You are currently viewing 16 Famous Hollow-Body Guitar Players And Guitars They Used

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Justin Thomas

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Author: David Slavkovic

David has been playing guitar since 1998, his main focus back then was hard rock and metal. With years, his music tastes evolved and he eventually started appreciating all musical styles. Although officially an agricultural engineer, David began writing for Ultimate Guitar in 2017 where he’s currently working as a senior editor.

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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…).


“Semi-acoustic” or hollow-body electric guitars take us back to the 1930s, preceding the solid-body version of the instrument. Hollow-body guitars evolved, which is how the so-called semi-hollow-body guitars came to be, featuring smaller bodies and retaining resonant chambers and soundholes.

And even decades after the instrument’s development, guitarists these days still play hollow-body guitars like Gibson’s ES-175. Meanwhile, semi-hollow-body guitars are also widespread, with great examples like

  • Gibson ES-335,
  • Fender Thinline series,
  • and various series by Gretsch and Paul Reed Smith.

Making a smoother tone, hollow-body guitars have a huge following. This is why I decided to cover the topic and bring you the most famous hollow-body guitar players of all time. Let’s get started!


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Famous Hollow-Body Guitarists

Chet Atkins

Chet Atkins – Mr. Sandman (TV 1954)

Chet Atkins started his career in the 1940s and has remained active until the mid-1990s. He fused country with rock ‘n’ roll, blues, jazz, and classical music, and remains as one of the most influential fingerpickers. He’s one of the people who brought country into “pop” territories, earning him a nickname the “Country Gentleman.”

  • Notable guitars: Gretsch 6120, Gibson Chet Atkins Country Gentleman

B.B. King

BB King Was Afraid To Perform At Sing Sing Prison But Called It His Best Performance Ever

The blues legend needs no introduction. One of three kinds, he’s the one responsible for further developing and popularizing blues. The story of his Gibson L-30 guitar that he saved from a fire changed the course of guitar history. Naming it “Lucille,” this was the same name Gibson used for his signature guitars.

  • Notable guitars: Gibson L-30, Gibson, ES-335, Gibson B.B. King Lucille
  • Fun fact: B.B. King loved to use light-gauge strings and has convinced ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons to start doing the same.

George Benson

George Benson – Breezin’ – Live HQ 1977 Old Grey Whistle Test (OGWT)

Master of jazz guitar, George Benson’s influence is unprecedented. Being a child prodigy, he rose to fame in his 20s. During the 1970s, he also ventured into soul territories and accomplished himself as a vocalist. He’s still active to this day.

  • Notable guitars: Ibanez LGB3000, Gibson L-5

Lee Ritenour

Lee Ritenour – Rio Funk

Another jazz champion, Lee Ritenour is known for his solo work, as well as collaborations with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Marcus Miller, Vinnie Colaiuta, George Duke, and even Art Garfunkel. Fusing jazz, blues, and funk, hollow-body guitars are a perfect choice for these genres.

  • Notable guitars: Gibson ES-335, Gibson L-5, Ibanez LR10

Gibson ES-335 vs ES-339. Which is the best choice for you?

Grant Green

France (LIVE VIDEO -1969): Grant Green; Kenny Burrell; and Barney Kessell

Rising to fame in the 1960s and the 1970s, Grant Green further pushed jazz music with his innovative guitar playing. His music mostly revolved around “less is more” concept, with Green using only a limited number of notes to send a message across.

  • Notable guitars: Gibson L-7, Gibson ES-330, Epiphone Emperor Regent

John Lennon

How Do You Sleep? (Takes 5 & 6, Raw Studio Mix Out-take) – John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band

We’re already familiar with how The Beatles changed the course of music history. One of the most influential musicians and artists of the 20th century, by far, is John Lennon. In his great arsenal of guitars, Epiphone Casino comes up as one of his most famous instruments. Epiphone even made a signature Lennon version.

  • Notable guitars: Epiphone Casino, Gretsch Country Gentleman

George Harrison

George Harrison Guitar Solo’s

Of course, the other 6-string player in The Beatles was also fond of hollow-body instruments. In fact, he was even more prominent hollow-body enthusiast compared to Lennon. He used them throughout his career, all the way from the late 1950s until his passing in 2001.

  • Notable guitars: Rickenbacker 360/12, Epiphone Casino, Gibson ES-345, Guild Starfire, Gretsch Country Gentleman

Barney Kessel

Barney.Kessel.-.Basies.Blues.(1973).avi

Barney Kessel honed his craft in The Wrecking Crew – Los Angeles collective of session musicians during the 1960s. He was pretty well-known for his great arrangements, as well as the use of very innovative chord inversions, all of which solidified his place in the world of jazz music.

  • Notable guitars: Gibson ES-350

Wes Montgomery

Wes Montgomery – Here’s That Rainy Day – Live London 1965

John Leslie Montgomery, widely known as Wes Montgomery, was active for about two decades, from the late 1940s to the late 1960s. But although we lost him too soon, his music made a huge impact not only on jazz but on many other guitar-oriented genres as well.

