Electric Guitar Body Shape

When it comes to electric guitars, there is more to consider than just the sound and playability. The body shape of an electric guitar can have a significant impact on its overall tone, comfort, and aesthetic appeal. From the classic and timeless design of the Stratocaster to the edgy and modern look of the Flying V, there are countless options to choose from.

Here, I will explore some of the most popular electric guitar body shapes and discuss their unique characteristics. Whether you’re a seasoned guitarist looking for a new addition to your collection or a beginner trying to find the perfect instrument, understanding different body shapes can help you make an informed decision. 

So, let’s dive into the world of electric guitar body shapes and discover which one suits your style and needs.

electric guitar body shape

What Do We Mean by Shape?

First, let’s talk about what we mean when we say “guitar shape.” In this case, two essential parts are necessary. This is the guitar’s body and neck. 

How the guitar looks, feels, and sounds will all depend on the shape of the body and neck. You should also think about the electric guitar’s size and weight, as these will also change its shape.

Does An Electric Guitar's Shape Affect The Sound?

It’s essential to know the body shape of an electric guitar because it changes how it looks, feels, and sounds. How to do it.

Sound

So, the shape of an electric guitar affects how it sounds, but only in a roundabout way. The size and weight of the body affect the sound. The thicker and heavier the wood, the better the resonance, which means your notes will be more sustained and deeper sounding.

There would be no discernible difference in sound between two pieces of wood that were the same shape and weight, but one had a Strat-style body form and the other a Flying-V shape. So, it’s critical to understand that the thickness and weight of the wood are more significant than the contour of the design.

Feel

The body form of an electric guitar is crucial since it has a significant impact on how the guitar feels. The form influences playability in two ways. For starters, it influences how it feels to sit and stand with. 

Strats, Teles, and Les Pauls, for example, all have a curve on the bottom half of the body that allows the guitar to rest nicely on your leg when playing while seated. However, if you use a guitar with a more unusual shape, such as a Flying-V or Explorer, it is easier to sit with and so impacts playability. 

Second, the form of an electric guitar’s body will affect fret access. There are two basic body shapes: single cutaway, such as the Telecaster or Les Paul, and double cutaway, such as the Stratocaster. Because a double cutaway design makes it simpler to reach the higher frets, some guitarists prefer them.

Electric Guitar Body Shapes

The shape and appearance of electric guitars have evolved over the previous century, and you may now choose which one best suits your preferred musical style, fashion, or guitar icon. 

With all of these diverse forms and designs, it’s easy to become perplexed. Whether you intend to buy or make your next guitar, we’ll sort things out so you have a clear picture of what these guitars are all about.

What are the many types of guitar bodies? Electric guitars come in a variety of body shapes, each with its distinct traits and sonic attributes. Electric guitar body styles include the following:

Solid Body

A solid-body guitar is built from a single piece of wood, as the name implies. A solid-body electric guitar, unlike hollow and semi-hollow body models, lacks chambers and relies only on pickups to produce sound.

The use of a solid body provides the guitar with a far longer sustain, a more aggressive tone, and less susceptibility to feedback. After solid-body guitars debuted in the 1950s, they quickly became the guitar of choice for most guitarists.

They are also the most commonly used guitars in popular musical genres such as pop, rock, and metal. Because of their sound and adaptability, they are better suited to modern music genres than other types of guitars.

Solid-body guitars come in a variety of styles. The initial body forms have become synonymous with the electric guitar and, in many cases, the manufacturer that invented them.

But they’ve also been imitated numerous times, which is why you see so many different guitars by various manufacturers that look highly similar. A Fender Stratocaster, for example, was the first to look the way it does, but numerous guitars have been created since then that employ the Strat type of body but with a slight twist. Body types in the Stratocaster style.

Semi-Hollow Body

Solid-body guitars came before semi-hollow-body guitars. Gibson made the first one, the ES-335, which came out in 1958, six years after the first solid body.

As their name suggests, they have a body that is partly hollowed out with “chambers” cut into the wood. They often have f-holes in them. The tuners are usually attached to a block of wood that runs through the middle of most semi-hollow body guitars. This changes the tone and makes them lighter.

