Hollow bodies were the earliest amplified guitars, and despite the advent of the semi hollow and solid body styles, they really do still bring a special set of tones and features to the table that certain players love.
While today’s hollow body guitars are most popular with jazz players, there are some really dynamic models that can handle a much broader range of styles than the guitars of years gone by. In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we’ve covered the 7 best hollow body guitars on the market today.
When reviewing each model, we looked at their overall construction and build quality, their feel and playability, their tones, and any special features. We used the same settings on our Boss Katana Head and Katana cab for each review to keep things consistent.
If you’re in the market for a hollow body guitar and you’re not quite sure where to start, you’re definitely going to want to keep on reading!
- Our Top Picks for Best Hollow Body Electric Guitars
- Best Hollow Body Electric Guitars – Individual Reviews
- How To Choose the Best Hollow Body Electric Guitar for you
- Final Thoughts on the Best Hollow Body Guitars
Our Top Picks for Best Hollow Body Electric Guitars
Those looking for a great all rounder that provides pro grade performance at an attainable price need to check out our top pick, the PRS SE Hollowbody II. It has the styling and playability of a modern PRS electric guitar, a stunning figured top and back, and still delivers some gorgeous hollow body tones.
If you’re in the market for a more affordable option, our best value pick, the Ibanez Artcore AG75G delivers serious value for money. It’s a premium looking guitar at a wallet friendly price, offering great tones, easy playability, and awesome vintage jazzbox vibes.
For players who need the very best, our Editor’s Choice, the Taylor T5z Classic is our recommendation. This is one of the best sounding and playing guitars of any type that we’ve recently had the fortune to test, and the build quality is absolutely sensational.
Best Hollow Body Electric Guitars – Individual Reviews
The PRS SE Hollowbody II (full review here) is based on the well known PRS double cut body, of course with the key difference being that it’s a hollow body model. The body is made of a composite of woods, including beautifully figured maple on the top and back, with mahogany on the sides. Because the design is so comparable to a solid body model, we think this would make a great transition guitar for those who want a hollow electric, but who don’t particularly want a more traditional jazzbox.
PRS do necks very well, and that’s abundantly clear with this model. It had the Wide Fat neck profile, and it fit beautifully in the hand without feeling too thick. It’s also clear that wood selection is at the core of the PRS brand – even with their more affordable SE models, as evidenced by the fantastic ebony fretboard on this guitar.
Even though this was one of the best looking models in the roundup, the looks weren’t even the biggest appeal – that honor went to the tones. It had PRS 58/15 “S” humbucking pickups, which we found to be nice and bright, while also having great midrange presence and plenty of bottom end power. Played acoustically it offered great sustain and resonance, and had a really unique character.
The factory setup was absolutely perfect. There were no dead spots and no fret buzz anywhere to be found, the intonation was accurate, and the action was good and low. We found the tuning stability to be rock solid, aided of course by the quality bone nut, and the awesome PRS designed tuning machines.
Verdict: Overall, the PRS SE Hollowbody II is a great guitar for players of all abilities. It’s well built using stunning woods, it’s fantastically resonant and sounds great, and it offers some of the best playability you’ll find on any hollow body.
- Fantastic neck
- Great tonal range
- Includes hard case
- Only 1 master tone & 1master volume control
- Some might find the bottom end overpowering
The Ibanez Artcore AG75G (full review here) is made with linden on the top, back, and sides. This creates a lightweight and comfortable instrument that still produces a warm and rich tone that’s perfect for jazz players. The body was fully bound, including the F holes, adding a high end look to what is one of the most affordable hollow body jazz boxes on the market.
When it comes to the neck feel, the AG75G falls on the slimmer side, which made it very comfortable, and ideal for players with smaller hands. The 22 fret walnut fingerboard was also smooth, with great finger feel. The frets themselves were well finished, with nicely rounded edges, and proper leveling from top to bottom.
It was fitted with two Classic Elite humbuckers, giving it a wide range of tones to work with while keeping noise to a minimum. The neck position delivered warm, rounded tones that were perfect for jazz and blues, while the bridge position served up a bit more bite, and managed some decent overdriven rock tones.
