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Hollow Body Guitar Kits

If you have always wanted an archtop jazz or hollow body electric guitar, you may be interested in building one yourself. Here are some of the DIY hollow body guitar kits that you can use to build your own DIY project.

Most hollow body guitar kits represent great value for money considering the amount of work required to build them is quite a bit more involved than for a standard electric guitar.

Recommended: Archtop Guitar Kits

For example, the sides of the guitar's bodies are laminated, then planed (thicknessed) and shaped using a bending iron. The timber itself often requires soaking in warm water first to ensure maximum pliability and is then set in a mold. The bodies also require bracing or struts for additional support. For all intents and purposes, these guitars are more similar in construction to an acoustic guitar.

Semi-hollow body electric guitar kits such as the TE Thinline, are less involved, however, and are essentially a routed solid timber body with a cap then placed on the top face of the guitar.

Solid-body electric guitar kits in comparison are shaped, solid pieces of timber and require far less time to produce.

Build your own hollow body guitar kit

In the following article, we’re going to a look at three of the most popular hollow and semi-hollow kit guitar shapes currently available based on overall sales volume over the past four years here at Guitar Kit World.

Having sold hollow body kit guitars and assembling a number of my own over the years I’ll also provide some useful tips and tricks regarding finishing and assembly, as wiring a hollow body electric guitar is a different proposition to that of an ST or TE style kits for example.

1. Double Cut Hollow Body Kits

Known for their versatility, double cut hollow body kits have been used in a range of music styles from jazz and blues through to rock. In fact, the only style of music they aren’t ideally suited to is metal, as most hollow-body guitars have issues with feedback when played at high volume.

Recommended: Iconic Electric Guitars & How to Build Them

Construction

In most cases when purchasing a hollow body guitar kit, the top, bottom and sides of the guitar will be constructed from marine ply with a center block consisting of either maple or Mahogany running through the center of the body with binding running along the top of the guitar and in some cases the back and neck.

The bridge is typically a Tune-O-Matic style bridge, although you will at times also see a trapeze style bridge utilized.

The set neck is typically maple or mahogany depending on the vendor you purchase from, with rosewood fretboard and either dot or trapezoid mother of pearl inlays.

The pickups will typically be generic covered humbuckers, with two volume and two tone pots, along with a three-way pickup selector.

Assembly and Finishing Tips

Assembly is much the same as other electric guitar kits with one important distinction. As the hollow body does not come with a back control plate, all electronics wiring must be completed via the F-holes on the top face of the guitar. The wiring itself is simple enough, however when it comes time to assemble the pots and pickup selector in place things can get a little trick

While threading the pots and selector switch can be tricky when first starting out, if you utilize a guidewire (e.g. a semi-flexible wire attached at one end to the pots and threaded through the volume and tone holes) assembly becomes a much simpler proposition.

Fitting the neck requires an understanding of scale length, as the hollow body is a set neck guitar and will require precise placement to ensure correct intonation.

If you are unsure of how to do this properly, please refer to this article.

Finishing Options

Obviously, the finish is subjective. If you prefer a sunburst finish, the following article will be useful for you.

Alternatively, if you prefer the look of BB King’s Lucille, then a solid black also looks particularly good, as seen below on the first of my hollow body guitar kit projects.

2. Jazz Archtop Hollow Body Kit Guitars

 

Jazz archtop guitars such as the single-cut semi-acoustic guitars first appeared in 1949 and are still made up to this day. In fact, they are one of the longest-running production guitars in the world and were the chosen guitar of iconic jazz guitarists such as Pat Metheny and Joe Pass.

While best known as a jazz guitar, these guitar body type has also featured in blues and rock music over the years and is suited to all three styles of music.

Construction

The jazz archtop hollow body kit guitars was constructed from a laminate which was intended to compensate for feedback, although this still remained a problem to some degree in all hollow body electric guitars.

Construction features a set neck, hollow body with binding and center block of either maple or mahogany.

Assembly and finishing tips

Assembling the jazz archtop hollow body requires accessing the electronics via the F-holes. Being another set neck guitar you will also be required to take into account scale length.

The main point of difference is the trapeze style bridge which requires changing strings 1 or 2 strings at a time to save the assembly falling out of position, which in turn requires the intonation is reconfigured.

Finishing Options

The majority of these type guitar’s are seen with a nice sunburst (tobacco burst) finish. If you are wanting a similar look, please take a look at this article.

3. Single-Cut Semi-Hollow Body Kits

Lastly, we come to the single-cut semi-hollow body kits.

In my experience, this semi-hollow body kit has been an extremely popular guitar, thanks largely to its striking appearance and overall suitability to almost all styles of music.

Construction

This class semi-hollow body is more or less a solid body guitar, routed to hollow out the body and then capped with a figured maple top which allows for a stained finish that highlights the figured grain. 

In many cases, this single-cut semi-hollow body can be purchased in either a set neck or bolt-on, depending on your preference and is most often supplied with block style inlays.

The overall weight as you might expect is less than that of a standard LP-style guitar kit which in some cases may brighten the tone to a degree, but tone and playability wise is otherwise identical and is well suited to blues and rock.

Assembly and finishing tips

The semi-hollow body, as per the previous two hollow-body guitar kits typically does not come with a rear control plate. Meaning all wiring must be completed via the F-holes on the face of the guitar also. But, as discussed previously if using the guidewire technique described above, while requiring some patience assembly is a relatively straight forward practice.

Due to the figured maple top, this semi-hollow body is ideally suited to staining. Just be sure to note if your kit has a full maple cap (80+mm) or is simply a veneer (1-3mm). Both options can look particularly good, but if your guitar has a veneer top it is important to ensure you apply the stain lightly and allow drying time between coats, as in some cases if you allow the surface of the guitar to hold too much moisture it does have a tendency to ripple and bulge which is difficult to amend.

Summary

The information presented above should provide some insight into what hollow-body guitar kits are all about. As someone who has built several of these guitars personally, I would say that even a complete beginner should have no problem assembling one of these guitars and achieving a great result. 

Our manuals have detailed instructions for each of these DIY kits, which are found here: DIY Guitar Kit How-To Instructions.


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