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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

1966 Hofner Guitar Ad Featured on Collector's Envelope *129

Current price: $5.00
buy it now
Time left: 17d 8h 47m
Hofner 1967 500/1 Beatle Bass violin shape Original case

Current price: $1050.00
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Time left: 7h 12m
Hofner H500/1 Vintage 1964 Violin Electric Bass Guitar Sunburst

Current price: $2869.99
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Time left: 29d 17h 2m
Hofner H500/1 Vintage 1964 Violin Electric Bass Guitar Sunburst

Current price: $2869.99
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Time left: 29d 17h 11m
Vintage Hofner 250k Volume Pots - Preh Potentiometers - Early 1960's

Current price: $35.00

Time left: 10h 31m
Vintage Original 1960s Violin Beatle Bass Pickup Hofner Pickup Ring Part Germany

Current price: $24.50
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Time left: 1d 15h 34m
1959 HOFNER 468 committee Museum Quality SUPER COLLECTABLE John Lennon Beatles

Current price: $2000.00
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Time left: 6d 8h 12m

Current price: $2500.00
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Time left: 6d 10h 9m
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UK ebay listings

1969 Vintage Hofner Bass Guitar

Current price: £200.00
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Time left: 27d 2h 53m
Hofner Verithin Original Vintage 1960s Staple type pickup in good working order

Current price: £50.00
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Time left: 1d 12h 52m
1966 Hofner Guitar Ad Featured on Collector's Envelope *129

Current price: £3.20
buy it now
Time left: 17d 8h 47m
1966 Hofner Senator

Current price: £400.00
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Time left: 19d 15h 10m
Hofner 1963 Verythin Guitar Semi Accoustic

Current price: £650.00
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Time left: 28d 6h 9m
Hofner 173 Electric Guitar - 1960's

Current price: £330.00
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Time left: 19d 4h 22m
Set of Vintage Hofner Verithin 1960s Machine Heads

Current price: £20.00
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Time left: 1d 12h 54m
Hofner President 1958 blonde - all original two pickup model - with hardcase.

Current price: £650.00
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Time left: 14d 4h 32m
See more results on eBay here

German ebay listings

1961 Höfner Hofner Bass Modell 182 Matching Headstock + Orig. Case

Current price: €202.00
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Time left: 1d 10h 34m

Current price: €238.37
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Time left: 4d 14h 40m

Current price: €2210.00
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Time left: 13d 53m
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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