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Electric Guitar Body Styles: Everything You Need to Know

electric guitar body styles

We have seen revolutionary changes in electric guitar body styles over the years. Collaborating with legendary guitar players, brands and luthiers has created countless guitar models that have stood the test of time.

Different electric guitar styles produce different tones and are suitable for different genres of music. Let’s get started on our journey of discovering electric guitar body styles!

Let’s Understand Electric Guitar Body Styles And Shapes

When it comes to electric guitar body styles, there are primarily three categories to consider. Understanding these can significantly impact your choice based on the genre of music you wish to delve into.

Hollow Body Electric Guitars

Hollow body guitars are the vintage charmers of the guitar world. Typically associated with jazz and blues, these guitars have an entirely hollow interior, like an acoustic guitar.

They’re known for their rich, full sound but can be prone to feedback issues at high volumes. 

Semi Hollow Body

Semi-hollow guitars offer a middle ground. They have a solid center block inside a hollow body, aiming to reduce feedback and enrich sustain. These guitars are versatile and suitable for genres ranging from rock to country.

Solid Body Instruments

Solid body guitars, as the name suggests, are made from a solid piece of wood. They’re versatile and can sustain high volume levels without feedback issues. Ideal for rock, metal, and pretty much everything else.

How Did These Styles Develop?

The history of electric guitar styles is a tapestry of innovation and cross-genre influences. Hollow body guitars, born from jazz roots, came first in the early 1930s. The invention of amplifiers paved the way for solid body guitars, which Leo Fender popularized in the ’50s.

The semi-hollow body was a later compromise, emerging in the late ’50s as musicians sought more versatile options.

Does An Electric Guitar’s Shape Affect The Sound?

Absolutely, yes! The shape and construction materials of the electric guitar significantly affect its resonance, sustain, and tonal quality. For example, hollow bodies offer warm tones ideal for jazz, while solid bodies produce sharper, more defined tones perfect for shredding.

Science Behind It

The interaction between the strings and the guitar’s body creates sonic characteristics unique to each style. In a hollow body, the chamber air interacts with the strings, adding depth and warmth to the sound.

Solid bodies, on the other hand, have less internal resonance but offer more sustain due to their mass.

Examples of Hollow Body Electric Guitars

PRS SE Hollowbody II Electric Guitar

The PRS SE Hollowbody II Electric Guitar blends the warm resonance of a full hollowbody with the rock-solid stability and clarity of a semi-hollow design. What sets it apart is its unique construction: instead of a traditional center block running from top to bottom, it features only a small block anchoring the bridge.

This offers an unparalleled tonal range, combining the deep warmth one would expect from a hollow body with the articulate sustain more common to solid bodies. 

The premium ebony fingerboard is as smooth as glass and features PRS’s iconic bird inlays. In essence, the PRS SE Hollowbody II is a comfortable, thin-profile guitar that captures the best of both hollow and solid body worlds.

Specification

  • 58/15 “S” Humbucking pickups
  • 3-way pickup selector switch
  • Master Volume and Tone control

Famous players

  • Carlos Santana
  • Peter Frampton
  • Howard Leese

Ibanez Artcore AG75G

The Ibanez Artcore AG75G brings a fresh take to the traditional hollow body guitar, offering a winning combination of affordability and quality that exceeds many competitors in its price range. Made with a linden top, back, and sides, this guitar offers a rich midrange that beautifully resonates at your fingertips before being amplified.

What sets the AG75G apart is its ergonomic body design; it captures the classic “jazz box” essence without the bulk. The mid-sized body is slightly smaller than traditional hollow bodies but maintains the depth to deliver a robust punch and projection.

The guitar is complemented by a 3-piece Nato/maple neck and a walnut fingerboard, providing exceptional comfort and playability. Key features that round out this impressive guitar include a Gibraltar Performer bridge positioned for optimal tone and an effortlessly playable neck.

