The Les Paul is one of the most iconic guitars of all time. It has a thick and warm tone that’s perfect for a range of different styles of music. But what body type does it have? In this article I’ll go through everything you need to know about a Les Paul’s shape, and why it’s so important.
The Quick Answer
The Les Paul is not a hollow body guitar. There are three main body types: hollow, semi-hollow and solid. The Les Paul has a solid body type.
This means that it’s a heavier guitar, it doesn’t suffer from feedback issues, and it has better sustain than a hollow body design does.
What are the Different Guitar Body Types?
So what are the different types of guitar bodies? Well, there are three main categories: hollow, semi-hollow and solid.
Most electric guitars that you’ll usually think of, like a Les Paul, Stratocaster and Telecaster, have a solid body design. This means that the body is made from one thick slab of wood. They suit a wide range of music styles from rock and metal, to jazz and pop.
Hollow body guitars have a more acoustic kind of sound, and are typically much larger than solid body designs. This is because they more closely resemble the shape of an acoustic guitar, as there is space inside the body. Hollow body guitars have no wood on the inside of the body, and you can see the inside through f-holes. See the picture below.
Popular hollow body guitars include the Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin, and the Gretsch G5422TG.
Semi-hollow body guitars, as the name would suggest, are somewhere in between solid and hollow body designs. They look pretty similar to hollow body guitars, in that they have the f-holes. However, the inside of the guitar isn’t completely empty, and has some wood.
Some semi-hollow guitars only have the f-holes cut out of the body. Whereas others have just a centerblock. Popular semi-hollow guitars include the Gibson ES-335, and Ibanez Artcore AS73 and SE Custom 22 Semi-Hollow electric guitar.
How Does Body Type Affect Sound?
So apart from the looks of the guitar, why does the body type actually matter? Well, the main difference between hollow and solid body guitars, is how they sound.
Solid body guitars are made from a thick piece of wood, with no gaps inside. This gives it better sustain, which means that the notes you play will ring out for longer. They are also less susceptible to feedback issues than hollow or semi-hollow bodies. This means, that if you want to crank up either the volume or the gain/ distortion on your amp, a solid body guitar will be your best bet.
Solid body guitars are very versatile and used for a wide variety of styles. That’s why you’ll often see them being played in jazz and blues, but also in heavy metal and rock.
Hollow body guitars on the other hand, sound a lot more acoustic than solid body guitars. Hollow body guitars have less sustain than solid bodies, but sound warmer, and have a more bassy kind of tone. The main issue, is that they are highly susceptible to feedback if you increase the volume or gain on your amp too high. This is why you’ll rarely see a hollow body guitar being used for metal or rock.
Hollow body guitars sound best when played through a clean amplifier, with very little to no distortion. That’s why you’ll often see them being played by jazz musicians.
Semi-hollow body guitars sound like a cross between hollow and solid bodies. They are more closely related to hollow body guitars however, so they suffer from feedback issues at high gain, and have a more acoustic style of tone. The advantage is that semi-hollow guitars are a bit more versatile. That’s why you’ll sometimes see them being played by rock guitarists, which prefer a more overdriven than distorted tone.
Is There a Hollow Body Alternative to a LP?
If you’re looking for a hollow body alternative to the Les Paul, then your best bet is to go with a Gibson ES-335.
It’s a semi-hollow design, but it will give you a more acoustic sounding tone, that’s warm and has a high level of resonance. Of course, you will suffer more from feedback issues, so I’d stay away from a semi-hollow or hollow body if you play with a lot of distortion.
In terms of similarities to the Les Paul, the Gibson ES-335 has two humbuckers, which give it that warm and beefy tone that you’ll associate with a Les Paul. You also get two independent volume and tone controls for each pickup, again mirroring the famous LP.
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, then check out the Epiphone ES-355.
If you’re looking for a completely hollow body type, then check out the Gretsch G5422TG.
It also has two humbucker pickups and a rosewood fret board, like the ES-335. However, it has a maple body and neck, giving it a brighter tone in comparison.
If you’ve still got some questions, then don’t worry. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about this topic.
what’s the difference between hollow and semi-hollow body guitars?
semi-hollow body guitars suffer less from feedback issues, and have a more versatile tone than hollow body guitars. Hollow body guitars sound much more acoustic, and are primarily played through clean amps in jazz style music.
Take a look at this article I’ve written about the differences between semi-hollow and hollow body guitars to learn more about this debate.
is the les paul a versatile guitar?
The Les Paul is a very versatile electric guitar. It can play a range of different styles of music, and you can get a lot of different sounds out of the dual humbucker pickup configuration with independent volume and tone controls. As with hollow body guitars, you can also play jazz and clean tones on a Les Paul. So if you’re worried that you may find the feedback issues of a hollow body annoying, then this is a great alternative to go for.
So there you go! That’s why a Les Paul isn’t a hollow body guitar! I hope you’ve found this article helpful, thanks for reading. Here are some other posts you might find useful: