500/1 Guitars

1968 Hofner 500/1 "Violin" 'Fretless' Bass

Color: Sunburst, Rating: 9.25, $4,500.00 (ID# 01807)
Call to Inquire: (818) 222-4113


An Incredible 1968 German Hofner 'Fretless' 'Beatle' Bass


1968 Hofner 500/1 "Violin" Fretless Bass.


This unbelievably rare, near mint and totally original 'German' 1967 Hofner 500/1 "Violin" fretless bass weighs just 4.80 lbs and has a two-inch thick, eleven inch wide, 'violin' shaped full hollow-body with a nitro-cellulose one-piece spruce top. 'Curved' one-piece book-matched laminated 'flamed' maple back and triple-bound laminated maple sides. One-piece maple neck with a nut width of just over 1 9/16 inches and a wonderful fat profile and a 'short' heel. Rosewood fretboard with a 'zero' fret and twenty-two original flat white fret lines and pearloid dot position markers. Additionally on the bass side of the neck are large dot fret markers at the 3rd, 5th, 12th and 17th position. Individual 'van Gent' closed-back tuners with squared-off white plastic oval buttons. Black laminated headstock face with "Hofner" script decal in gold. Gold decal on back of headstock "Genuine / Hofner / Original / Made in Germany" and another smaller decal with the serial number "13609" printed in black. Two Hofner 513 (blade) single-coil pickups with engraved "Hofner" and individual height adjustments, with outputs of 6.47k and 6.54k. Two 'rotary' volume controls and three two-way 'slider' switches for "Rhythm/Solo", "Bass" and "Treble". Hofner black plastic control knobs with ribbed sides and aluminium tops, all on a 'wide' rectangular mother-of-pearl base with black edging (stamped in black "D.G.M. cng"). The original potentiometers are made by 'Preh' and are all stamped "706" (February 1967). Original three-ply 'mother-of-pearl' over black plastic pickguard with the "Hofner" script engraved in black. 'Floating' four-saddle ebony bridge with ebony base with four 'friction-fit' moveable saddles. Hofner specific 'short' nickel 'trapeze' style tailpiece. Cream plastic strap buttons on neck heel and tailpiece. This super rare bass in in almost new (9.50) condition. Housed in the Original Hofner four-latch, shaped black hardshell case with medium blue plush lining (9.00).

This is an incredible example of a mid sixties "Beatle" Bass - and the only 'Fretless' version we have ever seen.

Walter Hofner conceived of the idea of a short scale violin shaped hollow electric bass guitar in 1955 and introduced the finished product at the Frankfurt trade show in 1956. It was most certainly based on the Gibson EB-1 which was commonly called the Gibson Electric Bass. The measurements are very similar, the Gibson having an 18 7/8 inch long body (Hofner 18 inches); the Gibson body width 11 1/4 inches (Hofner 10 3/4 inches); the Gibson body thickness 2 inches (Hofner 1 3/4 inches); the Gibson scale length 30 1/2 inches (Hofner 30 inches). That famous bass was introduced in 1953 and also featured a 'violin-shaped' body - but was made of solid mahogany and featured a telescopic end-pin for playing bass upright style.

This 1968 example features the two Hofner black plastic bodied single coil "Bar-blade" (shark-fin) pickups, which were introduced in late 1967. They were 'upgraded' versions of the 'Staple-Top' pickups, which when notes were bent, volume was not lost.

"Founded in Schonbach in 1887 by master luthier Karl Hofner, the company became the largest manufacturer of stringed and fretted instruments in Germany. Craft skills and business initiative laid the foundation for a reputation that, even before World War I, extended far beyond the borders of Germany. His two sons, Josef and Walter, joined their father's company in 1919 and 1921 respectively. They successfully expanded Hofner's worldwide market, enabling them to survive the years of recovery, which marked the phase after World War II and the related resettlement from the "Sudetenland" to Bavaria. In 1950, new production facilities were built in Bubenreuth.
To date, more than two million stringed and fretted instruments - from student to master models - have been produced, 75% of which have been exported worldwide, emphasising the outstanding position enjoyed by Karl Hofner GmbH in the world market.The product range of Hofner is extensive and not only confined to stringed instruments and classical guitars. In 1955, Walter Hofner, a creative businessman as well as a violin and guitar maker, invented an electrically amplified semi-acoustic bass. The distinctive 500/1 bass was launched at the 1956 Frankfurt Music Fair and subsequently rose to fame under a different name. In 1961, Paul McCartney bought his first Hofner bass in a shop in Hamburg and used it on many of the Beatles' most famous songs. Paul still plays his "Beatle Bass" live on stage today."

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