|Founded||Schönbach, Austria-Hungary 1887|
|Products|| Electric, acoustic, resonator and classical guitars|
Karl Höfner GmbH & Co. KG is a German (originally Austro-Bohemian) manufacturer of musical instruments, with one division that manufactures guitars and basses, and another that manufactures other string instruments, such as violins, violas, cellos, double basses and bows for stringed instruments.
Much of Höfner's popularity is attributed to Paul McCartney's use of the Höfner 500/1 bass throughout his career. This violin-shaped model is commonly referred to as the "Beatle bass".
A German luthier, Karl Höfner, founded the Höfner company in the city of Schönbach in 1887, at a time when the city, later part of the Czech Republic, was populated by Germans. He soon became the largest string instrument manufacturer in the country. His sons, Josef and Walter, joined the company around 1920, and began spreading the brand's reputation worldwide. The company became involved in production for the German army in World War II producing wooden crates and soles for boots. After the war, Germans were expelled from the Sudetenland, forcing Höfner to move to West Germany. The company initially moved to an ex-work camp at Möhrendorf in 1948, but soon became involved in the development of a new township and factories in Bubenreuth. The new Höfner factory opened in 1950, and expanded three times between 1953 and 1960. Karl Höfner, the founder, lived to see the company's revival, and died in Bubenreuth in 1955. In 1964, the company built a further factory at Hagenau, about 5 km from Bubenreuth, to machine wood parts for assembly at Bubenreuth. They expanded the Hagenau factory twice in the 1970s.
The daughter of Walter Höfner, Gerhilde, began working for the company in the mid 1950s taking an active part in all aspects of management. Her husband, Christian Benker, joined the company in 1963. They together became the driving force for the company as Josef and Walter entered retirement in the 1970s.
In 1994, Höfner became part of the Boosey & Hawkes Group, and was able to expand and upgrade its facilities with the influx of cash. In 1997, the company moved from Bubenreuth to Hagenau.
After a near-bankruptcy in 2003 Boosey & Hawkes sold its musical instrument division (including the Höfner and Buffet Crampon companies) to the Music Group, a company formed by rescue buyout specialists Rutland Fund Management, for £33.2 million.
Höfner remained a part of this conglomerate until December 2004, when the Music Group sold the company to Klaus Schöller who had been the general manager of Höfner for many years, with his wife Ulrike Schrimpff, the finance director at Höfner along with Rob Olsen and Graham Stockley who were USA and UK partners. Klaus Schöller and Ulrike Schrimpff remain as the owners of the business today.
The Höfner company has nearly always been responsible for its own distribution within Europe. The exceptions to this have been:
EMMC based in NJ was the distributor for bass guitars for many years until 1995 until Boosey & Hawkes bought the company in 1994.
Boosey & Hawkes took over distribution from 1995-2003. During these years the improvements of quality and brand exposure were significant. The overall bass and guitar lines were redesigned and new successful 6-string jazz guitar models were created and introduced in late 1999.
The Music Group, a Venture Capital Company took over Boosey & Hawkes from 2003 until 2004 when the Höfner company was purchased via a management buyout.
In 2005, Höfner's United States distribution was picked up by Classic Musical Instruments (CMI) in Kenosha, WI. CMI ceased trading in 2012 and distribution passed to Musical Distributors Group (MDG) in New Jersey. In late 2018 MDG merged with Adam Hall North America and is the current USA distributor.
The Rob Olsen era 1998-Current. Rob Olsen worked at Boosey & Hawkes as Höfner Product Manager in late 1998 and remains responsible for USA distribution for Adam Hall. He designed or co-designed many key Höfner models, managed overall quality, and increased visibility of the company (especially from 1999-2012). Rob Olsen era Höfner models include: Jazzica Custom, Verythin Classic, The New President, The Vice President, Verythin Standard, The Chancellor, The Club Bass reissue, The 50th Anniversary Violin bass, Club 40 John Lennnon limited edition, Violin finish guitars and basses, Colorama reissue, H5 jazz guitars and others. Rob may be best known for creating the flagship Icon/Ignition series basses and guitars. He was responsible for negotiations and creation of the Ed Sullivan Series basses, Guitar Hero and Beatles Rockband connections.
Rob Olsen opened and managed the Höfner Custom Shop (still in operation), which produces special instruments and colors for shops and artists, including Wilco, Lenny Kravitz, Cheap Trick, Bon Jovi, Tesla, Sheryl Crow, and others. The most famous custom shop model may be the Paul McCartney Jubilee bass that Paul used for the Concert For The Queen in 2012, where Paul sported a painted in a transparent colored Union Jack flag custom shop bass.
Rob Olsen along with Graham Stockley in the U.K. (and later based in Germany at the Höfner workshop) were the key players in exposing and bringing the brand to desired status by creating quality features and models, artist- relations and signings of visible artists (officially with Paul McCartney), Cheap Trick, Bon Jovi, Tesla, Wilco and many others. They also achieved rapid dealer growth and the creation of the ad campaigns during the USA Höfner brand launch years.
The Selmer company devised names for these instruments for the UK market. Elsewhere, they were known by model numbers.
Beatles guitarists George Harrison and John Lennon used Höfner electric guitars. Harrison used a President model and a Club 40 early on in his association with the group. Lennon's first electric guitar was a Club 40 model that he purchased in 1959 from Hessy's music store in Liverpool. He used this for about one year, then bought a Rickenbacker "Capri" model. The Club 40 was briefly loaned to Paul McCartney and then it was sold. The band's original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe played a Höfner 500/5 Bass.
