The guitar is probably the instrument that catches people’s attention the most in the audience, several renowned guitarists have caused this due to their crushing riffs and impressive solos.
Perhaps that is why it is the instrument of choice for first learners when they choose to enter the world of music.
Among so many options, it is always a difficult task to decide which guitar to buy:
An electric guitar? An acoustic? Metal or nylon strings?
What about a semi-hollow body guitar?
In today’s article we will discuss the latter:
Are semi-hollow body guitars good for beginners?
Semi-hollow guitars might not be the best option for novice guitar players because, although they are light in weight, their body shapes tend to be bulky, and not so comfortable for smaller players. Also, their resonance chamber will cause feedback issues when used with distortion.
Throughout this article, we will explain the reasons why I believe semi-hollow guitars can be complicated for novice players.
I will detail their characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages as well as the genres to which they are best suited.
What makes a good beginner guitar?
When getting into any type of skill, learners experience a process that involves certain steps.
Along this procedure, subjects could feel easily frustrated which is not good for starters because it is what leads them to drop out after a couple of tries.
Furthermore, avoiding those situations is crucial for starters but how can we do that? The best solution is always a good beginner guitar.
However, is hard to tell what novice guitar is the best for each player but we will help you to have a better understanding.
All guitar players have had their noob stage and although some of them could find it easy to progress, is not everyone’s case.
For those who need time to get the hang of the instrument comfort is essential and also one characteristic feature of a good guitar for starters.
The main point is how you feel the guitar while playing it.
The more comfortable your instrument is, the better you learn and the faster you get accustomed.
Another concerning issue is playability, meaning that the guitar should match the player’s style. In addition, simple pieces would be great for first learners.
Although you can find lots of fantastic mods such as coil-split and pickups in parallel or series wiring, try to avoid them because they will do nothing but confuse you.
Even whammy bars could be hard to understand by beginners, at least at the beginning.
Finally, money is not everything but some musicians believe that price is also a remarkable aspect of novice instruments.
This is strongly bound to the belief that some starters tend to give up easily.
Even though is not always that way, price is relevant, and if you don’t feel completely sure about playing guitar think it twice.
Otherwise, you will end up with a stored wooden piece only gathering dust.
Are semi-hollow guitars good for beginners?
As music is a way of art, musicians tend to break with standards so terms like “good” or “bad” are left aside.
However, we cannot ignore the existing characteristics of a guitar.
Semi-hollow guitars present a number of noticeable advantages for beginners.
The most common is the possibility of playing them without an amp.
They are playable without amplification due to their building method. You just have to practice in a quiet room or place and rely on the guitar soundboard.
And although they will not sound like an acoustic or like a plugged-in electric, their volume will be enough for you to practice.
Another benefit is the bright tone and definition semi-hollow pieces provide.
This is great for inexperienced musicians but it may vary as you progress or from player to player, based on preferences.
Nevertheless, we could face some drawbacks that make these guitars a bit hard to get accustomed to:
First of all, semi-hollow guitars are usually larger pieces that tend to trip starters up. Especially younger players.
In addition, their value is higher than a solid body guitar, because of their more complex construction type.
Although money is not everything, price is something relevant to bear in mind mainly for first learners.
Even if you can afford the instrument, you don’t want to spend a monstrous amount of money for something you may not use later.
Therefore, semi-hollow guitars might not be the way to go because of costs.
Having explained the pros and cons of a semi-hollow guitar, we may conclude that these kinds of guitars won’t be the best option for beginners.
Although some musicians realized that semi-hollow pieces offer the tone they have been seeking for years, that is something that a novice player won’t notice at the beginning.
And there are some other issues I will discuss further down.
Are semi-hollow guitars easy to play?
As mentioned above, semi-hollow guitars may not be a good choice for those who are taking their first steps on the instrument.
In the same way, we can also affirm that these pieces can be a challenge for inexperienced players.
One of the main reasons is their bulky body.
Compared to both electric and acoustic guitars, the semi-hollow body is much larger, which can cause discomfort for the user.
In addition, problems can arise when connecting the instrument to an amplifier.
Non-solid instruments can cause noisy feedback that the guitarist will have to deal with.
This is due to the microphonic resonance produced in semi-hollow guitars.
When played with high gain or distortion, these problems are even more noticeable, the noisy feedbacks appear more easily and can ruin your tone plus drive you crazy.
Because of all this and added to the reasons described before, we can infer the answer.
Semi-hollow guitars are not easy to play and need special attention, especially when they are amplified.
However, the concept of “hard” or “easy” are often subjective, what is difficult for someone could be a piece of cake for others.
I encourage you to try out different types of hollow body pieces and draw your own conclusions.
What music genres are semi-hollow guitars good for?
Hollow body guitars have been used in a wide range of different musical styles.
Due to the great versatility they offer, they can easily adapt to almost any genre.
Perhaps because of their elegant and luxurious appearance, these instruments are generally associated with jazz.
Due not to their appearance but to their sound, they are heavily used in this genre, in fact, they forged the sound of classic jazz.
We cannot forget the blues when talking about classical genres.
Just as jazz guitarists appreciated their tone, blues players loved the versatility that semi-hollow guitars offer.
With them, it is possible to achieve dirty tones and warm distorted sounds, perfect to evoke the emotion that always characterized the blues.
Musicians such as B.B. King or Lennon and Harrison have played semi-hollow guitars to create incredible masterpieces.
If we think of big hollow-body guitars, it is common to think of rock bands of any kind.
Not only do classic rock musicians play these distinctive guitars but they are also used by hard rock and alternative rock guitarists.
The distortion and overdrive build up the tone of rock, sounds that fit very well with semi-hollow guitars.
In addition to that, the soundboard provides a good low-frequency section.
Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters is one of the best examples.
Also, guitar legends such as Eric Johnson and Chuck Berry are famous for using this sort of instrument.
Thanks to their bright and warm yet sparkling sound we can also see these wooden pieces in indie as well as in funk.
The sharp and twangy tone that hollow-body guitars offer matches perfectly with those genres.
However, although they are highly adaptable and versatile for use in most genres, it is not advisable to use these guitars for styles such as metal and its derivatives.
This is due to the construction method used, the soundboard does not work well with the high gain distortions needed in the mentioned genre, causing unwanted feedback and noise issues.
Does it matter what model of semi-hollow guitar you choose?
In the market, it is possible to find different types, brands, and models of semi-hollow guitars.
Although they are generally more expensive than electric and acoustic guitars, there are several price options.
They also differ in size, shape, and electronics depending on the company that produces them.
You can find models from Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, and others.
Therefore, we can’t assume that the model of guitar you choose will be a defining playing factor.
Every musician is different and, as we said before, the guitar should adapt to the guitarist rather than the player to the instrument.
Take your time, research, and test your available options if you are going to choose a semi-hollow guitar as your first choice.
Try to see how it feels to the touch and if it meets your expectations and standards.
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.