If you are in a hurry and want to find out what is the best hollow body guitar under $1000, I recommend Gretsch G5420T Electromatic. It’s comfortable to play, sounds great and the quality is high. It’s also quite versatile instrument.
Choosing the best hollow body guitar under $1000 will get you a great axe to conquer the world of blues and jazz.
These instruments are chunky-sounding, full-bodied music makers. With a great hollow body, you can really bring your soulful riffs and licks to life.
Let’s first look at these fine guitars, and at the end of this post, you’ll find a buyer’s guide that helps you to make the right choice.
In this post, I’m going to recommend/review the following guitars:
- Gretsch Guitars G5420T Electromatic
- D’Angelico Premier EXL-1 Hollow-Body
- Godin 5th Avenue CW Electric Guitar
- Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AG95QA
- Gretsch G100CE Synchromatic
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Best Hollow Body Guitars Under $1000
Best Overall – Gretsch Guitars G5420T Electromatic
The G5420T Electromatic is outfitted with powerful Black Top FilterTron humbuckers. These kick out big tone that boosts your bottom end.
Even with this low-end drive, you get a lot of treble definition thanks to the maple body.
It’s an all-around smooth-sounding hollow body that takes you back in time to the first days of the electric guitar.
Here’s how the Electromatic sounds:
This is a pretty big guitar with a 24.6-inch scale length. Its body is big too, so it might not be ideal for small players.
But, if you think you can manage it, the rest of the build is perfectly playable. It’s got a standard “U”-shaped neck profile that adds to the vintage feel and medium jumbo frets perfect for gripping strong chords.
The neck of the G5420T is finished with gloss urethane. If you’ve got sweaty hands, this can feel a bit sticky at times.
In most ways, this is a perfect hollow body. If you’re looking for an old-timey playing experience, you can’t do much better than a Gretsch.
Body build quality is great, along with the construction of most other parts.
The only issue I have with this model is its tuning machines. They’re not awful, but when you’re paying this much for a guitar I think you could expect better.
They generally hold stable, but might wear out after a few months and could stand to be replaced out the gate.
- Vintage build for historic playing experience
- Bigsby vibrato tailpiece so you can personalize your riffs
- Maple body adds snap to the tone
- FilterTron pickups deliver powerful tones
- Susceptible to feedback
- Unreliable tuning machines
Gretsch was one of the first big names in hollow body guitars. They’ve carried their legacy well and continue to make great semi-acoustics with 1930’s looks and sound.
Of all Gretsch models, the G5420T Electromatic ranks at the top of their lower cost hollow bodies.
Best for Jazz – D’Angelico Premier EXL-1 Hollow-Body
If you’re looking for a jazz guitar, this is a great choice. D’Angelico designed their Premier EXL-1 specifically for jazz styles.
It’s got a bright, springy voice pushed out by its single mini-humbucker. Thanks to the spruce + maple tonewood combo, it’s well-balanced throughout the ranges.
The mini-humbucker is great for giving you a bell-like jazz tone, but not for much else. So, this model isn’t the right choice if you want to play any kind of rock.
Here’s how this beauty sounds like:
The body curves of the Premier EXL-1 make it a really comfortable guitar to hold. Sure, it’s big, but it’s manageable for most players.
Breaking from the vintage design of hollow bodies, this guitar comes with a C-shaped neck profile. This lets you play precise jazz scales with no problem and hammer chords as you need.
D’Angelico makes a solid selection of guitars. Though this model is factory-made with laminate woods, it’s crafted to be a true performer.
I love the looks of it and it feels like a really dependable axe. All the hardware is top-notch, keeping you in tune for ages.
Though it only has one pickup, it’s a high-performing Duncan-designed piece that does what it was intended to do.
- Spruce top and maple body form a well-balanced tone
- A chiming signature sound perfect for jazz
- Set-thru neck joint increases resonance and sustain
- Stairstep tailpiece looks great and aids tuning stability
- Not versatile for many genres
- Single humbucker reduces tonal variance
I usually ask for more versatility from my instruments because I play many different genres. Since the Premier EXL-1 is specified for jazz, it’s not my favorite guitar. But, it’s still a great hollow body with a sweet tone and a great overall design.
If you’re a jazz enthusiast looking for the perfect hollow body, this is one of the best guitars you could go with.
Best for Unique Tone- Godin 5th Avenue CW Electric Guitar (Kingpin II, Cognac Burst)
The wild cherry body of the Godin 5th Avenue CW Kingpin II gives you a unique tone I’ve heard nowhere else. It’s creamy and smooth but has a certain bite in the mid-range that hits harder than expected.
Its maple neck adds snap to the tone that’s rounded out just the right amount by the rosewood fingerboard.