Half-hollow guitars are supposed to combine the good things about hollow-body guitars (like being able to increase their sound) with the good things about solid-body guitars (like having more sustain and less feedback).

It became very famous because semi-hollow body guitars can make a lot of different tones and work well with a lot of different types of music. Gibson’s ES-335 quickly became a best-seller, and the company is still making them today, which shows that this is true.

This type of guitar is still played a lot in rock, jazz, blues, and other styles today. Dave Grohl plays a Gibson 335 and even has his unique model, the DG-335. He is in Nirvana and Foo Fighters. Eric Clapton used ES-335s, BB King had his famous “Lucille” ES-355, and Chuck Berry had an ES-345. You can name many more.

The solid-body guitar is more well-known than the semi-hollow-body guitar, but the semi-hollow-body guitar is still an essential part of guitar history.

Hollow Body

The hollow body was the first form of electric guitar. When guitar designers desired to improve the sound of their instruments, they turned to amplification.

Amplifying the sound of an acoustic guitar would allow it to compete with drums and other louder instruments. 

As a result, guitar manufacturers inserted an electric pickup that amplified the sound of the strings via a speaker. The first hollow-body electric guitar was Rickenbacker’s Electro-A22, affectionately known as the “Frying Pan.” The concept was straightforward: a magnetic pickup was attached to a standard steel guitar, and the electric signal it produced was amplified via a speaker.

Gibson’s first electric guitar, the ES-150, was a commercial success. Although Rickenbacker had the ‘Frying Pan’ before them, the ES-150’s popularity led to it being regarded as the first commercially successful electric guitar.

These guitars had a warm tone and rapidly became popular among blues and jazz guitarists. Electric hollow-body guitars like Gibson’s ES-150 began to appear in big bands in the 1930s.

The disadvantage was the quantity of feedback they produced when played loudly. This meant that they were not used by bands performing in larger venues since the feedback would impair the performance.

Double cutaway guitar

The Fender Stratocaster is a double-cutaway guitar. The Stratocaster has two incisions or “horns” on either side of its body, near the neck and at the body’s base. This design makes it simpler to reach the higher frets on the neck, making it a popular choice for musicians who must perform a lot of lead guitar sections. The Stratocaster has a bright, snappy tone and is employed in a variety of musical forms, including blues, jazz, rock, and metal.

Single cutaway

Gibson Les Paul is a single-cutaway guitar. The Les Paul features a single cut or “horn” near the neck on one side of its body. This design is comparable to the double-cutaway, but the body shape is more compact and streamlined. The Les Paul has a rich, full sound and is frequently utilized in rock, blues, and other genres that call for a beefy, muscular tone.

Flying V Guitar

The Gibson Flying V is a flying V guitar. The Flying V is a one-of-a-kind guitar form that Gibson initially introduced in the late 1950s. It features a pointed “V” shape with a steep angle formed by the neck and body. The Flying V has an aggressive appearance and is frequently linked with heavy metal and complex rock music.

Many prominent guitarists, including Jimi Hendrix, Kirk Hammett, and Dave Mustaine, have used a Flying V.

Gibson Explorer

The Gibson Explorer 2016 T is a Gibson Explorer guitar. The Explorer is a one-of-a-kind guitar form first introduced by Gibson in the 1950s. The body is pointy and asymmetrical, with sharp edges and a severe cutaway around the neck. 

The Explorer has a robust and aggressive appearance and is frequently associated with hard rock and metal music. Ace Frehley, James Hetfield, and Dave Grohl are among the many great guitarists who have used an Explorer.

Rickenbacker guitar

The Rickenbacker 4003 is a Rickenbacker guitar shape. The Rickenbacker is a characteristic guitar form that is frequently linked with the 1960s “jangle pop” sound. The body is rounded and symmetrical, with a wide waist and a long, narrow neck. 

The Rickenbacker is famous for its bright, chiming sound, and it is frequently utilized in indie, pop, and other types of music that call for a clean, clear, and expressive tone. 

