You are currently viewing Electric Guitar Body Shapes and Styles – Explained

Last Updated on March 19, 2024 by Justin Thomas

Choosing the right body shape is critical. Because the truth is…some will feel awkward, some ok, but some feel like made for you. Here, you will discover what electric guitar body style is your match made in heaven (ofc you have to test some too). Ready?

Author: Santiago Motto

Aka. Sandel. Telecasters and all-mahogany Martins lover.

Besides that, Sandel is a professional writer, guitar player, confessed guitar nerd, and all-things-guitar consumer. He has been playing for 25 years which makes him a nineties kid with serious low-tuning youngster years, and a pop palate for melodies, ballads, and world music.

Whenever Santiago is not pouring all that experience and love for the instrument into articles, you can find him playing live shows supporting his music and poetry books as “Sandel”. If he’s not doing either of those, you can also find him gigging with his band, “San Juan”, writing, reading, or enjoying the Sun.

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Editing & Research: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I love guitars and have played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years, and also, building a website interested me, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website.

I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have also been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as SongsterrMusicnotesGuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.

I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog (I guess that went the right way…).

Strats, Teles, Les Pauls, SGs, Firebirds, Jaguars…no wonder people can get confused with different electric guitar body shapes and styles…There are at least dozens of them.

But you know what…we at Guitaristnextdoor.com have played all of the most common electric guitar body shapes. FD And in this article, I shed light on the pros and cons of each different body style. I reveal photos, dimensions, videos, and my personal experiences.

And what’s the goal? After going through this post, you know enough about different electric guitar body styles so that you can confidently choose your next electric guitar.

Or maybe you are just browsing and looking for some extra knowledge without a need to buy another axe. No problem. That works for me.

Now, let’s get started!

Other guitar guides worth reading:

How much do Electric Guitars weigh?

Electric Guitar Tonewoods – Tonewood Chart

Guitar Neck Shape Guide – Shapes Explained

Different Guitar Bridge Types – Your Ultimate Bridge Guide


Most common Electric Guitar Body Styles and Shapes

Solid Body Electric Guitars

Stratocaster

displays Stratocaster electric guitar bodyshape

We didn’t just pick the Stratocaster to begin this electric guitar shapes rundown; we chose it because it is the best-selling and most copied solid body electric guitar of all time.

Introduced in 1954, the Stratocaster has become an icon for so many music genres that it’s hard to boil it all down into one paragraph. Yes, you can catch legends like Nile Rogers killing it with Daft Punk and Billie Joe Armstrong punk-rocking the world, Dave Murray from Iron Maiden, and Eric Clapton among countless others.

Check our picks for the best Fender guitars.

If you’ve ever picked up one (even as your first guitar), especially a modern one, you’ll know that you can play anything on it. The body features the perfect relief to sit on your belly so anatomically perfectly that it’s hard to believe it was designed more than half a century ago. Likewise, the C-shaped maple neck sits comfortably in your palm and feels like home.

Finally, the electronics offer so many different sounds that the guitar becomes virtually infinite. You’ll notice the list of artists using (and abusing) Stratocasters features players of all genres.

Key Features of Stratocasters
  • Ergonomic body – An electric guitar’s shape affect tone but also playability, and the Stratocasters’ double cutaway body offers contours that sit on you like no other electric guitar body.
  • Sound – The electric guitar sounds of a Fender Stratocaster are so deep into our music DNA that you’re instantly familiar with it upon picking one up.
Pros
  • The most versatile solid-body guitars ever made
  • 3-pickup configuration for a limitless tonal palette
  • Its sound is rooted deep in our musical DNA
  • The ultimate lead guitar for many rock music and blues players

Check our full electric guitar pickup types guide here.

Cons
  • It needs heavy overhauling for metal guitarists.
  • Some Strats with thick C-neck shape are not the best for small-handed players.
Famous Guitarist Using Stratocasters:
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • John Frusciante
  • Tom Morello
  • Dick Dale
  • Jeff Beck
  • Richie Blackmoore
  • Neil Rogers
Stratocasters Are Frequently Used in These Genres:

Although its body style helped shape the sounds of funk, soul, and blues, you can play this solid body guitar in any scenario and music style.

Stratocaster Dimensions

These dimensions are from this Squier Bullet Stratocaster I reviewed.

Length39.73″ (100cm)
Width12.79” (32.5cm)
Body Thickness1.75” (44.5mm)
Weight6.83 lbs (3.1 kg)
Scale-Length25.5″
Note that dimensions can vary between different models. These dimensions give you some idea of the electric guitar’s body size.

