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  1. #1

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    Hofner Germany makes some beautiful guitars and they are reputed to be very well made with good tone. Why aren't they more popular?

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  3. #2
    I have never like Hofner. I'm partial to guitars made in the "good ole US of A." ..and especially some Gibson and
    Epiphone models. Never liked Gretsch either, although I enjoy listening to Chet Atkins play his Gretsches.
    Gretsch guitars and the filtertron tone..is not for my virgin ears, I'm afraid. Hofner..I never associated any
    famous guitar players with Hofners, so I always perceived them as being European curiosities..except for
    the Paul McCartney Hofner violin shaped "Beatle Bass".
    Last edited by Daniel Kuryliak; 11-02-2013 at 08:54 AM.

  4. #3

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    Jimmy Raney likes his:

    Not much love for Höfner Archtops?-raney-hofner-jpg

    I think it's an Attila Zoller model - maybe Hammertone can confirm this?

    A friend of mine had a German made VeryThin like the one in Mr B's avatar photo - great guitar.

  5. #4

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    I have a Jazzica and although it is not my main guitar I would have a hard time letting it go. To me Hofners are different and if you've listened to your heroes play mainly Gibsons most of the time you kind of get that sound concept in your mind. Just a theory that makes sense to me.


    Not much love for Höfner Archtops?-hofner-jazzica-jpg

  6. #5

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    The verythin is great for people who like the slim shape but want a more archtop acousitc sound. There are plenty of excellent non-usa made guitars.. I love my Canadian made Godin - not mentioning more expensive european stuff like Moffa or Elferink. And I have played great instruments / amps / pedals not associated with famous players.

  7. #6

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    I got a Jazzica a few months ago and have never loved a guitar so much. Beyond the playability and sound the workmanship is amazing. I've become a big Hofner fan.

  8. #7

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    Got a '60s Hofner President Acoustic

    Fabulous darling

    £200

  9. #8

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    i think they've made some of the prettiest guitars ever over the years, but i just don't see many here in the states. not many to try out so you either pay the substantial price* to get a new one or get a used one for pennies because nobody knows what they are here. guess people would rather go with that they know; plenty of gibsons lying around these parts. i would expect them to be better than most guitars available here, but the high price/low resale/low brand recognition probably scares some people.

    also, i'm not sure if they have a signature sound, they way you'd think of a 175 or l5. i sure don't know what they sound like, aside from awesome. not a whole of youtubing going for them, either.

    anyhow, i did whiff on a few in my time and i regret it. but like anything these days, they are just really pretty things i don't need. or deserve. but i still like looking them up every now and again. also regret not seeking them out when i was in germany.

    *- totally worth every penny, but still, they aren't giving them away.

  10. #9

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    I recently bought a New President from a list member and it is in my top three guitars that get played in the cycle. I like the acoustic sound and the Diamond mini (midi ?) humbucker gives a beautiful archtop electric sound. Other uncommon features are a 25.25" scale and 24 frets and 16th fret neck/body joint (feels and looks a bit odd). I can produce a mandolin like sound at the higher frets.

  11. #10

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    I think the biggest problem they have is distribution. I have never seen one other than on Ebay and NEVER in a store.

  12. #11

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    It's pretty simple.
    Speaking in terms of current and recent instruments (since @2000),
    Gibson (and any of the other well-known "American" brands):
    - makes more guitars in a day than Hofner does in a year.
    - spends more on advertising in a day than Hofner does in a year.
    - provides more support and instruments to high-profile artists in a day than Hofner does in a year.

    In my opinion, the recent lineup of German-built jazz guitars (Jazzica, New President, Verythin Classic, Chancellor) has excellent instruments in it, that perform extremely well in any comparison to equivalent American instruments. But there are very few of them around, new or used, so it's hard to try one out, either to discover them or to reset opinions based on perceptions of older guitars.

    The best way to sell these instruments is to put them in the hands of players so they can be experienced directly. I like the design of these guitars, but someone else may simply prefer something else. As well, some instruments will be better than others, but if there isn't enough of experience with or exposure to the instruments in general, opinions will be based on a very narrow sample indeed.

    No doubt my opinions are influenced by my direct involvement with Hofner over the past few years, specifically with the German-built archtops. I'm always happy to meet with any of you in the Toronto area and give you the opportunity to try out these guitars so you can judge them directly on their merits. Daniel, you are welcome to check one out anytime, and next time I drive up to Ottawa, perhaps I'll have a guitar with me and we can get together.

    As far as Jimmy Raney goes, yes, he's holding a Hofner Attila Zoller model, which is IMO a great jazz guitar produced in extremely limited quantities, played by Attila, Jimmy and a few others. Peter Leitch has played one for years and loves it. Hofner made @50 of these top-of-the-line archtops between 1982 and 1994, with a few minor hardware variations, as the AZ Award, AZ Standard, AZ Special and AZ Collection.

    In North America, there are a few. Bobby Broom is certainly a top-tier player - he favours his Jazzicas. John Stowell has a variety of guitars for different sounds, but he does play his Verythin John Stowell on numerous recordings. Sid Jacobs in LA is another great player who plays a Verythin JS model as well as a Ribbecke Halfling.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 11-02-2013 at 02:57 PM.

  13. #12
    It was the lack of stuff on YouTube that I thought strange. Even stranger is that there are loads of vids of Jonhn Stowell playing anything except a Hofner. Ironic.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone

    I like the design of these guitars, but someone else may simply prefer something else.
    I think the fret markers and knobs on the modern (very thin / verythin or is it veri thin / verithin) ones are horrid.

  15. #14

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    I'll take a Jazzica if one ever comes my way for reasonable $$$

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by GNAPPI
    I think the biggest problem they have is distribution. I have never seen one other than on Ebay and NEVER in a store.
    - Avenue Guitars in Edmonton has a violin-finish New President, violin-finish Jazzica and violin-finish Chancellor, but they are not on display.
    - Remenyi House of Music in Toronto has a natural New President and a natural Jazzica in stock.
    - Truetone in Santa Monica may still have a couple of new Hofners in stock - Jazzica and New President, along with some used ones - they post these on ebay.
    - I have several NOS (New Old Stock) Hofner archtops for sale as well.

    The "for sale" part of this very forum is probably the best place to find these guitars.
    ebay is a good second place.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 11-02-2013 at 12:34 PM.

  17. #16

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    Am I correct that Jimmy Bruno had a endorsement deal with them for a short time before he went with Sadowsky?
    There was also some confusion when they brought out the line that was built in China. I played one of those and it was-just OK. I've also played the German built guitars and they are very fine instruments. Just didn't produce that WOW I have to have this feeling for me.

  18. #17

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    Yes. A couple of prototypes were produced and delivered to him early in 2004. He played them at the Hofner booth at the 2004 NAMM show. Six were produced that year, labelled as "Thin President Vintage J.B." or "Thin President Vintage." The model was essentially a thinline New President with 22 frets and 2 1/4" deep rims, done in a violin finish with ebony/gold hardware. Three were equipped with floating pickups (like the New President) and the other three each had a full-sized, set-in humbucker, similar to an SD Antiquity. They were labelled from 1/50 to 6/50, and I believe the rest were produced as Thin President models (sunburst finish, two Hofner mini-humbucker, nickel-plated hardware).

    Jimmy then expressed interest in a guitar with a block in it, and two were made, labelled as "Thin President J.B.," delivered at the beginning of 2005. By then, he had decided to go with Sadowsky, and he demo'd his Sadowsky model at the 2005 NAMM show.

    Here's a picture of the prototype (left) he preferred, alongside a "Thin President J.B." (right) with a spruce block. Note his name on the TRC and on the pickup of the prototype. Both have 2 1/4" deep rims. The one on the left is hollow, with a carved top. The one on the right has a spruce block and a laminated top. Both of these guitars are in Toronto, sold to local Toronto jazz musicians:



    Here's the Thin President (essentially the same guitar as the one on the left above), with a carved top and 2 1/4" rims. Later, it became a thin-line semi with shallower rims, a spruce block and a laminated top:



    The Chinese built jazz guitars are completely different - perfectly nice, inexpensive, all-laminated full-bodied 17" guitars that come in several colours and pickup configurations, with really nice tailpieces and pickguards. They are quite similar to some of the jazz guitars offered by Washburn.

