Its time to check out a Hollow/Semi Hollow......

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by mangoman, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. mangoman

    mangoman Silver Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2008
    Would you buy an Epiphone to see if they are for you, or would you just save a few more bucks and get a gibson?

    I have the cash for the Epi ES339 Ultra, or I could see about moving some things and get a used Gibson es339.

    I like my electrajet a ton, and it has all those single coil tones I like, but Id love a set neck of some sorts. I have an SE245 that can do my rockier stuff, but as I look at what I really like, I think a Semi Hollow should be what I go for.

    What would you do??

    Also I could always get a Gretsch or an Ibanez Artcore.....just for thoughts. My only question would be do you spend the money for good quality to see if they are for you, or do you save a few and check it out a bit......

    SPROING! Member

    Dec 5, 2011
    First off, play a BUNCH first. They all sound so different and feel different.
    I finally settled on full hollowbodies, as the semis just ended up sounding like solids to me. There are some differences, but NOTHING sounds like a big ole hollow. WOOF!

    In terms of value, man, you gotta make that call yourself.
    Some good ones to check out:
    Cheap...Ibanez, Godin, Epi, gretsch Electromatic.
    Not so cheap: Eastman, Gibson, gretsch, guild, etc.

    They're hard to locate now, but the Epi 61 reissue Casino is absolutely terrific, for no more money than the 339 Ultra, and the Casino has Gibson guts AND a case.
  3. Axis29

    Axis29 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2007
    La Quinta, CA
    I had a Gibson ES-340 for about 17 or 18 years. It was a great guitar, but never sounded like I thought a hollow body should. I think this was the pickups. Plus, the neck was a little narrow (bass to treble thickness).

    A few years ago I picked up a Gretsch Electromatic G5172, which has that grindy Gretsch twangy goodness.... It sounds like a hollow body, at times. Other times, it sounds like a fire breathing dragon! The Dearmond 2000 pickups are bitey and trebly or smooth and mellow. Love this guitar.

    A few days ago I picked up a Gretsch Duo Jet 6129tl (Blue Pearl). What a magnificent guitar it is! It is fully hollow without holes in the top (no feedback! Yay!). I won't say it sounds like a hollow body, but it feels similar to one. I need more time with it. It is a magnificent guitar! I bet it will sound full and woody like I think of a hollow body as sounding.

    I did try a Setzer 6120... with a bunch of letters afterwards and it sounded awesome! It had Filtertron pickups as well... A very nice ax! And, it sounded and felt like the hollow body it is.

    I have tried a few Ibanez Artcores. They are nice. But sounded kinda generic humbucker kinda things to me.

    I have a bud who has a Guild... and it feels like a boat anchor to me. I don't care for the pickups either. But I haven't spent any time setting it up either.
  4. guitarlifestyle

    guitarlifestyle I like guitars. Silver Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2009
    Nashville, TN
    If I were in your shoes, I'd save up and get the Gibson. I've bought numerous Epiphones over the years, and every one of them has had one issue or another. Some of the issues could have been remedied with a relatively inexpensive pickup swap, while others needed more serious work. Other people love their Epiphones around here, so maybe I just happened to get a string of duds.
  5. tapeworm

    tapeworm Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    El Norte
    I would buy a vintage Guild Starfire IV with HB-1 humbuckers in it for less than a Gibson from the same era and walk away happy knowing I got a better guitar for less. The HB-1's can get all the tonal variety you want and more. But if I were you, I'd certainly look into the vintage Guilds before buying a Gibson. I think you'll be surprised by them, unless the name on the headstock is a deal breaker. Of course this is all IMO.
  6. rbrogan

    rbrogan Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2009
    Washington, DC

    All solid recommendations.

