Ha! Hofners

Discussion in 'Other Cool Guitars' started by Winterwind, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. Winterwind

    Winterwind Gretschie

    Dec 17, 2018
    London, Ontario
    I've had two, a German V '63 (sold years ago) and my HCT 500/1 and man, it is impossible to truly intonate these guys. Floating bridge, fixed saddles made of fret wire so of course you just get the E and G as best you can.

    The luthier I go to, a German chap no less, kinda, maybe likes them but mostly hates them. His bass player has a vintage model from the 60s and of course my friend does the work on it and as I recall, tuning stability is a pain.

    My Contemporary is not quite four years old and.. mostly ok. It's got a really weird/wicked warble going from a A to a G (D string 7th to 5th fret or A 12th to 10th) any season other than summer which forces me to play the G staccato whether I want to or not.

    The stock strings were rounds, .040 - .095. After a couple months or so I put La Bella flats on it, .039 - .096, or rather he did since I was changing type and gauge and hadn't started doing basic setups yet and that when it got more weird.

    With the rounds, the bridge was angled the normal way - furthest from the pickup on the bass side, closest on the treble side. I remember when I went to pick it up he said "Don't let anyone tell you this is wrong. It's the only way it will intonate!" and it was reversed, dramatically closer on the bass side.

    Well, I just changed the strings and thought I'd experiment myself since I've never played with it beyond bridge height so I moved it back to the normal positioning and ouch. Forget about it!

    So I put it back to the weird way and got it as close as possible. Still a little flat but I can't move it any closer on the G side because of that stupid pin from the pick guard to the the bridge. I actually had the G perfect until I realised I'd bowed the pick guard a little. Between that and the periodic buzz no wonder McCartney took his off completely.

    My favourite thing about the Contemporary series... it came with a tiny white Made in China sticker. Hofner won't put it on the headstock! They put "Designed in Germany". Hahaha German engineering and pride. :)

    Attached Files:

    thunder58 and Sid Nitzerglobin like this.
  2. musicman100

    musicman100 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2008
    We have one of the vary rare top of the line golden Hofners and it’s everything opposite to what ur saying
  3. JC higgy

    JC higgy Friend of Fred

    Jun 6, 2008
    Belfast Norn Iron
    I had a wee Beatle bass too,1967 i believe mine was from ,never did get it truly in tune ,i miss it though.

    My cousin collected them for a time,he had old and new versions,i thought the best was from 1963 ,it felt way sturdier than mine.

    He ended up keeping a 90's version ,not even sure he has that these days though.
  4. Beardog

    Beardog Country Gent

    Apr 15, 2018
    Nova Scotia
  5. Winterwind

    Winterwind Gretschie

    Dec 17, 2018
    London, Ontario
    Yeah, with a floating bridge and fixed saddles Hofner basses will never fully intonate. I'm seriously thinking of removing the pick guard on mine. I'll be able to get the E and G perfect although it'll be super close to the bridge. But hey, we all know those basses are still made for one reason only. The Beatles.

    And yes, that's a gorgeous old guitar musicman has.
  6. afire

    afire Country Gent

    I've had a lot of Hofners and never really had any problems with them, including two modern 500/1. Both were German and I thought very well made. The bridges are certainly idiosyncratic, but with four wound strings, how finely tuned does the intonation need to be? Then again, I'm satisfied with a bar bridge on my guitar and don't lose sleep over the inevitable intonation compromise that happens between wound and plain strings.

    About the pickguard/pin thing, there's a simple solution. Snip a couple mm off the end of the pin, or drill the hole in the bridge a couple mm deeper. Problem solved.
  7. Winterwind

    Winterwind Gretschie

    Dec 17, 2018
    London, Ontario
    Oh, my V '63 was wonderful. Sold it and a Ric 330/12 for tuition when went back to school 10 years or so ago. I regret it.

    The only reason the intonation started to bug me is I've got a few songs now where I'm playing all up around the 12th fret. Was able to get the E and G almost there though, 438.