The Rickenbacker 4003 is a popular model among Rickenbacker enthusiasts, and many prominent performers, including Paul McCartney and Pete Townshend, have performed it.

The Differences Between the Types of Guitar Bodies

The following are the primary distinctions between electric guitar bodies:

  • Electric guitars with solid bodies are manufactured from a single piece of solid wood. They have far more sustain and clarity than the other varieties.
  • Semi-hollow body electric guitars are distinguished by a solid wood block running through the center of the body and hollow wings or chambers on either side. 
  • When compared to solid body guitars, this design helps to eliminate feedback and create a richer tone.
  • Hollow-body electric guitars are entirely hollow, with no solid wood block running through the core. They feature a particular tone that is brighter and more full, but due to their design, they are susceptible to feedback at high volumes.
  • Solid-body electric guitars are the most common type of electric guitar, utilized in various styles of music but most notably in pop, rock, blues, and metal. Jazz, blues, and rockabilly guitarists like semi-hollow and hollow-body guitars.
  • Solid-body guitars are the most adaptable and widely used, although semi-hollow and hollow-body guitars are frequently favored by performers seeking a specific tone or playing style.

The Evolution of the Electric Guitar Body

The electric guitar body has been on a long journey, evolving through numerous stages over many decades. As previously stated, the electric guitar began with Rickenbacker’s ‘Frying Pan’ in 1931.

However, this body shape did not take off. Looking at it, you can see why!

So it was when Gibson took Rickenbacker’s Frying Pan concept and incorporated it into a more traditional-looking guitar that the electric really took off. Gibson’s early hollow-body electric guitars would be forerunners of the electric guitar wave that would soon sweep the globe of popular music.

The semi-hollow body came next, and while it was considered an improvement, it was not significantly different from the hollow body. However, there were significant changes during this time: cutaways for easier access to the top frets became standard. They would continue to be an essential component of a guitar’s body.

But everything changed in the 1950s when Fender introduced the first solid-body electric guitar. The Telecaster and, shortly after, the Stratocaster changed the guitar industry, laying the groundwork for future electric guitars. Gibson replied with the Les Paul and SG, and the electric guitar body has remained essentially unchanged since then.

There have been minor changes, and manufacturers have experimented with various body designs. To mention a few, Gibson went futuristic with the Explorer, Ibanez and Jackson popularized superstrats, and Ernie Ball Music Man attracted women with a more welcoming body shape in the trademark St Vincent.

However, most electric guitars adhere to the foundations set by Fender and Gibson in the 1950s. The bulk of electric guitars are variations on classics, which may indicate a lack of originality, but it appears to be a case of ‘if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it’.

How Does An Electric Guitar's Shape Affect its Sound?

It is somewhat dependent. The body form of an electric guitar has little effect on the sound. There is a lot of disagreement on whether the wood used in the body and its density affect the tone of an electric guitar, although the design of a solid body guitar should be fine with the sound.

It’s a different story for hollow and semi-hollow body electric guitars. The tone of an acoustic guitar is affected by its size and shape because the soundboard (the top of the body) vibrates as the strings are strummed, amplifying the sound.

Because semi-hollow and hollow-body electric guitars are not solid pieces of wood, they have qualities comparable to acoustic guitars, and hence their tone is altered similarly. Many hollow-body guitars are enormous, especially when compared to electric guitars, which influence the tone and sound they produce.

The warmth and ‘full’ sound of hollow and semi-hollow guitars is due to the acoustic characteristics of their construction, the number of chambers, and the size of the body.

Electric Guitar Bodies and Music Genres

It is critical to note that any guitar can be utilized and played in any genre. Indeed, some people are better matched to others. However, this does not exclude you from playing metal on a Strat or country on an Ibanez.

However, if you’ve spent any time watching guitarists of different genres, you’ll note that some guitar models are considerably more frequently utilized in specific genres.

Many guitarists in the metal world use superstrats, such as Ibanez, Jackson, and Charvel. They became linked with that genre in the 1980s, and that association has remained with certain types of guitars ever since. Straightforward rock and pop is replete with Strats and Les Pauls. Jazz guitarists like semi-hollow bodies, for example.