    Here:


    Last edited by Hammertone; 07-07-2020 at 11:00 AM.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chimera1to1
    ...It was the lack of stuff on YouTube that I thought strange. Even stranger is that there are loads of vids of Jonhn Stowell playing anything except a Hofner. Ironic.
    He has a few cool guitars, including his travelling guitar, which sounds just fine.
    He sounds great no matter what he plays.
    Maybe the fact that Hofner doesn't make the Verythin JS anymore has something to do with it.
    A few Hofner JS sightings.


    Last edited by Hammertone; 11-02-2013 at 03:14 PM.

  20. #19
    Thanks for the info Hammertone. I get what you say about the company size but there are small output luthiers that are desired by many but aren't big outfits so I think it is cart before the horse to blame the popularity and numbers treasured on the company size.

  21. #20

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    Show me a solid, carved, 17 inch archtop Hofner with a single mounted neck pickup and 2 knobs on the top, bound f-holes, 3 inch rims, bound ebony fingerboard, and a pretty, shiny, metal tailpiece (can't stand wooden tailpieces).

  22. #21

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    Much of the reason that US customers have stopped buying Hofner products if that Hofner itself has essentially left the US market. Back at the turn of the millennium, Hofner advertised its German made models to the professional jazz guitar market, and the result was the successful launch of its New President, Jazzica, Vice President, and Verythin guitar lines. This steady popularity lasted until the tail end of the millennium's first decade. Since then, print ads have dried up and US distributors seem to have been turned away or have given up on new German made instruments.

    There are prominent players who continue to publicly perform using their Hofners, such as Bobby Broom, Sid Jacobs, and occasionally John Stowell, but they do so quietly as they would any instrument they were playing without sponsorship.

  23. #22

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    People are missing out.

    my verythin is the best semihollow I've played...and I've played quite a few.

  24. #23

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    the market is flooded with 1k Chinese and Korean archtops...Most seem to be good quality...The German very thin would be my pick if I wanted to spend 2k....I agree with the other poster, Hofner's very thin Asian models with the big fret markers just flat out looks horrible....Who's Idea was that....

  25. #24

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    Don't forget that the Euro is worth 40% more in US dollars than it was in 2002. So an affordable Hofner at $1500 usd in 2002 would be $2100 now. That is probably a huge factor. The weak US dollar has hit a lot of importers. The only reason Chinese goods are so cheap is that the Chinese tie their currency to the US dollar - a questionable practice.

  26. #25
    Here's the problem the way I see. The Chinese are very good fake artists. When they can make fake Ming Dynasty painted ceramics with aged glazes and painting that fooled the Christi Auction "experts" and those fake vases sold for MILLIONS..they can pretty much reverse engineer and copy anything including a Gibson L5 with the Gibson with L5 torch emblem and the authentic Gibson logo
    They can also copy JUST ABOUT ANY GUITAR and sell it much cheaper than (Gibson, Gretsch or Fender,Hofner ..etc etc) can.

    Gibson's biggest mistake was moving their Epiphone guitar production to Asia, Korea, Japan and now the Gibson sponsored Quingdao plant in China. The Chinese are very smart people, once they develop the
    craftsmanship and technology...any other guitar brand made anywhere is doomed..unless of course..you still want to pay nearly $10,000 for a genuine Gibson L5.

    The pandora is out of the box now..The Chinese are bigger than Gibson , and lawsuits by USA companies going against Chinese fake artists are pretty much ignored..if it's only economic after
    all and the Chinese courts will stall those for years.
    Last edited by Daniel Kuryliak; 11-03-2013 at 12:58 PM.