    I may try snipping or drilling like you suggest. But I may remove it altogether. Every now and then it buzzes a bit until I press down on it. Seems to like working its way up. :)
  8. Dennison

    Dennison Country Gent

    Jul 17, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Musicman100. That Golden Hofner is an absolute stunner. When I was kid I got a Hofner catalogue from Barrets in Manchester -- this would be about 1960 when I was 15. It started with the Congress at about 16 guineas and worked it's way through the Senator, the President and the Committee right up to the Golden Hofner. At the time I had to settle for a Rosetti Lucky Seven!

    On the matter of tuning Hofner basses, the bass player in one of my early bands had a Hofner bass -- not the violin bass but the big semi-acoustic bass, probably the model Stuart Sutcliffe had in the Beatles. There didn't seem to be much of a problem tuning the A, D and G strings, but it didn't seem to make much difference what he did with the low E -- it just went 'thud'. As for intonation -- er...
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
    j.s.c likes this.
  9. musicman100

    musicman100 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2008
    It was bought brand new by my father in 61/62
    j.s.c likes this.
  10. NICE AX! I miss my Hofner. Had a President model, think 1965. It was stunning to look at and a breeze to play. But like most things, gas took over and off it went. One of the few guitars i would like to try and get back.
  11. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    I never heard of any intonation problems with German made Hofners. Most of them were true masterpieces.
  12. Winterwind

    Winterwind Gretschie

    Dec 17, 2018
    London, Ontario
    Yeah, I miss my German made V '63. The Contemporary series is, imo, a little over-priced at $1100.00 CDN. They're ok, but the Chinese models shouldn't be over 1k.

    It's also getting hard to find dealers here. I got my V '63 at a store that was then bought by Long and McQuade. I got my Contemporary at Long and McQuade and they've now dropped them and only carry some Hofner violin parts.

    I was thinking of getting a black one, keeping one with flats and one with rounds but now it'd have to be an online purchase.
  13. Highroller

    Highroller Synchromatic

    Jun 11, 2015
    Portland, OR
    You can drive yourself nuts searching for perfect intonation on a lot of guitars, including our much beloved Gretsch models.

    Space Control bridge? Forget it! Basically, anything that doesn't have individual bridge saddles.

    But if you think of all the great music that's been made on these instruments, you have to ask yourself: Does it really matter all that much?

    To me personally, not so much. "Ballpark" is good enough most of the time.

    I've got an HCT-500/2 - the Club model, and no problems whatsoever. Granted, I've got flats on it and my standards might be lower, but hey - it works for rock'n'roll!

    TSims1 likes this.
  14. 19MGB76

    19MGB76 Gretschie

    Jul 31, 2018
    I have a late model Icon Beatle bass. I chucked the stock strings for the Labella set and it plays as good as anything. Intonation is good - but it did need to be set up and the wires on the bridge moved to appropriate positions. The tone is thuddy by nature, but there is a solid pitch there as well with the Labella set.
  15. wabash slim

    wabash slim Friend of Fred

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    It's close enough for rock n roll.

    I've played flat top acoustics for most of my life. With the simple thin bar bridge on them, intonation is only assumed.
  16. afire

    afire Country Gent

    That sounds like Pyramid strings. They may be better now, but there was a time when it seemed like 50% of their low E bass strings were completely dead.
  17. Winterwind

    Winterwind Gretschie

    Dec 17, 2018
    London, Ontario
    Hey gang, don't get me wrong. I love Hofners, miss my German one, have a Contemporary and I'm thinking of getting another. I just think it's funny that, with their quirks, and the obvious "Beatle Tax" on any version, Hofner, won't even put another country's name on the headstock, that's the "Ha" and why I uploaded that picture. :)
  18. Telechamp

    Telechamp Country Gent

    Oct 20, 2010
    Tampa Bay
    I've got a Hofner Icon bass and I'm pretty sure it's MIC - (I bought it used), but it doesn't say that anywhere on the guitar, either..

    I do really like the bass, though!


    19MGB76 likes this.
  19. Winterwind

    Winterwind Gretschie

    Dec 17, 2018
    London, Ontario
    Oooh. White switches, white and gold tea cups... are those stock or did you swap them? Mine are black.

    And you've got way more room between the tail piece and bridge pickup. Curious how that happened... now I need to use my google-fu!
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