Which one is it?

Telecaster

displays Telecaster Electric Guitar Bodyshape

The older sister of the Stratocaster, the Telecaster started its life as the Broadcaster in 1950. Due to copyright issues with Gretsch, Leo Fender decided to name it Telecaster in 1952 because of the recent television phenomenon.

We can arguably say that the Telecaster is the ultimate songwriting solid guitar. Yes, if the lead player is rocking Stratocaster body shapes, the base player and singer can be rocking a Telecaster body style. Moreover, some of the best-known rhythm guitar players built their reputations around one; the biggest example is Keith Richards.

If you’ve ever played one, you’ll know what it means sonically when people talk about the “twang” as the backbone of country music, where the Fender Telecaster is the absolute queen.

You’ll also know that, although modern models offer ergonomic contours, original Telecasters aren’t the most comfortable electric guitar types. Also, the treble that comes from the combination of the metal bridge and the single-coil bridge pickup might be overwhelming for some players.

That being said, the maple C-shaped neck fits in your palm perfectly and you’ll notice right away it’s a great guitar for chords, arpeggios, and first-position scales.

If you’re into chords and songwriting rather than perfect funky rhythms and stadium-awing leads, then a Telecaster is the best electric guitar for you.

Key Features of Telecasters
  • Durability – Telecaster body shapes feature the same detachable neck design featuring long-lasting, extra-hard maple necks which make this an almost indestructible solid-body instrument.
  • Simplicity – The dual-pickup, volume + tone pots, and 3-way switch make the Fender Telecaster one of the easiest solid-body electric guitars to play.
Pros
  • No-frills approach to great tone
  • The quintessential songwriter’s tool
  • The most durable of all electric guitar body styles
  • String-through-body design for increased sustain and resonance
Cons
  • Might be too simple for some electric guitar players
  • Bridge can feel alien if you are used to playing Strats and Les Pauls
Famous Guitarist Using Telecasters
  • Keith Richards
  • Frank Black (The Pixies)
  • Jack White
  • Bob Dylan
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Graham Coxon (Blur)
  • Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers)
  • Danny Gatton
  • John 5 (Motley Crue)
  • Jim Root (Slipknot)
  • Brad Paisley
Telecasters Are Frequently Used in These Genres:

Although the Telecaster is mostly a country music (Brad Paisley), rock music (Keith Richards), and blues machine (Danny Gatton), you can find metal players (Jim Root) and all kinds of styles being played with a solid-body Fender Telecaster.

Telecaster Dimensions
Length38.5″ (97.7cm)
Width13” (33cm)
Body Thickness1.75” (44.5mm)
Weight7.5 lbs (3.4 kg.)
Scale-Length25.5″
Note that dimensions can vary between different models. These dimensions give you some idea of the electric guitar’s body size.

Les Paul

displays Les Paul electric guitar bodyshape

One of the most iconic electric guitar body types that were introduced to the world in 1952 is, actually, a signature model made for Mr. Les Paul (Lester William Polsfuss), a guitar virtuoso and pioneer.

The Gibson Les Paul solid-body guitars were made to compete with Fender’s solid-body electrics. Up until then, Gibson had been making hollow-body electric guitars for jazz like the drool-worthy L-5, for example.

Les Paul’s collaboration with Gibson led to an iconic guitar that surpassed the wildest dreams of all the involved. But why did this solid-body electric guitar become so iconic? Well, if you ever pick up one, you can expect a strong, powerful response across the board offering you heavy lows and singing highs.

Moreover, a solid body guitar such as the Les Paul Custom, with its ebony fingerboard can cut through the densest mix.

Finally, you can play any electric guitar in the Gibson Les Paul line and effortlessly achieve the perfect blend of raw power and delicate nuances other guitars struggle to deliver.

Check our picks for the best Gibson electric guitars here.

Key Features of Les Pauls
  • Growling heavy sound – The traditional Les Paul guitar’s body is made of mahogany with a maple top. This wood combination mixed with almighty humbuckers gives you the warmer tone, low-end kick, growl, and the top end you need to rock and play lead.
  • Four knobs – This allows you to manipulate each pickup separately creating different effects like using your pickup selector as a kill switch, for example.

Check our full guide about electric guitar bodywoods here.

