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Thin sounding semi-hollows

jtwang

Member
Messages
508
I have a Sheraton that I like - it's ok, but by no means great - and I'm constantly looking for an upgrade. The problem is that I find most of the semi-hollows I try to be very thin sounding. They all sound like they have a brand new set of strings (in a bad way); very bright, unfocused and nothing like the warm, woody tone I expect from a 335-style guitar. I'm talking unplugged sound by the way.

I don't want to call out any specific brands or models, mainly because I can't remember the name of every model I've tried. But they are quite a few and they all make roughly the same weak impression on me, acoustically.

Admittedly, I have tried only one semi-hollow in the upper price range and that is ES-335, (yes, I live far away from any major city) but that was ten years ago and my ears was in another place back then so that doesn't count. Maybe it's just a matter of build quality that becomes much more appearent with 335-styles than solidbodies? Or are these shrill sounding guitars exactly what semi-hollows should be, just like one expects twang from a Tele?

Anyone with similar experiences?
 

mc5nrg

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,868
I think you need to hear the guitar through an amp, otherwise you are just chasing your tail. A 335 has a big block of wood down the middle and isn't going to sound like a jazz box unplugged. Factors like setup and string gauge also come into play. A semihollow will be louder unplugged than a typical solidbody but they aren't acoustic guitars and are made that way to prevent unwanted feedback.
 

bluesrules

Member
Messages
544
Yes, if a guitar has a output jack you shouldn't judge the sound quality unplugged. I know alot of people say "If a guitar doesn't sound good unplugged it won't sound good plug in either". It's true to a certain extent, what if a guitar had a vintage vibe plug in though? All guitars are different, which is a GOOD thing.

I did have a G&L ASAT semi-hollowbody Tele the sounded like heaven when played clean but lifeless at low grind. But other semi-hollowbodies I have can do both and more. Each guitar is different.
 

tcaron

Member
Messages
421
Definately plug it into a good tube amp before dumping it. I've got a Hagstrom Viking reissue, a PRS Semi-hollow SE and a Dean Stylist. Put good pickups into each one, which improved the depth and tone in every case. Gibson 59's in Hagstom, Seymour's in PRS and GFS in Dean.

The GFS pickups are incredible for the $.
 

bickertfan

Member
Messages
375
A lot of semi hollows I've tried had very thin sounding high e strings. Keep in mind many of these guitars are strung with 9 gauge strings from the factory, or at least it feels that way to me. I bought an es 135 a few years back and that guitar was one of the few semi hollow guitars that did not sound thin on the high e to my ears. Sometimes it's hard to tell in the stores if the guitars are poorly set up ( not tuned to standard pitch etc)
 

Dave Orban

Member
Messages
16,866
I think you need to hear the guitar through an amp, otherwise you are just chasing your tail. A 335 has a big block of wood down the middle and isn't going to sound like a jazz box unplugged. Factors like setup and string gauge also come into play. A semihollow will be louder unplugged than a typical solidbody but they aren't acoustic guitars and are made that way to prevent unwanted feedback.
Yup.
 

jtwang

Member
Messages
508
I know alot of people say "If a guitar doesn't sound good unplugged it won't sound good plug in either"
I'm one of those people and I think it's pretty much 100% true when it comes to solid-body guitars (assuming the pickups are +decent). Maybe that rule isn't true with semi-hollows... I don't know. For instance, my Sheraton sounds ok unplugged (after careful setup), but the sonic character is very far away from the sound through a good amp. Unplugged it's so and so at best; through the amp it's instant Clapton or Benson if I have a good day.

I'm pretty inexperienced when it comes to semi-hollows, but it would seem like the unplugged character of solid guitars is amplified via the amp, whereas semi-hollows takes off in a completely different direction when plugged in.
 

bluesrules

Member
Messages
544
but it would seem like the unplugged character of solid guitars is amplified via the amp, whereas semi-hollows takes off in a completely different direction when plugged in.
Yes that's what makes it a semi-hollowbody.

Why are you trying to get a semi-hollow sound like a solidbody, plugged in or unplugged? They are always going to be, and should be different
 

jtwang

Member
Messages
508
Why are you trying to get a semi-hollow sound like a solidbody, plugged in or unplugged?
I am..?

Maybe I was very unclear, but what I tried to say was this:

* solidbody amplified = solidbody unplugged + louder
* semi hollow amplified = something else + louder

The above is not a statement. I was just thinking out loud, comparing semis with solids and pondering the reasons why (and maybe if) semi-hollows sound like **** unplugged, but great via an amp.
 

bluesrules

Member
Messages
544
Play an electric guitar with an Amp. They got these new guitars called "acoustic's" that may get that unplugged sound your looking for.
 

JimmyR

Member
Messages
3,790
I love Guild Starfire IIIs, which are completely hollow. They sound awful acoustically - really bad. But plugged in they are amazing. 335s usually sound pretty good acousticallly but not very loud!
 




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