The company is most famous through its association with Beatles songwriter, singer, and instrumentalist Paul McCartney, who is a longtime user of the Höfner 500/1 model hollow-body electric bass, first manufactured in 1956.
McCartney played two left-handed 500/1 basses during most of the group's career—a 1961 model with pickups mounted close together towards the neck, and a 1963 model, with the second pickup mounted closer to the bridge. McCartney used the 1961 bass until the recording of With The Beatles in late 1963, when he got his second 500/1. McCartney used his 1963 bass almost exclusively during The Beatles' touring career, using his 1961 bass (repaired and refinished in 1964) as a backup. By 1965 McCartney had begun using a Rickenbacker bass in the studio—but he did bring out his 1961 model for the "Revolution" promo film in 1968, and for the documentary Let It Be the following year. During the shooting, however, the 1961 bass was stolen, and McCartney used his newer Höfner for the remainder of the film, including the famous rooftop performance. McCartney continued to use his 1963 Höfner extensively throughout his solo career and continues to use it.
The bass guitar is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric or an acoustic guitar, except with a longer neck and scale length, and typically four to six strings or courses. Since the 1960s, the bass guitar has largely replaced the double bass in popular music.
Rickenbacker International Corporation is a string instrument manufacturer based in Santa Ana, California. The company is credited as the first known maker of electric guitars —in 1932—and eventually produced a range of electric guitars and bass guitars. Rickenbacker twelve string guitars were favored by The Beatles, Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, and Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers. Players of the six string include John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Kay of Steppenwolf and Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Players who have used Rickenbacker basses include Paul McCartney, Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, Cliff Burton of Metallica, Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple and Paul Wilson of Snow Patrol.
The acoustic bass guitar is a bass instrument with a hollow wooden body similar to, though usually larger than a steel-string acoustic guitar. Like the traditional electric bass guitar and the double bass, the acoustic bass guitar commonly has four strings, which are normally tuned E-A-D-G, an octave below the lowest four strings of the 6-string guitar, which is the same tuning pitch as an electric bass guitar.
A luthier builds and repairs string instruments that have a neck and a sound box. The word "luthier" is originally French and comes from the French word for lute. The term was originally used for makers of lutes, but it came to be used already in French for makers of most bowed and plucked stringed instruments such as members of the violin family and guitars. Luthiers however do not make harps or pianos; these require different skills and construction methods because their strings are secured to a frame.
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"Fine Line" is a song from Paul McCartney's 2005 album, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. McCartney plays all the instruments on the song including drums, bass, and piano. It was released 29 August 2005 as the first single from the album in the UK. It reached number 20 on the UK Singles Chart, McCartney's last top 20 solo single in the UK as of 2019, and number 31 on the US Adult Contemporary. It also reached number 1 in Japan. The cover art is a drawing by British artist and frequent McCartney collaborator Brian Clarke.
Framus is a German string instrument manufacturing company, that existed from 1946 until going bankrupt in 1975. The Framus brand was revived in 1995 as part of Warwick GmbH & Co Music Equipment KG in Markneukirchen, Germany. Their headquarters and custom shops are located in Markneukirchen, Shanghai, New York City, and Nashville.
The Guild Guitar Company is a United States-based guitar manufacturer founded in 1952 by Alfred Dronge, a guitarist and music-store owner, and George Mann, a former executive with the Epiphone Guitar Company. The brand name currently exists as a brand under Córdoba Music Group.
The scale length or scale of a string instrument is the maximum vibrating length of the strings that produce sound, and determines the range of tones that string can produce at a given tension. It's also called string length. On instruments in which strings are not "stopped" or divided in length, such as the piano, it is the actual length of string between the nut and the bridge.
Kay Musical Instrument Company was a US musical instrument manufacturer of the United States, in operation from 1890. Kay was established in 1931 in Chicago, Illinois, by Henry "Kay" Kuhrmeyer, from the assets of the former Stromberg-Voisinet.
Matsumoku Industrial was a Japanese manufacturing company based in Matsumoto, Nagano, between 1951 and 1987. Established in 1951 as a woodworking and cabinetry firm, Matsumoku is remembered as a manufacturer of guitars and bass guitars, including some Epiphone and Aria guitars.
The Univox 'Lectra was a bass guitar made by Univox modeled originally on the Hofner 500/1 bass, popularized by Paul McCartney in the early days of the Beatles, and later on the Gibson EB-1, both violin shaped guitars. The bass was available from the late 1960s through the mid-1970s.
Bubenreuth is a municipality in the district of Erlangen-Höchstadt, in Bavaria, Germany.
John Lennon's musical instruments were both diverse and many, and his great fame resulted in his personal choices having a strong impact on cultural preferences.
During 1965, The Beatles toured Europe.
The Höfner 500/1 violin bass is a hollow-bodied bass guitar manufactured by Höfner under several varieties. It was introduced in the mid-1950s and gained celebrity status during the 1960s as one of the primary basses used by Paul McCartney of The Beatles.
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The Roy Orbison/The Beatles Tour was a 1963 concert tour of the United Kingdom by Roy Orbison and the Beatles. Other acts on the tour included Gerry and the Pacemakers, David Macbeth, Louise Cordet, Tony Marsh, Terry Young Six, Erkey Grant, and Ian Crawford. It was Orbison's first, and the Beatles' third nationwide tour of the UK. Although Orbison was originally intended to be the headlining act, the reaction to the Beatles on the tour caused them to be promoted to co-headliners, with the Beatles closing the set in the traditional headlining spot.
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