1965 Hofner President

Full body electric acoustic

1965 Hofner President - front view
1965 Hofner President - reverse view
Model: 1965 Hofner President
Pickups: Two Hofner 511 "Staple" humbucker pickups
Scale: 25 1/2"
Body: Maple back and sides, laminate spruce top; dimensions 20 1/4" long x 16 1/4" wide x 3 1/4" deep
Neck: Five-piece maple-mahogany laminated neck, rosewood fingerboard with pearl position markers, three dots per position. 22 frets
Width at Nut: 1 11/16"
Hardware: Nickel-plated. Lyre tailpiece. Open gear tuning keys.
Weight: 2.40kg

The Hofner President was a German semi-acoustic electric guitar produced by Hofner at it's Bubenreuth plant, specifically for distribution by Selmer in the UK. It was a dual pickup instrument, well-built and relatively popular at a time when British guitar manufacture was in it's infancy, and American guitars were difficult to source and generally unaffordable. Two models were available: the standard full-body (3 1/4" deep) and a Hofner President thinline (2" deep). These were roughly equivalent to two European models, the 457 and thinline 4570. See the main page for general details of the Hofner President.

Hollow body Hofner guitars have an absolutely fabulous resonance to them, something you notice immediately when you play them, even before you plug them in. This is a lovely sounding guitar, with a good tonally range and a very playable neck.

Hofner President from the 1964 Selmer catalog
The 1964 Selmer catalog shows an identical Blonde Hofner President

The electric version of the President was available from 1956, so by the time this example was shipped (early 1965) the guitar had changed somewhat - not really in terms of design, but certainly with regards hardware. Numerous upgrades were instituted in 1963, bring the Hofner instrument in line with other contemporary guitars - these changes are detailed in the 'closer look' section below. This guitar is identical to the full-body, blonde finished 5122/06 President as shown in the 1964 Selmer catalog. It has the 511 Staple pickups (described in '64 as Nova Sonic, double coil, double pole pickups), each with a volume and tone control mounted directly onto the guitar's body.

This guitar is finished in Blonde (clear nitrocellulose), with a bound body (front and back) neck, headstock and f-holes. The body binding is 6-ply black and white (b-w-b-w-b-w), though it is white single ply elsewhere. At this point, the President featured a Venetian cutaway - soon to change to a sharper Florentine cutaway at towards the end of 1965 (see a 1967 Hofner President). This is one of the last Venetian cutaway Presidents. The rosewood fretboard is fitted with triple dot neck position markers.

Hofner President dating

Selmer Hofner guitars were given serial numbers, unlike the majority of Hofners sold by other distributors. Shipping data for Selmer-distributed guitars does exist (though apparently incomplete) here - this data suggests 248 Presidents were distributed by Selmer in 1965 - with serial numbers in the range 8728-8976 - i.e. 248 instruments that year. The serial number on this guitar is in the paper label within the soundhole - #8741; making this the 13th Hofner President of 1965. Further dating information is available by examining the hardware, and potentiometer codes. The pots fitted to this guitar have codes 414, 464 and 474 on their reverse (see images below): signifying the 41st, 46th and 47th weeks of 1964.

1965 Hofner President - a closer look

1965 Hofner President Lyre tailpiece
The Hofner President had been fitted with the Compensator tailpiece from the 1950s, though this was changed to the Lyre tailpiece shown here in 1963.
Hofner floating "Micro-matic" bridge
Another upgrade introduced in 1963 was the Hofner "Micro-matic" bridge. Still free-floating on an ebony base, it was height adjustable, with separately moveable saddles for more accurate intonation adjustments.
1965 Hofner President
The Hofner President pickguard is made from brown tortoiseshell plastic. It is held in place via two pins: one each into the ebony bridge base, and the lower side of the neck by the 21st fret; and a bracket attached to the lower edge of the guitar.
1965 Hofner President volume and tone controls
The volume and tone controls of the Hofner President are another upgrade since 1963. The control consul of pre-63 guitars has been replaced by a more intuitive (at least by today's standards) volume / volume / tone / tone arrangement. Actually the layout of controls is not the same as some other guitars (e.g. a typical Gibson), having volume controls in the top row, and tone controls below. The knobs are all numbered 1-10, and the volume controls act as expected. The tone controls, however act back-to-front to the volumes: i.e. no tone cut is with controls fully anti-clockwise. Why this is the case is not completely clear, however dialing the tone down does reduce output from the pickups. It may be that mid-performance, a reduction in treble, and requisite increase in volume could be performed more easily if both controls were turned the same way?
1965 Hofner President
Beyond the heel, the neck floats above the guitar body, therefore not impeding vibrations in the top.
Hofner President volume control pot
The potentiometers fitted to this Hofner President all have a 250kΩ resistance, and, helpfully, a date code on their reverse. In this case (neck pickup volume), the date code 414 is clearly visible, indicating a production date (of the pot) of the 41st week of 1964.
Hofner President tone control pot
The neck pickup tone potentiometer is also rated at 250kΩ, and has a date code of 464 (46th week of 1964). Note the 47n capacitor wired across it's terminals (47 nano Farads = 0.047µF).
1965 Hofner President heel
The neck and heel are separate pieces of wood, as can be seen here, though both are made of the same five-ply maple / mahogany laminate. This example is missing it's neck strap button.
1965 Hofner President headstock reverse
The laminate neck runs right through the headstock. There are no markings on the reverse of this headstock. Many solid body Selmer Hofners have a serial stamped here, but hollow body instruments had this number on their soundhole label.
1965 Hofner President headstock
The headstock has a typical mid sixties pearl vine inlay, and the word HOFNER in block capitals.
1965 Hofner President tuning key
The machine heads fitted to this guitar are individual open gear type with cream plastic keys.

Hofner President pickup placement

The dual 511 'double coil' (i.e. humbucking) pickups are mounted in typical early 60s Hofner style: i.e. there are no cutouts interfering with top vibrations, rather pickups are surface mounted with plastic surrounds. These no doubt add to the fore-mentioned acoustic resonance of such instruments, though the ability to adjust pickup height is not as accurate as in some other guitars with spring mounted pickups. The four images below show how these pickups are mounted, with just a small hole for the lead to reach the internal electrics. The pickups themselves each have adjustable pole pieces (flat head screw)

1965 Hofner President Nova-Sonic 511 "staple" pickups
1965 Hofner President Nova-Sonic 511 "staple" pickups
1965 Hofner President Nova-Sonic 511 "staple" pickups
1965 Hofner President Nova-Sonic 511 "staple" pickups
Hofner 511 Nova-Sonic staple pickup
This guitar is fitted with Hofner 511 Nova-Sonic staple pickups - the underside of the bridge pickup is stamped '511 HT'.
This guitar has a somewhat worn label within it's soundhole. This gives the model (President); serial (8741), which as explained above dates to early 1965; and E 2 Blonde, which presumably refers to this as a dual pickup electric model. Interestingly, there is a second label beneath the one visible.

The Hofner President is a very nice guitar - great for jazz and blues, but with it's maple and spruce construction punchy enough for many rock guitarists too. It is a large bodied guitar, but still pretty light - easily half the weight of a Les Paul, for example and not especially prone to feedback. As mentioned this guitar has a wonderful resonance, and sounds great unplugged, as well as electrified. The biggest downside (for me at least) are the tone controls. Remembering which direction to turn them is not a big deal, but the associated volume drop is a little greater than one would like, and the tone cut is not as great. This guitar doesn't do 'woman-tone' quite as well as you'd like/expect! No doubt these 'faults' could be rectified with some electrical upgrades, but on an original vintage guitar, perhaps better just to live with it.

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