What Are The Three Types Of Electric Guitars? The 3 MAIN Players!

What are the three electric guitar types?

There are tons of different guitar types, so what are the three types of electric guitars? There are 3 main categories that almost all guitars fit into. Today we check out the main 3!


What Are The Three Types Of Electric Guitars?

There are so many different styles and shapes of electric guitars, and new ones get added all the time. Some are really outlandish shapes when it comes to body style, and the designs can be really innovative! But what are the three types of electric guitar?

When we say “type” we do not mean the shape or the features of the guitar. This is about the way they are built, and designed by luthiers. When it comes to “types” there are really only three different ways to make an electric guitar.

Recently, headless guitars became popular again, and their ergonomic design has been adopted by all kinds of players. The same can be said of multi-scale guitars, which solves a myriad of problems that you run into when it comes to tuning your guitar low.

Yet if you look around at all of these different guitar designs, they all fit into one of the 3 different categories. While there may be a ton of different styles and designs, there are really only 3 different types of electric guitar construction methods. So what are the three types of electric guitars?

What Are The Three Types Of Electric Guitars?

There are only 3 construction types when it comes to building an electric guitar. There may be a ton of different shapes and designs, but there are really only 3 types:

  • Solid Body Guitars
  • Semi-Hollow Guitars
  • Hollow Body Guitars

But what are the differences between the 3 different types of guitars? All 3 have different advantages, as well as some disadvantages. Each type is also preferred but different types of players. So let’s take a look at the different types of guitars, and talk about what makes each one unique.

Let’s take a look, and we will be going in reverse order. We will start with the newest type of electric guitar, and go all the way back to the very beginning of electric guitar! The evolution of electric guitar happened extremely fast, and it went from the invention to modern day instruments in only a couple of decades!


Solid Body Guitars: The Most Popular Type (1950’s)

What are the three electric guitar types?

The solid body electric guitar is probably the most popular among modern players, but it is also the newest! Solid body guitars have only been popular for short period of time when you take into account the lineage of guitar. The solid body was a game changer, and it remains the king of electric guitars.

Fender Guitars was the first mass-produced production solid body guitar brand. If you check out our article about who invented the electric guitar, there were other attempts before Fender. But none of the other ideas were as great as what Fender accomplished.

Leo Fender designed his guitars around the idea of simplicity and utility. Solid body electric guitars solved a lot of problems that electric guitar players were facing in the 1950’s. The solid slab body was ergonomic and compact, while also reducing on-stage feedback.

Solid body guitars were smaller, and gave the player a ton of new options when it came to tone. Compared to their predecessors, the solid body was almost silent on stage. So the feedback problem was solved, and now the guitar had a new “sound” all together.

The amps and effects we know today came shortly after the solid body electric. Many companies followed the Fender design, and now solid body electric guitars are by far the most popular guitar type with modern players. There are so many different brands these days, that it is hard to even count them!

Fun Fact: The solid body electric guitar was NOT immediately accepted by guitar players. Guitarists were very skeptical of the design, and disliked the modern look at first! However, by the 1960’s, the solid body electric was the weapon of choice as Rock music took off.


Semi Hollow Guitars: A New Spin (1940’s-1960’s)

What Are The Three Types Of Electric Guitars?

Semi-Hollow Guitar types are sometimes called “Semi-Acoustic” or “Thin-line” guitars, and they became popular in the 1930’s. A Semi-Hollow electric guitar has a lot of the advantages that solid body guitars offer due to the way they are built.

The Semi-Hollow type was designed to fix some of the problems of the original electric guitars from the previous decade. In the 1930’s electric guitars were really catching on, but they would often cause feedback from the amplifier since they were essentially still… acoustic.

The semi-hollow design solved the feedback issue by putting a solid block down the center of the guitar, leaving the “wings” of the guitar hollow. This reduced the feedback, and guitarists could be louder in a band setting without having the unwanted noise.

Semi-hollow guitars give you the best of both worlds. Unlike a solid body, they are still loud acoustically. This gives these guitars a warm sound, that is different than a solid body. This makes the semi-hollow great for any genre, and the versatility still attracts a large amount of guitarists.

Fun Fact: Semi-Hollow guitars were not widely accepted by the guitar community either! It took a few years for them to really take off, just like solid bodies. The Beatles and other Rock bands embraced the semi-hollow, and they became a unique choice that is still popular today.


Hollow Body Electric Guitars: The Beginning (1930’s)

What Are The Three Types Of Electric Guitars?

Hollow body guitars are the first incarnation of the electric guitar. These guitars are fully hollow, just like an acoustic. The electric guitar was invented because Jazz and Big Band music had so many members that the guitar got lost in the mix. The percussion section drowned out guitars, so the guitar needed to be louder.

The hollow body design started as an acoustic guitar, with a pickup added. Since then, the design has been refined, but hollow bodies still resemble their acoustic cousins. They just have the ability to be amplified, so they can be heard over the rest of the band.

But don’t be mistaken. These are not always just acoustic guitars with a pickup. Some resemble the semi-hollow guitars in design by having humbucker pickups, and electronic layouts that are more modern. These are usually called “Jazz Boxes”.

These are still popular with orchestras and Jazz groups, since you can amplify the guitar while still sounding “natural” like an acoustic. But they certainly have their own tone and sound. Unlike the other two guitar types, hollow bodies do not handle distortion or high powered amps very well as they tend to feedback.

Hollow body guitars have a warm, natural sound. They were the first inception of electric guitar, and while they are still popular in niche guitar communities they are more of a “historical item” these days. But we would not have the other two guitar types without this first one!

Fun Fact: Guitar was not very popular in a band situation, since volume was always a problem on stage. The first electric guitar was seen being played by Charlie Christian in 1936. He attached a pickup to an acoustic guitar so his solos could be heard over the percussion! The rest is history!


The Three Types Of Electric Guitars: Still Changing…

Electric guitars have only been around for about 90 years at this point, and we still see new innovations all the time. It is interesting to see the progression of electric guitars over the years, and it is hard to imagine music without them! Think about music without the electric guitar!

Guitar types are really being over-simplified in this article, but these are the three general types of construction. There are so many different types of guitars out there, and they come with all kinds of features. There are constant innovations with guitar, but luthiers still use these 3 build types.

Electric guitar is both modern, and a heritage when it comes to history. Companies like Fender and Gibson still offer guitars that are built just like they were 60 years ago! These historic replicas are popular among guitarists because they are a piece of history.

Electric guitar types have come a long way since the beginning. Companies will always innovate and come up with new ideas. But there is a rich legacy of iconic designs that will probably never go out of style.

What Are The Three Types Of Electric Guitars?

Solid Body Guitars
Semi-Hollow Guitars
Hollow Body Guitars

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