The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    wherein we talk-ner about hofners? we should! we never do, but we should. tell us about yours, please.

    i've long admired both vintage and contemporary models (and guitars and basses) but as a few might recall, i've been obsessed with committees since the dawn of man. of course, i have no idea how they sound and no way to find out, but that's neither here nor there. old, new, fat, skinny, flames, birdseye, blond or brunette; i think they are all pretty neat. though i'm probably sweetest on thinner brunettes with birdseye and big goofy headstocks. as long as there's all kinds of celluloid and plastic on them, i'm in.

    but here are some things i've never even began to understand:
    • the pickups. what do they sound like? how do they differ? no way to tell. is there a more desirable set? do the new ones sound like the old ones?
    • the width. are they 17" or 18"?
    • the depth. some are thin and some are full sized, but i don't know what that means, i never see numbers.
    • the new ones. how are they different from the old ones? how are some priced in the $3-4k range and others going for $10k?

    i assume they are something akin to a gretsch- like a germanic falcon or something. but there's no way to for me to know. i've also admired their chancellors, vice presidents, and the occasional verythin over the years as well. i did get to play a hofner once in a store that no longer exists and i remember being struck by the craftsmanship and how damn loud it was. it was like a flattop acoustic with a pickup on it. and it felt very fancy. given the relative rarity in the united states, it's hard to know what's a good deal, let alone what it is you're even looking at.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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  4. #3
    a few more things i've realized:
    • clubs! cool looking guitars. wish they were more popular than they seem to be. i think the club bass is way cooler than the violin one.
    • headstocks! so many to choose from- any favorites?
    • a primer on pick ups would be useful. so would clips, but that seems unlikely.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    i'm going through it, getting some answers. much obliged.

    wading through the vintage committee section, which seems to be the largest and most convoluted. matches what i'm seeing on reverb and such. the new committees seem pretty straightforward, which is nice, but possibly not what i'm looking for, and doesn't explain the wild price variations.

  5. #4

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    I’ve always wanted a Committee, gads what gorgeous guitars!
    but the crappy pickups always held me back. Would still like to maybe someday tho.

  6. #5

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    I now have two Hofners - a Verythin Classic and a New President. I bought the New President after reading extensively through that website and Hammertone's many informative posts on this forum and others.
    The New President is a very precise, distinctive instrument. I mainly play it in a dance-oriented swing band, and I've never had as many compliments on the sound from folks in the audience. It also has both a strong acoustic voice that makes practicing or playing in a quiet setting a joy and a capable electric sound that fits nicely in our ensemble.

    After playing the New President pretty heavily over about a six month span, I ditched my Eastman and picked up the Verythin because I thought it would give me some of what I love about the New President in a format that is a little more versatile. So far its really doing the job! I don't know anything about the old pre-1990s Hofners, but I think the modern ones are at least somewhat hidden gems for anyone looking for archtops in the sub-2.5k range, where they seem to pop up pretty routinely.

  7. #6

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    I have a '58 Hofner Senator and it's one of the loudest acoustic guitars I've ever heard. It's all plywood, but the laminated plates are incredibly light and thin. The tone is half way between a Selmer Maccaferri and a conventional archtop to my ears. The neck is gigantic (no adjustable truss rod).

  8. #7

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    Here’s three clips to put some sounds to the names—a Chancellor, a factory-relic’d Jazzica, and a Verythin John Stowell. Pardon my playing—I’m cheap hack.

    Chancellor



    Jazzica



    Verythin John Stowell


  9. #8

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    A Hofner Thread-p1_u4vtnpqdp_so-jpgA Hofner Thread-p2_ujasm14qs_so-jpg

  10. #9

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    My 1956 Hofner 459 with her granddaughter, a 2007 Jazzica Custom. Both lovely and classy ladies.

    A Hofner Thread-hofner-reunion-jpg

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jehu
    My 1956 Hofner 459 with her granddaughter, a 2007 Jazzica Custom. Both lovely and classy ladies.
    A Hofner Thread-hofner-reunion-jpg
    Both members of the Black Binding Club.

  12. #11
    i am enjoying this immensely. i think the chancellor and new presidents are my favorites so far. but i've yet to meet a headstock that couldn't use a little more art deco pearloid. impressive that the sickle holes have remained intact. are they reinforced under there somehow? i've seen a whole lot of non traditional f holes that come to a point cause splits over the years, most notable with cat's eye gretsches.

    that chancellor just sounds the way "archtops" sound in my head. very nice. they all were, and i was able to appreciate their individual quirks easily, so thanks for that. i hope we get to hear more from all the hofners out there.

    on committee watch:
    here are a couple of "normally"(?) priced ones, and here's one they're asking a kabillion dollars for. why is that? are there different tiers to this, like a custom shop and a custom-er shop? i watched the pricey one out of curiosity and they immediately hit me up with a deal, so i know there is some wiggle room there, but it was still more than double what the other guys want. just wondering if there are different grades or quality levels to german hofners i should know about.