  27. #26

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    Thank you, HT for placing a timeline on the Bruno/Hofner connection. I was introduced to Benedetto through Jimmy in the 90's and if I could have afforded one I would have ordered. I was at the 2005 NAMM show when the Sadowsky Bruno model was introduced. His bass player was Tal Wilkenfeld, she almost stole the show. I wandered over to the Hofner booth and it was pretty quiet. If I remember correctly at least one of the guitars in your photos was on display.
    With all your knowledge I would assume you are/were involved with importing these instruments?

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Broyale
    Show me a solid, carved, 17 inch archtop Hofner with a single mounted neck pickup and 2 knobs on the top, bound f-holes, 3 inch rims, bound ebony fingerboard, and a pretty, shiny, metal tailpiece (can't stand wooden tailpieces).
    Somthing like this, but with bound f-holes?
    I like the ivory, but maybe you prefer a nice sunburst finish?
    Attached Images Attached Images Not much love for Höfner Archtops?-iv-chanc-body1-broyale-spec-jpg 
    Last edited by Hammertone; 07-07-2020 at 11:04 AM.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chimera1to1
    ...I get what you say about the company size but there are small output luthiers that are desired by many but aren't big outfits so I think it is cart before the horse to blame the popularity and numbers treasured on the company size.
    Yes, they are small, but, to be clear, their position in the marketplace is the result of their utter incompetency when it comes to marketing.The forex situation as mentioned above is another important factor - thanks DRS. Other than having a bit of fun, I usually try to simply impart information that is not so easy to find. I think some of the comments above speak to your point and are very insightful.

    Quote Originally Posted by SierraTango
    ….I would assume you are/were involved with importing these instruments?
    I began working with Hofner in 1999. In 2007, I became the distribution agent for Canada. That's why I have several NOS Hofner guitars that I am selling (as well as a few that I am keeping - I like them!). I usually work at the Hofner booth at NAMM, and will be there this year as well. If any of you attend the show, come on down! [ed: After taking a break from 2012-2015, I became involved in Hofner distribution again. In 2019 and up to now, mid 2020, production has been so low that I don't have anything to distribute!]
    Last edited by Hammertone; 07-07-2020 at 11:09 AM.

  30. #29

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    I have a Red Korean HI-J5 with a floater and I love it. For the small amount of money I paid for it I'm pleased and I really like the German designs as well as they seem very clean. If I had the cash I'd love to love to try out a Chancellor with the Floater/pickguard mounted controls in the blonde finish. And I hadn't noticed the German models have the heel joint lower down and that actually appeals to me as well. All I need to do now is fast forward a few years till I'm out of school and working again haha.

  31. #30
    Their archtops look beautiful and can't understand that their most frequent mentions on the net are often that someone is selling theirs.

    Alan Gregory in the UK has a great website full of Hofner's but I went in the other day and all they had was a Chinese verithin.

    I was considering a German verithin (25.5 scale) as an alternative to my teles

  32. #31

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    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have always found them to be quite homely.

  33. #32

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    A German Verythin (25.25" scale) is actually a great alternative for the Tele player looking for a semi. These guitars are really easy to handle for players used to Fenders - the scale is similar and the sound is sort of between Fender and Gibson. I used to market them as "the semi for Fender players."

    I think the reason you see ads for used ones as opposed to new ones is simpy because in the past few years, Hofner has really moved to more of a Custom Shop "Limited Edition" approach for German-built jazz guitars and Verythins. This means that there are extremely few new ones on the market. These new ones have been done mostly in custom finishes and colours. Very few of these make it to the USA.

    At the same time, the used market continues to cycle through with all sorts of activity, including a representative number of Verythin Classics and Standards, mostly built between 2000 and 2010. I have sold out my stock of Verythin Standards and only have Verythin Classics left for sale - once those are gone, it will be hard for me to get any more. I'll probably get Custom Shop ones in the future if I can get them at all.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 07-07-2020 at 11:11 AM.