A shame to me is their choice of single-coil pickups. In my opinion, hollow bodies absolutely need humbuckers to keep the feedback down.
With the single coils, yes, you get a crispier tone that’s great for blues and jazz. But, with even a little bit of distortion, you start to hear feedback squeals.
Listen to how this guitar sounds:
With a lightweight build, this is a guitar you could rock with all night long. The smooth-shouldered single-cutaway gives you easy access to the highest frets. So, you can riff all over the neck without much issue in terms of reach.
The neck profile is Godin’s signature Kingpin shape. This style has a lot less curve than most neck shapes which can feel odd at first.
Once you get used to it, it’s pretty pleasant to play, but big chords on the wide neck might fatigue your hands a little faster than other guitars.
The strongest point of this hollow body is its build quality. Godin is one of my favorite guitar brands because of the attention to detail they put into the construction.
All of their guitars are handmade by a team of talented luthiers. You can be sure nothing is overlooked in putting these axes together.
The frets come finely ground and polished. The necks are perfectly set. All the electronics are solidly soldered, so you have no worry of loose connections.
In addition to these qualities, the wood is select high-grade as well and is responsibly sourced from local forests.
- Beautiful wild cherry finish
- Wild cherry body wood gives unique tone
- Single coil pickups kick up the treble and give mid-range punch
- Handcrafted construction ensures a quality build
- Gives way to feedback extremely easily
- Wide, flat neck profile can be uncomfortable
While I’d love this guitar a lot more if it had humbuckers, it’s designed to be as snappy and crystalline as can be. I’m a big fan of Godin and believe they know what they’re doing. So, the single-coil pickups get a pass.
As long as you’re playing clean genres, this is a top-notch hollow body you should check out.
Best Budget (and for Distorted Genres) – Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AG95QA
The tone of the Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AG95QA is much closer to electric than acoustic. Since Ibanez is known for their electric models, this is really no surprise.
They use quilted ash in the body of this axe, which not only looks amazing but sounds great too. The tone of ash gives you the perfect blend between warmth and brightness.
A maple neck and ebony fretboard serve to kick up the articulation, so each note comes crisp and clear.
All of this is transmitted through heavy-duty Super 58 humbuckers. Unlike most hollow body pickups, these are covered, meaning you can add overdrive to your tone without feedback issues.
This makes the AG95QA great for a wide range of genres, letting you dive deeper into rock than other semi-acoustics.
Here’s how this guitar sounds like:
Ibanez is renowned for their fast-playing necks. While this hollow body isn’t fitted with anything as slim as their trademark Wizard necks, the Expressionist profile is still sleek and comfortable.
The guitar as a whole is pretty comfortable. It’s a good deal slimmer and smaller than other hollow bodies. The bottom bout is reduced in size to fit most players no matter their build. Plus, ash is lightweight so you won’t suffer from easy fatigue.
You can pull off tapping, arpeggios, and other nifty tricks with no problem.
The ebony fretboard goes a long way in adding to your speed. The moment you hit a note, the sound shines through so your fingers can fly.
As far as hollow bodies go, this is on the low-price end. For the most part, it’s a decent build, but the main problem is the bridge.
The wheels seem hastily assembled and don’t turn as they should. This can be a problem in your initial set up and might need to be redone by a guitar tech.
Another, less important issue is Ibanez’s use of cheap plastic for the nut and saddle. Replace these with bone pieces and you’ll greatly improve this guitar’s overall tone.
- Reduced body size for comfortable playing feel
- Plate-covered humbuckers allow for lots of distortion
- Slim Expressionist neck profile increases speed and comfort
- Individual tone knobs give you a wide range of variable sounds
- The bridge is low-quality and may need replacing
- Cheap nut and saddle material might need upgrading at some point
This is the lowest cost option on this list and one of my favorite hollow body models. It’s versatile and fun to play, but it’s just a little bit cheap in some of the finer construction details.
Best for Vintage Experience- Gretsch G100CE Synchromatic Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar
When you want a stripped-down, mid-20th century jazz tone, you want a guitar like this Gretsch G100CE.
While its voice isn’t exactly my cup of tea, it goes a long way in giving vintage jazz enthusiasts the sweet, sharp sounds of that genre.
Personally, I don’t get enough power out of the standalone single coil pickup to make me happy. But, if you want to experience the tone of 1940’s jazz, this is about as close as you can get.
Hear how The Synchromatic sounds like:
The matte finish of this model gives it silky smooth playability. If you can work with the wide, thick neck shape, you’ll have a fun time jamming out.
With a naturally oily rosewood fingerboard, the response is pleasant. It’s a great build if you’re looking to reconnect with jazz history.
However, if you want to really shred, you’ll probably be better off finding a model with a thinner neck.
