If music is your passion and the guitar is your weapon of choice, you are probably on the constant lookout for the perfect tone. If you haven’t yet explored what a semi-hollow guitar can add to your sound, welcome to the hybrid haven where hollow-body resonance couples with the sustain of solid bodies. In this guide, we will discuss the best semi-hollow guitar under $1000.
The Gretsch G5420T Electromatic is a mid-priced, hollow-body guitar hailing from China that is lauded for its smooth gameplay and lively, enticing sound. It features new trestle block bracing that strikes a balance between rigidity, stability, and resonance. The FT-5E Filter’Tron pickups contribute to an articulate sound that leans on the punchy side of the low-end notes while delivering a beautiful high-end output.
The guitar’s stunning polyester-azure-blue finish catches the eye, even if it might appear slightly rippled and thick in spots. The playability has been compared to more expensive instruments due to its 12″ radius that allows for easy string bends and effortless playing.
- Smooth playability, comparable to more expensive instruments
- Lively and engaging sound with zingy, feedback-resistant resonance
- FT-5E Filter’Tron pickups offer a balanced and articulate sound
- Beautiful polyester-azure-blue finish
- A comfortable neck shape and a 12″ radius fretboard
- High level of playability and sound quality for its price range
The Gretsch G5420T Electromatic is considered to be affordable and falls into the mid-priced guitar range.
There’s a lot to appreciate about the Gretsch G5420T Electromatic. Its flashy, over-the-top design, classic single-cut hollow body, and laminate maple body certainly catch your eye. It includes a gig bag, which is a nice addition, and the truss block bracing system actually does help to reduce feedback. The F5E filter pickups provide a full-bodied punch with enhanced presence and clarity that any tone enthusiast will appreciate.
The neck of the Gretsch G5420T Electromatic is a joy to wield, with a configuration that is player-friendly. A Bixby tremolo system that works well right out of the box is another plus point. I also quite like the vintage-inspired open-back tuners, which add to the overall look of the guitar.
In terms of tone, I found the Gretsch G5420T Electromatic to offer a unique and versatile sound. It’s great for jazz and blues, but can also handle rock and clean chicken-pickin” styles seamlessly. While it might produce some feedback, it can be controlled and even used creatively.
Overall, it’s a guitar that’s beautiful and versatile, with a unique and iconic sound that offers a high level of playability and sound quality for its price range. Despite its few cons, it’s an instrument that is definitely worth considering.
The PRS SE Hollowbody Standard is a high-quality, versatile guitar and a new addition to the renowned PRS SE series. The instrument is crafted in China by PRS partner Core-Tek Musical Instruments and boasts an impressive quality that belies its affordable price tag.
Its construct includes a completely hollow body except for a maple block that connects the back and top. It features a set mahogany neck with a bound ebony fretboard and classic bird inlays. Furthermore, it comes equipped with a pair of PRS 58/15 “S” humbuckers, offering a rich, articulated tone, and the hardware includes a PRS adjustable stop tail bridge and non-locking die-cast tuners.
The PRS SE Hollowbody Standard provides numerous benefits:
- Superb quality and playability
- Excellent versatility in different playing styles
- Lightweight, weighing around 6.5 pounds, which allows for comfortable play
- Impressive volume, resonance, and balance when played unplugged
- Rich and articulate tones from the PRS 58/15 “S” humbuckers
- Versatility in clean and overdriven settings due to the instrument’s sensitivity to picking attack and volume adjustments
- High-quality design suitable for gigging
The PRS SE Hollowbody Standard is known for its affordability without compromising on quality. Its pricing is consistent with the PRS SE series, which is reputed for offering reliable, high-quality guitars at more budget-friendly prices compared to other professional instruments.