  34. #33

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    hi all,
    I am new to this board and just received a hofner archtop via ebay, very nice guitar but I am totally unable to identify the model (no sticker or serial#).

    some details:

    16'' wide
    2.36'' (6cm) deep
    25 1/4'' scale

    attila zoller PU, vol and tone knobs fitted on body (not ebony pickguard), probably "re-electrified"?
    gotoh tuners (no trace of a change)
    very hofner-unlike tailpiece (again no trace of changeover)





    seller was not very knowledgeable, said it´s a "chancellor made in 2000 for the US market" which I doubt very much :wink:

    I understand that there are some real hofner experts around and would be grateful for any claryfing posts...

    michael

  35. #34

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    My, my. Someone's been having some fun.

    The body and neck of the guitar are that of a Thin President made @2004, made in Hagenau. This started out as the "Jimmy Bruno" model.
    - 22 fret neck
    - ebony/mop fingerboard
    - 16th fret neck/body joint
    - carved spruce top
    - a bit under 16" in width
    - etc.
    The hardware and the finish are not what Hofner used for any of those guitars.
    - excellent pickup, IMO
    - that tailpiece was used on archtops made in the former East Germany during the 1950s and 1960s
    - the bridge, pickguard, trussrod cover and tuners are also not to any Hofner specification.

    Attached are pix of the Hofner version - these have set-in pickups, but they also came with floating pickups.





    This version of the Thin President, as well as the Jazzica and Zoller models, had controls mounted to the top combined with floating pickups. I'd swap out those very heavy-lookng knobs for lightweight wood or plastic ones reduce stress on the top, btw. It's most likely that the body was sold "white" (without finish or hardware) and finished elsewhere, if there aren't any visible mounting holes for a previous tailpiece, tuners, trc and so forth.

    It looks like really nicely put-together guitar.

    Hofner also did up this body as a Thin President (first version) with two pickups and nickel hardware. Here:


    It makes sense for the seller to have called it a "chancellor made in 2000 for the US market" since the Chancellor is Hofner's most expensive archtop with a street price new of over US$6,500 and almost never comes up for sale used. But that guitar was only launched in 2004, and is a 17"-wide archtop with 3" rims. Here's one:



    Last edited by Hammertone; 07-07-2020 at 11:12 AM.

  36. #35

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    Thank you so much, hammertone!
    In the flesh the body looks like it might be in the genuine violin finish - pictures above were taken with flash, here's one without:



    I think I'll try my luck hunting for an ebony tailpiece and ebony knobs...

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by michael_s
    Thank you so much, hammertone!
    In the flesh the body looks like it might be in the genuine violin finish - pictures above were taken with flash, here's one without …[ ]...I think I'll try my luck hunting for an ebony tailpiece and ebony knobs...
    Hard to tell from here what the finish is, but it looks like it was done quite professionally.
    Please post pix of the back of the headstock and the back of the body - it's always nice to see these guitars.

    Any Hofner dealer can get you a correct ebony Hofner tailpiece.
    Ebony knobs are widely availble.

    To find a European dealer (I'm guessing you are in Europe):
    Hofner Guitars and Strings
    Last edited by Hammertone; 11-28-2013 at 12:38 PM.

  38. #37

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    A brief update is in order. It's pretty simple. Speaking in terms of current and recent jazz and electric instruments (since @2000), Gibson (and any of the other well-known "American" brands), makes more guitars, spends more on marketing, and provides more support and instruments to high-profile artists in a day than Hofner does in, er, ah, several years.

    Most of the jazz players associated with modern Hofners still have them, but have moved on with instruments provided to them by more active luthiers and companies. Bobby Broom was given a Koentopp by Dan, John Stowell endorses Soulezza, and also plays a Soloette and a Doolin. Sid was playing a Hafling last I checked. They all still have their Hofners, I'm sure.

    These days, Hofner makes the occasional jazz guitar, but their electric instrument focus seems to be more on Beatle basses and other non-jazz-oriented instruments. I suspect we will see very few European-built Hofner jazz guitars for the next while - I grab them whenever the opportunity presents itself, and will continue to offer them to players for as long as I can get them.

