What is the best guitar for lofi hip hop? This is a question that comes up a lot, and the short answer is: There Isn't One! But there is definitely various factors that will influence what you buy, in this post I will break down the things you will want to consider when looking. This is focusing on electric guitars and will break down body types, pick ups and more for different styles.
A first consideration to make is what body type you want go for. There are many different varieties but from a tonal perspective keeping things simple, the main choice to make is between Semi-Hollow, Solid Body and Hollow Body
The semi hollow guitar is often associated with jazz and blues guitar and given that jazz is such a huge influence to many lofi beat makers, it is no surprise that the Semi-Hollow is frequently used.
Tonally the Semi-Hollow tends to have slightly less low end than a solid body, whilst also having a little less sustain. The semi hollow eliminates many issues associated with feedback in fully hollow guitars, making them great if you want to play with more distortion and generally have a soft clear tone. Here is a lofi loop using a semi hollow.
My Top Pick at the moment is the Gretsch G2655 https://amzn.to/3hDKtTr which I play in the linked video above.
The vast number of shapes and sizes available in solid body guitars alone could fill a short book, but in the interest of simplicity I will group these under one category as they are generally tonally similar!
The solid body guitar are the most common electric guitar, with the Stratocaster arguably the most iconic. The denseness of the solid body lends itself to the most sustain of the three, as well as having a deeper low and and high feedback resistance from the pickups. They tend to me the most versatile and a great choice for a beginner. This is the most commonly used in lofi music, from the finger tapping on an Ibanez to jazz infused licks this is a great choice! Find lofi jams using a strat on my youtube here: www.youtube.com/mondoloops.
My current model is the player series Stratocaster by fender which I would recommend as a mid range guitar, the whole series is fantastic! My model: https://amzn.to/3dfz8pn
Lastly, the least common of the 3 but still an option for some warm jazzy riffs is the hollow body guitar.
The semi hollow has been around since the 1930's and provides a warm well rounded tone, similar to that of an electro acoustic but with the smooth electric guitar tone we all love. They are particularly prone to feedback but if you are playing clean jazzy tones that shouldn't be an issue here!
Another key decision to make is what kind of pickup works best. Again, there is no right answer for this but the big 3 main groups to consider are Single Coil, Humbucker and P90s all of which have their own characteristics that can really work great in Lofi Hip Hop Beats.
The single coil is one of the most iconic solid body guitar sound used for all genres and styles.
The single coil character is more mid heavy, generally bright and tangy tone. Great for solo work and top layer melodies as well as chords and rhythm. More prone to noise than humbuckers but for the home recording studio this shouldn't be a problem if you are going DI. If the tone is too bright for you covered single coils also sound great and have a slightly darker tone.
The humbucker is often paired with a Semi Hollow for the perfect jazz tone or on solid body guitars of all types.
It's a pick up I personally use a lot in my lofi beats, it has a nice warm tone with the benefit of being louder and generally less noisy than a single coil. They handle gain really well and have a great warmth and mid range focus.
Not as popular as the above but definitely deserves to be, particularly in the highs.
Very under-rated pick up. Rooted in gibsons and used before the humbucker came along this is a blend of both the single coil and humbucker in tone. If you don't believe me, check out Sean Angus Watson on YouTube. He produces dreamy guitar soundscapes with his Gibson SG P90 and looper pedal
What Else To Consider?
So you have your guitar body and pick up preference, so what else makes is there to consider?
String Size is an important one, if you want to play delicate leads with taps you are going to want to go for lighter gauges (9s / 10s) or for a more thick warm tone heavier gauges (10s / 11s)
Play Style things like pick type or finger playing make a huge difference. Both have benefits but its good to know what tone you want and find out how other artists have achieved them. For lofi guitar there really isn't a right answer. I personally like the warm tone from finger picking but when it comes to a bright lead the picks are the way forward!
Examples Of Lofi Guitar Players
The best way to know what is best for you is to hear the guitars in action! Here are a few examples of lofi / chillhop / mellow vibes using different set ups:
Solid Body, Humbucker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtNk_5xieiE&t=27s
Solid Body, P90: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjD0OkGx5Q4
Semi Hollow - Humbucker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyGhSgiCVw4
Single Coil Solid Body: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIbYxD0maiI
Hope this has been useful, feel free to send any questions in HERE or drop a comment