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Founders of the Beat Boom
Hofner Vintage Guitars - Part 2

by Donna McGlinchey-Mahon

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Hofner Vintage Guitars Continued...
(Return to Part 1)

What materials were used in the construction of the guitars?

That question touches on another factor that makes Hofner guitars, particularly the archtops, special. Those big hollow bodies were produced using beautiful timbers and veneers. Just about all the archtops have backs and sides of flame or birds-eye maple veneers, and those used on the Committee, 468, 470, and Golden models are stunning! The better quality archtops used solid carved Bohemian Pine as it says in the catalogues - spruce to you and me! The lovely veneers were also used on Hofner's bass models, such as the famous 500/1, as well as the 500/5 guitar, which was used by Stu Sutcliffe in the very early Beatle days.

The solid guitars were a little more down to earth, with fully solid timber bodies, or in the case of the budget models, blockwood or semi-solid plywood construction. However, good quality necks, usually of maple, were fitted to Hofner solids, regardless of their pricing level.

What about colour? Any vibrant reds or blues? Or are we talking sunbursts and blacks?

Hofner was pretty conservative with their archtops and semi-acoustics, with only two options generally available - blonde which was a natural finish (and usually slightly more expensive) or brunette which was a sort of tobacco sunburst. One or two models did manage to appear in a different guise such as the Verithin, which was finished in a pale cherry colour. However, Hofner did do some extraordinary finishes with the solid body guitars.

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Painted ones were available in red, white, blue or sunburst etc. They also produced quite a lot finished in vinyl. Yes, thats right, covered in vinyl. In the UK these were all in red, with a white piping around the body, but in the USA they offered some striking finishes such as snakeskin and gold floral. Fortunately, a few examples of these are still with us.

Do you know of any famous Hofner users?

The most famous of all is of course Sir Paul McCartney who has played a Hofner 500/1 bass for over 40 years, but in their early days the other Beatles owned Hofners: John a Club 40 and George a President and then a Club 40 also. A surprising number of famous guitarists have been Hofner owners, many starting their careers with one. The list includes Bert Weedon, Hank Marvin, Ritchie Blackmore, Dave Gilmore, Roy Wood, Justin Heywood, Midge Ure, Mark Knopfler and many others.

Where would I get hold of a vintage Hofner today?

Surprisingly it isnt too difficult to find a vintage Hofner. One of the best places to look is on the Internet at the auction or sale sites such as Ebay and Loot where there are often several to investigate. They occasionally turn up in the small ads of the local paper. Smaller guitar shops sometimes have one or two, though the big dealers seem to shy away from handling them these days. One exception is Music Ground in Leeds, UK, who is probably the largest stockist of vintage Hofners and spares in the world.

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Anything else you guys would like to add before we conclude?

Collecting and generally taking an interest in Hofners is very rewarding simply because they are one of the lesser-known brands. You can actually afford to buy one now and then without taking out a second mortgage!

There is quite a "club" of Hofner enthusiasts based all over the world, who keep in contact with each other through internet discussion groups such as Hofnerhounds as well as the Beatle-based groups like Voxtalks and Beatgear Cavern. That's probably the most satisfying aspect of being a Hofner "nut".... it certainly brings together a lot of people from all around the globe!

Well, many thanks Steve and Nick for taking the time to talk to me and introducing us to the fascinating world of Vintage Hofners!

Steve Russells website - Hofner Miscellany -
Donna McGlinchey-Mahon is a freelance writer, successfully published in the U.K., Ireland and Australia. She has written several comedy scripts for television, and is currently working on a new sitcom. She also has an autobiographical novel underway, giving a somewhat humorous account of her life growing up in a troubled Northern Ireland.

Coming from a musical background, she has a keen interest in music and likes to play piano and guitar in her spare time.

Donna lives in Northern Ireland with her husband and three children.

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