Hofner HCT-185 Bass / 2009 Model
Private Test Review
Olaf Poeter / 05-Jul-10

I bought this bass in June 2010, but it is supposed to be one of the first brown-burst models that came to German dealers at the end of 2009.
I decided to buy this nice instrument because I have been playing Hofner guitars and basses since 40 years, and as a backup bass for my current music band activities.

Before I start with the review, I would like to mention that the first bass I ever played was a mid 60's Hofner 185 with the well known white vinyl cover. Decades later, I owned two more of those, but I sold them because they had not enough punch to compare with modern basses in a loud playing blues-rock band. The new HCT-185 Hofner bass is totally different in this respect! It not only catches up with actual passive basses, made in the US or in Japan, but it even outperforms many of them......even active ones! I can say that, because I have owned and checked out lots of bass guitars up to now. However, this is not a comparison test; just a description of how my new bass feels and sounds.

The body shape, the pickup positions, the two selector switches, and the four control knobs (2x volume, 2 x tone) are very similar to the old 185 models. The brown-burst finish with the black pickguard and pickups look very tasteful. The neck shows the familiar stripe-inlaid fret markers, which I always liked on old Hofners. Unlike the 60s models, this neck is wide, thick, and of long scale size, with a 20 mm string spacing at the solid, fully adjustable bridge. The body is made of alder, and the maple neck has a rosewood fretboard. The strap pin on the upper horn is located at the 13th fret, which leads to a tendency to hang horizontal. But with the forearm on the body, the bass hangs like you want it to.

Before I come to the sound, let me just mention the tuning machines of the bass. They are lightweight, run unbelievably smooth, and keep the bass in-tune very well.

If you look on the pickup positions, you might think that the neck pup would sound dull and muddy, being so close to the neckís end. No, not at all! It creates a fat, warm tone without these nasty, boomy frequencies. You can use it for jazz, rock, or reggae music without losing tone definition in the band's overall sound. The bridge pickupís tone is not quite as thick, has more mids, and covers almost every music style. One thing is clear - this is not a funk machine for slapping bass players! Firstly, there is not much space for the fingers between neck end and neck pup. Secondly, there are no crisp heighs in the frequency range, due to the passive circuitry. But for old-school rock, blues, jazz, and reggae you will find excellent sounds. My band mates donít want to see any of my three other basses any more! Does that say enough?
All in all, this Hofner HCT-185 bass is a great instrument with a warm, fat and punchy tone, a beautiful styling, and good handling. The price/value ratio is outstanding, too! If you see one, grab it and check it out!