5 Best Hollow Body Guitars Under $1000 – Buyer’s Guide

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Best Overall – Gretsch G5420T Electromatic

Sound
Playability
Overall Quality
Value for Money

Summary

My favorite hollow body for 90% of the players out there…

The Tone?

This Electromatic is outfitted with powerful Black Top FilterTron humbuckers. These kick out a 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. So the tone is not muddy and you can hear all the notes played clearly.

What about the playability?

It’s got a standard “U”-shaped neck profile that adds to the vintage feel and medium jumbo frets perfect for gripping strong chords.

With the right setup, playing is comfortable, and hitting the right strings and frets is effortless. But because it’s big size (both neck & body), this Gretsch is not the best fit for really small hands.

And the looks…

Just beautiful. Plus there are several color options to choose from!

If all this sounds good, click the button below to see if this fits your budget(and to see more photos), and then come back here to learn more!

4.8

How G5420T Electromatic sounds:

YouTube video


The Next Best:

Runner-Up – PRS SE Hollowbody Standard


Our Overall Rating

Summary

It’s a PRS SE, and it has the quality you would expect from one.

It can’t beat up Original PRS’s, but for the price, it’s a great pick.

It’s one of the best options if you are looking for a:

  • chunky body and neck,
  • smooth playability
  • full and warm tones.

Sounds good? Check the price and come here to learn more!

Best for Unique Tone – Godin 5th Avenue CW


Our Overall Rating

Summary

Unqiue.

Mix of a Cherry-body and P90 pickups give us something that is unique.

If you are looking for an regular sounding hollow body, this is not the best pick.

But if you are after a little bit brighter tone plus wide neck(1.72”), this Godin is a great option.

…it looks beautiful for sure!

Best Budget – Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AG95QA


Our Overall Rating

Summary

One of my favorite hollow body models.

It’s versatile, sounds good, and fun to play, but it’s just a little bit cheap in some of the finer construction details (plastic nut for example).

Plus, plate-covered humbuckers give this axe solid sound with distortion.

If you would rather go well under $1000, this is my favorite pick!

Best for Vintage Experience- Gretsch G100CE Synchromatic


Our Overall Rating

Summary

This gives you the closest experience you can get to old-timey hollow body musicianship.

Not modern, but looks amazing.

Not the most versatile, but offers great crisp tones for blues and jazz.

There is no way that this could be ”The Best Overall” for me…

But I still like it A LOT, and it might be awesome pick for some players.

Here’s A Decision Tree to Help You Out:

decision tree that helps visitors to make the best choice possible

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Choosing a hollow body guitar for just under $1000 will get you a great axe to conquer the world of blues, jazz, and classic rock.

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.

Who crafted this article:

Tommy Tompkins Profile Picture 2

Author: Tommy Tompkins

Playing guitar since 2004. Primarily an acoustic guitarist who plays and writes traditional American folk music, with a background in melodic metal and a solid foundation as a bassist.

reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Editing & Research: Teemu Suomala

Playing guitar since 2009. Mainly focused on electric guitars, although plays acoustics too. Started this blog in January 2020.

Use the table of content to jump to the section you want:

Here are a couple of comparison graphs that I made for you, hopefully this help!

Specs:

helps users compare the specs of hollow body guitars under $1000

Tones That The Pickups of These Guitars Offer (In My Opinion)

graph that reveals how pickups of these hollow body guitars sound

Tonewood’s affect the tones, but ”how much?” is the right question to ask. I would pay some attention to the tonewoods:

How tonewoods affect the sound of hollow body guitars under $1000

Body: 5-Ply Maple

Neck: Maple

Fretboard: Rosewood

Specs from Gretsch’s site

Body: Mahogany

Neck: Mahogany

Fretboard: Ebony

Specs from PRS’s site

Body: Canadian Wild Cherry

Neck: Silver Leaf Maple

Fretboard: Rosewood

Specs from Godin’s site

Body: Quilted Ash

Neck: 3pc Nyatoh/Maple

Fretboard: Bound Macassar Ebony 

Specs from Ibanez site

Body: Laminated Maple

Neck: Maple

Fretboard: Rosewood

Specs from Gretsch’s site.