    Hofner Committee - Handmade in Germany - finest top player | | Reverb
    Hofner Committee 2014 Black | Paul 's Gear Garage | Reverb
    2015 Hofner Committee Special Edition Electric Guitar, | Reverb

    i'm probably not after a new committee, though. lovely, but i think 18" is more than i want to deal with. 17" i can manage, so maybe i'll keep fawning over vintage ones.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by feet
    on committee watch:
    here are a couple of "normally"(?) priced ones, and here's one they're asking a kabillion dollars for. why is that? are there different tiers to this, like a custom shop and a custom-er shop? i watched the pricey one out of curiosity and they immediately hit me up with a deal, so i know there is some wiggle room there, but it was still more than double what the other guys want. just wondering if there are different grades or quality levels to german hofners i should know about.
    Hofner Committee - Handmade in Germany - finest top player | | Reverb
    Hofner Committee 2014 Black | Paul 's Gear Garage | Reverb
    2015 Hofner Committee Special Edition Electric Guitar, | Reverb
    i'm probably not after a new committee, though. lovely, but i think 18" is more than i want to deal with. 17" i can manage, so maybe i'll keep fawning over vintage ones.
    OK, I'll start with the helpful trip.
    All three of the guitars you listed are new guitars, which I will get to, but, first, some general history:

    The Committee was introduced in 1953 specifically for Selmer in the UK and, as per the information on Steve Russell's site, is well documented. It was produced until @1970, with a few electric ones made into @1972 or so. It was introduced at the same time as the Model 468, which is the same guitar with some minor cosmetic differences, produced for the rest of the world. Both were @17"+ sized archtops.

    During that period, the Committee and the 468 went through some changes. As the market grew, other, related models were introduced to the Selmer Catalogue, including the Committee Deluxe, which is cosmetically fancier than the Committee but otherwise the same guitar. It was introduced in 1958, at the same time as the Model 470, which is the same guitar as the Committee Deluxe with some minor cosmetic differences, produced for the rest of the world. Similar to the Committee Deluxe, the 470 is cosmetically fancier than the 468 but otherwise the same guitar. Both were @17"+ sized archtops.

    In 1959/1960 the Committee Deluxe was replaced in the Selmer catalogue by the Golden Hofner. This was cosmetically similar to the Committee Deluxe but was a @18"+ sized archtop. This was made from @1959 to 1962. The rest of the world continued to get the @17"+ Model 470.

    In @1962, Hofner folded some features of the discontinued Golden Hofner and the Committee together. From then until the model was discontinued @1969-1970, the Committee had a regular guitar headstock, traditional Committee cosmetics, and an @18"+ body. The rest of the world continued to get the @17"+ 468 and 470.

    The 468 was discontinued @1969, and the 470 in the early 1990s. There were a few @17"+ archtops made to replace these - the 478, the A2L, as well as the florentine-cutaway 471 and 477, all of which came and went. During this period through the 1970s and 1980s, Hofner was using up existing supplies of bodies, trying new bodies, combining all of it with new necks and hardware. The 1980s saw the introduction of the AZ guitars and the Jazzica - smaller-bodied jazz guitars that joined the diminishing lineup of small bodied Hofner archtops that had gone through various changes from the late 1940s to the late 1980s.

    In the late 1990s, Hofner introduced a new lineup of @16"- archtops - a revamped Jazzica, the New President and the Vice-President, ushering in the "modern age" - more on this later. These were joined by the flagship @17" Chancellor in 2003 - Hofner's first all-carved archtop. It only took them 116 years to get to it!

    In 2013-2014 Hofner introduced something called the "New Committee." This guitar has very little to do with the @17" Committee and much more to do with the significantly less costly @17" Model 4550/S of the 1950s and 1960s, but Hofner probably figured that the Committee name had better market recognition. Only a handful of these were ever made, in 2014 -2015. They are 17" wide, not 18" wide.

    More to come.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 02-20-2022 at 07:59 PM.

  14. #13

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    Hofner Committee - Handmade in Germany - finest top player | | Reverb ask of @$3,500
    Hofner Committee 2014 Black | Paul 's Gear Garage | Reverb ask of @$3,250
    2015 Hofner Committee Special Edition Electric Guitar, | Reverb ask of @$10,000
    and this one, which is used as opposed to as-new or new:
    https://reverb.com/item/12783902-hofner-new-committee-2012-tobacco-sunburst ask of @$2,845 (local pickup)

    The 17" New Committee has the same body shape as the original Committee / Model 468 / Committee Deluxe / Model 470 / Model 4550-S. The marketing fluff speaks of using "original body molds." The guitar has an all-laminated body. The neck meets the body at the 16th fret, which pulls up the bridge position, so Hofner pulled up the f-hole position as well, which makes the guitar look goofy to modern eyes. The trim on the guitar is a direct tip of the hat to trim on the mid-1950s Model 4550 / 457 / 456 and others, which looks goofy to modern eyes. The model was never launched, marketed, advertised, endorsed, or otherwise promoted. It had a relatively high price, which was very non-competitive compared to similarly configured newer, laminated 17" guitars from a variety of other makers, including Epiphone, Guild, Gretsch, D'Angelico, Aria, Washburn, Peerless, and more.

