1959 HOFNER COMMITTEE ACOUSTIC GUITAR
Serial No. 3049
This is the classic Committee - i.e. a pre-1963 example with the "Frondose" headstock. That was the word used at the time in the Selmer catalogues, and apparently it means "shaped like a leaf"! I have owned a small headstock Committee for some time, but really I have always been on the look out for a big headstock one, preferable a pre-1960 Acoustic. I saw this one advertised locally in Loot during June 2002. The price was right, and after a drive into the glorious Cheshire countryside in search of the seller's cottage, I found that the guitar was right too!
The body has a carved solid spruce top. That was to be expected with a pre-1960 acoustic Comm. Many electric Committees, particularly the later guitars like my own 1965 electric, have laminated tops. I believe that even some of the acoustic versions in the later years were similarly downgraded. No problems with this one though...and it shows in the tone, believe me. There is no sign of any cracks in the spruce top; a very undesirable defect with solid guitar timbers that have been exposed to extremes of heat and humidity over the years. Never store a Hofner in a roof loft!!
Back and sides are laminated birds eye maple, as with every other Committee that I have seen. Actually, the figuring in the maple on my 1965 guitar is nicer, which contradicts my personal view that the timbers on all pre-1960 Hofners are of a better quality than the others. Perhaps I have been lucky with the 65 Committee.
Body dimensions are the usual 21.25" long x 17.5" across the lower bout x 3" body depth. As an aside, I have just realized that the body width of the electric Committee was increased to 18" across the lower bout around about 1964. That is the same size of the Golden Hofner, which had been discontinued by then. According to the catalogues, the acoustic Committees retained the 17.5" dimension.
Body binding on Committees is very attractive, with a combination of imitation mother of pearl binding and multi layers of black/white purfling. In addition, a purfled leaf design (back to the "frondose"!) is inlaid into the back of the body. White/black binding is also provided to the F-holes.
A single strap button has been factory fitted at the bottom of the guitar's body. A button has not been fitted adjacent to the neck heel, as when this guitar was made, fashion dictated that the strap was attached to the headstock. Most Committees have had strap buttons fitted to the neck heel by past owners, but not this one luckily.
There has been some modification work carried out to this guitar in the past however. Two filled screw holes on each side of the body end of the neck indicate that a pickup was once attached there. This owner-fitted accessory was quite common back in the late 1950's/early 60's, when fully fledged electric guitars were not as available as later in the 1960's, and players wished to be heard over the rest of the band. Hofner themselves supplied Fuma manufactured neck pickups for this purpose.
The bridge is the ebony (or maybe dyed spruce?) unit used by Hofner at the time for their higher quality guitars. Inotation is achieved by locating small fret wire saddles in one of four slots in the top of the bridge. Simple but effective. Vertical height adjustment is provided by two screw adjustment wheels which separate the top and bottom sections of the bridge.
The scratchplate is original, being made from a piece of plain clear perspex. Later Comms had scratchplates with an inscribed surround and Hofner logo in gold. As with the Golden Hofner, the idea of using a clear scratchplate was to show off the carved body top to maximum effect.
The tailpiece is the Hofner
"Lyre" unit. This was superceeded by the "Escutcheon" tailpiece from late 1963 onwards. Compensation for losing the large headstock, I suppose.
The neck is composed of the usual maple/mahogany/maple(?)/mahogany/maple 5 piece sandwich. Some flame is present in the maple, but again nowhere near the amount on my 1965 guitar. No truss rod is fitted and the profile of the neck is fairly bulky to say the least. However, that isn't a problem after you have got used to the fact that this is definitely not a widdle machine. The usual Hofner feature is there -
a spruce neck extension, scarfed onto the end of the neck and cantilevered out over the body top, violin fashion.
Naturally, the neck is fully bound in
pearloid material. This is still fully intact across the fret ends, indicating that the guitar has never had a re-fret. The frets are unusually fat for a Hofner, and there is plenty of life left in them yet.
An ebony fingerboard is fitted, together with the beautiful inlaid flower fret markers that Hofner reserved only for the Committee and Golden Hofner. Forget the triangular markers used on the Hofner Club 60, 468 and 470....the Committee fret markers are the real business! The very earliest Committees (c 1954 - 1956) had rosewood fingerboards. There was then a transition period (1956 - 1958) during which the fingerboard was ebony, but rosewood pieces were incorporated at the fret position markers. That combination is my particular favourite, and I am lucky enough to have my 1958 Club 60 so equipped.
Machine heads are the original good quality open-geared type, fitted with classy but fragile leaf/flower shaped plastic buttons. One of the buttons on this guitar has been damaged, but still seems strong enough to keep on working. I would think that replacements are as common as rocking-horse excrement.
Now, finally the headstock -
mother of pearl inlays abound! The guy who designed this was definitely not an introvert!! Hofner were making a statement here......look at me, I'm the top-of-the range guitar! Bavaria is where all the German cuckoo clocks came from (and maybe still do for all I know). I suspect that is where the inspiration came from for this guitar's crowning glory!