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HOFNER | COLORAMA | 1960 COLORAMA II

1960 Hofner Colorama / Hofner 162

Semi-solid Hofner guitar distributed by Selmer

This page has extra content in the Supporting Members area, including additional images, video content, circuit diagram and scratchplate tracing. If you are a supporting member you can access this here

The Hofner Colorama was the name given by British Hofner distributor Selmer, to a series of solid and semi-solid instruments sold with different model names in Europe and the USA. The Hofner Colorama, like all Hofners of this period, was made in Germany (Bubenreuth), where it would have been sold as the Hofner 162, (or the Hofner 160, with a single pickup). The Colorama, at this time, has echoes of the semi-solid Hofner Club, taking the same basic look and construction, but with less ornamentation, and accordingly a lower price. This similarity was short lived, with the model being modified, to a greater or lesser extent, almost continually through its period of production. Coloramas cover a wide range of body styles, construction methods and electronic configurations: the only real thing all variants have in common is a name.

Model: 1960 Hofner Colorama II
Pickups: Two Toaster pickups
Scale: 24 1/2"
Body: 44cm x 33cm x 3.15cm approx. Overall length 954mm excluding end 'pin'
Neck: Three-piece maple/birch laminate, with rosewood fretboard. Width at nut 40mm. 22 frets
Hardware: Nickel plated. Trapeze tailpiece, floating metal bridge. Open gear metal plate tuners with plastic buttons
Weight: 2.08 kg

Early examples had a single cutaway body style, a set neck, and from 1959-1960, a semi-solid construction consisting a solid block down it's middle, with a laminate wood top and back, making for an exceptionally light guitar. Although not one of the very first Coloramas, this example has the same construction, and weighs in at just 2.08kg! This hollow body with central block, is of course, the same build style as used by Gibson on their 335 guitars, but with a smaller body size and no sound holes. Furthermore Gibson routed pickup cavities, and embedded bridge posts through the top and into the central block; Hofner left everything floating, allowing maximum vibration from the top.

These are beautifully made guitars, perhaps missing some of the hardware and electrical improvements that would be added over the next five years or so, but the beautiful translucent nitrocellulose finish, easy playability and a nice woody tone, make for some of the nicest guitars to carry the Colorama name.

1960 Hofner Colorama II / Hofner 162 1960 Hofner Colorama II / Hofner 162 body reverse

The Hofner Colorama was continually evolving over the years of its production, and it's impossible to define categoric specifications for any year. Just about any example is a snapshot of the Colorama at that time, rather than a representation of the model in more general terms. This Colorama hails from early 1960 (the potentiometers have the date code 459, signifying, week 45 (November) of 1959, see reading pot codes). As such it is one of the earliest guitars to be fitted with toaster pickups, and to be equipped with an adjustable truss rod - both significant improvements in terms of sound, set-up and playability.

Although not that apparent in these images, in the hand the quality of the finish is truly striking. Unlike later Coloramas, coated in polyester or even vinyl fabric, this has the most beautiful thin translucent nitrocellulose finish. The top and back are each a single piece of three-ply laminate - showing off all the grain. Naturally there are chips (especially near the strap hoops), and a whole lot of finish checking. It is fragile, not as hard-wearing as the later finishes, and more labour intensive (and therefore expensive) to produce. But, even for an entry level Hofner, the quality at this time (from the tradition of violin manufacture) is plain to see. These are beautiful guitars!

1960 Hofner Colorama / Hofner 162 1960 Hofner Colorama / Hofner 162

This 1960 Colorama has a trapeze tailpiece, floating bridge and pickups, and 5-screw pickguard (a template for this pickguard is available on the supporting member page for this guitar, here). Controls are quite typical for any dual pickup Hofner of this period, with a two pot, three switch console.

1960 Hofner Colorama / Hofner 162 bridge pickup
Bridge pickup
1960 Hofner Colorama / Hofner 162 neck pickup
Neck pickup

This early 1960 Colorama is fitted with two toaster pickups, both mounted in their plastic surrounds. These single coil units were short-lived, only appearing on guitars shipped in 1960 and early 1961. Although somewhat height adjustable, this was not always a simple matter! For more on height adjustment of these pickups see the additional images / description in the supporting members page. Earlier examples were fitted with rosewood or plastic bar pickups.

1960 Hofner Colorama / Hofner 162 tailpiece
1960 Hofner Colorama / Hofner 162 bridge

The edge of this guitar has painted gold parallel lines running around the entire body. The tailpiece is a typical Hofner trapeze tailpiece, matched with a floating nickel-plated height-adjustable brass bridge. Unlike slightly later versions, this bridge has two circular 'feet'. Compare with the bridge fitted to this 1961 Hofner Colorama.

1960 Hofner Colorama / Hofner 162 headstock front
Headstock front. The Hofner Colorama has the same finished front as the guitar body and neck, with a simple Hofner decal logo. The truss rod adjustment nut is at the headstock end of the neck, and is accessible via the truss rod cover seen here. Note the black/white/black nut and zero fret.
1960 Hofner Colorama / Hofner 162 headstock reverse
Headstock reverse showing tuning keys and volute. The finish has some wear on the back of the headstock, and the three neck laminations are obvious. Note also the three digit serial number on the top of the headstock. Tuning keys are simple open gear, with plastic parallel buttons.
1960 Hofner Colorama / Hofner 162 truss rod cover
The truss rod cover is two-ply black/white held in place with three 7mm oval head slotted screws
1960 Hofner Colorama / Hofner 162 headstock logo
The Hofner logo in gold with black outline
1960 Hofner Colorama / Hofner 162 body end view, showing leather strap rings

As mentioned near the top of this page, the Colorama evolved continually, generally benefiting from improved hardware hardware, but at the expense of finish and construction. At this relative primitive stage, the strap buttons are actually D-shaped metal rings, on a leather strap. As you can see above, the thin cellulose finish has been seriously worn by whatever metal hook or ring has been used to attach a strap, and has even been retouched slightly by a previous owner. The Colorama would have regular strap buttons by 1961 (compare with a 1961 Hofner Colorama).

Hofner Colorama controls

The 1960 Colorama has the well known Hofner control consule fitted to many of their guitars. The actual operation of the console is less well known. There is a volume control for each pickup, and two tone settings via the switches.

1960 Hofner Colorama control consule

There are five basic sounds as detailed below. From bassy to trebley:

Bass on (bass switch down) - this automatically deactivates the bridge pickup, and activates a treble cut filter
Neck pickup (neck pot on full, all switches up)
Both pickups (both pots on full, all switches up)
Bridge pickup (bridge pot on full, all switches up)
Treble on (treble switch down) - this automatically deactivates the neck pickup, and activates a bass cut filter

Plus there are further variations in the 'both pickups' setting by adjusting the relative volume of each pickup. The above were recorded directly into a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB recording interface (i.e. no amp) - but check out the video clips of the guitar in a more typical amplified situation further down the page.

1960 Hofner Colorama / Hofner 162 in its case

1960 Hofner Colorama / Hofner 162 in its original brown Selmer case. These were not the most hard waring of cases, but this one did its job, and kept this guitar safe for over 60 years (and counting).

1960 Hofner Colorama case

1960 Hofner Colorama case

All in all, a nicely made guitar, capturing some of Hofner's heritage of fine instrument manufacture; somewhat fragile in places, but exceedingly light and a lot of fun to play!

See also

Hofner Colorama main page
Late 1960 Hofner Colorama II
Early 1961 Hofner Colorama I

1960 Hofner Colorama video clips

This is a cool little guitar. Easy playing, with a lovely resonance, and a nice basic tone from each pickup. The bridge pickup is a bit thin at lower volumes but really snarls with the amp gain upped somewhat. The neck alone is as fat as you like. Controls are a bit basic, and the floating bridge is a little bit more tricky to keep in tune than one with a fixed bridge and/or adjustable saddles. But it is what it is: full of character and a lot of fun to play.

Subscribe to the vintageguitarandbass youtube channel for more vintage guitar and bass demos. Also, check out the other Hofner Colorama videos (different amps, different settings) in the supporting members area.

1960 Hofner Colorama II / 1963 WEM ER 15 (4m 41s)

Find out more about this amp here 1963 WEM ER-15

This is a great little guitar - and it sounds pretty cool through the WEM ER15. The Hofner Colorama was sold by Selmer in the UK 1958-1965: yet the several different guitars were included under the moniker at different times. In 1960 it was a nice set-neck semi-solid - and one of the lightest guitars i've ever played! The controls are not totally intuitive, but the five basic settings have real character. These are 1) both pickups 2) neck pickup 3) neck pickup with treble cut 4) bridge pickup 5) bridge pickup with bass cut.

Recorded here with a Heil PR-40 (left channel) and a Shure SM57 (right channel), through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface - highly recommended gear!

1960 Hofner Colorama II / 1963 WEM ER 15, long version (long version, 9m 42s)

Find out more about this amp here 1963 WEM ER-15

Long version of this video with extra amp and guitar settings. The treble pickup is biting, the 'bass on' (neck pickup + treble cut filter) is fat and warm. Very easy to alternate between jagged stabs and lazy laid back jazz.

Recorded here with a Heil PR-40 (left channel) and a Shure SM57 (right channel), through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface - highly recommended gear!

1960 Hofner Colorama II 'supporting members' content

Extra content on this guitar is included in the Supporting Members area here

1960 Hofner Colorama II unloaded body detail
1960 Hofner Colorama II scratchplate template
1960 Hofner Colorama II circuit diagram
  • 46 extra images (with description): large detailed images including body construction, circuitry, components
  • Detailed wiring diagram
  • Pickguard tracing (PDF for accurate printing)
  • Extra video content (1 video, 9m 42s: WEM ER-15)
Got an opinion on the contents of this page? Disagree with something written above? Please comment

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Hofner Colorama modern electric guitar, black, Grover tuners!

Hofner Colorama modern electric guitar, black, Grover tuners!

Wood Dale, Illinois, 601**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$250

Here is a Hofner Colorama guitar. Made in China; no serial #
Heavy wear, dings, and scratching on body. Grover tuners. Missing truss rod cover. Headstock has a damaged corner
22 frets, 2 volume knobs, 2 tone knobs, 2 pickups, 3-way switch.
Case not included. Please note that Ebay will charge and collect sales tax based on your state
DISCLAIMERS
- We do NOT set up our guitars (ie. truss rod adjustment, intonation, action, etc )
If you desire a proper setup with new ... more
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Hofner Colorama double-cut HH electric red

Hofner Colorama double-cut HH electric red

Lynn, Massachusetts, 019**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$475

Works great. Straight neck, good action, frets have very little wear, truss turns, electronics are clean. There's some chipping on the nut. Doesn't affect playability. Regular player wear throughout. Features set maple neck, rosewood fretboard, abalone inlays, mini humbuckers, Grover tuners. Ships to lower 48. No case. No trades.... more
eBay logo
1960s Hofner 172 Colorama II Electric Guitar Red Vinyl

1960s Hofner 172 Colorama II Electric Guitar Red Vinyl

Benicia, California, 945**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$799

Buy with confidence knowing this guitar will rock your socks off! We ship off same day or next business day!
In the early 1960s, rock music was sweeping across Europe, and one of the most iconic bands of that era was undoubtedly the Beatles. Their arrival on the scene in 1962 and 1963 marked the onset of Beatlemania, a phenomenon that swept the globe, with audiences clamoring to see them perform and emulate their style
The immense demand for instruments like the ones the Beatles played ... more
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1961 Hofner Colorama Doublecut Model - Red - Made in Germany

1961 Hofner Colorama Doublecut Model - Red - Made in Germany

Nottingham, NG1***, UNITED KINGDOM

£395

Hofner Colorama single pickup model with double cutaway, made in Germany circa 1961
Specs:
1x Hofner neck pickupFactory red finishDouble cutaway bodyRosewood fingerboardBody mounted tremoloRhythm / solo & bass / treble switching
Condition:
Good vintage condition for its age, used but not abused with some marks, patina and signs of playing wear. No breaks or issues
Modifications / repairs:
Replaced high E tuner, pickup rewound by Armstrong Music (Ashford). Replaced nut by... more
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1960 Hofner Colorama electric guitar

1960 Hofner Colorama electric guitar

Milton Keynes, MK6***, UNITED KINGDOM

£500

Really nice 1960 two-pickup Hofner Colorama. Good used condition
Built in Germany, sold in UK by Selmer. 3-digit serial number on the back of the headstock
The serial number is 816 and pots date to July 1960.
These are fantastic guitars - back when Hofner guitars were closer to violins than the mass produced solid bodies of the mid-sixties. Ultra light, with a beautiful nitro finish. And a great resonant sound to match. Wonderful instrument!
This really is a cool, rare and ... more
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1960s HOFNER Colorama mod. 161 Redburst, Germany

1960's HOFNER Colorama mod. 161 Redburst, Germany

Burnaby, BC, V5H***, CANADA

C $1215

1960's HOFNER Colorama mod. 161 Redburst, Germany
This rare Hofner guitar was made in Germany in the 1960s. There is no marking on the guitar, but I assume it is a model No. 161. Guitar is very light in weight ( 2 22kg or 4 15lb ) and body is hollow inside
Considering the age, I estimate the external condition as very good. There are some scratches and small dents, but nothing major. Please take a look on the posted pictures where these marks are clearly visible on.
The string tension... more
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1977 Gibson ES Artist prototypeNot to be confused with the Gibson ES Artist launched by Gibson in 1979; this ES Artist was an early model designed by the Gibson research and development team in Kalamazoo in 1977, the instruments themselves constructed by Gibson artist Chuck Burge. It was planned for launch as a high end semi acoustic with 335-style construction (central maple block) and innovative circuitry - but was pulled at the last minute, being deemed too expensive. Apparently, several examples were produced with varying specifications, though exactly how many actually left the Kalamazoo plant is unclear. Certainly two guitars were sold to LaVonne Music by Gibson in around 1980. Read more about the development of this guitar, with details from Chuck Burge and the story of it's sale to LaVonne music

1959 Hofner Committee

1959 Hofner CommitteeThe Hofner Committee was a truly beautiful guitar produced in Germany, primarily for the UK market. It was a large bodied (initially 17 1/2") guitar with a carved spruce top, available as an acoustic or electric guitar. By the early sixties the carved top was replaced with a laminate, and although still a very fine guitar, the earlier carved top examples, with frondose headstock (like the example shown here) are far more highly prized amongst musicians and vintage guitar collectors.

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins TennesseanThe Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean, or model 6119 was Gretsch's best selling hollow body of the 1960s. This wonderfully faded example from 1965 was originally Dark Cherry Red, but has turned a mid-orange brown. The original color, however, can be seen underneath the pickup surrounds. 1965 specs: maple body, two-piece neck, Brazilian rosewood fretboard and Hi-Lo 'Tron single coil pickups. Nickel plated Gretsch Bigsby tailpiece.

1965 Gretsch 'For the Spectacular Sound of the Times' guitar and amp catalog

1965 Gretsch catalogThe 1965 Gretsch catalog, or catalog #32, featured 10 hollow body electric guitars, including the newly launched Gretsch Viking; four solid body electrics, including the Astro Jet - making it's only catalog appearance; just one bass, the single pickup PX6070; nine acoustics and 12 tube amplifiers. Pride of place went to the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman that adorned both the front and back covers. 24 pages, six of which are in full color.

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret ends

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret endsLoose frets are especially problematic in certain old guitars, but are generally very easy to fix. You'll be amazed at the difference you can make with just a few tools, a bit of knowledge, and a little time. Fixing loose frets can eliminate fret buzz, remove sharp fret ends, and greatly improve the tone of any guitar. If your luthier bill will be greater than the value of your guitar, definitely time to have a go yourself!

1966 Hagstrom 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog (Merson USA)

1966 Hagstrom guitar catalogHagstrom guitars were distributed in the mid-1960s United States by Merson of USA. This eight page 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog, printed in two-colors contained six solid body electrics, three solid body basses, two electric acoustic guitars, two electric acoustic basses and five acoustics.

1965 Hofner President

1965 Hofner PresidentThe President was produced by Hofner in Bubenreuth, Germany, specifically for Selmer, who distributed the brand in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other commonwealth nations. The President was a hollow body electric acoustic, available as a full body or thinline, and with blonde or brunette finish. It was a great playing guitar that sold fairly well in the second half of the 1950s, throughout the 1960s, and into the very early 1970s. The example shown here is a full-body depth guitar in blonde - and as a 1965 guitar, one of the last to feature the rounded Venetian cutaway. From late 1965 until 1972, the President sported a sharp Florentine cut. Naturally, such an electric acoustic suggests jazz and blues, but many of the original British Hofner President players were part of the rock 'n roll, skiffle and beat scenes of the late 50s and early 60s.

1963 1964 Fender catalog

Fender 1963 catalogue"The Choice of Professional and Student Musicians Everywhere" This eight page catalogue was included as an insert in the 1963 annual "school music" issue of Downbeat magazine (September 1963). As well as keyboards and pedal steels, this catalog contains seven guitars, three basses and ten amplifiers - from student guitars such as the Musicmaster and Duotone to professional models like the new Jaguar.