The Hofner 500/1, also known as the Hofner violin bass, or Beatle bass, was first produced in 1956. Hofner had made violins and guitars for many years in Germany, but it wasn't until Gibson produced its EB bass in 1953 that the idea of a violin-shaped bass guitar was realized. Hofners version, the 500/1 came out in 1956, and thanks to the endorsement of Paul McCartney of The Beatles, Hofner became the manufacturer synonymous with violin basses, despite Gibsons earlier effort, and later instruments from Vox, Eko and others.
Hofner basses were distributed in the UK (and commonwealth) by Selmer and Sorkin in the United States.
The following description comes from the 1967 Hofner guitar catalogue issued by Sorkin in the USA.
A crowning achievement! A lightweight acoustic instrument shaped like a violin and tuned G, D. A, E like the last four strings of a guitar but an octave lower. The small acoustic body is perfectly proportioned and has arched spruce top and maple back in shaded brown, highly polished. The narrow neck is carefully made with comfortably fast 30" scale and fitted with rosewood fingerboard, celluloid bound.
The 2 microphone pickups are built on the double pole, double coil principle for greatest effectiveness. The control plate has 2 volume controls and 3 slides for quick blending and selection. Handle the 500/1 once and you'll understand why it has become the first choice of so many performers
Need the value of your guitar? The Official Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide 2023 is out now