Specifications

  • Classic Elite humbucker Pickups
  • Gibraltar Performer bridge and VT06 “trapeze” tailpiece
  • Venetian cutaway

Famous Players

  • Joe Pass
  • Chet Atkins
  • Wes Montgomery

Gretsch G2420T Streamliner Hollowbody

The G2420 Streamliner Hollowbody by Gretsch is a versatile instrument that beautifully blends vintage construction with modern electronics. This fully hollow guitar is designed to offer a warm, rounded tone that is as well-suited for jazz ensembles as it is for rockabilly bands.

One of its standout features is the custom-wound Broad’Tron humbucking pickups, which pack enough output to push you into hard rock territory while still preserving the guitar’s natural warmth. The body design is not just about great sound; it also offers superb playability. With a thin-U neck profile that is both comfortable for chording and streamlined for speedy runs, the guitar’s full-size, single-cutaway construction provides easy access to higher frets.

The thoughtfully laid-out controls offer individual volume settings for each pickup as well as master volume and tone controls, providing an expansive range of tone-shaping possibilities. Overall, the G2420 Streamliner Hollowbody is a thoughtfully designed, versatile guitar that offers both tonal richness and ergonomic comfort.

Specification

  • Broad’Tron™ BT-2S Pickups
  • 3-way Pickup Selector Switch
  • Bigsby® B60 Tail-piece

Famous Players

  • Malcolm Young
  • John Frusciante
  • Chet Atkins

Examples of Semi Hollow Body Electric Guitars

Squier 0370590509 Affinity Series Starcaster

The Squier 0370590509 Affinity Series Starcaster is a visually striking and sonically versatile instrument that offers an all-maple construction for a consistent, rich tonal profile. The maple top, body, and back not only contribute to its eye-catching aesthetic, available in bold colors like red and beige but also provide a resonant warmth to the guitar’s overall sound.

This maple theme extends to the neck and fretboard, offering a cohesive playing experience. In terms of body style, the Starcaster features a semi-hollow design, making it lightweight and comfortable to play for extended periods. It’s engineered for right-handed players and comes with an adjustable guitar bridge system for precise intonation and playability.

The guitar also features an ‘H’ pickup configuration, which is perfect for those looking to explore a range of tones. From its superb construction to its ergonomic design, the Affinity Series Starcaster is a budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on quality or versatility.

Specifications

  • Humbucking Pickups
  • Adjustable Bridge
  • Maple Neck

Famous Players

  • John Scofield
  • Dave Grohl
  • George Harrison

Epiphone Emily Wolfe Sheraton Stealth

The Epiphone Emily Wolfe Sheraton Stealth is a signature model that brings an innovative twist to the classic Sheraton style. Its body is crafted from maple, giving it a resonant quality, and it features eye-catching Diamond F-holes that add to its aesthetic appeal.

Unique to this guitar is the block MOP fretboard inlays, further adorned with a Lightning Bolt in Abalone, creating a visual statement that complements its musical prowess.

With a 3-piece mahogany neck and Indian Laurel fretboard, the guitar offers a smooth playing experience. The neck profile is a 60’s Slim Taper C, making it comfortable for various playing styles. Equipped with two Epiphone Alnico Classic Pro Humbuckers and nuanced control options—including 2 volume controls and a CTS potentiometer tone control—the guitar offers a wide sonic range.

Additional features like the Epiphone LockTone Tune-o-matic bridge, StopBar, and lightly aged gold-plated Grover Rotomatic tuners contribute to its overall functionality. The guitar comes in a striking Black Aged Gloss color and includes an EpiLite guitar case for added convenience.

Specification

  • Epiphone Alnico Classic Pro Humbuckers
  • Epiphone LockTone Tune-o-matic bridge
  • Gold-plated Grover Rotomatic tuners

Famous Players

  • John Lee Hooker
  • Noel Gallagher
  • The Edge
  • Emily Wolfe

Gibson ES-335 Figured 60s Cherry

The Gibson ES-335 Figured the ’60s is a masterclass in combining vintage aesthetics with modern functionality. Featuring a semi-hollow construction, this guitar is built with a maple body that lends a resonant warmth to its tone, and it’s adorned with a stunning “figured” maple top that truly sets it apart.