  • Notable guitars: Gibson L-5, Gibson ES-175
  • Fun fact: Wes used a somewhat unusual technique where he would pick the strings with his thumb. Combined with his use of octaves, his playing has always been easily recognizable.

John Scofield

John Scofield Performs ‘Quiet And Loud Jazz’

Although famous for his solo career, John Scoffield collaborated with other big names in jazz, including Billy Cobham, George Duke, and Miles Davis, just to name a few. He’s one of the top masters of jazz fusion genre and is also famous for his great addition of soft distortion to lead sections, which he did since his career beginnings in the 1970s.

  • Notable guitars: Ibanez Artist AS-200, Ibanez Artist AM-205, Gibson ES-335, Gibson ES-330

Johnny Marr

Song Stories – The Smiths, ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’

Johnny Mar is one of the people who popularized hollow-body guitars in rock music. Although collaborating with many musicians over the years, and doing his solo stuff, Marr is still mostly known for his involvement with The Smiths. Active since the early ’80s, he still loves hollow-body guitars.

Notable guitars: Rickenbacker 330, Rickenbacker 360/12, Gibson ES-335, Gibson ES-345, Gretsch 6120

Joe Pass

Joe Pass – “Ain’t Misbehavin'”

Even to this day, no one can do what Joe Pass did during his lengthy career, spanning from the 1940s to the 1990s. Although jazz is heavy on improvisation, he pushed it to a whole new level, recording entire albums semi-improvised in one take – just him and his guitar. He was well-known for his innovative arrangements and playing chords and melodies at the same time.

  • Notable guitars: Ibanez JP-20, Gibson ES-175, D’Aquisto Custom Archtop, Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor
  • Fun fact: Joe was a child prodigy and he started working professionally at the age of 14.

Dave Grohl

Foo Fighters – Everlong (Live At Wembley Stadium, 2008)

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl pushed hollow-body guitars in hard rock territories. Which is somewhat “unconventional,” although it seems to work well for him. Of course, he still uses solid-body guitars, but he’s pretty famous for his signature semi-hollow-body Gibson.

  • Notable guitars: Gibson Trini Lopez Standard, Gibson DG-335, Gibson ES-335, Duesenberg Starplayer TV

Alvin Lee

Ten Years After (Alvin Lee) – Love Like A Man (HQ Best Live Ever)

Ten Years After founder Alvin Lee was one of the first virtuoso rock players. Active from the early 1960s to his death in 2013, he pushed the genre forward. One of his most famous works is “I’m Going Home.”

  • Notable guitars: Gibson ES-335, Heritage 535

Noel Gallagher

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (Live for Absolute Radio)

Of course, the Oasis axeman also comes to mind in this talk. One of the most prominent songwriters in the genre, he’s become very famous for his hollow-body guitars which he used throughout his entire career.

  • Notable guitars: Gibson ES-355, Gibson Silver Florentine, Epiphone Noel Gallagher Signature Supernova

Jack White

Jack white – Catch hell blues (Voodoo experience

Although not a virtuoso in a classic sense, Jack White is one of the most innovative guitar players today. Looking into his unusual guitar collection, we can also find a number of great hollow-body guitars that he used in The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and his solo career.

  • Notable guitars: Harmony Rocket, Crestwood Astral II, Kay K6533, Gretsch G6118T-LTV, Harmony Meteor H60

Conclusion

I hope that you find famous players that inspire you on your guitar journey.

Helpful posts 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!


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David Slavkovic

David has been playing guitar since 1998, David’s main focus back then was hard rock and metal. With years, his music tastes evolved and he eventually started appreciating all musical styles. Although officially an agricultural engineer, David began writing for Ultimate Guitar in 2017 where he’s currently working as a senior editor. Expertise: electric guitars, guitar amplifiers, music theory, the guitar industry, metal, and rock. You can connect with David on LinkedIn or just email him.
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Ronny Guittar

George Thoroughgood and his Gibson ES 135 and 175

Teemu Suomala

Thanks Ronny! I think that we should add George Thorogood to this list soon 🙂

Malachi

Dave Grohl didn’t bring the hollow body to the heavy scene. Ted Nugent brought it to popularity in the heavy scene and also basically invented the modern style of guitar solos. Nobody ever brings him up and he gets a lot of hate for not selling out to radio overlords…

Teemu Suomala

Thank you for sharing this information Malachi! I will investigate into this 🙂

Ronny Guittar

Duane Eddy was the Guild and Gretsch Man who created this famous “Twang” sound on his Gretsch and Guild guitars. He ist one of the most famous Hollowbody Players in music history.
Chuck Berry and his famous red Gibson ES 335 also wrote Stage performance history.
There was Eddy Cochran with his Gretsch 6120 that had one P90 Pickup in the neck position and one HS Filtertron as Bridge Pickup.
Not to forget Brian Setzer. Brian is one of the more modern living legends in Rock´n Roll music and responsable for the modern Hollowbody Hype.

Teemu Suomala

Thank you for pointing out these awesome and famous hollowbody guitarists Ronnny!