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. 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. But by late 1960 the Colorama was a double cutaway set-neck solid body, with a steep headstock angle and a deep cherry nitrocellulose finish. To many, this was the golden era of the Colorama: within a year or so, (and despite having the same silhouette) the Colorama had a bolt-on maple neck, a far shallower headstock angle, and many also shipped with a cheap looking vinyl body covering.
The Hofner Colorama, like all Hofners of this period, was made in Germany (Bubenreuth), where it would have been sold as the Hofner 161, (or the Hofner 162, with a two pickups). In the UK it was designated model 443. This Colorama is a lovely instrument: well-built, good looking, and nice playing.
This is how the Colorama was described in the 1960 Selmer catalogue
The new Hofner Colorama has the styling today's guitarists demand. Double cutaway comfort contoured body, fashioned from the finest timbers with attractive red-glow finish. Exclusive Hofner "Slendanek" with adjustable internal truss-rod and handed machine heads. Fitted with either one or two Super Response pick ups and exclusive flick action console.
In late 1960, the single pickup Hofner Colorama 443 had a list price of 21gns; rising to 23gns in the second half of 1961. This was the least expensive electric guitar offered by Selmer, but is nicer than many guitars in the same price bracket available in the United Kingdom at the time. A lot of guitar for the money.
Although the Hofner Colorama of 1961 bore little resemblance to the 1960 Colorama, having a new body shape, headstock shape and construction, some hardware remained. The Toaster pickups were fitted initially but quickly replaced with the Diamond logo pickup shown here. The tailpiece was identical to that of the previous version, and remained in use into the next Colorama variant. The bridge is broadly similar in looks, but on closer examination is a little different - sitting on a long flat base rather than the two cupped feet of the previous example. The point that this changed is not clear, but it is unlikely to have been at exactly the same time as the pickup or body changes occurred,
The 1961 Colorama still has the Hofner control consule as fitted to other single pickup guitars. There is a single volume control and two tone settings via the switches.
There are three basic sounds as detailed below, that natural sound of the pickup, plus 'bass' mode and 'treble' mode.
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.
The 1961 Hofner Colorama has a long headstock, with six-in-a-row tuning keys. The truss rod is adjustable at this end of the headstock, but it is this combination of truss rod adjustment cavity and a steep 14° headstock angle that can often lead to headstock breaks, especially if the guitar falls over backwards. True the Hofner has a three-piece maple laminate neck, and a small volute, both of which add strength, but as can be seen in this case, these features were not enough. This guitar has had a repaired headstock in this exact position.
1961 Hofner Colorama in its original brown Selmer case with red lining
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.
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Find out more about this amp here 1963 WEM ER-15
This is a wonderful playing 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 1961 it was a nice set-neck solid body, with a Hofner 510 diamond logo pickup, and a long 6-in-a-row headstock. The controls of these single pickup models are easier to understand than the dual pickup examples, but are still not totally intuitive. These are 1) natural pickup sound 2) treble cut 3) bass cut 4) treble and bass cut. Because the electronics on these controls only act on a single pickup, there is not quite the range of sounds on a dual pickup example, and frankly, they seem pretty subtle. Compare this to the dual pickup 1960 Colorama - the treble/bass switches also turn pickups on/off making the effect far more noticeable - and because of this, using the treble and bass cut together is not possible.
Find out more about this amp here 1963 WEM ER-15
Long version of this video with extra amp settings: starting off clean and gradually getting crunchier as we go. An easy playing guitar and a sweet sounding amp.