I'm wondering if the sound of a semi-hollowbody electric guitar (i.e. one that looks hollow but in fact has a solid central block) really differs that much from an equivalent solid-body guitar with the same pickups and hardware. I'll illustrate with a couple of examples.
At first glance, the Epiphone Sheraton II looks like a blues/jazz style of guitar, with its archtop shape and F-holes:
And the Epiphone Les Paul is a classic blues/rock/metal kind of instrument with its legendary solid-body sustain:
But on inspection I can't see what's really acoustically that different between the two guitars. The Sheraton's body isn't completely hollow: it has a solid block of mahogany in the centre (beneath the strings and bridge). The Les Paul has a completely solid mahogany body. Both have the same LockTone Stopbar/Tune-o-matic bridge, and both feature alnico Classic Humbucker pickups - all of which will have a significant influence on the guitar's sound.
The only obvious difference is the larger body on the Sheraton and the hollow wings with the F-holes. So my question is: do the hollow wings and F-holes on a semi-hollowbody guitar really make a noticeable difference to the sound, or are they mostly/only aesthetic?
I understand there are many different Epiphone Les Paul models - some with Gibson rather than Epiphone pickups, for example - but if we keep the spec as similar as possible to the Sheraton (e.g. the Les Paul Standard model linked to above), would you really be able to distinguish the sound of the two guitars?
Please let's keep it objective! I'm not asking for opinions on which is better, or why you should really buy a Gibson/get a Mac/whatever. Just whether the two sound noticeably different.