  39. #38

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    The late great Jimmy Wyble loved his Verithin.

  40. #39

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    not that hofner basses can't be used in a jazzy situation..chris wood of medeski, martin and wood...uses hofner club and violin basses...they thump nicely with flats!



    cheers

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcjazz
    The late great Jimmy Wyble loved his Verithin.
    Love those videos on YouTube of Jimmy playing his Verithin.

  42. #41
    The Stowell is the one that got me into looking at Hofner. I’ve always wanted one. I still don’t have one, and have never seen or played one.

    I did did however pick up a blonde Jazzica finished in nitro with black binding from HammerT, and while waiting for that to arrive, got a 2nd violin Jazzica finished in shellac with black binding. So i’m all set with my sister Jazzicas.

    I was worried about the radius as I prefer really flat fretboard, but I’ve just played and played and not thought about it. Really cool and unique guitars.

    The violin one through my DV LJ is what electric jazz guitar sounds like in my head.
    The blonde one is currently set up as an acoustic arch top with no electronics which is really cool for unamplified playing.

  43. #42

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    Someday I’m gonna get me one of these:


  44. #43

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    I fell in love with the violin finish model with black binding. Very classy with classical symphonic string instrument vibe.

  45. #44

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    Here are some pix of the last of three Verythin Classic guitars w/violin varnish finish I grabbed for Hofner Canada awhile back. Finally put together and good to go. Just plain WOW.






    Last edited by Hammertone; 11-25-2019 at 08:54 PM.

  46. #45

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    ...and a few more.





    Last edited by Hammertone; 11-25-2019 at 08:32 PM.

  47. #46

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    Wish they would make the modern Verythins hollow like the old Verithins.....

    But it looks superb!

  48. #47

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    Hofner BlueTone Super Luxe Archtop Jazz Guitar with Hard Case | Reverb

    I see new höfners right there any try them?


  49. #48

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    Are they made in Germany?

  50. #49

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    Hardly, at this price. The official website doesn't give a straight answer but a clue: the Chancellor does get a mention of being handmade in Germany.

  51. #50

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    The folks over at Hofner sometimes forget to describe things the way they actually are because that would interrupt their beer-drinking and over-all rest/lunch/nap/surf-the-net schedules.

    Hofner started selling lower-cost instruments a dozen or so years ago +/-, made in China for them under contract by various Chinese factories. There were two tiers of product - cheapy Icon/Ignition (same thing) instruments and much nicer CT/"Contemporary" (same thing) basses, Verythins, and various other items.

    These included a series of CT hollow-body archtop guitars, introduced @2007-2008. The specs have remained reasonably consistent despite a few random name changes:
    -17" wide;
    -deep rims;
    -25 1/2" scale;
    -laminated spruce tops on laminated maple bodies;
    -maple necks with dyed rosewood or ebony boards;
    -single floating pickup w/dyed rosewood or ebony bits versions, as well as set-in, full-sized humbuckers x 2, w/metal&plastic bits versions;
    -blonde or sunburst finishes..

    These can be really nice nice guitars - I've sold a few and was quite impressed with them.
    They are made in China but do take some visual cues from European-made Hofners.
    More recently, they have started to use the odd bit of hardware that is very similar to that used on European-made Hofners.
    The guitar in the photo appears to have the same floating pickup that Hofner used on its European-made archtop guitars. Earlier versions used a more generic black floater.

    As far as pricing goes, ebay and Reverb are your friends here - if you search through their listings for awhile, you'l discover a wide range of pricing for new and used versions. Hofner did not have many of these instruments made, and did not put too much effort into marketing them, so they are not well-known, especially in North America, but they are out there. Hofner's website only shows one version of the guitar as of today, but there others out there, as per the pix below. My guess is that there are also single-floating-pickup versions out there in blonde.
    Attached Images Attached Images Not much love for Höfner Archtops?-bluto-series-jpg 
    Last edited by Hammertone; 07-07-2020 at 10:16 AM.