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Gaining Momentum: Hollow Body Electrics Appealing to More and More Players

Christian Wissmuller • May 2018Survey • May 2, 2018

This issue’s dealer poll – sent to just over 300 MI retailers – on the topic of hollow body electric guitars provided both some expected results, as well as a few “Hmmm…” moments.

Not especially surprising, most dealers characterized the typical customer for these instruments as skewing on the older side, usually of somewhat advanced ability, also often of the upper-middle or upper class. However, many noted that hollow body electrics are also connecting with rockabilly-types in their 20s and “hipsters.”

“It can vary quite a bit. In the past, it was older customers who were concerned with the weight factor only, but as of late a lot of younger players have shown a great deal on interest,” observes Tim Bascom of Lebanon, Missouri’s Morgan Music.

Nearly everyone was in agreement, though, that these 6-strings don’t appeal to the very young or the very “heavy.” As Don Brown of Falcetti Music in Springfield, Massachusetts asserts, “Metalheads and little kids do not buy them.”

Also significant to note: nearly 80 percent of participants in this month’s survey (79.5) reported that hollow body guitars were either of the Intermediate or High end price range ($401 to over $1,500), meaning generally healthy profit margins.

Another interesting blip, which maybe isn’t terribly surprising to many, is that a number of individuals asserted that these guitars are challenging the popularity of solid body electrics. “[Players are] using them for pretty much everything. Hollowbodies > solid body,” says Stephanie How of Ted Brown Music Company in Tacoma, Washington.

 On average, who are the customers for these guitars – age, style of music they play, income bracket, ability level, and so on?

“40-60 years of age, intermediate level.”

Marvin Montgomery

Marvin’s Shop, Inc., Jasper, Indiana


“40-55 is the average age I sell these to. Most are buying a third guitar, or realizing a dream of their youth.”

Mike McAfee

Maxwell’s House of Music, Jeffersonville, Indiana


“40-60, [into playing] country, blues.”

Dyke Corson

Corson Music, Champaign, Illinois


“Usually older players.”

Sam Lyons

Lyons Music, Sulphur, Louisiana


“The gamut – young to old, all ability and income levels.”

J. Michael Beck

Elledge Music, Pueblo, Colorado


“Older men or younger rockabilly kids in their 20s, usually decent ability to play. Income bracket varies.”

Jason Rinn

Spacetone Music, San Antonio, Texas


“50-plus [years of age], country and blues [players], of moderate to advanced ability.”

Donald Whalen

Swansboro Music Center, Swansboro, North Carolina


“Typically a more advanced player looking for more than just gain – a more articulate

playing style. Hollow body players tend to already have a good ‘number-one’ guitar.”

Dan Patterson

Roger’s Music, Fort Payne, Alabama


“More people [are] starting to like this more than a regular solid body guitar.”

Carlos Garcia

Ingram’s Music

Merced, California


Have you been noticing any significant trends – either on the supplier or consumer side of the equation – when it comes to hollow body electric guitars?

“Our supplier never seems to have anything in stock. Either the big box stores hog all the inventory or there’s a problem with customs for the imports.”

Jim Clement

Mr. C’s Music

Hopedale, Massachusetts


“Finishes have helped. Whether ‘antiqued’ or a newer marine blue finish, pretty is where  it’s at.”

Philip Leitz

Leitz Music Co., Inc.

Panama City, Florida


“More interest in Telecaster or Stratocaster semi-hollow’s with F-holes, as well as smaller bodied ES-335 styles.”

Mark Lane

Gra8co Music

Thousand Oaks, California


“Gretsch finally coming out with something under $700. The Streamliners are great.”

Andrew Johnson

Mike’s Music and Sound, Inc.

Fond du Lac, Wisconsin


“Hollow body guitars are an area where the more traditional look and style seems to continue to prevail and attempts at new shapes and styles inherently experience extended time hanging on the hooks.”

Phil Jordan

RedPhish Music

Goldsboro, North Carolina


“Hollow bodies are picking up.”

Ej Dombrowski

Jim’s Music

Green Bay, Wisconsin


“Semi hollow versions of PRS and Fender guitars seem to do ok lately. Curious to see what

happens with the Eric Johnson Strat.”

Don Brown

Falcetti Music

Springfield, Massachusetts


“It varies. For example, the bulk of our Tom Anderson ‘hollow’ guitars tend to go to older buyers. They love the weight… or lack thereof. The boutique guys love the Collings hollow bodies. Those on a more restrictive budget gravitate towards the Eastman guitars, which are an incredible value.”

Tim Bascom

Morgan Music

Lebanon, Missouri


“The quality and playability of Reverend Manta Rays and all Eastman hollow bodies are tremendous and better than most costing three-to-four times the cost.”

Doug Wainoris

Down Home Music Shop

Fairfield, Maine


“Gypsy jazz interest is picking up. Upgraded hardware and name-brand pickups, offered as stock on some brands is a big help with sales.”

Keith Holland

Keith Holland Guitars

Los Gatos, California


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