Hofner 500/1 Beatle Bass Hollow Body Electric Bass Guitar (1965)

Hofner  500/1 Beatle Bass Hollow Body Electric Bass Guitar  (1965)
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Item # 12002
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Hofner 500/1 Beatle Bass Model Hollow Body Electric Bass Guitar (1965), made in Germany, sunburst lacquer finish, laminated maple body with spruce top, laminated maple neck wirh rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

What can be said about the classic Hofner Beatle Bass that has not already been in print for decades? This unique and quirky design remains (with the possible exception of the Fender Precision and Jazz) the most imitated electric bass of all time. If a certain Beatle had not made it his signature instrument in the early 1960s it would have likely faded into obscurity decades ago, but as we all know that connection is still as strong as ever; Sir Paul continues to use his live even now, 60+ years on.

The Hofner Model 500/1 is one of the earlier electric bass guitars, one of the very first European designs. The "violin bass" layout was a natural for Hofner, experienced with bowed instruments. With a laminated maple body and spruce top, the bass was assembled rather like an actual viol. Between 1955 and 1965 it went through many design changes; this version is similar in appearance to McCartney's famous 1963 model with a number of small differences. The bound neck, raised logo, larger control panel, larger pickup rings and shorter tailpiece are the most obvious. While now collectors have since cataloged all these changes and more none of it mattered much to the legions of mostly young aspiring bassists who flocked to the model in the mid-60s, hoping to grab a piece of Beatle magic.

This bass dates to mid/late 1965 (the pots carry a code indicating fabrication in the 29th week of 1965). This model was exclusively distributed in the US by Sorkin Music, and proved a real windfall for them in Beatle-mad 1965 and '66. While now usually remembered as a "cheap" bass that was NOT true when new; the list price in 1965-6 was $335 plus $60 for the C-501 case. In July 1966 Fender Precision listed at $223 in Sunburst and $234 (for a Custom Color); the Jazz Bass was $271 or $285 (Custom Color). One can only guess how many lawns were mowed and supermarket bags checked to enable teen players to afford this luxury! Numerous imitations of widely varying quality quickly hit the market, but the Hofner original was never supplanted as the REAL "Beatle Bass".

Apart from this unavoidable connection, the 500/1 has always been a pleasant instrument to play. Extremely light and handy with its slim 30" scale neck, the twin-pickup bass is also fairly versatile sounding with two volume controls and Hofner's proprietary (if confusing) "Flick action console". Young players who may have struggled to pay for one of these got an instrument that was exceptionally easy to learn on while maintaining an excellent sound and undeniable cool factor. In the uber-loud later 1960s this lively hollowbody bass fell out of favor somewhat but never really disappeared, and maintains a special mystique to this day. In modern lower volume environments the instrument shines once more!
Overall length is 43 3/8 in. (110.2 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 2 1/8 in. (5.4 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 29 1/2 in. (749 mm.). Width of nut is 1 9/16 in. (40 mm.).

This bass remains mostly original, showing only light wear and maintenance repair and a truly excellent player. The finish shows some fairly minor wear overall, most notably checking to the top and scattered small scratches, dings and dents. The neck finish is quite clean.

As it almost ubiquitous with old Hofners the neck has been reset, in this case neatly and correctly with no extra shenanigans. The original binding around the heel and heelcap are still intact, with no extra screws and such added as has often been the case. The result is one of the best-playing Hofner 500/1 basses around, with a smooth low action over the entire neck.

All hardware is original and complete except for the nut (the broken original is in the case) and the tuners, which are more modern but correct style Hofner-issued strips of the type used on the McCartney-style exact reissues. Originally this bass had individual (but otherwise similar) machines as do nearly all 1965's.

A pair of later plastic strap buttons have been added below the tailpiece and to the side below the neck heel. The oft-broken or missing original pickguard is intact, with some minor shrinkage. This is a super comfortable bass to play, sounding exactly as it should and residing in the original 1965 German-made case which shows some external wear. Overall Excellent Condition.