    Spend an afternoon playing a bunch of different ones, from the cheapo beaters to the "please ask for assistance first" case queens, and glean from that what you actually want that guitar to be. I'm in the market for a single coil guitar for the first time ever (always have just been a humbucker guy). I've spent the past couple of months reading threads, drooling over pictures, building in my head what I was pretty sure I wanted. Last saturday I spent the morning at two different shops actually playing the guitars I've been researching. I was pretty shocked at what I was actually looking for vs. what I've had in my head.
  7. OM Flyer

    OM Flyer Member

    Jan 16, 2008
    An island of blue in a sea of red
    If you're looking for hollow or semi-hollow tones, a 339 would be the last guitar on my list. +1 on the Casino recommendation.
  8. Luke V

    Luke V Member

    Oct 1, 2005
    I have owned 335's for almost 40 years and never be without at least one. That said my number 1 for the last 4 years is a 339. I love this guitar, the fat neck is a wonderful thing. If you go the Epi route, I would try the regular 339. The extra electronics in the Ultra just seems wrong. Like effects built in. Whatever you end up with a semi hollow guitar is a great thing to have in your arsenal. Good luck on your quest.
  9. tamader74

    tamader74 Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2009
    Northern Mi.
    ....I noticed in your post about "moving things around"....Some of the guys and gals here have picked up on MIJ/MIK Epi.s, Ibanez, Washburns, etc. in the used market and have gained a respect for them. The MIK's from 20 yrs. ago have quality contruction and the woods have aged and opened up nicely, alot of the new guitars from all companies have left players "flat" if you will and desiring to swap electronics, hardware, etc., So, IMHO. as not to resort to moving something you may regret sooner or later, and you are open to used, and not overly stuck on the name on the headstock, this may be a sound alternitive for you,.....Good luck with any decision that fits YOUR needs, Tom............
  10. billfoma

    billfoma Member

    Dec 7, 2009
    Joplin, MO
    I have to agree with Tom here. Find an Epiphone that was MIK, and you should be good to go. I would look for a MIK Sheraton. If you go the Epiphone route, try to find one with Gibson on the truss rod cover, or even better, a pre '96 model.
  11. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2006
    New England
    Somewhat off-topic, but...

    I am always puzzled when I read (often on TGP) of someone expressing interest in "either a hollowbody or a semi-hollowbody guitar", as if there was a degree of similarity. I see a semi-hollowbody guitar as being closer to a solid guitar in tonal properties and response, which is why I always (however annoyingly) refer to a "335 type" guitar as semi-solid. With a high-density chunk of wood joining the neck, top, back, bridge/tailpiece and butt of the body, the hollow space on either side of this center block has little effect on the sonic qualities of the instrument. The dead-ass plunk and quick decay of a hollow body guitar comes from having a bridge stuck down, by string pressure, on a comparatively unrestricted vibrating plate, which results in the characteristically "airy" sound with little sustain.

    I will not argue with anyone who contends that a 335 sounds different from a Les Paul, but a 335 definitely stands further from a 330/Casino, sonically speaking.
  12. raymeedc

    raymeedc Member

    Jan 15, 2012
    Great deal. Will allow you to check out the genre without breaking the bank, while absolutely good enough to remain as a keeper. Better than any of the other Epi Casinos being sold today, in my opinion. Plenty still available on Ebay.
    Bought one when they first came out. Only sold when I came across an original '61 Casino.....
  13. mangoman

    mangoman Silver Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2008
    I guess I am not sure of the tonal differences between a semi solid as musico put it, or a hollow. Rather the tone in my head is somewhere between Chris isaak rockabilly and brian setzer, with some in your face indie attitude that could get raunchy when provoked.

    What has caught my eye are the following:

    335 types
    339 types
    And more recently,
    Gretschs, especially ones with some good filtertrons!,

    I would prefer not to break the bank as I explore the world of these guitars, but, am open to walking the fine line of finding one of quality, spending a bit and then knowing I have a keeper, not a throw away for a trade.....

    Perhaps leveraging the return policy of a few stores may suit my needs!?!?

    It would be cool to get one on the cheap that I know is a closet bargain. I am getting less attached to the headstock name plate.....but will not sacrifice quality. Just want something tonally different from my electrajet, strat and the se245.
  14. Friis90

    Friis90 Member

    Jul 24, 2011
    I just got a Gibson ES339 yesterday. It rocks!

    I have tried a couple of the Electromatics and they have actually impressed me. Otherwise I would recommend the "original" Epiphone models like Rivera, Casino and such. In my experience they are of better quality than the "knock offs". I haven't tried the Epi 339, but people seem to like them and they DO have some great features.
  15. stratzrus

    stratzrus Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B Supporting Member

    May 16, 2006
    Philadelphia, PA
    I have a friend who has an Epiphone and he was amazed at how much better he liked my Gibson 335.