Looking at the PRS SE Hollowbody Standard, there’s a lot to admire about this guitar. The fully hollow mahogany body alongside the laminate construction offers a warm, woody tone that resonates well. The wide fat neck profile paired with an ebony fingerboard and classic bird inlays adds to the guitar’s playability, and the 58/15 S pickups, new to the SE models, are a real enhancement, offering a rich and balanced tone across different settings.
The neck pickup provides warmth, while the bridge pickup brightens up without a discernible change in volume. This guitar is definitely versatile. Even with overdrive, it sings and wails confidently, providing a lively response. Needless to say, the guitar feels light and balanced, and the body size is comfortable, making it suitable for long gigs.
However, for those who prefer locking keys, you might be a tad disappointed as the PRS SE Hollowbody Standard comes with only standard PRS tuning keys. Nevertheless, locking key replacements are available for those who prefer them. Another notable aspect is the guitar’s country of origin – China, unlike other SE models made in Indonesia. However, there are no visible signs of its down-market price positioning or overseas origins.
All in all, the PRS SE Hollowbody Standard is an impressive, high-quality instrument with a versatile sound. It feels like a truly professional instrument and offers great value for its price, making it suitable for gigging without the need to spend more on a higher-end model.
The Godin 5th Avenue CW Kingpin II HD Cognac Burst is a guitar that caters to players across different expertise levels, from novice guitarists looking to delve into the world of jazz to seasoned professionals in need of a reliable backup instrument.
The guitar is celebrated for its excellent value and playability, with a body constructed from Canadian Wild Cherry that contributes to a full, rich tone when played acoustically. Its key features include two Godin-branded humbuckers that deliver a balanced and satisfying sound, in addition to minimal controls that make it an ideal choice for jazz guitarists.
- Made from Canadian Wild Cherry for a full, rich tone
- Features two Godin-branded Humbuckers for a balanced sound
- Minimalist controls perfect for jazz guitarists
- Solid maple neck with a rosewood fretboard for a comfortable playing experience
- Well-finished, compensated wood bridge and high-quality tuners for excellent intonation and tuning stability
- Wide range of tones for versatility across various music genres
- Impressive build quality with attention to detail
- At a reasonable price point for a vintage-inspired archtop guitar with modern playability
The Godin 5th Avenue CW Kingpin II HB Cognac Burst comes with a reasonable price point, making it a highly-valued choice for those seeking a vintage-inspired archtop guitar with modern playability.
Speaking from a player’s perspective, this guitar is appreciated for its classic vintage tone and modern playability. The body is crafted from Canadian wild cherry and designed with a moulded archtop and back, which not only adds to its aesthetic value but also contributes to its unique sound quality.
One of the major advantages of the 5th Avenue CW is the versatility it offers in terms of sound. It accommodates a broad spectrum of genres, spanning from alt-country to delta blues, and even rock. The guitar’s P-90 pickups, a product of Godin’s own brand, are known for their quality and tone. When played acoustically or electrically, it sounds impressive in both settings, making it a highly versatile instrument.
This guitar is not just about performance, its build quality is also noteworthy. The detail-oriented design and consistent finish add to the overall aesthetic appeal. Additionally, the guitar’s lightweight and resonant full hollow body gives it a unique honky midrange sound, setting it apart from traditional archtop acoustic guitars.
On the downside, there are a few issues, such as a discrepancy noted in the transition between the G and B strings. This could potentially affect the playing experience for some musicians. However, bearing in mind all the features and advantages, the Godin 5th Avenue CW is undoubtedly a well-built guitar with a vintage aesthetic and a versatile sound. Indeed, it presents itself as a great option for players in search of a unique and classy instrument.
The ESP LTD Xtone PS-1000 is a professional-grade, semi-hollow-bodied guitar that is suited to a range of genres, including metal, pop, jazz, and indie rock. Made in Indonesia, it’s part of ESP LTD’s Xtone series and is appreciated for its high-quality tone, feel, looks, and performance.
