Electric guitar body and tone!

The electric guitar body is an important part of your guitar. The wood and construction of the body does affects its tone a lot. 

There are three different kind of bodies:

  1. hollow body
  2. semi-hollow body
  3. solid body

hollow body

Gibson ES175Gibson ES175

The first electric guitars were mostly acoustic guitars with a pickup attached on it. 

The anatomy of the first hollow bodies were the same as an acoustic flat-top or arch-top. They sounded good when played acoustic and they sounded louder when played electric which was needed in big bands.

Pickups and tone knobs were not attached on the top of the guitar. Because the resonance of the wood will be affected when holes are drilled in it.


Later in time, that started to change. On the Gibson ES175 pickups and tone knobs are attached the same way as an solid body electric guitar and so is the other hardware.

Main purpose was to sound good when played electric. But of course the way it sounded acoustic, also affects the electric sound. The hollow bodies started to sound more specific!

Today most hollow-body electric guitars are arch-tops. Top wood can be solid or laminated. Tone wise, the solid top gives a better resonance than a laminated top.

Solid tops are a more vulnerable than laminated tops. 

semi-hollow body

Gibson ES 335

At the end of the 50's Gibson invented the ES-335. They combined the best of a hollow body with the best of a solid body..

The guitar is thinner than a hollow body and they have a solid peace of wood through the center of the guitar. From the neck till the end of the body, the guitar is solid, but the wings are hollow.

The guitar has the sustain and brightness of a solid body and the resonance of a hollow body. 

solid electric guitar body

The solid electric guitar body is the most populair body for electric guitars. It is made from a solid peace of wood. It can be made from one peace of wood, or from more peaces of wood, glued together.

A solid body can be made of one single kind of wood. It also can be made of different kinds of wood, like the Gibson Les Paul with the combination of maple and mahogany.

Tone wise the guitar made from one single solid peace of wood will have the purest vibrations and resonance. By mixing more kinds of wood it is possible to blend different tonal characters.

A body that is made of different peaces of the same wood, glued together, will be stronger.

There can be different neck constructions on a body.

A solid electric guitar body can be:

  • chambered
  • carved or flat 

Chambered body

Gibson is known for selling guitars with a chambered body. 

Before the maple top will be placed on the mahogany body, wood will be removed first. They remove the wood from specific places of the body, to create tonal improvements like more sustain and resonance.

Sometimes wood will only be removed from a body to create weight relief. The guitar will be less heavy and with a better balance between neck and body.

Carved top and flat top 

PRS carved topPRS carved top

The top of a body can be flat. This means that the wood of the top has the same thickness everywhere.

Tops can also be carved. This means that the top doesn't have the same thickness on all places. The middle part of the top will be thicker than the edges.

If the maple in the center of the top is thicker than the edges, the sound of the guitar will be brighter.

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