    Other than trivial differences in colour and hardware between any of the New Committees currently for sale at retail, there is no difference between them. It's a free world, so retailers can ask for whatever price they want for these guitars.

    Here's a 1960 4550/S/E2 and a New Committee:
    Attached Images Attached Images A Hofner Thread-4550-s-e2-60-2-jpg A Hofner Thread-1-jpg 
    Last edited by Hammertone; 01-22-2022 at 05:26 AM.

  15. #14
    i was struggling to articulate what was "off" about the new committees. it just feels different and i couldn't grasp why. now i know. i guess i just assumed that they were 18" and that extra inch was throwing the dimensions off, or giving it a certain something, which was further exacerbated by the lack of a pickguard. i can't say i hate it, but yes, it is a different thing, and that question has finally been answered. i guess now that i know, i must ponder it and look inside myself for an answer.

    as ever, your knowledge is super welcome and appreciated. i'll be using this post and the vintage hofner website to kinda sift through some of the vintage offerings on reverb, see if i can make more sense of them now. enjoying this.

  16. #15

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    This is a very old picture, but I'll be selling this guitar as soon as I finish doing some work on it.
    It's a 1960s 4550/S/E2 (where S=cutaway and E2=two pickups), that now has two Hofner mini-humbucking pickups and a tune-o-matic bridge.
    Attached Images Attached Images A Hofner Thread-hof-4550-s-e2-jpg 

  17. #16

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    A Hofner Thread-img_20201228_142655850-jpg

    Received this (early 60's 456?) as a gift a little while ago. It is an amazing piece in my opinion. Could not find any easily viewable information on the inside. It has a rare Type 536 pickup assembly. There is a tongue that when put under the current bridge base pushes the assembly a little crudely on the top of the instrument and causes upward pressure on the bridge. If not using the assembly tongue, it is left to kind of float making bridge height adjustments difficult. Do any of you knowledgeable in these know where I may locate a proper bridge for it? Have done online searches not amounting to much. I was advised to creatively fashion an attachment to the current bridge, but would rather get something that matches if available. Thank you for reading and any information you may provide.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockakenny
    Received this (early 60's 456?) as a gift a little while ago. It is an amazing piece in my opinion. Could not find any easily viewable information on the inside. It has a rare Type 536 pickup assembly. There is a tongue that when put under the current bridge base pushes the assembly a little crudely on the top of the instrument and causes upward pressure on the bridge. If not using the assembly tongue, it is left to kind of float making bridge height adjustments difficult. Do any of you knowledgeable in these know where I may locate a proper bridge for it? Have done online searches not amounting to much. I was advised to creatively fashion an attachment to the current bridge, but would rather get something that matches if available. Thank you for reading and any information you may provide.
    If the top is maple, it's an early 1960s Model 456/S/b, where S means cutaway and b means "blonder" or blond. If the top is spruce, it's an early 1960s Model 457/S/b. It's equipped with a Model 457 tailpiece. In an original case that appears to be in decent condition.

    Hofner purchased its bridges from Teller, just down the street from the Hofner's original location in Bubenreuth. Teller still has these bridges in their catalogue, and most of the bridges that Hofner used are widely available on ebay, reverb and specialty retailers. I still have a few vintage Hofner bridges left as well - send me a note if you want.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 02-20-2022 at 08:30 PM.

  19. #18

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    In case you haven’t come across it yet, this page on the Hofner Web site can get you started in identifying the various pickups (but unfortunately not how they sound):

    Hofner Guitar Pickups

  20. #19

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    @Hammertone
    Thank you for the information. It is an honor, for I have gathered that you are a bit of a Hofner guru around these parts. The guitar is in very good condition. Though I am indeed keeping the original case, the padding has decayed over time. Needless to say, I am pursuing a suitable newer case as we speak, so if you know of anything tried and true, it would be good to know. As for your stock of bridges, if they are intended to be paired with the pickup assembly (Type 536), count me interested. The current bridge is a Gibson style suitable to most archtops, but for this purpose not optimal.

    @cmajor9
    Very much appreciate the direction. Hofner Guitar Pickup Assemblies - Fact File (vintagehofner.co.uk) is where I found quite a bit of information as well.

    Kind Regards,
    Rockakenny