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Stephen Marchione Semi Hollow

Stephen Marchione Semi Hollow

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It's difficult to understand or even believe how Marchione’s Semi Hollow does what it does. Stephen’s guitars are legendary for their clarity of voice, his solid body electrics are marvels of piano-like sustain. He fully achieves this quality in our newest Semi Hollow, but also, somehow, the presence, warmth and expressive capacity of the human voice.

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A number of years ago after seeing the fleet-fingered Mike Moreno play a concert on his Gibson 335, Stephen Marchione thought the guitar didn’t have enough depth or nuance for Moreno’s dynamic playing, and he set out to design and build a guitar that was better suited to the young virtuoso’s touch. But while Moreno was the inspiration, this remarkable guitar model has come into its own as one of the most original takes on the venerable semi hollow style by one of the most storied master luthiers working today.


It's been several years since we got our first Marchione Semi Hollow, and I never fail to be amazed at each one that comes to the shop. One of the joys of working with prodigiously talented luthiers like Stephen is that each guitar he makes for us is unique, each with its own individual wonders. The semi hollow style guitar, or semi acoustic, is generally acknowledged to have been born in the 1950s at Gibson. These days semi hollow can mean many things, including chambered bodies, pressed tops, even flat tops. But Stephen keeps the intimate tie between electric and acoustic by centering his guitar around a hand carved and voiced top, a skill he has honed to the highest level.

The versatility of the semi hollow rests in the way it can deliver an electric tone with acoustic flavor and articulation, combined with feedback resistance. The original ES was designed in 1957 by Ted McCarty (The “ES” stood for Electric Spanish to distinguish it from the “EH” Electric Hawaiian lap steel models). McCarty said at the time “I came up with the idea of putting a solid block of maple in an acoustic model. It would get some of the same tone as a regular solidbody, plus the instrument's hollow wings would vibrate and we'd get a combination of an electric solidbody and a hollowbody guitar.”

I love the clarity and articulation that is possible with a fine solid body guitar, and the airy, singing voice of a fine hollow body guitar, but getting those sounds to work effortlessly together is not simply a matter of glueing in a block of wood. A deep understanding of the properties of wood, a fantastic ear and a visionary and very detail oriented design sense are necessary. The real trick to voicing a semi hollow body guitar is to achieve an ideal balance between the string vibrations and the wood vibrations, each contributing to the electric signal that flows down the guitar cable to the amplifier, each vibration nested in the other in just to right proportions.

It's difficult to understand or even believe how Marchione’s Semi Hollow does what it does. Stephen’s guitars are legendary for their clarity of voice, his solid body electrics are marvels of piano-like sustain. He fully achieves this quality in our newest Semi Hollow, but also, somehow, the presence, warmth and expressive capacity of the human voice. I actually nearly wrote “unexpectedly” in the last sentence instead of “somehow,” but having played Stephen’s guitars for many years, nothing in the sublime beauty of his instruments is unexpected.

The Marchione-designed DiMarzio humbuckers are a fantastic match for the instrument, and offer a wide dynamic range of tones, and a great deal of subtlety with the simple controls. A guitar like this leaves nothing to chance, with every detail carefully considered, and the highest grade of materials used throughout. But it is not simply the high quality of the parts that make this a great guitar, it is the relationship between all the parts, and that comes from Marchione’s hands and ears.

Visually this guitar has a slightly deeper color than our last one, and reminds me more of a traditional violin finish. Of course that’s no surprise because one of the ways Marchione nurtures his comprehensive luthiery skills is by continuing to build one violin a year (there is no where for imperfections to hide in the violin’s sound, so each one is an education for the master’s hands). This particular finish Stephen calls the D’Aquisto Burst because it was inspired by the finish D’Aquisto himself used on the Jim Hall signature guitars he built for Jim and others. But describing the looks of this guitar falls impossibly short of actually seeing it in front of you. There is a haunting beauty to the finish, a perfection to the lines, and all the details come together for a genuinely unforgettable visual experience.

I believe Marchione has achieved with this guitar everything he imagined when he started to think about how to make Mike Moreno an instrument that would open to his playing all the expressive possibilities in his imagination. Of course, this doesn’t just work with Mike Moreno! With any player of any ability, this guitar will both open musical vistas you haven’t imagined, and give great playing pleasure for those you have.

If you'd like to find out more about this item, just call or e-mail me. It would be my pleasure to talk to you about it.

At one time in his life, Stephen Marchione spent six hours a day playing the guitar. Now he makes them—in fact, since beginning his career as a guitar maker in 1989, Stephen has created more than three-hundred guitars for some of the best guitar players in the world. The journey from high-school jazz devotee to “the finest young guitar maker working today,” according to Chamber Music America, was a rich and complicated one. After establishing his own brand and working for several years in New York, Stephen Marchione moved to Houston, Texas, where he builds his entire family of guitars, but Marchione has also studied privately since 1994 with Manhattan-based violin maker Guy Rabut. "I try to build one violin a year to keep my chops up" Says Marchione. He feels that building classical guitars and violins broadens his understanding of top thicknessing, tap tuning, and surface preparation. On the other hand, building electric guitars has taught him the importance of the fretboard in a player's appreciation of a guitar. Marchione is considered one of a very few leading-edge pioneers in the design of guitars that combine elements of both jazz and classical construction. This well-rounded approach contributes to the magic one finds in a Marchione instrument, a magic that is at once very broad yet truly individual.

Body15" quarter sawn European flamed maple
Topcarved one piece European spruce
FinishD’Aquisto burst nitrocellulose
NeckFigured European maple
FingerboardAfrican old growth ebony
Nut width1 11/16"
Neck profilecontoured C (1st .86" - 10th fret .96")
Fingerboard radius12"-14" compound
Fretsstainless steel 6150
BridgeGotoh Tunamatic
PickupsMarchione designed DiMarzio humbuckers
Weight6.3 lbs.
CaseCalton custom
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