Thinline Hollowbody Electric Guitars

By Dave Hunter

Thinline electrics have slim but fully hollow bodies. They really aren’t deep enough to produce sufficient acoustic sound to be used unamplified, as you could with a full-depth archtop acoustic-electric guitar, but their acoustic nature does influence their electric tone. In a sense, you could categorize them under hollowbody electric guitars, but their shallow depth leads many guitarists and manufacturers to group them more closely with semi-acoustics.

Gibson is the best-known maker of thinline hollowbodies. The ES-330 is a classic of the genre but is probably best known in the form of its alter ego, the Casino model from sister-company Epiphone.

The Casino was the choice of all three guitarists from The Beatles for a time in the mid-’60s (yes, even bassist Paul McCartney had one), and can be heard on several classic recordings, including much of the albums Revolver (the track “Paperback Writer” is a Casino classic) and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

In addition to Gibson’s more affordable thinlines like the ES-125, and more expensive jazz-oriented thinlines like the ES-350T (for a time one of Chuck Berry’s favorites) and Byrdland, which also rocked at the hands of Ted Nugent, other makers jumped on the bandwagon too.

[Credit: Photograph courtesy of Dave Matchette; guitar courtesy of Elderly Instruments]
Credit: Photograph courtesy of Dave Matchette; guitar courtesy of Elderly Instruments

Harmony, Kay, and Silvertone all made more beginner’s-grade thinline guitars in the 1960s, while Fender introduced the thinline Coronado line in 1966 (conversely, the Thinline Telecaster of 1968 was not fully hollow but had a body that started out solid before being slightly chambered to reduce weight).

Thinline hollowbody electric guitars often have some of the depth, warmth, and acoustic-ness of full-depth acoustic-electrics, although proportionally a little less of each when compared head to head with their deeper brethren — which makes sense, really.

On the upside, they’re a little more comfortable for some players to handle and somewhat more resistant to feedback, because they have less airspace within their bodies to resonate sympathetically when played at loud amplified volumes.