Pros
  • Thick mahogany body for growling low-end
  • Maple top for extra bite
  • Dual-humbucking pickups make it a rock-ready electric guitar
  • Plethora of incarnations offering virtually any pickup configuration you want
Cons
  • Fragile construction, especially on the neck
  • Big and heavy compared to a Fender electric guitars
Famous Guitarist Using Les Pauls
  • Slash
  • Jimmy Page
  • Ace Frehley (Kiss)
  • Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top)
  • Neil Young
  • Zakk Wylde
  • Randy Rhoads
  • Bob Marley
  • Robert Fripp
Les Pauls Are Frequently Used in These Genres:

Although most people associate the Les Paul with rock and roll, here’s legend Joe Bonamassa showing you how to get all the tones you need from a single guitar.

Les Paul Dimensions

These dimensions are from this Epiphone Les Paul I reviewed.

Length40.15″ (102cm)
Width13.18” (32.3cm)
Body Thickness1.8” (46mm)
Weight7.05 lbs (3.2 kg)
Scale-Length24.75″
Note that dimensions can vary between different models. These dimensions give you some idea of the electric guitar’s body size.

SG

displays SG electric guitar bodyshape

Contrary to what most people would think, the Gibson SG is Gibson’s all-time best-seller. Yes, this guitar that started its life as a Les Paul quickly became the favorite of generations.

What is the big difference between a Gibson Les Paul and a Gibson SG? Well, to begin with, the Gibson SG body is a slim mahogany piece similar in thickness to a Stratocaster. Also, the mahogany body features no maple top.

This difference in the construction of each guitar gives the SG an unmistakable midrange boost that can be heard propelling bands such as Black Sabbath (Tony Iommi) or AC-DC (Angus Young) forward. Moreover, the SG is one of the lightest, most comfortable solid-body guitars ever made by Gibson and a great example of how electric guitar bodies and guitar shapes affect tone.

Finally, since it was introduced in 1961, it features Gibson’s “slim-taper” neck; a quick, thin, accessible neck that flies like a highway, especially playing fast rock licks.

Key Features of SGs
  • Lightweight – Compared to most solid-body guitars made by Gibson, the SG is among the thinnest and lightest.
  • Rock-ready machine – Besides having one of the most menacing, rocking guitar bodies, plugging this no-frills guitar into a Marshall with some overdrive is the recipe to get the Angus sound, the cornerstone of rock and roll.
  • Fast neck – Gibson’s slim taper neck is the favorite among rockers who love playing fast and accurately.
Pros
  • It’s a lightweight guitar you can comfortably play all night long
  • Fast, slim neck
  • Tune-o-matic bridge for easy intonation
  • Sensibly more affordable than a Les Paul Standard
Cons
  • Fragile, mahogany necks tend to break
  • Not big on the low-end (with some thick sounding humbuckers, low-end sounds chunky enough tho)
Famous Guitarist Using SGs:
  • Tony Iommi
  • Angus Young
  • Frank Zappa
  • Pete Townshend
  • Robby Krieger
  • Derek Trucks
  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe
  • Gary Clark Jr.
SGs Are Frequently Used in These Genres:

While the SG is a rock guitar, it is usually found also in blues stages as well as heavy metal stages.

SG Dimensions
Length39.75″ (101cm)
Width13” (33cm)
Body Thickness1.375” (34.9mm)
Weight7 lbs (3.17 kg)
Scale-Length24.75″
Note that dimensions can vary between different models. These dimensions give you some idea of the electric guitar’s body size.

Superstrat & Modern Strat

displays Modern Strat/Super Strat electric guitar bodyshape

We can’t talk about super strats without talking about the hair music revolution of the eighties and Eddie Van Halen. Well, his “Frankenstrat” was the first superstrat to ever be seen on a stage.

But, wait, what’s a Frankenstrat!? It’s simply the guitar that Eddie put together to create his ultimate pyrotechnics guitar playing style and change the guitar world forever.

Yes, Eddie wanted to play the electric guitar’s shape he loved the most, a Stratocaster, but make it do things it wasn’t ready for. In that sonic quest, he added a humbucker in the bridge position, a Floyd Rose tremolo system, and reduced all controls to a single volume pot (which is on display at the prestigious MET Museum).

So, superstrats are extreme versions of the Fender Stratocaster featuring higher-output pickups than most electric guitars, floating tremolos, and super-fast necks. Picking one up truly feels like sitting in the driving seat of a fast sports car; they are usually the most ergonomic and technologically-advanced electric guitars in the world. Ibanez is one brand known for their super & modern strats (check out our favorite Ibanez electric guitars here).

