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.

The Art of Mak­ing a Fla­men­co Gui­tar: 299 Hours of Blood, Sweat & Tears Expe­ri­enced in 3 Min­utes

Mak­ing Fend­er Gui­tars, Then (1959) and Now (2012)


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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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