Semi Hollow guitars

Wade Garrett

I am the projectionist.
#1
Who has semi hollows? I'm considering maybe dipping my toe into those waters eventually but I'm not sure what's good without spending too much cash.
 

everfreetree

I... I like trees.
#3
Gretsch's stuff is fantastic, as long as you make sure you get the right one for you, and try before you buy.
Check the used market for the Streamliners, to get an idea of what the cheapest ones they make are like.
I wasn't a fan of the pickups in the Centerblock Jr. I had, so your mileage may vary, there.

And as Scott suggests, the Epi ES 339s and Epiphone's other semi-hollows and hollows, like the Wildcat and the Riviera are fantastic, sometimes, and you'll see them pop up online and locally, as people "upgrade" to more expensive guitars, or change in taste and go for solid bodies.

Personally, I'm a big fan of the Epiphone Rivieras, and the 335s (the Epiphone Lucille may be a bit high on the budget side of things), but don't discount Gretsch or even Ibanez's semi-hollow options, until you've given them a shot.

And now, a disclaimer...
I no longer own any semi-hollows or hollow-body guitars, though not necessarily by choice.
I sold my Gretsch Streamliner Centerblock Jr. a long while back, and although it played very well for the price, I didn't get along with the pickups.
And I had to sell my Gretsch Electromatic G5420T (which I got to replace it), against my will and better judgement, due to bills and all dragging me into a bad spot.
I don't regret selling the Streamliner (though I wish I got better money for it), but I absolutely wish I could've kept the Electromatic, because it really was one of my favorite guitars.
The Electromatics are on the "mid-range" price side of things, for Gretsch, though, so expect maybe £400 and up, for those.


That's all the blathering I could muster.
I wish you luck on shopping and trying out.
 
#4
I have two semi-hollow guitars (plus a Fender Pawn Shop which has an f-hole but it's not really a semi-hollow). One is my Duesenberg which I bought after trying a lot of different semi-hollows in a big shop (Key Music, the biggest guitar shop in Belgium). I tried some Gretsches as well as guitars from Epiphone, Ibanez and two or three others. The Doozy beat the rest hands down, but then it was a lot more expensive, and they are still not cheap secondhand.

The other one is the semi-hollow that I made at Crimson Guitars, so that perhaps doesn't count, although you can always get one made (see the 'PAF Hollow' on this page) and they are really super guitars if you like a compact and light instrument. That model has quite a small body, unlike the Doozy which is a bit more substantial (although not huge).

I think they have a vibe of their own, and I still really want to buy a PRS Hollowbody. I don't know if there is a huge difference in sound if you have the same pickups in a hollow or semi-hollow versus a solid body, but I think they still have a certain allure.
 

mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#5
I have a part-time gretsch. I'd have to look up the model, it's actually a friend's guitar and I borrow it occasionally.

The thing for me is that it plays like a steamboat. It just feels BIG.
At the same time I've never really shopped for another model / brand so I don't know if it's the same for all.
 

Tankman

Subtly not giving a F*ck
#6
I've always loved semi-hollows, especially ES-types. I believe the best bang for the buck ES-types are the Ibanez Artcore AS models. If you go Artcore Expressionist you even get Super 58 pickups, which are awesome!
 

Magnus Pym

Grudges rot the soul
#7
You should also look at Eastman Guitars, Chinese made but the quality is really good.

Edit: I've just looked at how much they are charging for these now. Not cheap, still good though.
 

Tankman

Subtly not giving a F*ck
#8
You should also look at Eastman Guitars, Chinese made but the quality is really good.

Edit: I've just looked at how much they are charging for these. Not cheap, still good though.
Those are great, look great....and indeed are very expensive for a Chinese made guitar.
 

Sustainerplayer

On the edge of breakup
#9
I played an Aria Pro 335 knock off with a bolt-on neck for many years as my main (and only) guitar as a youngling. :dance:

I've somehow gravitated towards Strats and Fender scale since then. Because of GAS I've had some other semi's since then ... a Burny 335 comes to mind and a couple of others - but I've never took a liking to them. :oops:

I have keen eye towards the cheaper Gretsch's thou ... like this: https://www.thomann.de/dk/gretsch_g2622tg_ca_ltd.htm
It looks cool and I've also got an unresolved P90's GAS. :rolleyes:

I've also considered https://www.thomann.de/dk/gretsch_g5655tg_snow_crest.htm cause it comes without a big freaking box attached to the neck :p

Sorry ... what was the question again? :D
 

Wade Garrett

I am the projectionist.
#13
I like the Gretsch 2655T Streamliner, it's pretty cool. I've never had a Bigsby before, anything to watch out for? There's a pretty cool vibe to it.