Key Features of Superstrats & Modern Strats
  • Faster-than-life necks – Necks on super strats tend to be thinner and faster, and feature higher frets to make fast playing effortless.
  • Bigger-than-God tone – The pickup configuration of a super strat can include passive or active humbuckers to sound as big as possible.
  • Tremolo systems – Although it is possible to find superstrats with fixed bridges, most of them feature floating tremolo systems.
Pros
  • Super-fast necks allow shredders to break all speed limits
  • Available in virtually any pickup configuration you might dream of
  • Often features floating tremolo systems for dive-bomb effects and sky-high natural harmonics (we miss you Dimebag)
  • Modern construction techniques make them very accurate and reliable live instruments
Cons
  • Feel quite edgy and not so classy when compared to traditional Fender Stratocasters
Famous Guitarist Using Superstrats & Modern Strats:
  • Kirk Hammet
  • Steve Vai
  • Joe Satriani
  • Tom Morello
  • Eddie Van Halen
Superstrats & Modern Strats Are Frequently Used in These Genres:

Mostly virtuoso and heavy metal players rock superstrats and modern starts.

Check our picks for the best metal guitars under 1000 here.

Superstrat & Modern Strat Dimensions

These dimensions are from this Ibanez Gio I reviewed.

Length38.97″ (99cm)
Width12.59” (32cm)
Body Thickness1.7” (43.9mm)
Weight7.38 lbs (3.35 kg)
Scale-Length25.5″
Note that dimensions can vary between different models. These dimensions give you some idea of the electric guitar’s body size.

Firebird

displays Firebird electric guitar bodyshape

The story behind the Firebird’s introduction to the world is quite amazing. Yes, it was the end of the fifties and Leo Fender had overhauled the entire guitar offer from Fender offering new and hip colors taken from the automotive world.

Following that line, Gibson’s president at the moment, Ted McCarty (yes, the same guy from the PRS models, but that’s another story) hired Ray Dietrich, a retired successful car designer. He designed the ultimate guitar for Gibson based on the tailfins of the early ‘60s cars.

As a result, a timeless classic was born.

But what does a Firebird guitar feel like? Well, to begin with, you feel you’re playing one of the biggest body shapes in the market; it’s like an anchor on stage. That being said, the neck is close to that of an SG, so it’s fast and easy to play.

Finally, sound-wise, the original guitar pickups, minihumbuckers, sit between P-90s and full-size humbuckers giving you enough bite and body to rock without the growl.

Key Features of Firebird

Neck-through construction – The Firebird is one of the few neck-through-body Gibson guitars in history. This adds to the instrument’s sustain and enhances durability.

Minihumbuckers – Firebird’s minihumbuckers (also found on the Riviera and the Les Paul Deluxe).

Pros
  • More sustain than a regular set-neck Gibson guitar
  • Unique aesthetics; no other Gibson electric guitars look like a Firebird
  • Multiple guitar pickups configurations available (1, 2, or 3 P-90 or minihumbuckers)
  • Walnut stripes make it stronger and more durable than other Gibsons with solid bodies
Cons
  • Huge body is not suitable for small musicians (unless you’re Johnny Winters)
  • Reversed headstock might be uncomfortable for some players
Famous Guitarist Using Firebird
  • Johnny Winter
  • Brian Jones (Rolling Stones)
  • Eric Clapton
  • Dave Grohl
  • Warren Haynes
Firebird Are Frequently Used in These Genres:

The Firebird is a rocking guitar that can also be seen on blues stages a lot.’

Firebird Dimensions
Length43.37″ (110cm)
Width13.43” (34.1cm)
Body Thickness1.55” (39mm)
Weight8 lbs (3.6 kg)
Scale-Length24.75″
Note that dimensions can vary between different models. These dimensions give you some idea of the electric guitar’s body size.

Flying V

displays Flying V electric guitar bodyshape

Believe it or not, the original design for the Gibson Flying V is from the late-50s. Yes, Gibson was desperately trying to compete with the Fender Stratocaster coming up with newer models that could outdo Fender’s futurism.

Hence, the “Flying V”, released in 1958, sounded like the ultimate, space-age-ready guitar for the moment. As you might expect, the crowd wasn’t too crazy about the Gibson Flying V.

But the Gibson Flying V didn’t just differ in shape from other Gibson guitar body styles, it was also made of korina, which is richer in the mids and lighter.

