all offered with semi hollow bodies.

Gibson ES-335

While the original goal was to keep this list focused on guitars under $2,000, it would be tough to leave out the Gibson ES-335, as it was really the pioneer of this style of guitar.

The Gibson ES-335 has remained an icon since 1958, and is the guitar a lot of the other guitars featured here were modeled after. Despite all the other ES-335 style guitars now available, the tone of this guitar is uniquely Gibson. It's the sound that has powered so many guitar greats - from B.B. King, to Chuck Berry, Larry Carlton, and now young players like Marcus King.

With it's signature vocal-like creamy sustain and great playability, the Gibson ES-335 is one of the most versatile guitars ever made.

Key Features:

  • Scale length: 24.75"
  • Neck shape: Rounded C
  • 22 medium jumbo frets
  • Great upper fretboard access
  • Neck Pickup: Calibrated T-Type Rhythm Humbucker
  • Bridge Pickup: Calibrated T-Type Lead Humbucker
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Pearloid dot inlays
  • Gloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer finish


  • As with most Gibson guitars, the quality comes at a cost. There's no question that Gibson still makes great guitars, but the question is always whether they are twice - or even 3 or 4 times, as good as many of the other guitars listed here that sell for quite a bit less money.

For a more budget friendly version of this, check out the Epiphone (also owned by Gibson) Casino and Dot models.

Gibson ES-339

The Gibson ES-339 semi-hollow guitar is designed for people looking for the look and tone of the iconic ES-335, but in a smaller body size and lighter weight.

Key Features:

  • Comfortable body size
  • Lighter weight than the ES-335
  • Scale length: 24.75"
  • Neck shape: Rounded C
  • Great upper fretboard access
  • Grover Rotomatic tuners provide great tuning stability
  • 22 medium jumbo frets
  • 57 / 57 Classic + humbuckers
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Pearloid dot inlays
  • Gloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer finish

PRS CE24 Semi-Hollow

Offered as both a solidbody and semi-hollow body guitar, the CE24 is a bit of an outlier in the PRS lineup.

It's bolt-on maple neck, combined with a 25" scale length, pulls in some twang and neck/fretboard feel from something like a Strat, with with a sound and look that remains pure PRS.

The 'pattern-thin' neck plays like butter, and the thin body shape is super comfortable to play both standing or sitting. PRS's 85/15 pickups are some of our favorites. They are clear and articulate, and push-pull functionality on the master tone control for coil splitting makes this an incredibly versatile guitar.

Key Features:

  • Scale length: 25"
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Bolt-on neck
  • 24 frets
  • PRS Pattern-Thin neck
  • Push/pull on the tone knob for convincing single-coil sounds
  • PRS 85/15 pickups (with other pickups being offered in some limited edition releases)
  • Satin finish on the neck
  • Semi-hollow mahogany body; figured maple top with single F-hole
  • Bird fretboard inlays
  • Many great colors/finishes to choose from, including some amazing-looking limited edition 'wood library' releases.


  • The single f-hole chambered body won't give you quite the same big-body acoustic-like sound as something like a Gibson-335 (though the comfort and versatility make up for that).

PRS SE Custom 22 Semi-Hollow

While PRS' high-end guitars are known for being expensive, their SE (Student Edition) line features well built guitars at great prices.

The PRS SE Custom 22 is beautiful, comfortable, plays and sounds great, and is a true workhorse guitar. When it comes to gigs where you need a super-reliable and versatile (and not expensive) instrument, the SE Custom 22 fits the bill perfectly.

The semi-hollow body provides an airy, sweet tone, and the push/pull tone knob coil-taps the humbuckers, letting you get plenty of bright spank.

Key Features:

  • Scale length: 25"
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Bird inlays
  • Chambered body with Single F-Hole
  • Wide thin neck


  • The wider neck can take a bit of getting used to, especially if you're most used to Fender guitars.

Heritage H-535

With the vibe of a late-'50s semi-hollowbody, The Heritage H-535 excels at rock, jazz, and country music. Featuring either Seymour Duncan Seth Lover or '59 Humbuckers (depending on the model), The H-535 produces sounds as bold as its appearance.

The Heritage H-535 is a timeless guitar that delivers vintage tones, ranging from bright spanky sounds from the bridge pickup to jazzy warmth from the neck pickup.

Key Features:

  • Neck Shape: Standard C
  • Radius: 12"
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • 22 Medium Jumbo frets
  • Scale Length: 24.75"
  • Pickups: Seymour Duncan Seth Lover or '59 Humbuckers
  • Beautiful and unique color options


  • A bit heavier than some other guitars featured here
  • No locking tuners
  • Could sometimes use some setup work out of the box.

Guild Starfire

I saved one of the best for last. Guild has been building iconic semi-hollow guitars since the 1960's, and its Starfire model stands out due to it's distinct sound.

The "Little Bucker' pickups have an incredibly balanced and unique tone, and are perfect for a wide variety of styles and genres.

The Starfire has a three-piece maple/walnut/maple neck and a bound ebony fingerboard inlaid with mother-of-pearl and abalone V-blocks. It also features a pinned Tune-o-Matic bridge with a rosewood base, gold hardware, and a Guild Vibrato Tailpiece.

The Starfire is a very comfortable guitar to play, and produced tones that are simply inspiring.

Key Features:

  • Unique Little Bucker pickups
  • Thinner body than most other Guild guitars
  • Max body width: 16 3/8"
  • Scale Length: 24 3/4"
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9 1/2"
  • 22 Jumbo Narrow frets
  • Fretboard: Ebony
  • Neck Shape: Vintage Soft "U"
  • Pickguard with the Guild logo


  • Body is pretty wide
  • Heavy for a semi hollow guitar

That's a wrap on the best semi-hollow guitars. I will continue to keep an eye out for new releases, and will update this page as new semi hollowbody guitars hit the market.