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Semi-Acoustic Guitar

The Epiphone Emperor "Joe Pass", with its f-holes visible
The Epiphone Emperor "Joe Pass", with its f-holes visible

A semi-acoustic guitar or hollow-body electric is a type of electric guitar with both a sound box and one or more electric pickups.

Other semi-acoustic or acoustic electric instruments include basses and mandolins. These are similarly constructed to semi-acoustic guitars, and are used in the same ways and with the same limitations.

Semi-acoustic instruments divide into two types:

  • In some, the sound box is adequate for performance in its own right, and use of a pickup is optional as an alternative to using a microphone. Some manufacturers refer to these as acoustic electric rather than semi-acoustic instruments, but the terminology varies.
  • More often, the instrument is designed primarily to be used with an amplifier, and the sound box is used primarily to produce an amplified tone not obtainable with a solid body instrument.

Some instruments are borderline between these two types. For example, some electric arch top guitars are physically and acoustically identical to models from the same company without pickups, but the electric versions are almost never seen in performance without an amplifier. So, although the instrument is demonstrably capable of use as an acoustic instrument, in practice this does not occur.

Other instruments are borderline between semi-acoustic and solid body. For example, some Telecaster guitars have chambers built in to an otherwise solid body to enrich the sound. Exactly where the line is to be drawn between a constructed sound box and a solid wooden body, whose construction also affects the sound according to many players, is not generally agreed.

Some models have a fully hollow body, others may have a solid centre block running the length and depth of the body (for instance the Gibson ES-335). Semi-acoustics are capable of producing a fuller and richer tone than most solid-bodied electric guitars, but are prone to feedback when played through an amplifier. Because of the ability of semi-acoustic guitars to be 'plugged-in,' they can be played at a much louder volume than simple acoustic models. They are favourites of big band guitarists and jazz players particularly. Some companies that have produced famous semi-acoustic guitars inlcude: Rickenbacker, Gretsch and Gibson. A variety of manufacturers now produce semi-acoustic model guitars.

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It uses material from the Wikipedia article - Semi-acoustic guitar