Playing one feels a little odd, especially because the neck joint is so open. That being said, sound-wise, the dual-humbucker design, and the fast neck are the same as other Gibson electric guitar types making this model a favorite for metal players around the globe.

Key Features of Flying V
  • Classic Gibson Layout – The original 1958 Flying V sported dual gold humbuckers, gold hardware, and three knobs; Gibson’s quintessential layout for rockers.
  • String-through-body construction – Yes, just like the Fender Telecaster, the Flying V is one of the few Gibson guitars in history to feature this construction type.
Pros
  • One of the most attention-grabbing guitar body types on stage
  • Dual-humbucker configuration, ready for rock
  • A versatile guitar, it can be found on blues or metal stages and everything in between
Cons
  • Not a very comfortable guitar to play sitting down
  • Not everybody is a fan of this shape

If you decide to go with Flying V, finding a proper guitar stand is not always easy. Gladly we have full guide about best guitar stands for Flying V’s here.

Famous Guitarist Using Flying V
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Albert King
  • Lenny Kravitz
  • Joe Bonamassa
  • Michael Schenker
  • Randy Rhoads
  • Billy Gibbons
Flying V Are Frequently Used in These Genres:

Although it is a rock and metal machine, it can be seen in blues stages as well.

Flying V Dimensions
Length44.5″ (113 cm)
Width16.12″ (41 cm)
Body Thickness1.37 (3.5 cm)
Weight8lbs (3.6 kg)
Scale-Length24.75″
Note that dimensions can vary between different models. These dimensions give you some idea of the electric guitar’s body size.

Jaguar

displays Jaguar electric guitar bodyshape

It wasn’t only Gibson that was trying to steal customers from Fender; it also worked the other way around. Yes, the Jaguar was to be a luxurious instrument that could help Fender compete against the more ornamented and expensive hollow-body electric and semi-hollow guitars Gibson was making.

It was originally released in 1962 featuring a dual-circuit construction (rhythm and lead), pickup ON/OFF switches instead of a selector, a brand-new tremolo system, and a short 24” scale.

Upon picking one up, the scale thing is evident; you suddenly feel that bends have a different length and that the neck feels more maneuverable. On the electronics side, things get a little more complicated with all the bells and whistles, but still, the giant body and the tiny single-coil pickups make the Jaguar sound like a giant mosquito attack.

Yes, while it retains all the magic of Fender’s twang and high frequencies, it adds some mid-low and low frequencies as well.

Key Features of Jaguar
  • Offset body – Fender’s offset guitars (Jaguar, Mustang, Jazzmaster) feature a body with an offset waist that, to some is more comfortable.
  • Complex switching system – The Jaguar comes equipped with a dual-circuit configuration giving the player many options to choose from for its dual single-coil pickups.
  • Improved tremolo system – The tremolo system on the Jaguar is an evolution from earlier models and has been a huge part of the shoegaze movement, for example.
Pros
  • Top-notch Fender construction in a luxurious instrument
  • Many different sounds available
  • Dual single-coil construction for Fender-approved tones
Cons
  • 24” scale might not be for everyone (strings don’t have that much tension)
  • The offset body might be a deal-breaker for some players
Famous Guitarist Using Jaguar:
  • Johnny Marr
  • Kurt Cobain
  • Black Francis
  • Brian Molko
  • Rowland S. Howard
  • Kevin Shields
Jaguar Are Frequently Used in These Genres:

Embraced at an early stage by surf-music lovers and also by the new wave/indie/shoegaze/grunge scene, it can be seen in all those genres and pop to this day.

Jaguar Dimensions
Length40″ (101.6 cm)
Width14″ (35.6 cm)
Body Thickness1.62″ (4.1 cm)
Weight8.5 lbs (3.85 kg)
Scale-Length24″
Note that dimensions can vary between different models. These dimensions give you some idea of the electric guitar’s body size.

Jazzmaster

displays Jazzmaster electric guitar bodyshape

The Jazzmaster is another offset guitar that was designed by Fender to be the top-of-the-line model in 1958 and 1959. It was aimed at jazz players but it failed to prove its point upon release.

Instead, it became the favorite of surf guitar players, and just like with the Jaguar, by a new generation of indie/shoegaze/grunge players as well in the late ’80s and early ‘90s.

Although both guitars feel and look very similar, the most important differences between Jaguar and Jazzmaster are the electric pickup configuration (normal single-coils vs. wide single coils of Jazzmaster) and the scale (24” vs. 25.5”).

