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Hofner Electric Guitar and Bass List

Instruments manufactured by Hofner

Hofner Guitars The Beatles in the early 1960s

Hofner guitars and basses hold a very special position in the history of popular music; they were the guitars that so many influential British guitarists of the early 1960s were playing, Most notably of course, Paul McCartney of the Beatles, with his 500/1 Violin bass.

Karl Hofner started producing violins in 1887, adding other stringed instruments to the line soonafter. He and his sons, Josef and Walter, built the business in Schonbach, Germany, building their first guitars there in the 1930s. This plant ceased instrument production during the second world war, and was closed shortly after it.

Early days, 1950s Hofner

1966 UK Hofner advertisement

1966 UK Hofner advertisement - see other vintage Hofner advertisements here

Instrument production started again with a big new plant in another German town, Bubenreuth, opening in late 1950. Hofner's long history in orchestral stringed-instrument manufacture dictated the kind of guitars produced: well-built hollow bodies with set necks, many with hand carved tops, many acoustic; and many utilising the inlaying skills of Hofner's craftsmen. As the 1950s progressed numerous improvements were instituted; Hofner certainly kept up with the important developments in American guitars, and by the very end of the decade were producing thinlines, and fitting adjustable truss rods to all models. But guitar demand grew massively over the next two decades; both in Germany, but also increasingly worldwide. Sales were rising, buoyed, by the advent of rock 'n' roll and then beat music, and the Bubenreuth plant had to be extended on several occasions to keep up with production.

1961 Hofner Congress acoustic guitar

1961 Hofner Congress acoustic guitar

1960s heydey

Hofner guitars have always been popular in the United Kingdom. Hofner made special UK models like the President, Senator Congress, Committee, and numerous others. They were similar in many ways to some European models. They were distributed in the UK by Selmer and sold well in the late 1950s and very early 1960s, both as student and professional instruments. More expensive American guitars by Gibson, Gretsch and Guild were largely unavailable (or at least unaffordable) due to trade restrictions, at least until 1961, and at this point British guitar makers were unable to produce well-built hollow-body guitars, so Hofner initially had little competition.

Then, of course, there was Paul McCartney who had bought his 500/1 violin bass in 1961. He played this bass throughout his time with the Beatles, and despite having other basses available always came back to this; most notably using it on the famous Apple building rooftop concert of 1969.

One other big change in the 1960s was the strong demand for solid body guitars; in part due to the changing musical direction of the 1960s, but also the huge growth of student guitarists looking for cheaper instruments than the labour intensive hollow bodies. Original Hofner models like the V-series (V1, V2, V3) were followed by the Colorama, Super Solids and Galaxie guitars, all of which sold well to aspiring guitar players of the 1960s.

The 1970s

Solid bodies performed better at louder volumes, and as the 60s turned into the 70s, hollow guitars dropped out of fashion. But Hofner was facing problems. Highly respected manufacturers like Gibson and Fender had the professional end of the market all but sewn-up, whilst Asian manufacturers were producing high quality budget guitars very cheaply indeed. Hofner managed to keep flagship models like the violin bass, but was otherwise forced down the route of the Japanese manufacturers producing (admittedly not bad) copies of Gibson guitars.

Latest posts on Hofner guitars and basses at the VintageGuitar forum
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Lookin 4 Vintage Hofner Electric Guitar Model 459VTZ
9 replies
last message by Custom53
23/11/2014 09:53

Hofner president electric 1959
2 replies
last message by RonB
26/08/2014 11:08

Can you please help identify this Hofner? Thank you!
0 replies
last message by Jumpinjoejenkins
22/08/2014 05:03

1965 Hofner President Brunette with Hofner pick up.
0 replies
last message by btfgraphic
10/08/2014 01:46

I need a new control switch for a 1968 beatle bass
2 replies
last message by skydog
02/07/2014 20:00

