Hofner have always had classical guitars in their catalogue. There are quite a number of rather tasty classicals in the present Boosey & Hawkes brochure. In the 50's and 60's, Selmer was importing this type of instrument into the UK and Commonwealth countries as an alternative to the archtops and increasingly popular solid guitars. The predominant Hofner classicals in the Selmer UK catalogue of that era were the Flamenco and the Vienna, supplemented in the late 1960's by the mid-range Matador and Alhambra, together with the very up-market Hofner "Classic". A much larger variety of models were also made by Hofner for the European and US markets. These are listed in the Hofner Classical Guitars Fact File ELSEWHERE on this website.
It was the Flamenco and the Vienna however that were the Selmer UK mainstays throughout the whole period. Both guitars had solid spruce tops, with laminated maple back and sides. The Vienna was the deluxe model of the two, with beautiful flamed maple veneers being used, particularly on the early guitars, as can be seen from the picture below. A dark brown varnish has been applied to the guitar, and this does seem to accentuate the flame in the timbers, as well as give it a very rustic Spanish appearance, if you know what I mean! The markings on this little guitar are some of the most gorgeous that I have seen on any Hofner, including the Committees.
The body width varies, narrowing down over the length of the upper bout to the neck heel. In addition, the back is slightly domed. I don't know whether that type of body construction is traditional for this type of guitar. What I do know is that someone has taken quite a lot of effort to achieve the final result.
The rosette around the sound hole is a carving in the solid spruce, and is beautifully executed with very sharp, neat edges. No binding, purfling, or inlays have been used anywhere on the body or neck, and I believe that this adds to the simplicity and overall charm of the instrument.
The neck is made from two pieces of maple, the bass side being again nicely flamed. Presumably it is not a coincidence that the section of neck visible to the (right-handed) player has been provided with the best appearance. A flat sectioned rosewood fingerboard is fitted, complete with four plain circular fret markers - unusual for a classical guitar.
The headstock is of traditional style, with the classical three-on-a-plate tuners fitted. The plates are not as ornate as some, but there is a degree of modest engraving on them.
Naturally, classical strings are fitted with the top three being nylon and brass wound bass strings. These are attached to the bridge by forming a loop in the plain ends of the string, and hitching this through and around the holes in the rear section of the bridge. The bridge is made from a single piece of rather nice rosewood, with a plastic strip saddle, which I suppose can be easily replaced with a different size for string height adjustment.
All-in-all, a grand little guitar with a deep tone. The Vienna was produced between about 1957 and 1971, with approximately 2,500 in total being sold by Selmer. Its retail price in 1961 was 15gns (Flamenco - 10gns), which is interesting to note as being the same price being quoted for the Hofner Congress at the time.
The equivalent guitar in the Hofner's main catalogue was the Model 485, and I believe that this carried on for a further few years. I suspect that not many will have survived to the present day however; this particular one, that I bought in the Ebay auction during March 2001, is the first one that I have seen since the 60's. I am now attempting to learn the Spanish/Classical finger style!