While the twangy single-coil Fender-approved sound is not completely gone, the Jazzmaster can deliver a barkier, mid-infused tone that can be close to that of a Gibson Jr. model, for example.

Key Features of Jazzmaster
  • Warmer, thicker sound than regular single-coils – The Jazzmaster is a good mix of Fender and Gibson, offering Fender construction and woods with 2 wide single-coil pickups that can drive guitar amps a bit differently than normal single coils (tone closer to P90s).
  • Full Fender scale – The 25.5” scale makes the Jazzmaster closer to other Fender models playing-wise
  • Dual-circuit – Just like the Jaguar, the Jazzmaster offers two circuits: rhythm and lead.
Pros
  • Full Fender scale for a more familiar touch
  • Wide single-coils offer beefier sound
  • Top-notch construction
Cons
  • Not all players favor offset bodies
  • Often on the pricier side
Famous Guitarist Using Jazzmaster:
  • Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine)
  • Thom Yorke (Radiohead)
  • J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.)
  • Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth)
  • Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth)
  • Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys)
  • Elvis Costello
Jazzmaster Are Frequently Used in These Genres:

The Jazzmaster is very common in surf music, shoegaze, indie, lo-fi, and alternative music but can also be seen on rock and roll stages, and in the hands of singer-songwriters.

Jazzmaster Dimensions

Check this article for a full break down of the dimensions of different Jazzmasters.

Length41″ (104.1 cm)
Width14″ (35.6 cm)
Body Thickness1.62″ (4.1 cm)
Weight8.5 lbs (3.85 kg)
Scale-Length24″
Note that dimensions can vary between different models. These dimensions give you some idea of the electric guitar’s body size.

Check out our comparison between Stratocaster vs Jazzmaster


Mustang

displays Mustang electric guitar bodyshape

Introduced in 1964, the Fender Mustang wasn’t a luxurious instrument like the Jaguar or Jazzmaster. On the contrary, it was designed by Leo Fender to overhaul the beginner and children’s collections.

This is one of the reasons behind the shorter scale (24”) and the smaller body. It was meant to be played by youngsters who couldn’t work their way around a huge body like that of the Jazzmaster or Jaguar. Also, the price tag was sensibly lower.

For those of us who are lucky enough to own a Fender Mustang, it’s easy to say that it feels and plays like a small guitar but sounds like the real thing. Yes, the ability to put the dual single-coil pickups in and out of phase gives you enough options to make it sound full and dark or twangy and small. Plus, the vibrato system is among the best the company has ever made.

Key Features of Mustang
  • The Dynamic Tremolo – The Mustang got a completely redesigned tremolo system known as Dynamic Tremolo that allows players down and up movements.
  • ON/OFF and out-of-phase switches – Instead of having a pickup selector, Mustang guitars offer two slanted single-coil pickups with two switches that turn the pickups on and off, and put them into and out of phase. This gives Mustang guitars a unique sound.
  • Small body and neck – The 24” scale on Mustangs feels smaller than in Jaguars because the body is significantly smaller as well.
Pros
Cons
  • The smaller body and neck can be a game-breaker for some players
  • Complex pickup selector can’t be used for changes on the fly
  • 24” scale might not be for everyone (strings don’t have that much tension)

Check the review of Teemu’s favorite Mustang, Fender Mustang P90 here.

Famous Guitarist Using Mustang:
  • Kurt Cobain
  • Matthew Healy (The 1975)
  • PJ Harvey
  • Norah Jones
  • Theresa Wayman (Warpaint)
  • Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie)
  • Mac DeMarco
  • Blixa Bargeld (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)
Mustang Are Frequently Used in These Genres:

Because of the low output of the pickups, the inexpensive price tag, and the legendary tones, this is the perfect indie guitar.

Mustang Dimensions
Length39.75″ (101 cm.)
Width12.25″ (31.1 cm)
Body Thickness1.62 (4.1 cm)
Weight8 lbs (3.6 kg)
Scale-Length24″
Note that dimensions can vary between different models. These dimensions give you some idea of the electric guitar’s body size.

Non-Solidbody Electric Guitars (Hollowbody Electric Guitars)

Semi Hollowbody Electric Guitars

displays Semi Hollowbody electric guitar bodyshape

Let’s begin talking about semi-hollow guitars by defining them; a semi-hollow body guitar is a guitar that’s built with a solid center block and one or two hollow section(s).

This construction type meant great progress for players who needed to fight back against feedback and needed some more sustain. Yes, the center block that runs from the guitar’s neck to the back is where pickups are mounted, giving the guitar significantly more sustain.

