The Art of Making the Hofner Beatles Bass Guitar

Karl Höfner began making stringed instruments in 1887, in the little town of Schönbach. His company flourished into the 20th century and really took off one fortuitous day in 1961, when Paul McCartney ambled into a Steinway shop in Hamburg, Germany and saw a Hofner bass, otherwise known as the “violin bass.”  McCartney later recalled:

Fenders even then seemed to be around £100. All I could afford really was about £30. Always teetering on the edge of not having much – so I didn’t really want to spend that much. So… I found this Hofner violin bass. And to me it seemed like, because I was left-handed, it looked less daft because it was symmetrical. So I got into that. That became my main bass.

As The Beatles Online notes, “The Hofner 500/1 bass became McCartney’s signature instrument,” and was eventually rechristened “the Hofner Beatle Bass.” 50 years later, they’re still making the iconic guitar, and you can watch the whole process unfold in just 16 minutes. It’s not a very styled video, a far cry from other guitar-making videos we’ve featured here before, but it’s worth the watch.

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  • Thanks for this special video. In 1965 I purchased
    a beatle bass. Was is a band ,we were only teenagers . I also had a girlfriend & a car. I was paying the bass from the store I bought it from, so much per week . I was only an apprentice at the time making about $ 13 per week . The bass cost me &200.00 . I could not afford all of these things . So I gave the bass back.To the store . NO MORE TO PAY. Turned out the girl left me The car broke down . BUT there is a happy ending . I just ordered a new hofner ,same as my old one . My friend in Texas has already taken delivery ,so I cannot wait to get it . Armchair Al.

    I am going to the US to pick it up in October . Mt friend in Texas has already taken delivery

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