Best Hollow Body Guitars Under $1000

Best Overall – Gretsch Guitars G5420T Electromatic

Sound

It’s how you would expect hollow body to sound.

The G5420T Electromatic is outfitted with powerful Black Top FilterTron humbuckers. These kick out big tone that boosts your bottom end.

Tones are:

  • Warm
  • Thick
  • Full
  • Mellow

And even with this low-end drive, you get a lot of treble definition thanks to the maple body. So the tones are not muddy or too warm.

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:

YouTube video

Playability

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 the size, 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.

When the setup spot-on, this guitar plays like over $1000 hollow bodies.

The neck of the G5420T is finished with gloss urethane. If you’ve got sweaty hands, this can feel a bit sticky at times, but overall neck feels really smooth.

When I have played this guitar, the Adjusto-Matic- bridge has been really comfortable for my pick-hand positioning. With both pick and without the pick. You can focus on playing, not on ”where to lay your pick-hand”.

Teemu Suomala – Editor (has played this guitar several times)

Quality

In most ways, this is a near-perfect hollow body for the price. 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 minor 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 years.

Summary

Pros

  • 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
  • Adjusto-Matic- bridge is really comfortable for picking-hand positioning
  • Comfortable playability. If setup is made right, playing is really effortless.

Cons

  • Susceptible to feedback(tho most of the hollow-bodies are)
  • You can get better tuners
  • Gloss-finish of the neck not ideal for sweaty hands

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.


Runner-Up – PRS SE Hollowbody Standard

Prs Se Hollowbody standard combines the magic of the PRS guitars and hollow-body axes together. Result?

Something unique and amazing in my opinion. But this guitar is still not the best for everyone…

Se let’s find out if it’s the right hollow-body for you!

Sound

YouTube video

The PRS uses versatile pickup configuration with this axe:

  • Treble Pickup 58/15 “S”, great for both leads and riffs
  • Bass Pickup58/15 “S”, great for fingerpicking and riffing

”S” stands for student (SE for Student Edition).

Do these pups sound any good?

This SE Hollowbody Standard has a nice mellow and warm sound that I personally love.

The combination produces beautifully deep basses (low end) with clear trebles (high-end).

It’s not the brightest guitar out there, which is great for those of us who are looking for something more gentle.

What do the tonewoods bring into the mix?

The PRS SE Hollowbody Standard is made with mahogany, it provides warm and thick tones.

But still, the guitar doesn’t sound muddy or fuzzy. Clarity is great with this guitar.

Also, this guitar is really loud unplugged!

Playability

You get:

  1. Wide-Fat neck shape
  2. 1.69” nut width
  3. Ebony fretboard
  4. 22 medium frets

The neck is chunky. Again, not the best for small hands.

But with a chunky neck, I especially like the control that I can have over the guitar.

It is not as fast as the wide-thin neck shape of many PRS guitars, but the control and the firm grip are what this neck offers.

The string spacing measured from the bridge is the standard 52mm=2.16inches. Fingerpicking is not made easier for you with wider-string spacing, but I would not expect any huge issues when using fingers with this guitar.

With the right setup and jumbo frets, playing can be really effortless and smooth. Fast shifts and hitting frets all over the fingerboard are everyday life with these features.

One thing that should be mentioned: the body of this guitar is deep, and it can feel too big for small-framed person.

Quality and Value for the Money

The PRS SE Hollowbody Standard is not cheap, but it does offer great value. The guitar has been built with quality that you can feel as soon as you pick one up.

PRS’s own bridge that comes with this is something that I value. It’s durable and when I have layed my hands over a guitar with this kind of bridge, playing has been easy(especially palm muting).

And for me, tuning stability is nothing to worry about with this guitar(or PRS’s in general). You can get better tuners if you spend more, but these are by no means bad.

Summary

Pros

  • Warm and full tones
  • Really good with blues, country, and classic rock
  • Good grip and control because of chunky wide-fat neck
  • Medium frets and comfortable neck make playing really effortless with the right setup
  • Build and finish quality are spot-on
  • Stable and durable PRS bridge
  • Great Value for Money

Cons

  • If you want bright tones, not the best option
  • Big body and chunky neck not suitable for everyone
  • Setup is sometimes poor out of the box(easy to fix tho)
  • You can get better tuners for this price

It’s a PRS SE, and it has the quality you would expect from one.

It can’t beat up Original PRS’s, but for the price, it’s a great pick.

It’s one of the best options if you are looking for a chunky body and neck, but also want smooth playability and full tones.


Best for Unique Tone- Godin 5th Avenue CW Electric Guitar (Kingpin II, Cognac Burst)

Sound

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 P90’s 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 bit of distortion, you start to hear feedback squeals.

But this axe doesn’t sound bad at all, I just prefer hollow body guitars with humbuckers…

I wanted to share this axe with you because it has something unique to offer.

Listen to how this guitar sounds:

YouTube video

Playability

With a lightweight build, this is a guitar you could rock with all night long. The smooth-shouldered single-cutaway gives you easier 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.

The nut width is maybe the worst for small hands and short fingers from all these 5 axes… it’s 1.72″ (43.688 mm). So the neck is really wide for electric guitar.

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.

Quality

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.

Summary

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Gives 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 mostly clean and crunch genres, this is a top-notch hollow body you should check out.


Best Budget (and for Distorted Genres) – Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AG95QA

Sound

The tone of the Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AG95QA reminds me more of regular electric guitar than the other hollow bodies here. 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:

YouTube video

And a little low-gain sample:

YouTube video

Playability

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 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.

The playability(with the budget price) is the biggest strength of this guitar against other hollow-bodies under $1000.

Quality

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.

Sometimes 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.

This doesn’t always happen, but is one issue you can face with this axe.

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.

Personally, I would do this Nut replacement ASAP to increase sustain and overall tone.

Summary

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • The bridge is low-quality when compared to others on this post
  • 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.

Check Price on:


Best for Vintage Experience- Gretsch G100CE Synchromatic Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Sound

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.

Plate-covered Gretsch single-coil with a plate-cover limit’s unwanted feedback a little bit, so some crunch tones go just fine with this Single-coil.

Especially articulate blues and jazz lead sections are meant for this guitar.

Use of maple(laminated body) gives you brightness and even some bite into your tone. Another feature that just shouts ”LEAD-sections!” for me.

For me, this Gretsch is one of the most interesting options when it comes to under $1000 hollow bodies. It’s unique, it’s vintage and it sounds awesome. Plus, it’s one of the best-looking hollow bodies for this price in my opinion!

Teemu Suomala – Editor

Hear how The Synchromatic sounds like:

YouTube video

Playability

The matte finish of this model gives it silky smooth playability. If you can work with the wide and thick neck shape, you’ll have a fun time jamming out.

And there is a reason why Gretsch mostly uses medium frets with their hollow bodies…it just works! With the right setup(again), you can make this guitar really effortless to play for you.

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.

Quality

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.

The pickup seems to sometimes have been installed without much care. There’s a significant amount of static when you turn the knobs. Plus, feedback is still pretty much inevitable with this design.

But 1 thing I would replace is the synthetic bone nut. For me, these have never been any better than plastic nuts. It handles the job for sure, but with an upgrade, the sustain, tone, and how much you have fun playing this improves drastically.

Summary

Pros

  • 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
  • Solid quality
  • Great fo blues and jazz leads
  • Unique

Cons

  • Maple construction lacks punch with only one pickup
  • Too chunky for some players

I’ve included this guitar 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 hollow body, you can do better than this G100CE. But for folks looking for a vintage experience, this guitar is a great choice.

Check Price on:


Verdict

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 just not for me. 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. But it’s unique and has some nice tones to offer for sure.

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.


Buyer’s Guide & FAQ

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.

Last words

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!

Teemu Suomala