This semi-hollow body guitar construction became famous in Gibson’s ES line; for example, the famous (and amazing) ES-335. On the Fender side of things, the “Thinline” series features carved F-hole bodies.

Usually, the Gibson ES series utilizes the ‘60s neck profile so the guitar body feels big and chunky, but the neck plays like a fast electric should making them balanced, and easy to play instruments.

On the Fender side, things are different and it’s more difficult to realize you’re playing a semi-hollow guitar since shape, size, and neck remain unaltered.

Key Features of Semi-Hollowbody Guitars
  • Sustain and size – Semi-hollow body guitars offer players the best of both worlds. Yes, the hollow side of the guitar makes it sound bigger while the center block gives it sustain and snap.
  • Wood types used – Most semi-hollow guitars (all the ES line, for example) are made of laminated maple with a maple top and a mahogany neck. This allows these guitars to be balanced in lows, mids, and highs.
Pros
  • The best of both worlds in a single guitar
  • Huge chords and long-ringing notes are possible
  • Feedback-resistant, these guitars can be used with distortion
Cons
  • Semi-hollow body guitar construction is more fragile than solid-body construction
  • Big and bulky guitars (mainly Gibsons and other similar models, Fenders remain the same in body size)
Famous Guitarist Using Semi-Hollowbody Guitars
  • Tom Fogerty
  • Dave Grohl
  • Trini Lopez
  • Peter Buck (R.E.M.)
  • Noel Gallagher
  • Chris Cornell

Storing your guitar in an enviroment that has ideal humidity for guitar is really important for any type of guitar, but especially for acoustic, semi-hollow, and hollowbody guitars.

Semi-Hollowbody Guitars Are Frequently Used in These Genres:

A semi-hollow body electric guitar can be used in any genre, they are as versatile as it gets. Perhaps, the only caveat is playing a semi-hollow guitar using too much distortion.

Semi-Hollowbody Guitar Dimensions

These dimensions are from Gibson ES-335TDC (1969).

Length41.5″ (105.4 cm.)
Width15.87″ (40.3 cm.)
Body Thickness1.75 (4.4 cm.)
Weight7.5 lbs (3.4kg)
Scale-Length24.75″
Note that dimensions can vary between different models. These dimensions give you some idea of the electric guitar’s body size.

Hollowbody Electric Guitars

displays Hollowbody electric guitar bodyshape

Contrary to the order we chose for this piece, hollow-body guitars were the first type of electric guitar available after acoustic guitars. Yes, all the jazz players of the early 20th century played hollow guitars.

But, what are hollow-body electric guitars? Well, these guitars have a construction that’s closer to an acoustic guitar than to electric guitars because pickups, electronics, bridges, and such are mounted on the top of the instrument rather than on a center block.

This, in times when distortion was not an option, gave guitarists the ability to play their guitars plugged and unplugged (as you would play an acoustic guitar) with lots of resonance, low-end, and volume.

Although the fully hollow body of these guitars makes them as thick as an acoustic, they feature small, easy necks that play fast, giving the player the best of both worlds.

Some of these guitars went on to become timeless classics like, for example, the Gibson L-5, the Gretsch White Falcon, or the more modern Epiphone Casino.

Key Features of Hollowbody Guitars
  • Huge sound – Hollow-body guitars are famous for offering a full, big sound coming from the combination of the hollow body and the pickups.
  • Comfortable necks – Hollow-body electrics feature slim, playable necks.
  • Laminated construction – Just like the semi-hollow electrics, these guitars feature mostly laminated bodies that can add some snap and high-end to the sound.
Pros
  • Huge-sounding guitars, especially wonderful for chords
  • Jazz tones are effortless on a hollow-body guitar
  • F-holes and ornaments make them usually very attractive instruments
  • Can be played plugged and unplugged
Cons
  • Can’t handle distortion without feedback
  • Big and bulky instruments
  • Fragile construction, they need more care than solid-body guitars
Famous Guitarist Using Hollowbody Guitars
  • John Lennon
  • George Benson
  • Chet Atkins
  • Jack White
  • Joe Pass
  • Brian Setzer
  • Billy Duffy (The Cult)
  • John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Hollowbody Guitars Are Frequently Used in These Genres

Usually, hollow-body guitars are used by jazz and fusion players. Other than that, Gretschs are common in rockabilly and rock and roll bands. Finally, there are also heavy rock bands relying on this kind of guitar, like The Cult, for example.