It's on the smaller side like the 339 too which I like.
 

everfreetree

I... I like trees.
#14
I like the Gretsch 2655T Streamliner, it's pretty cool. I've never had a Bigsby before, anything to watch out for? There's a pretty cool vibe to it.



It's on the smaller side like the 339 too which I like.
Now see, this is the Center Block Jr., which I had (mine was black, though), and I didn't like the sound of the pickups, and was fighting with pinging sounds from somewhere (I assume the bridge or the Bigsby), but otherwise, it played very nicely. So if you get along with the pickups, or if you are cool with swapping them out, yeah, it'll probably be a hit, for you. It really does sit nicely and is very similar to a 339, with the neck kinda going further to the left than I usually like, similar to an SG.
Fret ends weren't sharp and everything seemed decent, overall.
Just give one a listen in person, with an amp you're familiar with, and decide if the pickups are hit or miss, for you.
 

Wade Garrett

I am the projectionist.
#15
Now see, this is the Center Block Jr., which I had (mine was black, though), and I didn't like the sound of the pickups, and was fighting with pinging sounds from somewhere (I assume the bridge or the Bigsby), but otherwise, it played very nicely. So if you get along with the pickups, or if you are cool with swapping them out, yeah, it'll probably be a hit, for you. It really does sit nicely and is very similar to a 339, with the neck kinda going further to the left than I usually like, similar to an SG.
Fret ends weren't sharp and everything seemed decent, overall.
Just give one a listen in person, with an amp you're familiar with, and decide if the pickups are hit or miss, for you.
Was it the darkness of the pickups that put you off? They do seem to have a mellower dark vibe to them. There's one in Chester about an hour and a quarter from me so for once it's actually possible for me to try a guitar out!
 

everfreetree

I... I like trees.
#16
Was it the darkness of the pickups that put you off? They do seem to have a mellower dark vibe to them. There's one in Chester about an hour and a quarter from me so for once it's actually possible for me to try a guitar out!
They were SUPER dark and seemed to lack... pretty much all of the qualities that I normally associate with Gretsch's pickups (Filter'Trons, mostly), and they were "high output" on top of that darkness, which made it very difficult for me to dial in a sound I liked, and horribly frustrating, fighting with my pedals and amp, because my main problem was, I like fuzz... and Gretsch guitars normally get along GREAT with fuzz, but my fuzz pedal can really darken up a tone (extra-noticeable on my Strat's singlecoils), so you have to crank the treble boost with those super-dark pickups, and if you do that with high output pickups, it makes a horrific squeal/whine sound, that can cause AWFUL feedback and nearly deafen you... so after doing that, twice... I decided it wasn't worth it, heh. I was GOING to put new pickups in it, but for the price of the guitar + price of the pickups, I decided it was a mistake to start modding, and that I was better off trading it in toward the Gretsch I actually wanted and should've gotten in the first place, the full-on Rockabilly-style G5420T, in Fairlane blue, which had none of the problems the 2655T had, even though it had a Bigsby and did "ping" a bit, I solved that almost instantly by adjusting the bridge a bit.
So if you have an EQ pedal, that you think will solve the darkness, or something of that sort, or you like that sound, then you probably won't fight with it like I did, so you're fine.
Like I said, just plug into something familiar (take your own amp with you, if it's possible, cause that's usually the easiest way to tell how drastic the differences are), and see if you love it or hate it, or "meh" it, like I did.
I can pretty much promise you it'll play decently, though, cause I had no real complaints about the playability, even though the neck was a tiny bit beefier than I wanted, it didn't hold me back. It felt nice and it looked great.

If they have the 2655T, then go ahead and see if they have a 2622 (T= Bigsby Trem, so if they have one without the Bigsby, try that version too) or a 2420 (or 2420T, which is the cheaper, Streamliner version of my 5420T).
The 2622 (and 2622T) is the Double-cut, 335-style guitar, which comes in a green that reminds me of the Gibson Chris Cornell signature, and it comes in a hard tail or Bisby version, so if you want to dodge the trem, you can. It's a killer guitar, but of course, slightly larger than the 339-style 2655, so you may not like the extra bulk, but honestly... I think it adds to the uniqueness of it, and sets it apart from the solid bodies more, which is nice, to me.

