The Skinny: Fully-Hollow Thinline Electric Guitars

A while back, we checked out a bunch of 16-inch, full-depth acoustic archtops. In response, a reader requested that we cover fully-hollow thinlines—electric guitars with bodies generally fewer than two inches deep. We’re glad they asked about this style of guitar, which essentially is the underdog of hollowbodies.

In the 1950s and ’60s, Epiphone offered thinline electrics with stately names like Windsor, Sorrento, and Casino, while Gibson produced numerically named models like the ES-125T, ES-225, and the ES-330. But these streamlined instruments were never as popular as semi-solid thinlines like Gibson’s ES-335, whose center block rejected feedback and made the guitar more practical for loud situations.

These days, more thinlines have center blocks than not. But there are nice fully-hollow examples to be had at every price point, some traditional and others with modern upgrades, some more all-purpose and others more jazz boxes—all with characteristic warm, woody sounds that can’t be had from other types of electric guitars. Let’s have a look at a handful of specimens.

The Loar LH-301T

The Loar created a couple of thinlines between 2014 and 2018, patterned after different iterations of Gibson’s ES-125T.

There’s the non-cutaway LH-301T, with a single P-90 pickup; and the LH-302, with a Florentine cutaway and a pair of P-90s—each selling for a fraction of the price of a clean vintage example.

These simple designs can cover a wide range of sonic territory, from traditional jazz to swampy crunch.

Gibson ES-330

Gibson’s double-cutaway ES-330 might look a lot like the ES-335, but the two guitars are different animals.

The most significant differences: the ES-330 is fully hollow, while the ES-335 is semi-hollow, with a maple block in the center of its body; the ES-330 is equipped with one or two P-90s, while the ES-335 has twin humbuckers.

Epiphone’s version of the ES-330, the Casino, which The Beatles made excellent use of, is available as a very good budget reissue for several hundred dollars [Ed.: and as of 2021, a higher-priced, original-spec reissue too]. And you can of course find many versions (used and new) of Gibson’s note-perfect recreation of its original on Reverb.

Eastman T184MX-CS

Eastman offers a range of fully-hollow thinline electrics.

The T184MX-CS looks traditional with its dark sunburst finish, but has some interesting departures.

Its lower bout is a trim 14 inches rather than the more common 16; it’s made from solid carved mahogany and maple, and it’s outfitted with a pair of Seymour Duncan 59 humbuckers, making it a super versatile thinline.

Eastman's T146SM and T186MX are also great instruments worthy of your attention.

Guild Starfire III

Guild offers a few different thinline hollowbodies.

Among others, the non-cutaway Newark St. Collection T-50 Slim is similar to a 1960s model; it features a P-90–style pickup and Guild’s iconic “harp” tailpiece.

More rock-oriented is the Starfire III, with its Florentine cutaway, two mini humbuckers, and Bigsby-style vibrato tailpiece. The Starfire II is a stripped-down, more budget-friendly version that still packs the same sonic punch.

And if you want to go full vintage, the M-65 is a slightly deeper yet still thinline hollowbody that you can find for reasonable prices.

Sadowsky SS-15

Sadowsky makes incredible instruments, and its SS-15 no exception.

It is a small, laminated-wood thinline, with a 14.75-inch-wide lower bout, designed to fit easily into overhead compartments on airplanes. It’s engineered to have an immediate acoustic response and is outfitted with a single PAF-style pickup—a smart tool for the working jazz musician.

These guitars, beloved by the people who play them, hit the used marketplace fairly infrequently, but when they do, they have a habit of selling quickly. So click this link to follow the Sadowksy SS-15 and have it added to your Reverb Feed.

Collings City Limits Jazz

Collings offers a luxurious thinline in its City Limits Jazz, which pairs a fully-hollow mahogany body with a carved spruce top.

The guitar comes standard with deluxe appointments like an ebony pickguard and tailpiece and a floating Lollar Johnny Smith humbucker. As the name suggests, the guitar is intended for jazz, but it lends itself to any situation calling for that warm and woody sound.

The company's Eastside Jazz LC is another fully hollowbody thinline that you can find for a bit cheaper, while the Statesman LC is another stunner worth checking out.

This article, originally written in 2015, was updated in 2021.

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