The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Hofner 500/1 Violin “Beatle” Bass Sunburst, 1968

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The Hofner 500/1 was for some years one of the most recognizable instruments in the world because of its use by Paul McCartney, during The Beatles and in his solo career.

Introduced in 1956, the Hofner 500/1 and its close relatives quickly caught on in the European market, partly on their own merits and partly because imported US made instruments were difficult to get and very expensive. The hollow bodies of these electric basses helped simulate the woody ‘thump’ of an upright bass, aiding their appeal to the traditional bass player demographic. The fact that they are closed helped keep feedback down on stages.

However, at the time, stage volumes had yet to experience the fantastic escalation that was gathering on the horizon. Many professional amps, like the 17-watt 1956 Watkins Dominator, were under 20 watts and one of the most powerful (yet barely available in Europe) was the Fender Twin at 40 watts. More powerful “Piggyback” style amps were introduced in 1960, starting at 50 and 85 and then 100 watts and beyond, with multiple speaker cabinets. These amps made it much harder to control feedback on hollow instruments, and solidbody basses and guitars moved to dominance.

This Hofner 500/1 Violin ‘Beatle’ bass dates to 1968 and was built in Hagenau, Germany. It is in overall rather good shape with light fret wear, partly because these basses are often strung with flat-wound strings to help produce the acoustic ‘Thump’. The finish shows some moderate natural and expected checking. The action is good; this design uses a ‘zero fret’, originally a high end feature, to make the low positions as easy to play as possible. The ‘teacup’ tone control knob is missing its gold-coloured insert. As usual with these – it’s a compact, good sounding and fun to play instrument.

A black hard-shell case is included.

Here is the builder on the Hofner 500/1 Violin Bass:

“The Hofner 500/1 Violin Bass was first shown to the public at the Frankfurt Muiskmesse in 1956. It has been in continuous production ever since. Designed by Walter Höfner as an alternative to the upright double bass it fulfilled this aim and much more. It leapt to worldwide fame when Paul McCartney was seen playing one with The Beatles in the early 1960s. Today the 500/1 is offered in a number of models from the budget Ignition version through to the handmade German built re-issues and specials. Its short scale (30in) and ultra lightweight has found favour with many professionals over the years.
Unique Sound

The sound of a Violin Bass is unlike any other bass. When used with flatwound strings it produces a distinctive deep and penetrating thud not unlike an upright double bass. This sound can be used to emulate those pop sounds of the 1960s or slightly overdriven in a modern rock band to provide a deep driving bass. It is also commonly used today in studios for recording bass lines for dance music. It has also seen increasing use in reggae bands where a deep driving bass is always wanted. Despite being one of the smallest basses available it easily produces massive bass lines and is remarkably versatile.”


 

Price: $3,750.00 CAD
  • Model: 500/1 Violin Bass
  • Year: Current
  • Finish Sunburst
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: N/A, 525 stamped on tailpiece mount. dated to 1968 at Hagenau, Germany
  • Country of Origin: Germany
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 15/06/2022

  • Consignment Item

  • Including Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 4.532lbs 2.06kg
  • Scale Length: 762mm 30in
  • Nut Width: 40.56mm 1.597in
Hofner Website

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