This versatile guitar features a set-thru 3-piece maple neck on a mahogany body, LTD locking tuners, a TonePros locking TOM bridge and tailpiece, and Seymour Duncan Phat Cat pickups that offer a blend of P-90 single coil and humbucker tones. It’s available in multiple finishes, including Vintage Black, Blue Sparkle, Purple Sparkle, and Violet Shadow, and it comes with a form-fit case.
- High-quality tone suited to a range of genres
- Set-thru 3-piece maple neck
- Mahogany body, contributing to a rich and full-bodied sound
- LTD locking tuners for enhanced tuning stability
- TonePros locking TOM bridge and tailpiece
- Seymour Duncan Phat Cat pickups that offer a blend of P-90 single coil and humbucker tones
- A variety of finishes: Vintage Black, Blue Sparkle, Purple Sparkle, Violet Shadow
- 22 XJ stainless steel frets
The ESP LTD Xtone PS-1000 comes with a case, adding to its overall value.
From the perspective of users and reviewers, there’s much to like about the ESP LTD Xtone PS-1000. Its Seymour Duncan Fat Cats pickups are particularly appreciated, providing a modern P90 sound that doesn’t get fuzzy in the lows. The neck pickup is noted for its responsiveness to picking technique, which allows for diverse playing styles, while the bridge pickup is praised for its excellent performance on high notes.
The guitar’s thin U-shaped contour on the neck adds to its playability, providing a fast yet comfortable playing experience. Despite being a semi-hollow body guitar, the hollow chamber doesn’t significantly affect the sound, thanks to the neck-through design and thick top. With a weight of around 7 pounds 4 ounces, it is well-balanced, which is another positive point highlighted by users.
The ESP LTD Xtone PS-1000 is often described as having a vintage vibe but designed for modern players. However, it is worth mentioning that despite its all-around high praise, its versatility might not suit those who prefer specialized or niche tones.
The Epiphone Uptown Kat ES is a sophisticated successor of Epiphone’s popular “Kat” archtop guitar. This guitar showcases a genuine ES-style semi-hollow body archtop design. It’s equipped with new Epiphone ProBucker FB720 mini-humbuckers.
Complementing the core design are Grover Rotomatic tuners and a Graph Tech nut. This guitar is available in four metallic finishes: Sapphire Blue, Ruby Red, Emerald Green, and Topaz Gold. The body of the Uptown Kat ES is constructed from 5-ply Maple/Poplar, which lends it a premium look and feel. Its neck is crafted from maple, and the fingerboard is ebony, featuring pearloid block inlays.
- True ES-style semi-hollow body archtop design
- Newly designed Epiphone ProBucker FB720 mini-humbuckers
- 5-ply Maple/Poplar body with black and white binding
- SlimTaper C-profile maple neck
- Ebony fingerboard with pearloid block inlays
- LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge and a trapeze tailpiece
- Grover Rotomatic 18:1 tuning machines
- 3-way Epiphone toggle pickup selector
- Variety of metallic finishes
An optional hard case for the Epiphone Uptown Kat ES is available for purchase.
As a player, the Epiphone Uptown Kat ES is an impressive instrument. Its compact semi-hollow design, coupled with the lightweight maple centre block, significantly reduces feedback. The guitar takes a leap from its predecessors with upgraded appointments such as gold hardware and a gold trap piece tailpiece, which not only add to the aesthetics but also enhance the overall playing experience.
The Kalamazoo headstock with the Epiphone badge logo is a splendid nod to the brand’s rich history. It’s equipped with an Ebony fretboard and block inlays that, along with the mahogany neck, add to the rigidity and deliver a woody mid-range tone. The 3-way toggle switch creates a smoother switching experience by reducing noise, while the Epiphone FB mini-humbucker pickups offer quiet operation and articulate sound.
For players who crave versatility, the Uptown Kat ES is a sound choice, offering individual volume controls for the treble and rhythm pickups, a master tone control, and a master volume control. These features allow for presetting the desired output level and easily adjusting the volume for different playing styles. The guitar is versatile in tones, suitable for jazz passages, and more aggressive playing styles alike.