Intonation was accurate thanks to the Gibraltor Performer bridge. Not only did it allow for fine adjustment, but it also provided a nice, low action without causing fret buzz. The VT06 tailpiece gave it a classic look while simultaneously lengthening the strings, reducing the tension and further improving comfort.
Verdict: All things considered, the Ibanez Artcore AG75G is an extremely impressive guitar. It’s well-built, sounds great, it comes loaded with great features, and is priced at a point to suit just about any budget. If you’re in the market for an affordable hollow body guitar with a great range of tones and classic vintage styling, this is a great choice.
- Light weight
- Dual humbuckers
- Great fretwork
- Plastic nut
- Nickel frets
The Taylor T5z Classic (full review here) is the newest and slimmest version of Taylor’s incredibly popular T5z series. Built with a mahogany top and sapele back and sides, it feels (and sounds) like a typical Taylor acoustic when played unplugged, but introduce an amp and it becomes a whole different guitar. Players who are used to solid body electric guitars will definitely enjoy the playing feel, which was described by one KGR staffer as being like “a Les Paul on the keto diet”.
We’re big fans of Taylor necks at KGR, and this one definitely reaffirmed that. It was made from sapele, and had a T5 profile, which is best described as an extremely slim D shape. It was about as comfortable as a neck can be, and as an added bonus, it was topped off with a fantastic ebony fretboard.
One of the things that makes the T5z so versatile was its ability to produce a huge variety of tones. To make such a wide array of tones, it made use of a unique electronics setup, including a hidden Samarium Cobalt humbucker in the neck position, an active top with a dynamic body sensor in the middle position, and another Samarium Cobalt humbucker in the bridge position. We were able to blend acoustic tones from the top sensor with more traditional electric tones from the humbuckers, and the results were outstanding.
It arrived strung with slick Elixir Nanoweb medium gauge strings, which when paired with the Taylor chrome tuners, resulted in excellent tuning stability. The factory setup was superb, and as a bonus, it also came with a custom fit gig bag.
Verdict: The Taylor T5z Classic is a versatile fantastically playable hollow body. It offers some of the most unique tones you’ll find in any hollow body guitar when plugged in, and yet it performs like a true acoustic guitar when you’re playing without electronics. The quality of the woods and the overall construction is superb, and we think even the most discerning guitar buyers would be more than happy with it.
- Comfortable slim body
- Incredible pickups
- Quality hardware
- Limited color options
The Gretsch G2420T Streamliner maintains the familiar Streamliner design as found on the solid and semi hollow models of the same name. This particular version is a hollow body model with a maple top, back, and sides. It had a single-cutaway body style, and we loved the comfort afforded by the arched top and back. It also had a sizeable cutaway for superb lower fret access.
It had a nato neck with a slick, Thin U shape profile. While we found the neck to be exceptionally comfortable, it was noticeably slowed down due to the use of a gloss finish that became sticky during extended use. The neck was topped with a laurel fretboard and 22 well finished medium jumbo frets.
We loved the Broad’Tron humbucking pickups; they delivered a rich, well balanced tone that absolutely nailed both blues and rockabilly styles. They gave us some wonderful cleans, and really handled high gain well, with very little feedback. The neck tones were fat and full, and the bridge was bright and responsive while avoiding harsh overtones.
One of the standout features of the Streamliner Hollowbody was the Bigsby trem system. It allowed us to add tons of different textures, and even opened up some surf rock tones. Even with heavy use, it didn’t impact the tuning stability, which is always a huge plus when vibratos are involved. We also found that the Adjust-o-Matic bridge was set up well, both in terms of playability and intonation.
Verdict: We found ourselves quite impressed with the Gretsch G2420T Streamliner. It’s got a great look, a comfortable neck profile, and ample tones to choose from thanks to the dual humbucking pickups. If you’re in the market for a new hollow body guitar with solid body styling and playability, this Gretsch might be a great option for you.
- Excellent brand prestige
- Bigsby vibrato system
- Great resonance
- Sticky gloss neck
- Laurel fretboard
The Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin is a classic jazzbox style guitar made with a solid Canadian wild cherry top, and laminated Canadian wild cherry back and sides. The body was finished with a beautiful thin satin lacquer, giving it an aged look and feel, and at just 4lb 15oz, it was incredibly light weight.