This is on the lower-end of Gretsch’s guitars. In general build quality, it’s all right. The body and neck are firmly joined. The body is high-quality maple laminate and the 3-piece neck holds up to the rigors of performance well.
In terms of hardware, there’s nothing to complain about. The tuners are good, the bridge is typical of Gretsch’s high quality, and the tailpiece is secure and solid.
But, the pickup seems to have been installed without much care. There’s a significant amount of static when you turn the knobs. Plus, feedback is pretty much inevitable with this design.
- True-to-form 1940’s design
- Classic style neck, frets, body, and pickup give historical sound and feel
- Good, crisp tone for jazz and clean blues
- Maple construction lacks punch with only one pickup
I’ve included this guitar simply because it gives you the closest experience you can get to old-timey hollow body musicianship. It plays like a true classic, but that’s not exactly a perk. The guitar design has come a long way since the 1940s.
So, if you want a versatile, great-sounding hollow body, you can do better than this G100CE. But for folks looking for a vintage experience, this guitar is a great choice.
Ironically, Gretsch is taking both the winning spot and the losing spot in this review for me.
Gretsch Electromatic models are, in my opinion, one of the best hollow body guitars on the market. They’re fun, classic, versatile, and sound great. The G5420T is, for most applications, an awesome pick.
I’m mostly unimpressed by the G100CE. It’s fun for a while, sure. But, if you’re looking to hit the studio or the stage, you’ll need more tone than it provides. It just lacks versatility. So if you are looking for an all-arounder, I don’t recommend G100CE for you.
All these guitars are still excellent instruments and my absolute favorites on the market. You are probably not going to be disappointed, no matter which one you choose.
Should You Get a Hollow Body Guitar?
Hollow body guitars are vintage-style instruments that came to be in the 1930s.
If you’re an old soul who craves classic tones, hollow-body guitars can supply you with the antique sound you’re seeking.
In the Under $1000 price range you’ll find an assortment of high-quality axes ready for the stage and studio.
I’d recommend these to any serious-minded musician looking to tap into the roots of blues and jazz music.
However, these pricey guitars might be a bit impractical for beginners. There are good hollow bodies for lower prices that will suit your needs if you’re not quite ready to gig.
What Is a Hollow Body Guitar Good For?
These axes have fat, full voices that sing best in older styles of music. Blues and jazz rose to popularity thanks to hollow-body guitars.
You’ll notice when you play one that they have a time-honored tone full of warmth and roundness. They’re also called semi-acoustics because they combine the best of acoustics and electrics into one instrument.
They’re great guitars for softer genres of rock, from pop-rock to the classic rock tones of the 50s and 60s.
Usually, they’re equipped with humbucker pickups. This lets them handle a decent amount of gain without screaming with feedback. So, you can crank up the grind a bit for your harder rock jams.
What Are the Benefits of a Hollow Body Guitar?
Hollow body guitars are the first point of middle ground between acoustic and electric axes.
You get the warmth and earthiness provided by acoustics combined with the amped-up power of electrics.
Their thick, full voices make them excellent rhythm guitars. Still, they’ve got enough high-end definition to pull off fantastic blues and country leads.
On top of dirty blues licks, you can play a hollow body completely clean for an equally impressive sound. They work beautifully with effects like chorus or slight reverb for genres like folk and jazz.
What to Look for in a Hollow Body Guitar?
When you buy any guitar, there’s a certain quality checklist you should go through to make sure you’re getting an instrument that works for you.
The first thing on this list is pretty obvious. You should definitely look the guitar over for signs of damage. Common damage will be cracks in the wood, scratches or chips in the finish, and poor connections between the neck and body.
After this, you should check the frets for sharp edges and dents. Next, check the tuning machines by detuning and retuning to make sure they hold position and turn easily.
If the frets and tuners are all right, look the neck over for signs of damage and warping. Some neck issues can be easily fixed, but serious curves are something you should pass on.
Those are the easiest things to inspect on your quality checklist. If you want to read more about the full process, this article will walk you through every inspection point.
In a hollow body guitar, you should make sure the electronics don’t crackle and pop when you turn the knobs.
Make sure it’s not too big or heavy for you. These guitars can be pretty bulky, and you want to go home with an instrument that’s comfortable to play.
Crank up the gain in small steps and see if you can get the fuzz you want without feedback. Feedback at low volumes will be a sign of poor construction or low-quality pickups.
Finally, play around with it to ensure it has a tone you’re happy with. Minor changes can be made with EQ controls on your amp. But, if the overall tone doesn’t suit you, wait to find a guitar that does.
Hollow body guitars are amazing instruments and these above were the absolute best that you can find for under 1000 bucks.
I hope that this post helped you to find the right guitar for you. If you have any questions, leave a comment down below and feel free to share this post too.
I wish you all the best and keep rocking!