Find Excellent Hollowbody Guitars Here.

Hollowbody Guitar Dimensions

These dimensions are from Gretsch Model 6120 Chet Atkins Arch Top (1957).

Length41.5″ (105.4 cm.)
Width15.75″ (40 cm.)
Body Thickness2.75″ (7 cm.)
Weight7.7 lbs (3.5 kg)
Scale-Length24.5″
Note that dimensions can vary between different models. These dimensions give you some idea of the electric guitar’s body size.

Honorable Mentions

Here are a couple of great electric guitar body shapes that deserve a mention:


How to Choose The Right Electric Guitar Body Shape & Style For You?

To illustrate this answer, I would like to tell you a little story that will clear the path for you.

I used to work at the local Fender dealer in my city and the best local players would drop by eventually. All of them asked for pricey stuff to play except for one, the biggest urban legend of a guitar player in town.

He would walk the room and feel the neck of every guitar. Then, he would pick up the one with the right neck and play it for a while. He forbade me and everyone else in the shop to tell him about prices or where it was made unless he asked.

I think this is a lesson in itself; it means no electric guitar is perfect for you but the one that feels comfortable and “at home”. Following the advice in this piece, you’re ready to make that decision. Try different electric guitar body shapes and choose what feels the best.

Find our full guide to electric guitar anatomy here.


FAQ

What is The Best Shape for An Electric Guitar?

Personally, I like modern strat’s the most. They usually come with contours and other features that just make playing more comfortable. But that’s just me. If you want to find the body shape that’s the best for you, you should use this guide I provided to you as help, then test different electric guitar body shapes out, and only then make your choice.

But, keep in mind that especially Stratocasters, Telecasters, and Les Pauls are pretty universal in terms of playability. By this, I mean that they don’t give you too much hard time. SG can feel a bit bulky for some players (me) and offset guitar like Jazzmaster and Firebird can also feel alien at first. But they are far from impossible to play either.

Do Electric Guitar Body Shapes Matter?

Of course, electric guitar body shapes and styles have a huge impact on to looks of an electric guitar. But there are 2 other factors we have to tackle too…

  1. Does the electric guitar body shape affect the sound?
  2. Does the electric guitar body shape affect playability?

Does The Shape of The Electric Guitar Body Affect Sound?

From a 2-D view, the body shape doesn’t affect the plugged-in tone of the solid-body electric guitar. The most important factor for electric guitar are the pickups.  But, the shape can have a bigger effect on the tone of hollow-bodied electric guitars, especially when played unplugged because sound waves bounce inside the body of the guitar.

To learn more, check this article of ours: Does Guitar Body Shape Affect Tone?

Does The Shape of The Electric Guitar Body Affect Playability?

Of course. The body shape of an electric guitar has a huge effect on playability. Different shape, size, weight, and amount or lack of contours will have a huge effect on the overall playability.

How Do You Pick The Right Electric Guitar Shape & Style?

What’s the best way to know what’s the best electric guitar body style for you? Test different shapes. What’s the second best way? Read the electric guitar body shape guide above. It’s that simple.

Stratocasters and different variations of Stratocasters are the most popular electric guitar body shapes. They are followed by Les Pauls and Telecasters.

Do Different-shaped Electric Guitars Sound Different?

Well, they can sound different, but not because of the body shape. These things really affect the sound of an electric guitar:

  • player
  • pickups
  • strings
  • amplifier
  • nut
  • bridge/saddles
  • if we believe differently shaped guitars sound different, we of course tend to notice differences in sound.

Conclusion

What an abundance of different electric guitar body shapes and styles we have. It’s awesome. I’m personally a guy who likes to grab a modern strat most often, but I’m not a hater of any of these shapes. All of them are great in their own unique way. Man, I love guitars…

I hope that you were able to choose the right body shape for your next guitar purchase. Or hopefully you at least got some helpful information. If you have any questions, leave a comment down below.

And now, go, my son, and rock!

Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website. I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar. I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog(I guess that went the right way…). Expertise: guitar learning techniques, electric guitars, and guitar amplifiers. You can connect with me on LinkedIn or just email me.
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anonymous

where the soloist guitar?

Andy walnoha

Great article. Only one point, Jazzmaster pickups are not soapbar/P90s but are a unique pick for jazzmasters. Look up the specs but biggger and it provides more warm tones because of it. I will be reading more of your articles/posts. Thanks for a fun red.