I'm gonna stop blathering now. Again.
Good luck, and have fun tryin' 'em all, if you can!
 

Wade Garrett

I am the projectionist.
#17
They were SUPER dark and seemed to lack... pretty much all of the qualities that I normally associate with Gretsch's pickups (Filter'Trons, mostly), and they were "high output" on top of that darkness, which made it very difficult for me to dial in a sound I liked, and horribly frustrating, fighting with my pedals and amp, because my main problem was, I like fuzz... and Gretsch guitars normally get along GREAT with fuzz, but my fuzz pedal can really darken up a tone (extra-noticeable on my Strat's singlecoils), so you have to crank the treble boost with those super-dark pickups, and if you do that with high output pickups, it makes a horrific squeal/whine sound, that can cause AWFUL feedback and nearly deafen you... so after doing that, twice... I decided it wasn't worth it, heh. I was GOING to put new pickups in it, but for the price of the guitar + price of the pickups, I decided it was a mistake to start modding, and that I was better off trading it in toward the Gretsch I actually wanted and should've gotten in the first place, the full-on Rockabilly-style G5420T, in Fairlane blue, which had none of the problems the 2655T had, even though it had a Bigsby and did "ping" a bit, I solved that almost instantly by adjusting the bridge a bit.
So if you have an EQ pedal, that you think will solve the darkness, or something of that sort, or you like that sound, then you probably won't fight with it like I did, so you're fine.
Like I said, just plug into something familiar (take your own amp with you, if it's possible, cause that's usually the easiest way to tell how drastic the differences are), and see if you love it or hate it, or "meh" it, like I did.
I can pretty much promise you it'll play decently, though, cause I had no real complaints about the playability, even though the neck was a tiny bit beefier than I wanted, it didn't hold me back. It felt nice and it looked great.

If they have the 2655T, then go ahead and see if they have a 2622 (T= Bigsby Trem, so if they have one without the Bigsby, try that version too) or a 2420 (or 2420T, which is the cheaper, Streamliner version of my 5420T).
The 2622 (and 2622T) is the Double-cut, 335-style guitar, which comes in a green that reminds me of the Gibson Chris Cornell signature, and it comes in a hard tail or Bisby version, so if you want to dodge the trem, you can. It's a killer guitar, but of course, slightly larger than the 339-style 2655, so you may not like the extra bulk, but honestly... I think it adds to the uniqueness of it, and sets it apart from the solid bodies more, which is nice, to me.

I'm gonna stop blathering now. Again.
Good luck, and have fun tryin' 'em all, if you can!
Thanks dude, that's really helpful. I checked out the green 2622, definitely getting the Chris Cornell vibes! Pretty cool and there's one of those in Dawsons in Chester too.
 
#19
I had high expectations when getting my Epiphone, or rather for the concept of a semi hollow 335-style guitar. It exceeded all of them and even now, months later, it's the guitar I play the most next to the Strat. With their high price a Gibson was never on my radar before but now I'm not sure, might actually want to go for a Gibson 335 over a Les Paul when I finally go for a more expensive guitar.

Regarding what's good or not I can only really recommend the Epiphone 335/Dot since the Dot Deluxe is the only one I have enough experience with to be able to do so. I did try a lot of Ibanez models that all seemed to be well built but they had even skinnier necks than the toothpick of the Epiphone. I really couldn't say if anyone offers an affordable semi hollow with a decent neck size if that's preferred (if I knew one I'd own it :D) but I can say that even though Epihpone mostly uses a size nearly identical to Gibson's "slim taper D", they still feel ok even for someone who prefer fatter necks.

IMG_2496-2SM.jpg
 

Felix

Addicted to Grunge
#20
I used to own an epiphone 339. Wicked sounding guitar and for a few hundred second hand you’ll be a happy chappy.
That was my favorite of all of the guitar you had (prior to you making your own that is). It was the blue one with P90's? I remember you uploading a video of you playing some 90's-00's British rock on it. With your Mesa amp, it really was a bloody good sound.
 
Top