1964 Hofner President Bass, as made famous by Stuart Sutcliffe

 

1/2

If, that is, Stuart Sutcliffe had lived to see the meteoric rise of The Beatles. A beautifully aged semi-acoustic bass, with all original features bar a nut replacement and pick-up rewire to restore full range of tone.

Not entirely "As Made Famous By", except through confusion.  The Hofner President bass was introduced in 1963 as a successor to the 500/5 (333) Hofner bass.  That's the one that you can see Stuart Sutcliffe playing.  It's close, but the 500/5 comes with a narrower headstock, 21 or 22 frets (versus the President's full 24), a deeper body, a rectangular control plate on the body (versus the body-mounted pots of the President), and earlier Hofner Response pick-ups.  The President Bass is still a lovely guitar, and the Brunette flame has just got better and better over the years.  So, as a what might have been, it's "As Made Famous By"; in reality, it's just a fabulous piece of history that takes you right back to the Sixties!

Specification

Hofner

Make

President Bass

Model

Brunette Sunburst

Colour

1964

Year

405

Serial  Number

24 (+ zero fret)

Number of Frets

Rosewood

Fretboard

Maple & Mahogany

Neck

Spruce & Maple

Body

Hofner Open Tuners

Tuners

Novasonic Humbuckers

Pick-ups

Hofner Fretted Ebony

Bridge

Hofner Trapeze

Tailpiece

30.25"

Scale Length

44.75"

Full Length

Further Information:

  • The President Bass was built from 1963 to 1967.  Hofner was as well-known for its basses as for its 6-strings, with bass versions of the Committee, Senator, Verythin and, of course, that now very famous Violin Bass all on offer at the same time as the President.

  • This particular guitar was bought in auction. It had seen some action and then some neglect.  The nut had broken off below the G-string, replaced by a nail; the D-tuner had been bent sideways into the headstock; and the pick-ups were producing as much output as a crackly crystal radio set (older generation reference). 

  • So, this became a bit of a project.  Cleaned up, rather than refinished, to keep that lovely depth and patina; reset the tuner, to retain the original; replaced the nut with an aged Hofner 3-ply nut; and hand-rewound the pick-ups.  Added to that, a new custom-case . . . there's no off-the-shelf case that can take the length and depth of this beauty.

  • All in all probably more cost than its remaining market value. But what a piece of history. And what a pleasure to play - the "slenda-nek", the easily accessed 24 frets, and the huge warm tone of those Novasonic humbuckers.  Close your eyes, and turn back the years.

See & Hear It In Action
Drew JH York and the President, at Goldsmiths Music Studios. Mic'd and direct for full acoustic resonance.
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