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Guitar Body Types and Sound

  • Post published:April 17, 2024

Guitar Body Types and Sound

By Shawn Leonhardt for Guitar Tricks and 30-Day Singer

How does the body of a guitar affect the sound? In some cases the build and body are very important, while other times the electronics are the main factor.

The space and materials used will have major consequences on the final overall tone of the instrument.

Though you might not be so concerned with how guitar shapes effect their sound as you learn how to play guitar, knowing about these shapes will help you grow as a guitarist. Here are the main electric guitar body types and how they influence the final sound!

A Proper Guitar Setup

Before we get into specific guitar body types we need to look at aspects that need to be found on every guitar.

If these other parts are not set up right, the sound from the body will not be that good! So whether you have an acoustic or an electric hollow or solid body, here are some tips for getting a proper guitar sound, even if you are only beginning with guitar lessons.

Do not be too cheap in your purchase, guitars shouldn’t cost a fortune but you need to have an appropriate model.

One that is inexpensive will have inferior products and sound issues, this makes any potential body sound pointless.

Make sure the action and intonation are set up correctly, this is something you can pay for or learn how to do. Whenever you fret a string it should play the correct note, otherwise the chords and melodies will sound off.

The strings also need to be the correct height above the fretboard.

Strings make a huge difference; each guitar will have a gauge and material that sounds best.

The one way to find out which works is to experiment, research string brands for your guitar and try a new one out every couple months.

Do not underestimate the power of the right strings to bring out a guitar’s power.

Learn how to play on a properly set up guitar! You must practice all the time to get the most out of your sound.

This is one reason it can be hard getting a guitar as a beginner because you don’t have the experience to know what to look for. As you practice and gain more skills, it will be easier to get a great guitar tone.


This is how hollow body guitar looks

On acoustic guitars the body is used to amplify the sound, a large jumbo body will reverberate loud enough for a small stage.

However another important aspect is the soundboard and whether the wood is solid or not.

Guitars with solid tops and lots of space will have a great big sound. Hollow bodies are semi-acoustic guitars that use electronic technology over old-fashioned heavy-duty archtop acoustic bodies.

Because they mix these sound pickup methods you get a deeper tone, however you also run into more audio signal problems.

To remedy this, hollow-body guitars use solid blocks down the body and other building methods to minimize any problematic frequencies.

It is not the same as an acoustic-electric guitar, in this case the pickup has more control over the tone.

And it is a beloved tone as the two most popular hollow body guitars have been made by Gibson and Gretsch for musicians in blues, jazz, and rockabilly.

If a guitarist is going for warm tones of those styles the hollow body guitar type is a great choice. Of course since they are harder to build, they are much higher budgets.


An example of semi hollow guitar

There is no exact line between the definition of hollow and semi-hollow guitars, generally the latter has a little less body space.

Modern semi-hollows are made by more manufacturers like PRS, D’Angelico, Epiphone, and even the Fender Squire has a semi-hollow brand that is cheaper.

Like the hollow, more space in the guitar body is going to give you more warmth and tone.

Because there is less space in a semi-hollow guitar there will be less chance of signal issues, yet it still provides that deeper tone than a solid body.

Both semi-hollow and hollow often use f holes and they make no difference in the sound, it is the space, wood, and pickup that make the real changes.

The semi-hollow guitar is perfect for people who want the world of acoustic and electric guitar, those looking for the tone of jazz, blues, and even country.

If they prefer a more modern fusion or even progressive approach they still can get use out of this body style for their final tone. But as the acoustic space in the body shrinks we become more reliant on the pickups!

Solid Body

solid body electric guitar

We finally have no more acoustic space, just a block of solid wood routed out to hold pickups and tone controls.

The wood makes no difference in this case, you could attach the pickups and strings to almost any other body and get the same thing. Sometimes solid body guitars are made from carbon fiber or other materials, if it has great pickups it doesn’t matter.

In all three styles the electronics and pickup are very important, but in the solid body we cannot get any sound unless we have the right gear!

This style is the most popular electric guitar as it is more affordable and works for rock, pop, and most other genres.

The amps and effects units you use will have the biggest effect on the sound, rather than the solid guitar body type.

One advantage solid body guitars have is for metal and heavy distortion music genres, situations where any acoustic space can cause feedback issues.

They are also smaller, sleek, and suited to the types of shredding and solo techniques for hard rock genres.

If you plan on playing blues, rock, metal, or any genres that have large amounts of gain and distortion, the solid body type will work better.

There are many more brands of solid body guitars to choose from because they are so popular.

The best known are the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster along with the Gibson Les Paul.

Along with those there are plenty of brands for all budgets, but even here try not to be too cheap. The wood may not matter, but decent pickups and proper setup do if you want a great sound.


The body type of the guitar is important in semi-hollows and hollows but not in solid models. But they all depend on pickups and amplifiers for their final tone so we can’t forget that aspect.

If you want to play rock, jazz, or blues the best body types are the hollow and semi-hollow.

Otherwise a lot of modern pop and heavy metal can be covered with a solid body, it all depends on your budget, where you are with your online guitar lessons like these, and the musical style you are interested in playing!