The mahogany neck, capped with a rosewood fretboard, ensures smooth playability that’s complemented by small block inlays for that classic touch. The neck profile is a comfortable Rounded “C,” and the guitar boasts 22 frets on a 628 mm scale. When it comes to sound, the dual-calibrated T-Type humbuckers offer a wide sonic range, ensuring you have the tone you’re looking for in every setting.

The guitar’s hardware is equally impressive, featuring Gibson Deluxe machine heads, an ABR-1 bridge with titanium saddles, and sleek nickel hardware. Finished in a nostalgic ’60s cherry color and accompanied by a case, this USA-made guitar is a genuine piece of artistry.

Specifications

  • 2 Calibrated T-Type humbuckers
  • ABR-1 bridge with titanium saddles
  • Gibson Deluxe machine heads

Famous Players

  • Bob Marley
  • John Lennon
  • B.B. King

Examples of Solid Body Electric Guitars

Gibson Les Paul Standard ’60s

The Gibson Les Paul Standard ’60s is an iconic guitar that seamlessly merges classic designs with modern craftsmanship. Built with a solid mahogany body and a beautiful maple top, this guitar boasts a tonal richness that is both warm and articulate. The body’s single-cutaway design is not just eye-catching but also highly functional, allowing easy access to the higher frets.

A standout feature is its slim taper neck profile that offers a fast, comfortable playing experience. Paired with humbucking pickups, this American-made guitar is well-suited for everything from bluesy licks to rock anthems. The marriage of form and function extends to its high-quality hardware, including a Tune-O-Matic bridge and Grover Rotomatic tuners.

This is a guitar that stays true to its ’60s roots while providing all the modern amenities one would expect from a top-tier instrument.

Specifications

  • 60s Burstbucker humbuckers
  • Handwired electronics with Orange Drop capacitors
  • 3-way pickup selector

Famous Players

  • Slash
  • Jimmy Page
  • Eric Clapton

American Original ’50s Stratocaster

The Fender American Original ’50s Stratocaster embodies the golden era of guitar craftsmanship. Its alder body is contoured to perfection, offering comfort and a balanced, resonant tone. The iconic double-cutaway design is not only visually compelling but also functionally superior, allowing for greater fret access.

The neck is constructed from maple and features a “Soft V” profile, ideal for both chording and single-note runs. With its trio of vintage-style single-coil pickups, this Strat delivers a rich, well-rounded sound that can cover any genre. The body style is complemented by vintage-inspired hardware, including a synchronized tremolo bridge and classic tuners.

It’s an all-American masterpiece that pays homage to its ’50s origins while offering contemporary playability.

Specifications

  • 3 Single-coil Pickups
  • Maple Neck Fingerboard
  • Adjustable Bridge

Famous Players

  • Jimi Hendrix
  • David Gilmour
  • Jeff Beck
  • Mark Knopfler

Fender American Original ’50s Telecaster

The Fender American Original ’50s Telecaster is a nod to one of the guitars that started it all. Built with a solid ash body, the Telecaster offers a bright, twangy tone that is as versatile as it is iconic.

The single-cutaway design of the body not only exudes vintage charm but also offers practical access to the upper frets. Its maple neck, sporting a “U” profile, gives players a chunky yet comfortable grip, ideal for intricate chord work or soaring solos. The pair of Pure Vintage ’52 single-coil Tele pickups delivers the timeless tone that this model is renowned for.

A combination of vintage style and modern reliability, the Telecaster features period-correct hardware, including a 3-saddle bridge and classic tuning machines. This guitar successfully captures the essence of the ’50s while meeting today’s performance standards.