However, on the flip side, the gold cinematic bridge, despite its aesthetic appeal, might need some getting used to for some players. While the bridge does provide improved string stability, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But let’s not forget, this is a small trade-off for a guitar that offers much more in terms of features, design, and performance.
The Fender Jim Adkins JA-90 Telecaster Thinline is a unique semi-hollow electric guitar, born from a collaborative effort between Fender and Jimmy Eat World frontman, Jim Adkins. Based on Adkins’ TC-90 Telecaster, the guitar incorporates special design modifications to create a singular sonic experience. This guitar features a semi-hollow ash body, a maple set neck with a modern “C”-shaped profile, and a 9.5″-radius laurel fingerboard with 22 medium jumbo frets.
It’s equipped with dual Seymour Duncan SP90 single-coil pickups, a three-way toggle pickup switch, and four control knobs for precise volume and tone adjustments. The JA-90 Telecaster Thinline manages to blend the classic twang of a Telecaster with the rich warmth of a semi-hollow body, making it a versatile choice for various genres, including alternative rock and pop-punk.
- Semi-hollow ash body for a lightweight and comfortable playing experience
- Dual Seymour Duncan SP90 single-coil pickups for versatile tone
- Modern “C”-shaped profile on a maple set neck for comfortable playing
- Three-way toggle pickup switch and four control knobs for precise sound adjustments
- Adjusto-Matic bridge and anchored tailpiece for improved tuning stability and intonation
- Excellent sustain and strong unplugged sound
The JA-90 Telecaster Thinline is priced at $1,099.99 and is available for purchase currently.
Looking at the JA-90 Telecaster Thinline, I’m impressed with its versatility and comfortable design. The semi-hollow ash body is lightweight, making it a pleasure to play for extended periods. The 22 medium jumbo frets offer good access to treble and easy bending on the 22nd fret, which is a big plus.
The neck pickup delivers a round and thick sound, with an accurate clear tone that’s ideal for various genres like rock, blues, funk, soul, and hard rock. The bridge pickup is catchy and incisive in distortion, adding depth and richness to the guitar’s overall sound.
The guitar is crafted in Indonesia and boasts clean finishes, adding to its aesthetic appeal. However, some users have pointed out that the stock hardware, such as the bridge, tailpiece, and tuners, may not be of the highest quality. While they are functional, some might find a need to replace them for improved playability and sound quality.
Despite this, the JA-90 Telecaster Thinline stands out with its excellent sound and good price-to-quality ratio, making it a worthy consideration for players seeking a unique and versatile guitar.
The Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AG95QA is a hollow-body electric guitar revered for its classic tone and vibe. Part of the esteemed Artcore series by Ibanez, it features a quilted ash top, back, and sides, finished with ivory binding on the body, headstock, and fingerboard. The guitar also boasts a 3-piece maple/mahogany set-in neck with a bound ebony fretboard and pearl block inlays, and is equipped with two Ibanez original Super 58 Custom pickups, widely recognized for their warm, balanced articulation and excellent response.
The AG95QA also sports a fixed ART-1 bridge and a trapeze tailpiece, complemented by gold hardware. The dark brown sunburst finish further adds to its allure, delivering a classic hollow-body tone and vibe.
- Quilted ash top, back, and sides with ivory binding for enhanced resonance and a unique look.
- Two Ibanez original Super 58 Custom pickups for warm, balanced articulation and excellent response.
- Full-hollow body construction for a rich and resonant sound.
- A 24.7-inch scale length and a medium-sized frets for comfortable playability.
- Built for a wide range of styles, from rock to jazz.
- Comes with a 2-year warranty from the manufacturer.
The Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AG95QA is priced at $895.54. However, keep in mind that the price does not include a case or any additional accessories, which need to be bought separately.
