In the under $1000 category, you really start to hit the sweet spot of the best semi hollow body guitars.
These are professional grade semi hollows with the features you need to sound your best from the studio to the stage and everywhere in between.
Some of my favorite instruments of all time are on this list, and I’m excited to show you the best semi hollow body electric guitars for under $1000. If you’re looking for something a little less expensive, check out our list of the best semi hollow guitars for the money.
Growing up, one of my favorite bands was Shinedown, and it was a real pleasure to check out the PRS guitar co-designed by their guitarist Zach Myers.
The PRS SE Zach Myers is a semi hollow electric more closely related to solid body models in all levels of performance. Its versatility, fat tone, and deluxe playability earn it the number one spot in this review.
By no means a loser, the last place of this article goes to the Epiphone Wildkat Royale. Borrowing the gold and white good looks of the high end Gretsch models, this Epiphone delivers classic semi hollow sound, though you’ll need to upgrade its pickups to take it to the level of true greatness.
The 5 Best Semi Hollow Body Guitars Under $1000 – Overview
|Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe
|PRS SE Zach Myers Myers Blue
|Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AM93ME
|Epiphone WILDKAT Royale
|Guild Starfire II ST
- Body: Mahogany
- Neck: Maple
- Fretboard: Rosewood
- Great looks at a good price
- Bigsby vibrato tailpiece for funky tone modulation
- Dependable Grover 18:1 tuning machines
- Single coil pickups that produce a lot of feedback
- Sub-par fingerboard material
Epiphone is better known for their low price beginner instruments, but they’ve got a nice lineup of more expensive axes as well, such as this Epiphone Wildkat model.
The Wildkat is a sturdily built electric, with none of the lightweight flimsy feeling present in the cheaper Epiphone offerings.
Its made with high quality mahogany and maple for the body, with a thick maple neck set in a glued joint that keeps your rig solid no matter how hard you play.
My one qualm with their design choice is opting for an okoume fingerboard rather than a more traditional tonewood, but to keep their prices competitive they had to cut corners somewhere.
With a mahogany body reverberating warm, woody tones and a maple top that reins it in with a tight crisp, the voice of the Wildkat is centered and snappy.
The Wildkat’s major drawback are its single coil pickups. Semi hollow electrics are best suited with double coil electronics to help punch up the tone and cut down on feedback, and this was a poor choice on Epiphone’s part in my opinion.
Nevertheless, the P-90s it’s equipped with are good as far as single-coils go, and send forth a bright, jazzy song that works well in a lot of applications.
In all ways, the Epiphone Wildkat is fun and nice to play. Despite its okoume fingerboard, you can still feel like your getting your money’s worth the moment you pick it up.
It uses the SlimTaper D neck profile, giving you enough back-of-the-neck room for strong chord grip while keeping things slim enough to let your fingers fly.
Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AM93ME
- Top: Maple Wood
- Body: Maple
- Back: Ash Wood
- Neck: Maple
- Fretboard: Mahogany
- Beautiful natural ebony finish
- Great sustain, fantastic lead guitar
- Versatile Super 58 pickups for a wide range of tones
- Super bright, crisp tone lacks in the bass end
I love Ibanez’s Artcore series; not only are they solid performers, but they’re downright beautiful as well.
The Ibanez Artcore Expressionist AM93ME is the first guitar I’ve ever seen with an all-ebony body, making it one of the most unusual guitars I’ve had the chance to check out.
Ebony is a very dense wood, and you can feel the heft the moment you pick this puppy up. It’s heavy duty — not the kind of guitar you want to try swinging around your neck.
It’s got attractive gold hardware with Ibanez dependability and an adjustable ART-1 Bridge with a Quik Change III Tailpiece built to keep you in tune through your sessions.
While the natural ebony finish might look amazing, it leaves a bit to be desired in terms of tone.
The AM93ME doesn’t sound bad, but it is a bit flat through your standard amp. A tube amp with the bottom end opened up will help you to get the bass boost this guitar needs, but otherwise you’re stuck in the land of high end snap and sparkle.
Its Super 58 pickups do a good job of projection though, and you can open the tone knobs to full throttle to fill out your mid range enough for a tone that’s swell for blues and rockabilly. Keep it clean, and you’ve got a nice spanky jazz guitar on your hands.
If Ibanez is best known for anything, it’s their fast playing necks.
While the Expressionist AM93ME doesn’t have anything like the Wizard profiles you can find on solid body Ibanezes, the AM Expressionist neck shape is still a speedy design.
The ebony fingerboard is crisp and springy, with natural oils that keep your fingers easily flying over the frets.
Guild Starfire II ST
- Top: Mahogany
- Body: Mahogany
- Back: Mahogany
- Neck: Mahogany
- Fretboard: Ebony
- Soft U-shaped neck for vintage playing feel
- All-mahogany build delivers rich overtones
- Ebony fretboard offers sharp attack and quick response
- No main center-block increases chances of feedback
Guild is a child-company of Cordoba, famed for the quality handcraftsmanship of each of their models. The Starfire II is a handmade vintage-style semi hollow dating back to the 1960s, with an all-mahogany body in a single-cutaway design.