Specifications

  • Solid Ash Body
  • “U” Profile Maple Neck
  • Pure Vintage ’52 Single-Coil Tele Pickups

Famous Players

  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Keith Richards
  • Muddy Waters

And Now We Have The Show-Stoppers

Gibson Explorer

The Gibson Explorer is an icon in the world of electric guitars. It made its first appearance in 1958 and has been turning heads ever since with its angular, futuristic shape. The body, typically made of mahogany, provides a balanced tone—perfect for rock and metal genres.

A staple in the hands of rock gods like James Hetfield of Metallica, the Explorer is designed to make a statement, both visually and sonically.

Gibson Flying V

The Gibson Flying V is another “wow” factor guitar that breaks away from traditional designs. Introduced in the same year as the Explorer, its V-shaped body is not only visually striking but also functional, offering easier access to higher frets.

Known for its bright, crisp tone, the Flying V is popular in genres requiring a piercing lead or aggressive rhythm, like hard rock and heavy metal.

The ‘Super Strat’

The Super Strat takes the classic Stratocaster design and supercharges it with features aimed at high-performance playing. Usually fitted with humbuckers and a locking tremolo system, this guitar is designed for shred and speed.

With its ergonomic curves and cutaways, it lends itself well to technical genres like progressive metal. Players like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani have made this style of guitar legendary.

The Jazzmaster

Fender’s Jazzmaster, released in 1958, is a staple for indie and alternative rock players. Its unique offset body shape and specialized electronics provide a mellower, warmer tone compared to other Fender models.

While originally targeted at jazz musicians, its versatility has made it popular across various genres.

Hybrid Electric Guitar Body Styles

Danelectro Sitar

The Danelectro Sitar brings the ethereal sound of Indian classical music to the world of electric guitars. This unique instrument features 13 drone strings, a semi-hollow Poplar body, a Maple neck, and a Rosewood fretboard.

The hardtail bridge and Kluson-style tuners provide stability, making this hybrid electric a treat for the experimental musician.

Michael Angelo Batio’s Quad Guitar

If you thought double-neck guitars were fascinating, wait until you see Michael Angelo Batio’s Quad Guitar—four necks, one body. This custom creation allows for unparalleled sonic diversity and showmanship.

Each neck has a different tuning and pickup configuration, opening doors to inventive techniques and arrangements.

Steve Vai’s Ibanez Hydra

Another eye-catching masterpiece, the Ibanez Hydra is a triple-neck guitar designed for the virtuoso Steve Vai. It allows the player to switch between six-string, seven-string, and 12-string configurations on the fly.

It’s a tour de force of innovation, combining aesthetic splendor with versatile functionality.

Guitar Styles by Genre

The versatility of the electric guitar makes it suitable for a wide range of genres, each with its distinct demands. For instance, Fender’s Stratocaster is a jack-of-all-trades with its three single-coil pickups, providing crisp and bright tones ideal for blues, rock, and even funk. Its cousin, the Telecaster, with its twangy sound, reigns supreme in country music but is also a staple in rock and indie scenes.

Gibson’s Les Paul, featuring humbucker pickups and a heavier body, offers a rich, sustained tone that thrives in rock, metal, and jazz settings. Its sibling, the SG, shares a similar tonal palette but with a lighter body, making it a go-to for hard rock and classic metal musicians like Angus Young of AC/DC.

The Ibanez RG series is a favorite among shredders and metalheads due to its fast neck and versatile pickups. It’s often seen in genres that require technical proficiency, such as progressive metal and rock. For jazz and blues aficionados, semi-hollow and hollow-body guitars like the Gibson ES-335 deliver warm, full sounds and are capable of both clean and distorted tones.

Finally, for alternative and experimental genres, the offset body shapes of Fender’s Jazzmaster and Jaguar offer unique tonal options and a dash of vintage aesthetic. These models, with their floating tremolo systems and varied electronics, open up a world of sonic exploration.

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Rafsan Ahmed

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