I have owned this lovely old Hofner bass for just a few weeks now, but I have actually know it ever since the bass guitarist in my first band, "The Telstars", bought it brand new back in 1962. Richard, who was it's past and only owner, made contact with me recently and explained that he was having a clear-out, and that he had decided to sell the bass. Without a second thought, I told him that I would be delighted to provide a good home to the old girl and.....that was that!
For a year or so prior to this version, a "Hofner Solid Bass" with a similar appearance to the set-neck V3 guitar had been supplied to Selmer UK. The subsequent version of the Hofner Solid Bass in the "Strat-bodied", bolt-on neck format like the one featured here, was distributed by Selmer UK for a few months in 1962 and into early 1963, before being superseded in its turn by the Artist Bass (aka Model 185). Selmer generally insisted on giving their guitars a name rather than a model number, which was Hofner's usually practice. The model number for this two pickup version of the "Solid Bass", as used by Hofner for markets other than the UK, was the Model 182/E2. The single pickup version was known as the 182/E1. The single pickup version continued to be offered in the UK after the Artist had been introduced, and was called the "Professional Bass" in the Selmer catalogue.
Richard bought this particular bass, as far as I can remember, from Woods in Huddersfield sometime during the summer of 1962. This is confirmed to some degree by the codes on the volume potentiometers - "082" which indicates that they were manufactured in early March 1962. Likewise, the Hofner/Selmer shipping records indicate that twin pickup solid basses with Serial Numbers 329 to 1160 were supplied to Selmer UK during 1962. The number 589 belonging to this bass also points neatly to that purchase date.
The progress of "The Telstars", and the other bands in Huddersfield that Richard and myself played in, is well covered in "Memories of an Old Hofner Player", elsewhere on this website. I shall therefore refrain from further reminiscing on this page other than for saying that those days, when Richard was playing this bass through his Vox AC30 and I was playing my Hofner V3 through my old Selmer Selectortone on various "bookings" around Yorkshire, were very happy ones indeed.
This model of bass shared the same body as the Hofner "V" bolted-neck Solids, Super Solids, and the Model 172/3. It has a fairly thin body - 30mm or 1¼" - compared to say a Fender, and hence is comparatively light. The body is contoured front and back which, assisted by the well balanced and very slender neck, makes the guitar extremely comfortable to play. Without having dismantled the guitar, I would guess that the timber used for the body is abachi, which Hofner tended to use on the solid guitars of this period. Some very faint shadows in the immaculate red cellulose finish indicate that three pieces of timber were used to form the body. The scale of the solid bass, like almost all other Hofner basses, is 30".
The electrics follow the usual pattern for a Hofner made in 1962; i.e. Type 510B "Diamond Logo" single coil pickups with the classic Hofner rectangular control console. Output from the pickups is now well-down on what they were when new, but that is the norm for Hofner Type 510 and 511 units in my experience. Actually, the bass version of the 510 pickup isn't all that numerous. It was soon superseded by the 511.
The control console works perfectly, although the pots are rather stiff and need a dose of spray.
The bridge is the standard Hofner nickel-plated brass affair, with only vertical adjustment. For intonation adjustments, simply slacken the strings off and move the whole bridge around on the top of the guitar's body. That was certainly good enough for "The Telstars" back in 1962!
The tailpiece is a nice simple piece nickel plated brass (?), which does everything that it should without any degree of pretence. Earlier Solid Basses had a large chromed steel cover over the bridge, similar to the old Fender basses. I prefer things as on this bass!
The neck on this bass is probably its most outstanding feature. It has been formed from one piece of superbly flamed maple that wouldn't disgrace a Custom Shop US-made guitar. Hofner have always been noted for their extensive stock of beautiful time-seasoned timber, which has been put to good use over the years, particularly in the making of their archtops. Maybe back in 1962, such timber was so abundant in Hofner's timber yard that they were happy to actually use it on the neck of a solid bass guitar? I don't know, but it certainly does look great over 40 years later!
Like other Hofner solid basses, this neck is very slender - 42mm (1.65") at the nut, and 49mm (1.93") at the 21st fret. The fingerboard has been produced from a nice piece of rosewood, and the nickel-silver frets are of a narrow gauge. No zero fret is fitted, Hofner having stopped using these on their solid guitars from around 1961/2 onwards.
The tuners are the same as Hofner fitted to the President and Verithin guitars, but with slightly increased gearing and barrel diameter. These are single, open units of decent quality, which seem to be as effective with bass strings as with ordinary guitar strings. The later Artist model was fitted with a different, more ornate, type with further increased gearing and barrel size. Naturally, tape-wound strings are fitted!
The truss rod is at the body end of the neck, and situated in such a position that requires the whole scratchplate complete with electrics to be removed before it can be adjusted. The originally supplied truss-rod key is still with the guitar!
Back in 1962, Richard bought a Selmer croc-skin case at the same time as he was buying the guitar. This case has done a good job in protecting the bass over the years, and is still in lovely condition itself! The black plush lining really does "set-off" the brilliant red lacquer on the guitar.
Back in those days, Selmer used to supply a strap and a moulded amplifier lead with every Hofner sold. The lead is long gone - the moulded jack plugs tended to fail within months, and then they were impossible to repair - but the original red leather strap is still with the guitar. Also, Richard saved his first two sets of strings - the original Hofner set and the Selmer tape-wound replacements, together with the Selmer string packets. The case, old strings, and strap certainly do add a further historical perspective to this lovely bass.
I'm not a bass player, and probably never will be (!), but this instrument is probably now my favourite old Hofner, next to my own Hofner V3 Solid which I purchased at about the same time as Richard bought this bass. Both were used together to make music in the same bands back in those innocent but very happy days. The bass is a part of my past that I am delighted to be re-united with.
Now, I wonder if John Verity still has that Thinline President that I sold him back in 1964...............!!! ;-)
Richard and his Hofner Bass, together with myself and my Hofner V3 in 1964.