1887 - 2012

The More Affordable Hӧfner Verythins

At the end of the first decade in the 21st Century, the world-wide financial crash had taken place and its effects were being felt in the luxury goods market, including the musical industry sector. Sales of the high-end guitars made in Hagenau were dropping, and hence decisions had to be made. The outcome of this situation was the introduction of a range of Verythin guitars with a reduced price tag to earlier models, whilst still maintaining the essential aspects of Hӧfner quality. This was achieved by externally sourcing certain components, but still made to Hӧfner's specification, and by ensuring that the final assembly and finishing work was carried out by Hӧfner's own luthiers at Hagenau. This combination was an instant success, and resulted in the several very fine models described below.

Initially three models appeared in the 2010 Hӧfner catalogue, the Verythin Special, the Verythin SingleCut, and the Verythin Custom. All these guitars had the usual very thin 30mm deep body with centre block and a laminated spruce top and flame maple back and rims. With the "slash" soundholes this followed the basic design of the earlier Verythin Classic, including an ebony fingerboard. The SingleCut however broke the mould as it had just a single body cutaway and was fitted as standard with a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece. The Special still retained the double cutaway body. The Custom had the same appearance as the earlier Evolution 3 model, except for having dot fretmarkers in place of the Evolution's MoP block markers The SingleCut had the conventional four rotary control/3-way selector electrics, but the Special was additionally given a master volume control, whilst the Custom had the same complex electrics as the Evolution. The Special was finished conventionally in either dark cherry red or brown sunburst, whilst the SingleCut had the solid finish options of black or light blue. It would seem that the black finish proved to be not popular, and so this was replaced a year or so later by a transparent red finish. The Custom was offered only in the brown sunburst finish.

2010 Hӧfner Verythin SingleCut.


2010 Hӧfner Verythin Special.

2010 Hӧfner Verythin Custom.

The Hӧfner New Committee

Hӧfner's 125th year anniversary came along in 2012, and with it a revival of one of Hӧfner’s most famous models, the Hofner Committee. In fact, this “New Committee” was by no means an accurate “re-issue” in the purist sense of the word. It was however a totally German-made premium archtop produced in the same luxurious style of the larger 18” bodied Committee made for the Selmer London Company between 1963 and 1969.

2012 Hӧfner New Committee Electric Archtop.

In fact, the body-press moulds, using for shaping the domed laminated timbers used on the post-1963 wide-bodied model had just been discovered in the Hagenau workshops basement. As luck would have it, the bodies for the old Committee model must have been made at Hagenau during the 60’s prior to transfer to Bubenreuth for assembly, and so they had escaped the general clear-out of other moulds at Bubenreuth in 1997 when those workshops were abandoned. The post-1963 Committee and the Golden Höfner had actually been the only Hӧfner models ever made with a body width of 18”, so their survival was all the more fortuitous.

The main feature of the New Committee was therefore its 18” wide body made up of laminated flame maple with a laminated spruce body top. Its solid one-piece maple neck was capped with an ebony fingerboard, inlaid with mother of pearl strip-type fretmarkers. The lavish binding and purfling to the neck, body, and soundholes was of white pearloid, another feature taken from the old model, and the headstock was given the old Höfner bellflower design, although actually a different “rose” design had been used on the 1960’s Committees. Rather confusingly, the rose design had been used the year previously, together with the large “frondose” headstock of the pre-1963 Committees, by Hӧfner on a very limited edition of electric archtops called the Hӧfner President Custom, which was based on the Vice President.

2011 Hofner President Custom Limited Edition - with its pre-1963 Committee-style Frondose headstock.

The electrics of the New Committee were conventional, with Hӧfner’s “Diamond Logo” mini-humbuckers mounted directly onto the body top, with two volume and two rotary controls, plus a three way selector switch mounted on the top bout.

In 2015, Hofner received a commission from the Swee Lee Company in Singapore for six very special versions of the New Committee. these beautiful guitars were fitted with reproduction "escutcheon" tailpieces, and finished in a dark brown sunburst.

2015 Hӧfner New Committee, specially commissioned by the Swee Lee Compamy.

All-in-all, the New Committee proved to be a very good looking guitar indeed, and certainly succeeded in emulating the old 1963 model as being very much a “showman’s guitar”.



 The Gold Label Range

Another surprise for Höfner Anniversary Year 2012 was the setting up of the Gold Label Range. It would appear that this was a result of Nick Wass in his marketing role becoming more and more aware of the need to inject the basic 1940’s concept of the archtop guitar with a little flair from the 21st century. Dull sunburst and natural finishes were out as far as this new custom-order-only range was concerned; only stunningly bright colours, computer design patterns, gold, and pearloids were allowed!