Continuing the theme of high end woods, it had a silver leaf maple neck, with a particularly chunky profile. Not all players will like the thickness of the neck, but the finish was excellent, which did help playability. We really liked the rosewood fretboard; it looked beautiful, with tight grain and great feel thanks to the super flat 16” radius.
It had the simplest electronics of all of the models in the roundup. There was a single neck mounted P90 that gave us a nice range of tones. With the volume cranked, and the gain up on our amp, we got some of the typical P90 snarl (albeit a little darker than it would be in the bridge position). With the volume rolled back, it was warm, and played with a delicate touch, it was quite articulate. It is worth noting that it was quite noisy, especially with high gain.
We found that it was appropriately appointed given its price point. It had an adjustable Graphtech Tusq bridge, which is ideal if you’re looking to adjust the action. The saddle was compensated, which helped with intonation, although, if you make other adjustments to your set up, you might find it difficult to dial the intonation back in.
The Godin branded tuners performed very well, offering just the right amount of resistance, and positively engaging the gear with even the smallest movement. They maintained tuning stability very well, and definitely aided the overall reliability.
Verdict: The Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin is a beautifully made instrument that sounds great and looks fantastic. It’s comfortable to play thanks to its smooth, satin neck finish, and its lightweight body. It delivers big on vintage tone thanks to its single P90 pickup, and its arched back really assisted with projection when played acoustically.
- Great P90 tone
- High end woods
- Extremely lightweight
- Single coil hum
- Fixed saddle
The D’Angelico Premier EXL-1 Hollowbody immediately stood out when it was unboxed. It came to us a in a timeless Satin Walnut finish, but it’s also available in Champagne and Ocean Turquoise if you’re looking for something flashier. It had a laminated spruce top, paired with laminated flamed maple on the back and sides. This combination of woods delivered some of the best acoustic performance of the entire field of test models, and we have to add, that the flamed maple looked sensational.
Fans of thick necks in particular will enjoy this D’Angelico. It had a beefy U shape profile that really filled the hand nicely. The finish on the neck was a particularly smooth satin and even though the neck was thick, it still played fast, and made reaching for jazz chords relatively easy. For us, the most disappointing feature of the guitar was the ovangkol fretboard, which was a little dry – something nicer like rosewood have been much better received, especially at this price.
The EXL-1 sounded great unplugged, thanks to its laminated spruce top, and when plugged in, it sounded even better. It had a single Duncan Designed mini humbucker in the neck position, and it was a real treat to play. Being a humbucker, it did a great job at cutting out the noise (like we experienced with the Godin), which in turn helped a lot with the clarity. It did warm, rounded cleans very well, and overdriven tones sounded great, but we did find that it was prone to feedback at high volume.
One of the biggest benefits of opting for this D’Angelico is the fantastic hardware that comes as standard, not only did it come with high performance Grover 109 Super Rotomatic tuners, but the tuning keys had a D’Angelico exclusive stairstep design that looked amazing. It had a height adjustable bridge, with compensated saddle for excellent intonation, and a fantastic stairstep tailpiece that beautifully complimented the art deco aesthetic.
Verdict: The D’Angelico Premier EXL-1 Hollowbody is a fantastic guitar that sounds great unplugged or amplified. Aesthetically, it’s definitely one of the prettiest hollow body guitars on the market, and of course, the Duncan Designed pickup delivers everything from fantastic jazz cleans, to some pretty crunchy overdriven rock tones.
- Duncan Designed pickups
- Gorgeous tailpiece
- Top of the range tuning machines
- Prone to feedback
- Dry fretboard
Starting with the construction, the Guild T-50 featured maple all around, with an arched maple top and back, paired with maple sides. It was a slim line model, meaning the body was on the thinner side, making it easy to hold and play for extended periods. Our test model arrived to us in a beautiful Vintage Sunburst finish, just like the original ‘60s model.
It had a 2 piece mahogany neck with a soft U profile. We thought it had a pretty vintage feel, and would definitely be geared more towards intermediate to advanced players, as it wasn’t the most forgiving neck. The neck was topped with a lovely ebony fretboard, and 20 well finished narrow jumbo frets.
The slim body did somewhat impact the acoustic projection. It still had a nicely balanced sound when played unplugged, but wasn’t particularly loud. When plugged in the single neck mounted Franz P90 delivered tons of warmth, and some strong, woody tones. Being a single pickup model, the control layout was simple, with just a master tone and a master volume knob. However, we were still able to get some great tonal variety just by making adjustments on the on board controls.