These preconceptions make sense in some circumstances. Because of their flat necks, upper fret access, and number of frets, superstrats are ideal for metal and quick, technical playing styles. Les Pauls are suitable for rock music because the body structure and single piece of wood, paired with the dual humbuckers, produce a vast, deep tone that is ideal for rock. And so forth.

However, thinking that you can only play a given genre of music with a specific type of guitar might be restricting. It’s also ridiculous to believe that playing a Jimi Hendrix song on a Stratocaster will make you sound more like Jimi. Yes, the instrument, pickups, and amp all contributed to his sound, but his fingers were responsible for far more of it.

If I pick up a Strat, Tele, or any other guitar and try to play ‘Little Wing,’ it will never sound like Jimi. It would sound like him if he played it on any guitar, from a $50 Chinese knockoff to a classic Strat.

So it’s best to stay caught up in which guitars are connected with which genre. All that counts is that you enjoy the appearance and feel of a guitar! You can use it in any style you choose.

What is the Most Popular Electric Guitar Body Shape?

There isn’t any statistical proof to support that, but it appears to me that the Stratocaster body form is the most popular and durable. The popularity of the Stratocaster itself, the fact that it was the basis for super Strat guitars, and the massive number of Strat replicas available demonstrate that it is the overwhelmingly most successful body design.

How Does the Shape of an Electric Guitar's Body Affect its Playability or Comfort?

Guitars are made to be tried and comfy. Many have arm and belly curves in their bodies. But there’s no disputing that some people are more at ease than others. And a lot of the time, that’s entirely subjective.

Certain guitars are quite comfortable for me to play but are only for some, and vice versa. So, most of the time, it boils down to what you like and feels right.

However, some characteristics of the body shape and playability are only somewhat preferred. 

If you’re small, a more prominent guitar, such as an Epiphone Casino or Gibson ES-335, will be significantly more challenging to play than a Stratocaster or Telecaster.

Weight must also be considered. Les Pauls have small bodies but are regarded as being among the heaviest electric guitars. The Gibson SG, on the other hand, is exceptionally lightweight.

Another factor to consider is that I’m approaching this as a man of average size. Guitars have traditionally been constructed entirely with males in mind. It’s debatable whether this is an oversight or because attitudes toward women and their place in society were different when guitars were initially produced. Female guitarists in the 1950s were regarded with ridicule or animosity and were not taken seriously.

In any case, guitars will be more difficult for women to learn for a straightforward reason: biology. Guitars do not sit in the same manner against women’s bodies as they do against men’s.

A few guitars have sought to correct the imbalance. I described the Music Man St Vincent, which was built in collaboration with St Vincent (Annie Clark) to be more ergonomically friendly for women. However, a woman is more likely than a guy to consider the shape of a guitar.

Final Words On Electric Guitar Body Shape

When it comes to electric guitar body shapes, there is a wide variety of options to choose from. Each shape has its unique characteristics and can significantly influence the tone and feel of the instrument.

 Whether you prefer the classic look of a Stratocaster or the aggressive styling of a Flying V, finding the right body shape for your playing style and aesthetic preference is essential. 

Experimenting with different shapes can also inspire creativity and help you discover new sounds. So, go ahead and explore the world of electric guitar body shapes, and find the one that resonates with you. Happy playing!

FAQs

Do Electric Guitar Bodies Make A Difference?

In The End, The Electric Guitar Tone Is A Mix Of Many Things That Work Together Like Magic. The Wood From The Neck And Body Is Also Used In That Dish. In Fact, Most Musicians Would Agree That It’s A Big Deal.

What Is The Most Popular Electric Guitar Style?

The Stratocaster. Without A Doubt, The Strat Is The Most Famous Electric Guitar Model Ever Made. It Was Made By Leo Fender And His Team In 1954.

Do Different-Shaped Electric Guitars Sound Different?

Electric guitars come in a lot of different styles, sizes, and shapes, and each one sounds and feels different. You can find the best electric guitar for your playing style and singing goals if you know how pickups work and how easy the guitar is to play.

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