From a first-person perspective, I find the AG95QA to be a truly superior guitar with an attractive dark brown sunburst finish and full hollow body design. Its wood pickguard enhances its overall look, making it a visually appealing instrument. When played, the guitar feels solid and resonates well. The noticeable difference in playability compared to a less expensive guitar makes the AG95QA seem more valuable.
As a rhythm guitar, it excels in genres like fusion and blues, although its low-end sound also makes it well-suited for jazz music. The pickups and sound of the AG95QA appear to be preferred over the previous model, the rose gold metallic flat AF75G. However, it should be noted that the sound is slightly non-standard for a jazz guitar, emitting a brighter and sharper tone.
Despite these benefits, some minor issues might surface. For instance, there may be some fret buzzing, and a slight crack sound may be heard when played through an amplifier. Despite these minor drawbacks, the AG95QA remains a decent deal for its price, providing a blend of style and functionality that many guitarists would appreciate.
A semi-hollow guitar blends the best of both solid-body and hollow-body guitars. It has a solid centre block running through the body, which reduces feedback issues often seen in fully hollow guitars and enhances sustain.
This unique construction allows for a wider tonal range: the hollow sections create a warm, resonant tone reminiscent of an acoustic guitar, while the solid centre block offers the sustain of a solid-body guitar. Such a combination makes the semi-hollow guitar versatile, apt for old-school country, jazz, blues, and pop.
Popular models include the PRS SE Zach Myers, known for its chambered mahogany body and maple top; the affordable Epiphone Wildkat Royale with its vintage vibes; the Ibanez Artcore AS73G, famous for its warm tone and comfort; and the Guild Starfire I DC, which many guitarists love for its resonant and airy tone. When selecting a semi-hollow guitar, it’s pivotal to consider your musical goals and playing style.
Semi-hollow guitars are lauded for their warm dynamics, sustains, thrilling overtones, and sculpted mid-tones. Their design makes them adaptable across rock, blues, jazz, and country. However, their large cavities mean they’re more prone to feedback, but the central block counteracts this, making feedback manageable even at loud volumes.
Notable semi-hollow models under $1000, such as the PRS SE Zach Myers, Epiphone Wildkat Royale, Ibanez Artcore AS73G, and Guild Starfire I DC, offer both sound quality and ease of play. When considering a purchase, your sound preference will dictate your choice between semi-hollow and hollow-body guitars.
Some recommend the Gretsch G5655T Electromatic Jr and the Epiphone Casino for their tone versatility, while the Epiphone ES-335 is favoured for rock and blues.
Many quality options are available in the $500-$1000 range, and upgrades like the Gibson 57 classic pickup can significantly elevate the tone, allowing the guitar’s natural resonance to flourish.
As we’ve seen, semi-hollow guitars offer a unique blend of features and versatility that cater to a broad gamut of musical styles and tonal preferences. Each of the models discussed in this article showcases the quality, craftsmanship, and player-friendly features that can be found in semi-hollow guitars priced under $1000.
Whether it’s the lively twang of the Gretsch G5420T Electromatic, the rich and versatile tone of the PRS SE Hollowbody Standard, or the vintage aesthetic and unique sound of the Godin 5th Avenue CW Kingpin II, there’s a semi-hollow guitar out there that can make your musical visions a reality.
The ESP LTD Xtone PS-1000 and Epiphone Uptown Kat ES bring vintage vibes to modern players, offering a blend of style and functionality. The unique features of the D’Angelico Premier DC 12-string and the Fender Jim Adkins JA-90 Telecaster Thinline make them stand out. At the same time, the Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AG95QA impresses with its superior build quality and striking looks.
This genre of guitars cuts across price brackets to deliver a stellar performance, making semi-hollow guitars a valuable addition to any musician’s collection. They offer a plethora of opportunities to explore and express your musicality, regardless of the genre you play.