TME Journal



Hidden Gems #15 | Hidden Gems is a series we started based on a simple idea: we each take a turn at sharing our current favorite instrument(s) in the shop. A bit of a show-and-tell, if you will.

Like many of us, I started out on a no-name department store guitar when I was a kid. I was 10 years old and beyond excited that I had my own electric guitar. It looked a bit like a '60s Kent Polaris 1 as I recall, and as time went on, I remember being a little bummed about its quality though I loved the look (I was a huge Eddie Van Halen fan - still am - and let's be real, you can't attempt to play Eruption on a guitar like that).

I mention this because I've always had an affinity for the slightly unconventional - bands, guitar players, art, guitars, watches - and when it comes to guitars, I think that love may stem from that quirky electric guitar I owned as a kid. Don't get me wrong, I love Strats, Teles, Les Pauls, and 335s. I actually own & use all of the above regularly, but my real passion centers around guitars that challenge convention.

Lately, I've been rediscovering the merits of a great semi-hollowbody - hardly unconventional, I realize, though we've got several in stock that are anything but your standard ES-335 copy. A great semi-hollow can cover such a huge range of genres and tones just based on what you're asking of it - clean, overdriven, jazz, pop, blues...If you're going to own one guitar, a very strong argument could be made that it should be a semi-hollow.

With that as our starting point, I thought it'd be fun to take a look at some of the great semi-hollows lurking in our inventory in this installment of Hidden Gems...

Sly Semi-Hollow | 2020

Gil Yaron

Of all the guitars on this list, the Sly might be the best representation of my love of unique-yet-still-gounded-in-tradition instruments. The quick takeaway: imagine the neck carve, approximate size, and feel of a great Les Paul Jr/Special crossed with the open, resonant responsiveness of a great ES-335. It's all of these familiar elements rolled into one guitar - and, yes, that's as cool as it sounds.
Phoenix SN Deluxe


For my money, Gene Baker builds some of the best Gibson-style guitars on the market. The SN Deluxe is such a cool guitar in that it delivers a range of classic Gibson-inspired tones (and feel) in an easier to manage shape - better balance, effortless upper fret access....but don't let the Tele body shape fool you, this is a Gibson style guitar through and through - and a damned good one at that.
Buxton Special #353

Thomas Rodriguez

Thomas Rodriguez is making unbelievably great guitars, all by hand the old-school way, in his Richmond, VA shop. Thomas has a knack for making guitars that capture the feel, neck carves, and tones of vintage guitars - as if you time traveled back to the late 50s and brought that guitar back into the modern world. Cliche? Sure, but we play a lot of guitars here at the shop and Tommy's guitars are just unique in this way. I really can't sing his praises loud enough!
Semi-Hollow Parisienne 


Scott is easily one of the best kept secrets in the industry. His guitars are consistently remarkable and should be on the list of any Ron Thorn fan. I say this only because Scott and Ron have an uncanny ability to deliver exceptionally well crafted, modern-leaning instruments that combine gorgeous design with playability and tone like no other. Truly heirloom-quality instruments.
Johnny A Signature | 2007


I've always liked the Johnny A Signature guitars we've had pass through the shop, this 2007 version being no exception. They're incredibly comfortable to play, sound fantastic, and let's face it, look awesome. If the size of an ES-335 has been problematic for you, the more compact Johnny A would make an outstanding choice.
Regata VII

Rivolta Guitars

The Regata VII is the very definition of bang-for-the-buck. Priced at an attainable $1499, these Dennis Fano-designed guitars punch way above their price point. They're incredibly well made for the money, play great, look awesome, and sound exactly like you'd want - punchy, versatile, great clean or overdriven. No surprise given that Dennis and his crew at the Novo shop in Nashville go over each imported guitar before they're sent out.
335 Jetglo | 1966


I'm a huge Rickenbacker fan and gigged a trem equipped 365 and stock 330 for many years in my old indie rock band. My rig back then was a '65 Deluxe Reverb, a 90s big box Rat pedal, a big box Deluxe Memory Man delay, and my Rickenbackers. Not gonna lie, that unlikely pairing sounded incredible!