Hofner Galaxie
1 replies
last message by jules
13/02/2014 07:56

Solid body guitars

Hofner V1 / V2 / V3
Hofner Colorama
Hofner 172
Hofner 173
Hofner 176
Hofner 177

Hollow body guitars

Hofner Ambassador
Hofner Committee
Hofner President
Hofner Senator

Bass guitars

Hofner 500/1
Hofner 500/2
Hofner G500/1
Hofner 500/4
Hofner 185/S
Hofner Senator bass
Hofner President bass

Hofner Catalogues

1960 Selmer Hofner catalogue (UK)
1964 Selmer Hofner catalogue (UK)
1967 Hofner catalogue (US)

Hofner Advertising

Hofner Advertising

Back to the HOFNER INDEX | comment

US ebay listings

Electric Guitar, Hofner Model 172, Vintage, Circa1962, Rare Brown Vinyl

Current price: $485.00
buy it now
Time left: 4d 22h 18m
2014 Hofner Limited Edition 1962 Ed Sullivan Show Electric Beatle Violin Bass

Current price: $760.00
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Time left: 2d 51m
Vintage 1970 Hofner 500/1 German-made Violin Beatle Bass

Current price: $1325.00
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Time left: 1h 56m
Vintage 1960s Hofner Verithin

Current price: $400.00

Time left: 2d 19h 51m
1966 Hofner Guitar Ad Featured on Collector's Envelope *129

Current price: $5.00
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Time left: 8d 22h 50m
1968 Vintage Hofner Guitar "Western Jumbo 5154"

Current price: $700.00
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Time left: 18h 23m
vintage hollow body jazz guitar 1950s Framus Hofner Germany alte Schlaggitarre

Current price: $233.50
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Time left: 3d 20h 52m
Hofner 500/1 Made in 1970 VS Vintage Worldwide shipping!

Current price: $1725.00
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Time left: 9d 2h 34m
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UK ebay listings


Current price: £595.00
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Time left: 8d 20h 17m
1958 Hofner Senator

Current price: £125.00
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Time left: 15h 3m

Current price: £700.00
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Time left: 2d 19h 51m
Hofner Scratchplate:Original:Vintage 1950's

Current price: £42.80
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Time left: 1d 18h 42m
Hofner Ambassador 1966 Collectors piece

Current price: £2950.00
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Time left: 23d 17h 6m
Hofner guitar.??? 1950's?? Damaged

Current price: £32.00
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Time left: 2d 11h 37m
Vintage Hofner 1960's Solidbody Bridge Cover.....V Series??......

Current price: £30.00
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Time left: 6d 12h 48m
Hofner Club 60 - 1960 with 'toaster' pick-ups - Cherry Sunburst - RARE

Current price: £925.00
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Time left: 15d 19h 3m
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German ebay listings


Current price: €2410.00
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Time left: 15d 9h 40m
Hofner club 50 ca. 1967

Current price: €780.00
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Time left: 2d 18h 51m
Höfner Club 50 1962 Hofner 126 Vintage Hofner Club 50 from 1962 original Beatles

Current price: €780.00
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Time left: 14d 20h 37m

Current price: €238.37
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Time left: 22d 19h 33m
Hofner 1961 cavern Bass/McCartney bass guitar machine heads -full set-VERY RARE

Current price: €103.07
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Time left: 11h 47m
early 1960's Hofner senator/congress scratch plate/pickguard in bronze pearl

Current price: €63.22
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Time left: 11h 45m
See more results on eBay here

There are 2 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
Stefan Comment left 22nd July 2012 15:03:31
I own three Hofners, a '61 Hofner Congress acoustic, a '63 President electric and a new contemporary series Verithin in stunning translucent cherry. All great players, especially the new verithin, which has a great action. I think the two others have slightly too high action for me, but I don't want to go the neck reset route. Any tips for improving playability without major work?
mark Comment left 23rd August 2013 16:04:32
looking for a 459vtz super call 7727083714 thanks

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