Put quite simply, these were a very small number of examples of Hӧfner standard German-made models, including the majestic Chancellor, that were taken off the bench before finishing work is undertaken and then sent off to an independent finisher who put a totally new interpretation on them by means of his talent and a spray gun. They were then returned back to the Hagenau workshop where they were assembled and completed just as any other example of the model before being offered to Hӧfner’s worldwide-distributors. 

2012 Hӧfner President Gold Label.

The whole of the Hӧfner German electric guitar production is really what other manufacturers would describe as a “Custom Shop” operation, because of the hand worked-craftsmanship and comparatively small numbers involved. It is therefore incorrect to say that the Gold Label guitars were specifically Hӧfner’s Custom Shop guitars. They were simply highly individualistic instruments, and because of that, they don’t appeal to everyone. They are certainly good fun however, and are highly appreciated by players who feel the need to break away from convention.

2013 Hӧfner Verythin Gold Label.

The Return of the 457/12 Model

Hofner have always thrown a few surprises into the mix, and the introduction of a semi-acoustic 12-string archtop in 2017 was definitely one of those instances. It was inspired by and named after the old 457/12 model which had been made for a short time in the later half of the 1960s, but this time around it was provided with a body centre block and therefore should be considered to be a semi-acoustic guitar. The old 457/12 which is featured earlier in Chapter 7 had a fully hollow body.

2017 Hӧfner Model 457/12 Semi-Acoustic 12-String Archtop.

This re-incarnation was actually given a 2" deep Thinline President body, with twin Humbucking pickups and 3-pot rotary controls plus 3-way selector electric controls as the original version. Schaller mini-tuners were fitted in order to keep the headstock size as small as possible. The new 457/12 was was only made in very small numbers, over a period of a year or so, and has now disappeared from the catalogue.

The Eco-Friendly Verythin

Luxury product manufacturers these days have become much more aware of their responsibilities towards the environment, and Hofner are no exception. From 1997 onwards with the introduction of the Green Line classical guitars, the company has produced various models with eco-friendly credentials, including the Eco Bass introduced in 2015 and the Green Line Violin Bass which appeared in 2017. So it should have come as no surprise when the Hofner Verythin Greenline appeared in 2018.

The Verythin Greenline has been designed to have as few plastic parts as possible, and to use only European-sourced managed timbers in its construction. As well as its spruce/flame maple body and maple neck, walnut has been used for the fingerboard and to replace those items on a guitar which are usually of plastic, such as binding, pickguard, control knobs, pickup surrounds, and even the headstock logo. The two twin-coil pickups are made by a small Bavarian company called NoWaxx.

2018 Hofner Verythin Greenline.


Poscript - The Leader Arrives

Hofner's latest hollow-bodied, arch-topped guitar was introduced in late 2018. This model harks back to the "Club-Style" concept, in that they are small-bodied, light-in-weight, "working" instruments. There are two Leader models; the Classic and the Professional. Both are fitted with twin pickups specially produced for Hofner by NoWaxx, with a single coil unit fitted adjacent to the neck and a twin coil at the bridge. A centre sustain block is fitted in the body, specially designed by Hofner. This allows the pickups and potentiometers to be fitted to the guitar without the need for an access panel in the back of the body.

The Classic is the more expensive model. It has flame maple throughout which is hand tinted to highlight the flame maple used and then given a gloss clear topcoat. The body and ebony fingerboard are bound with spruce. A big 6-a-side headstock has been taken directly from Hofner's old early 60s solid body guitars such as the set-neck Colorama and V-Solids. It has a master volume plus a blend knob which allows the pickups to be easily blended. This blend knob has a centre notch to ensure that, when required, both are working at 100% output.

2018 Hӧfner Leader Classic Electric Guitar.

The Professional is the cheaper version, with a spruce body top and flame maple back and sides. It's sustain block is mahogany, rather than the spruce of the Classic. The Professional also differs from the Classic version in that it has a traditional Hofner 3-a-side headstock with the Bell-Flower inlay. This version was offered in late-2018 with just one solid colour finish - dark blue with a hint of silver sparkle. A master volume rotary control and a 3-way pickup selector switch control the twin pickups

2018 Hӧfner Leader Professional Electric Guitar.

Walter Hofner would no doubt be much impressed to see the latest re-incarnation of the "Club-Style" concept that he pioneered over 60 years ago.





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