1957 HOFNER SENATOR ACOUSTIC GUITAR
Serial No. 3348
Not another Senator! Afraid so. I was browsing around the vintage room at Musical Exchanges in Birmingham a few months ago, and came across this beauty fitted with a very tacky looking Truvoice combined pickup/scratchplate unit. Although that type of unit is contemporary with the guitar, being very popular in the late 50's for "electrifying" one's acoustic archtop, it certainly wasn't doing anything for the Senator's looks and hence its purchase prospects! I did however give the old girl a second look, and discovered the nicest maple veneers on her back and sides that I have seen on any Senator. A deal was quickly done, and the guitar headed North in the back of my car.
Easy to strip off the offending pickup/scratchplate, but what about a replacement pickguard - Senator/Congress units are now as rare as rocking horse droppings! Luckily, Music Ground were able to fix me up with a highly mottled, but very attractive, scratchplate which I have only ever seen fitted to the Hofner 4550. It is the correct shape though, a genuine Hofner spare, and for some reason it looks great on a blonde guitar. The original scratchplate of course would have been similar to the dark brown mock tortoiseshell as fitted to my 1958 Senator featured elsewhere on the site.
The headstock on the guitar is what I believe to be the original design for Senators. The vertical "dagger" type as on my 1958 Senator (and John Lennon's Senator) came along next, but that change was I believe a retrograde step, as it is simply a plastic fascia glued onto the headstock. The three dot type, the Treble Clef, and the simple black fascia with Hofner script logo all followed in succession into the late 60's, but all were plastic stick-ons. The headstock on this 1957 guitar has a black wood veneer fascia (ebony?) with mother of pearl inlays....the real business!
However, the real reason that I bought the guitar was for the maple veneers, so let's have a look at some pictures of these. I don't think that many Presidents have maple as striking as this, and it does tend to demonstrate the
better quality of the Hofners from the mid 50's compared to the 1960's.
The guitar, I think, must have been refinished recently as there is hardly a mark on it. If so, a top class job has been carried out,
and the old Senator looks as though she has just left the shop in 1957. The probable refinish and the non-standard scratchplate mean that this guitar is not one for the purist, but so what! It looks superb, and what a sound!!
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