Skip to Main ContentMusicians Insitute Library

Instrument and Equipment Guide

This guide is meant to illuminate and educate readers about the many facets of what makes a guitar feel and sound different from one another. This is to aid students decide what guitar will best suit their needs when checking an instrument out at the libr

Guitars can be broadly categorized by four main groupings: Electric, Acoustic, Semi-hollow, and Hollow. All three of these descriptions are referring to the method of construction in the guitars' body.

  • An Electric guitar is generally made of a solid body of wood, and uses pickups and electronics passed through a guitar amplifier to produce a sound.
  • An Acoustic guitar is generally a large guitar body that has a large empty space inside. Typically there is a large hole on the front to project the sound forward. An acoustic guitar may also sometimes be outfitted with electronics to have it plugged into an amplifier or a PA system. This would have it be called an Acoustic-Electric guitar.
  • A Semi-hollow guitar combines the benefits of both electric and acoustic design principles. A semi-hollow guitar is generally the shape and size of an electric guitar, but features empty chambers in the body to mimic the sound of an acoustic guitar.  Like the name ‘semi-hollow’ implies, they are not fully empty. These guitars typically have a center block of wood running through the middle of the empty chamber of the guitar. This is done to eliminate speaker feedback from playing through an amplifier at high volumes and high gain.
  • A Hollowbody guitar has the full, round sound of an acoustic guitar with a large body, but typically uses a standard electric guitar pickup to aid in amplifying the sound. These guitars are found primarily in jazz and country music for their round and mellow tonal chacteristics. However, they are prone to feedback issues while amplified due to their full acoustic bodies.

Here is a few links showcasing some of the sonic differences between these main types of guitars!