Hollowbody VS Solidbody Guitar

Hollowbody VS Solidbody Guitar

Hollowbody Guitar Question by Bryan
(Tucson, AZ, USA)

Hello Marc,

I play a solid-body guitar, but for a long time I've been wanting to get a hollow-body guitar to play jazz. I've watched dozens of videos online of people playing them, and I've personally tried out quite a few of them in local music stores.

However, my dilemma is that I can't really hear a large difference in sound between a solid-body guitar and a hollow-body guitar when they are being played through an amp. For example, in several music stores I played with only the neck-pickup on, the tone low, and no amp effects for both guitars, and the differences were very minute to me. However, playing unplugged, the hollow-body sounds very different from the solid-body; the hollow-body has a nice woody, resonant acoustic sound, while the solid-body has a sharper, harsher sound to it.

I know that when you play an electric guitar through an amp, the vibrations in the guitar string create a disturbance in the magnetic field of the pickup beneath it, and this disturbance is translated into a current that runs into the amp. The amp then takes this current and translates it into a sound.(please tell me if I am wrong about this)

So, with all these in mind my question is:

Does the body type of a guitar (hollow or solid) have any effect on the string vibration that is sensed by the pick-up?


M-A Answers to Bryan on "Hollowbody versus Solidbody Guitars"

Hello Bryan,

A question for the ages!

"Do you need a Jazz guitar in order to play Jazz on the guitar?"

To be brutally honest, I do not know how to answer the more technical part of your question. I mean, of course if you pluck just a string in the air (with a pickup attached), the sound coming out of the amp will be different than if the string has a piece of wood attached to it (i.e. solid body guitar).

Or even more different if there's a whole wooden box attached to it! :-)

I guess, the subtlety of an amplified arch top guitar tone comes from the sustain. But I may be wrong! (Anybody, please feel free to leave comments below.)

Isn't the overall resonance patterns (the timbre) of the the vibrating string affected by the piece of wood it is attached to?

So, in the fear of becoming too scientific about this (LOL) , let me just give me my basic pointer for solid body VS hollow body:

Listen to JazzGuitarLessons.net Podcast #2 here ...

The discussion is pretty complete in the podcast. My whole opinion is right there.

Or, as Louis CK would put it "I don't know any more things, ok?"





Marc-Andre Seguin
"Improve Your Jazz Guitar Playing with a REAL Teacher"

Old Comments for Hollowbody VS Solidbody Guitar

Mar 06, 2014

Jazz Guitar?
by: Anonymous

Jazz can be played on literally any guitar. Look at the variety of guitar types used by top jazz players, hollow (ES-175), semi-hollow (ES-335), solid (Telecaster, Stratocaster, etc.) and many players use all 3 types. It just depends on the sound you want to achieve. In my opinion, they all do sound noticeably different from each other, but not drastically different. However, players that play more traditional jazz (i.e. Bebop, modern jazz, listen to Jonathan Kreisberg or Kurt Rosenwinkel) tend to prefer hollow or semi-hollow guitars. And players that play jazz fusion (John Mclaughlin, Scott Henderson, Wayne Krantz) tend to prefer semi-hollow or solid guitars. The disadvantage of hollow guitars is that they can tend to feedback (make a howling noise) when amplified, hence the usage of soundhole covers, but they sound bright and airy. I use all 3, but if I could only have one it would be a semi-hollow (mine is an Ibanez AM-93) because it has the bright, crisp sound for jazz, but can also sound good playing rock, blues, etc.., but again that's just my opinion. You have to play all 3, playing all styles you intend to play on the guitar and, using your ears, decide which one sounds the best for those styles over all. Just my 2 cents.

Mar 04, 2014
Jazz guitars
by: raulz

Hi Marc-Andre.

I´m in the same situation: I think jazz guitars were made to play jazz so, I´m looking for an electric one which gives to me the classic jazz sound of the 50- 60 years (wes montgomery as example), so the question continues.

Warm regards,



See more about this on our Jazz Guitar Gear guide!