    I'd save the extra bucks and get the Gibson, but as others have said, play a few if you can and pick out the best one.
  16. cowboytim

    cowboytim Member

    Jun 10, 2009
    West Marin Co. N.Cal.
    I found a like new used 335 Epiphone at a local music store. Sounded good. I ordered new UN-POTTED Burstbuckers 1&2 from Amizon and from R&S Guitarworks.. Superpots with gray tiger Caps. Installed new electronics myself............My 335 Epiphone Dot sounds Great!
    Guitar and case $300.00. New electronics $400.00.......Tolal $700.00 dollar Guitar with case.
  17. XXTwighlight

    XXTwighlight Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2003
    New Jersey
    2 good semi hollows in the $1500 range...
    Yamaha sa2200
    Godin Montreal (also peizo)

    Both do single coil. Yamaha has a push/pull split coil and sounds great with the stock pickups.
    The Godin has a selector switch that can select single coil. I preferred the Yamaha split sound over the Godin.
    But the Godin Montreal played (felt) great. The Yamhaha plays equally great. The Yamaha SA2200 is the newer model. They also have the older SA2100 (w/split coils) and the SA2000 (no split). Very elegant looking guitar and very well built.
  18. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

    May 22, 2008
    As said by others, a semi is VERY different than a hollow body. I love 'em both, but you need to know, hear and feel the difference.

    A Semi will have more of a bluesy, rocking feel to it, and with the center piece, be much less prone to feedback than a hollow body. A Hollow body can be more airy and feel more alive, but it all depends on the model. I like hollow bodies with sound posts, or like my SSLVO - with bracing to lower feedback. This dampens the top a bit, but they're much more manageable on stage. I had a Guild Starfire III (Fully hollow) that screamed like a banshee any time I took my fingers off the strings. It sounded killer though.

    If you like Setzer, get one of his videos - the one where he plays in Japan - and you'll see him reign in the feedback more than once. My Setzer Gretsch howls in a really satisfying way that I just can't get my semis to recreate. Of course you need to learn how to tame it, or you'll hate it. All of his guitars on stage are GRetsch 6120s or derivatives thereof. Hollow bodies with some sort of bracing.

    There are a LOT of varieties in the guitars you're looking at. Thick, thin, semi, hollow, hollow with sound posts or bracing... and then there's the pickups! P90s, hums, filtertrons, dynasonics, etc. Do you want a Bigsby? As you can see, grouping them all together is like saying a Les Paul and a Strat are the same because they're both solid bodies.

    Try and refine what it is you want to sound like. Setzer? Gretsch - nothing else will really do it, though you can come close. Ted Nugent? That's a different animal. Foo Fighters? BB King? John Mayer? George Harrison? You get the idea.
  19. stilesg57

    stilesg57 Member

    Feb 5, 2012
    Denver area
    ^^^Great post. There are A LOT of factors involved with guitars like these that make them VERY different. Gotta poke around a bit before you commit real money to one IMO.

    I'm in a similar situation: currently building up a mid-2000s Ibanez AS83 semi hollow. Full set of electronics, pickups, bridge and stop bar. Pretty much everything that isn't glued down is getting swapped ;) I'll be at about $700 all said and done too, and I think it will be well worth it to have a semi that finally sounds as good as she plays. And still costs about a third of an actual 335.

    I guess I'd go this route, especially until you know exactly what you want out of this type of guitar. And who knows: once you do find a cheapie with all the aspects you like, you may decide it's a better deal to upgrade her up to your desired specs than shell out for a nicer pedigree!
  20. blimpo

    blimpo Member

    Mar 30, 2008
    Southern Indiana
    I have an old (81) Washburn HB and have recently bought a Peerless Renaissance which is totally hollow. The Peerless has a great acoustic sound, but the Epi Classic '57s in it are dark and you don't need dark in a hollow body.
    I'm considering putting in Tonerider (alnco IIs) Vintage Classics or Dimarzio 36th Anniversaries.
    Anyone have suggestions on this?

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