As you’d expect at this price point, it was quite nicely equipped. It had some gorgeous Grover “Sta-Tite” open gear tuners, which not only contributed to the vintage aesthetic, but also to the fantastic tuning stability and overall reliability of the guitar. It was nice to see individually adjustable saddles, too. With both height and horizontal adjustment capabilities, it’s a great guitar for dialing in the perfect setup.
Verdict: If you’re a working musician or experienced player looking for a comfortable, high quality hollow body with real vintage mojo, the Guild T-50 should be on your list to check out. It’s a versatile guitar that sounds good both acoustically and amplified, it’s extremely well made, and if you like your necks old school, you’ll love this Guild.
- Open gear tuners
- Adjustable saddle
- Ebony fretboard
- Weaker acoustic projection
- Unforgiving neck
How To Choose the Best Hollow Body Electric Guitar for you
With so many different hollow body options on the market, it can be tough to know where to start when shopping for one if you’re new to the style . To assist you in your decision making, we’ve provided a breakdown of everything you need to know about hollow body guitars to help you choose the best option for you.
One of the first things you’ll need to decide when shopping for a hollow body guitar is r body style you want. The most common options are archtops, but there are several other unique styles out there, too. Archtop guitars have a rounded body shape, with a pronounced curvature on the top, and sometimes on the back, too. This curvature not only looks great, but it also assists with the instrument’s acoustic projection properties, too – a helpful feature on these guitars, as they’re significantly slimmer than standard acoustics.
The downside to archtops is that they’re typically much larger than the average solid body, making them difficult for smaller or younger players to use, and even for larger players, fatigue is likely to set in much earlier when playing for extended periods.
Modern hollow body styles (in many cases) don’t look all that much different to standard solid body guitars. They typically have the best playability of all the hollow body guitars thanks to their slim bodies and necks. Additionally, they are more likely to have a modern electronics set up, which might not get the vintage tones quite right, but they certainly offer a bigger variety.
Of course, there’s a downside to the modern style models, and that is largely their acoustic performance tends to suffer (comparatively) due to the lower volume of air in their sound chambers.
Like any guitar, the type of wood used in the construction of a hollow body will have a big impact on its overall sound. Common tone woods used in Hollow body guitars include spruce, sapele, mahogany, and maple, and occasionally linden.
Spruce is a very versatile wood that can be used for a variety of genres, and boasts some of the best acoustic performance. Mahogany has a rich, full sound that is well suited for blues and jazz. Sapele is a more sustainable alternative to mahogany, and offers extremely similar tonal properties. Maple has a punchy sound that works very well for country and rock.
The earliest hollow body guitars were all single coil, as the humbucker hasn’t been released when they first went mainstream, and this is why you’ll largely see vintage style hollow body guitars with a single P90 in the neck (although some do have multiple pickups, including humbuckers).
P90s are heralded for their snarling tones when pushed into overdrive, and their bright clean tones. Unfortunately, like any single coil, they are prone to the hum caused by electrical interference, making them a noisy option.
The other main type of pickup found on hollow body guitars is the humbucker. This is a dual coil type pickup that uses reverse winding to cancel out the 60 cycle hum, resulting in a quieter guitar. In addition to being quieter, they have a higher output, and are warmer, with a fatter tone than P90s.
Final Thoughts on the Best Hollow Body Guitars
We had a blast trying out these amazing hollow body guitars. They’re a style we don’t cover often, making it something of a treat when we get them in to test. It’s easy to dismiss them as a plain old jazz tool, but is are a surprising amount of tonal variety that can be squeezed out of them if you know what you’re doing.
To recap our favorites, our top pick was the PRS SE Hollowbody II – it was a great player, it looked incredible, and had such a dynamic tonal range thanks to the dual humbuckers. Our best value choice was the Ibanez Artcore AG75G – this was a more traditional jazzbox style guitar, but it gave us excellent acoustic and amplified performance, and was built incredibly well, considering the price. Our top pick was the incomparable Taylor T5z Classic – this hybrid type guitar had some of the most interesting tones of any guitar we’ve ever put on test, and it was built in the USA, to the highest standards.