Why the Hofner CT?
What can I say? I’m obsessed. The signs? Constant thoughts about it, an urge to have more, and once that urge has been met? I still want more! Yep, those are signs of an addiction and an obsession that I have, and I have it bad for bass guitars- of the short scale variety.
Sure, I try to justify my behaviour by reasoning that it doesn’t harm anyone, our apartment walls are double brick, so my neighbours aren’t made to suffer through my bass playing. Sure, my wife has to put up with it a bit, but I do try to do most of my practicing while I’m home alone. And sure, almost every spot in our study at the moment where you can safely lean something against, there’s currently a guitar or guitar case there. But there’s worse addictions/obsessions out there? Aren’t there?
So, my obsession had led me to spend countless hours watching and re-watching Youtube reviews of short scale bass guitars and visiting the web-sites of almost every music store up and down the East coast of Australia. And the end outcome was that I bought 2 more short scale bass guitars, even though my very first was no more than 10 months old. Oops. I’ll get to my second purchase another day, but the third, the lucky third was a Hofner Contemporary 500/2 Club bass!
For those who are unfamiliar with the German guitar brand, the most common explanation of Hofners to those who aren’t in the know, is the explanation that the Hofner Violin bass was the guitar which Beatles legend Paul McCartney made famous, the left handed sunburst short scale bass guitar he was seen with in many grainy videos from the 60s. And that signature sound, the unique sound to a hollow body bass guitar, which people associate with Beatles music. And it was that sound which drew me to the Hofner brand.
My desire for the next bass wasn’t for its look, or the brand name, or what it promised to be able to do. But I was trying to get a bass guitar to cover the whole spectrum of bass guitar sounds they produce. And this time I wanted that hollow body sound! And I have to admit, I was first drawn to the seemingly low price tag as well. Which was around $800 Aussie dollars. Which seemed too good to be true! And unfortunately, it was.
After a bit more research and watching many unboxing videos, I learnt that the entry level Hofner (the Ignition series) was both made in China and the components were also from China. Some reviews praised the Ignition for it’s sound, while others slammed it for its poor build quality and disappointing cheap feeling parts. So, all of a sudden, $800 seemed like an expensive gamble. So, the Ignition series was off the table for me.
Then it was the look. I may have mentioned previously that I’m blind? So, I was relying on my wife to be the judge of the appearance, and she didn’t like the violin body shape. Her description was “It’s like having an oversized violin strapped to your body”. And considering that I was planning to play this bass at church, she said it would look way too out there for that purpose. So, the violin 500/1 body shape was out as well. So where did that leave me?
Which then left me looking around at other hollow body guitar makers, and what else the Hofner guitar company produced. And it was clear that the Ignition series 500/1 was their most promoted product. So, you had to dig into the second pages of Google searches or Youtube videos to find the Club bass.
What is the Club bass I hear you ask? Well, if the Hofner is known for its iconic violin body shape and being easily recognisable. Then the Hofner Club bass is the exact opposite. It takes the form factor of a conventional guitar shape (an acoustic) but applies the same technologies and touches to replicate the hollow body bass sound, but now in a disguised unassuming appearance. So, at first glance, people wouldn’t know it’s a Hofner, that matter, most people wouldn’t know it’s a bass either. So, that was the body shape looked after.
But what about the issue of quality? As the Ignition series also produce a Club bass.
So, Hofner products have 3 levels. The Ignition series- affordable, made in China, components also from China; the Contemporary series- double the price, made in China, but components from Germany; and the original Hofners- 4-5 times more expensive than the entry level, made in Germany, with German parts. And as much as I love to spend around $5000 on the top spec guitar, but my Asian side won out against my obsession. So, I settled with the Contemporary, the goldilocks of the Hofner range.
So, just before I end this first post of 3 where I’ve walked you through the decision process before clicking on ‘ADD to cart’, let me re-cap the virtues of the Hofner Contemporary 500/2 Club bass:
- That iconic hollow body Beatle sound
- Affordable enough
- Inconspicuous enough
- Easy to play (as it’s a short scale).
For more information about the Hofner CT, click HERE! In my next post I’ll share the experience in hunting down a Hofner CT 500/2, and the eventual unboxing……