Hofner Club 40 Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1960)

Hofner  Club 40 Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar  (1960)
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Item # 12293
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Hofner Club 40 Model Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1960), made in Bubenreuth, Germany, natural lacquer finish, laminated maple body, spruce top; laminated maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

The Club 40 is a classic beat Group guitar, a mainstay of the Liverpool and London music scenes in the late 1950s and early '60s. This single pickup, small hollow body electric was the most affordable version of one of the German Hofner company's more original creations, the Club series electrics. This line of small-body slimline arch-tops with no sound holes were quite popular in Europe and especially the UK in the late '50s and early '60s. The Club 40 debuted in 1955 and this 1960-era blonde model is a quintessential "Cavern Club" guitar.

This Club 40 has no serial number on the headstock so was not imported by Selmer in London but the features date it to 1960. It was likely sold on the continent originally but is basically identical to the Selmer models common in Britain. Before American guitars were widely available the Club series were some of the best guitars available to the UK (and European) market, so were popular there but completely unknown in the US at the time.

This example has features specific to 1960; the new metal-covered "Toaster" pickup is mated to the Hofner 1-knob, 3-switch "Flick Action" control panel introduced in 1958, with a tortoise celluloid plate. The body is made of laminated maple with a spruce top, the neck is a 3-piece maple laminate with an unbound rosewood fingerboard. The neck is fitted with a Gibson-style adjustable truss rod, another new feature at the time. The guitar has a nicely ambered natural finish overall, with triple dark binding on the body and a lighter red tortoise celluloid pickguard. The headstock veneer is back-painted clear plastic.

The Club models were among the most popular Beat-group guitars in early 1960s Liverpool and Hamburg; all three Beatle guitarists played versions of this single-pickup Club 40 model during the early stages of the group. John McNally of the Searchers played a top-line Club 60 on all the group's early recordings, which remain an excellent demonstration of this guitar's capacity as a propulsive rhythm machine.

This original Club 40 is a very rare guitar in the US; they were never imported or sold here when new. Over the years some examples have been brought over individually by Beat fans from Europe. The single-pickup Club 40 was the plainest of the series, and even though fairly common when new many of these beautifully made but rather fragile guitars have been lost to time and tide. This is a really nice example of this cool Hofner classic in excellent playing condition.
Overall length is 38 in. (96.5 cm.), 13 in. (33 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 2 in. (5.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 1/4 in. (616 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.).

This is a nice all-original example showing some typical wear to the finish but no alterations. The all-original finish has scuffs, dings and scratches overall, with a larger rubbed away spot on the upper rim below the waist and some scratches and case lid dings to the top. The neck has almost certainly been re-set and the seam in the heel re-sealed, which is ubiquitous with older Hofners. The quirky "Flick Action" control is fully intact and everything works as intended, though the volume knob is quite stiff to turn.

Overall this guitar is in excellent playing condition for a Club of this vintage. The plating on the pickup cover shows some loss from strumming, the pickguard bracket and the metal center of the knob have fairly heavy corrosion. It has no strap buttons (which is original) and none were ever added. The original frets have been lightly re-crowned and the fingerboard shows some minor wear and divoting in the lower positions. It is an excellent player with the typical bouncy sound and includes the original German-made pasteboard HSC. Overall Excellent - Condition.