The woods and hardware of this guitar are top tier, each piece assembled with great attention to detail.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, it lacks a pickguard, making its natural finish susceptible to scratches from overzealous strumming.
With all but the ebony fingerboard made of mahogany, you can expect tons of tonal complexity from the Starfire II, and an all-around mid-range heavy, generally creamy tone. Its highs don’t squawk and its lows aren’t feeble, staying pretty well balanced in every range.
Its got great Guild humbuckers, unusually sized a bit smaller than the standard double coil but larger than a mini. They sing out with ringing cleans and pack the grit you want for when its time to get dirty. Read more about these pickups and their unique design here.
Due to the lack of the solid middle block that is typical of semi hollow body guitars, the Starfire II may give you some feedback issues at high volumes, but this is tamed a bit by the design of the nickel-plated pickups.
The Starfire II is meant to both sound and play like a vintage model. With its “Soft U” shaped neck profile and medium sized frets, it accomplishes this feel quite well. A single cutaway gives you good access to the highest frets, and the ebony fretboard responds with a snappy comeback to any playing style.
Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe
- Top: Maple
- Body: Wood
- Back: Maple
- Neck: Maple
- Fretboard: Resinator
- Tremar vibrato system with increased tuning stability
- Powerful, crunchy pickups
- Sparkling clean tones in every register
- All-maple build sounds twangy and treble-heavy
- Synthetic fingerboard can turn off guitar purists
Hagstrom’s Tremar Viking Deluxe is one sleek-looking axe, truly an instrument that calls to mind Vikings of old. This isn’t the first time their guitars have landed in our top choices for semi hollows; another Hagstrom model nearly nabbed the number one spot in this review.
It’s an all-maple build, ply on top, back and sides, and solid hard maple for the neck, and feels robust in my hands. It’s quite heavy, but this heaviness makes it seem solid and well-constructed.
Outfitted with a Tremar vibrato system paired with a Tune-o-Matic bridge, a Hagstrom-designed set neck, and a synthetic bridge engineered for durability, this is a semi hollow worthy of hours-long battle.
The Tremar Viking Deluxe is a great guitar for classic rock and blues, with a bright twang attributable to its all-maple build. The Resinator fingerboard doesn’t have a huge influence on its tone aside from adding to the already abundant sparkle.
Its pickups are Hagstrom HJ-50s which do a great job of eliminating feedback problems you might otherwise experience in such a treble-laden semi hollow. They provide a boost to the bass and mid ranges, filling out the tone whether distorted or clean.
Hagstrom uses a specially-designed truss rod called the H-Expander that applies tension to the neck at both the body and head ends. This added tension keeps the neck stiff and allows them to use an extra-thin profile in the neck design.
The H-Expander system also allows the action of this guitar to be set super low, so you can fly through your licks like Zoran, the Norse God of Speed.
Normally I complain a lot about synthetic materials like their Resinator fingerboard, but in the Tremar Viking Deluxe, it has a bouncy playability that seems to add quickness to the attack without being altogether detrimental to the feel.
PRS SE Zach Myers
- Top: Maple, Rose, Mahagony
- Body: Rosewood
- Back: Mahogany
- Neck: Mahogany
- Fretboard: Rosewood
- Chambered body design eliminates feedback problems
- Mahogany + maple body provides superb semi hollow tone
- Wide flat neck profile gives a feeling of rock’n’roll power
- Wide neck may be difficult for short-finger players
Zach Myers of Shinedown partnered with PRS to design this signature semi hollow electric, aiming to craft a guitar capable of extreme versatility.
The result is this SE with a chambered mahogany body capped with a maple top that showcases the best aspects of semi hollows while terminating their usual impairments. You can read more about how chambered bodies affect guitar performance here.
It’s a guitar that feels as strong as it sounds, and carries the PRS markers of quality with little to no downsides.
Semi hollow guitars aren’t usually thought of as good for hard rock, but this Zach Myers model can do all that and more.
Its mahogany body transmits a depth of harmonic tone that is full of open bass and mids, while the maple top pops the treble and gives it the perfect amount of high end to elevate it from the usual muddiness of semi hollow designs.
The PRS-designed 245 humbuckers carry powerful clean notes just as well as they crush through overdriven breakdowns, and can be played to great effect anywhere in between, making this a truly adaptable axe and the hands-down best semi hollow body guitar under $1000.
Wide thin neck profiles may scare away the timid player, but the grip behind this model gives you a strong base for chords and a needle-narrow radius for lightning-quick licks.
The neck’s smooth satin finish glides like silk and feels like velvet, so as you jam along the rosewood fingerboard you’ll soon forget the extra neck width.
The Final Word
Semi hollow body guitars are great for their intended purposes, being the model instrument for blues, rock, rockabilly, outlaw country, etc. They’re almost as iconic to blues music as hollow body guitars, the best of which you can see in this review.
They might be a bit limiting, but with the right amp setup you can get a huge array of tones that fit tons of different genres.
Of all these semi hollow bodies, the PRS SE Zach Myers is by far the most versatile, opening up your playing field to pretty much any genre you desire to jam in.
At this price point, you’re in the realm of stage-ready instruments that will meet your every demand, so however you choose, you’ll be sure to be getting one of the best semi hollow body guitars around.
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