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Hofner Bass Question: Old vs New?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by phil02131, Dec 17, 2013.

  1. phil02131


    Dec 16, 2013
    Hello all. New member here. First post.

    I apologize if this has been discussed already. I searched around a little but didn't find a quick answer to this question.

    I used to own 60's era Hofner 185 Artist. It had 2 pickups, 4 knobs, 2 pickup on/off switches. Kind-of-a maroon to black burst finish with a white pick-guard. Double stripe inlays. Short scale.

    It got ripped off in the mid 80's. I wasn't playing bass anymore at the time so I never thought to replace it. I've been feeling nostalgic lately and been looking at some of the reissue versions of it that are floating around on the internet.

    Has anyone actually had an opportunity to compare these new models to the older ones? I know some of the new ones are long scale. Is the quality of the new ones any good?


  2. FranF

    FranF Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeastern PA
    the new ones are outstanding. very good quality for the dollar. in many ways, they're built better and sound very good indeed.
  3. FranF

    FranF Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeastern PA
    As an FYI, the solid bodies aren't German made any more, they're from China. Not that it matters ... :)
  4. phil02131


    Dec 16, 2013
    Thanks Fran. The Galaxie and the HCT 185 certainly look a lot like the old ones, other than the body color. Are the pickups basically the same as the old staple humbuckers?
  5. T-34


    Aug 11, 2005
    France, Paris region
    185's weren't built in Germany back then either I believe?
  6. ShoeManiac


    Jan 19, 2006
    New Jersey
    I tried out a Hofner 500/1 CT yesterday, and I was fairly impressed with the quality at that price point. I've had my eyes on a Hofner for as long as I could remember. And the CT bass is an instrument that I might be able to justify purchasing.
  7. FranF

    FranF Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeastern PA
    All Hofners were from Germany until the mid 2000's. A few 500/1s were built n Spain in the early 70s and a few in Japan in the late 80s.
  8. FranF

    FranF Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeastern PA
    Pickups use the same methods and sound very authentic. I have reissues and originals here at home and they're very close.
  9. Phil02131, I own three new contemporary series Hofners and have played my share of vintage ones.

    The new contemporaries are built in China but made of German electronics. The new staple humbuckers are very close to the old ones when paired with pure nickel flatwounds, and the diamond humbuckers in the guitars are also excellent. The hollowbody standards (violin and club basses) are now blocked internally, so they're a bit heavier than their vintage counterparts, and the tone is deeeper, but still nice.

    The problem is, they've stopped using the diamonds on newer guitars, and the staples on the icon series are somewhat lacklustre.

    The galaxies are hit and miss on build quality, and more power to you if you can handle the wide fret spacing, but they're not bad. I personally would recommend grabbing one of the contemporary series instruments (HCT in the code) if it catches your eye and is comfortable to play.
  10. itsjustmeee


    Dec 20, 2013
    Hello all. This is my first time here. This post caught my eye because I'm debating the same thing. I would love to get a mid 60's Beatle bass but I'm also considering the new vintage model. Are they worth the $2,800 + they're asking for them? Has anyone actually compared a newer vintage to a true vintage bass? I've heard that the weak point in vintage Hofners are the necks and they pretty much all need a neck reset sometime in their life. Is it a safer bet getting a new one knowing that it will probably not need the work done on it? Also, any additional comments about the vintage '62 reissue with the thicker neck in particular?

    Any thoughts or info would be truly appreciated.
  11. Itsjustmeee, try playing one of the new German reissue models and ask yourself if it's worth your money. That's the only way to tell. They play pretty close to the originals, except that after all those years, true vintage models weigh nothing and have "dried" to the point where they ring like a bell.

    Either way, $2800 is a LOT of your money, so really the only true judge is you.
  12. itsjustmeee


    Dec 20, 2013
    Thanks Treadstone71. I'm trying to determine just what a mid 60s would go for. I've seen 3 now on ebay over the last 2 days not even come close to selling. One didn't get a bid over $1,300 and another didn't get the minimum offer of $1,595. It does seem a little bizarre to shell out $2,800 for a new one .... seems to me that somewhere in the low $2,000 range feels more appropriate.

    Who knows, maybe it's just that people don't want to blow $1,500 plus on a guitar a week before Christmas .... unless they're like me and want to buy themselves a bucket list present!
  13. Mastermold

    Mastermold Supporting Member

    $2,000 is the most I'd spend for a German Hofner. So I guess that's used-only for me at this point.
  14. eBay is a terrible yardstick for determining value. That said, there was a '63 500/1 violin bass reissue sitting in my fave music shop for $2700 for a few months...played it and it was nice. No lie, I went in one day and it was sold to Jude Law. He bought it for his son. So if you want a reissue, they're well made, and "that tone" you want for early Beatles or Paul Revere and the Raiders. And apparently Jude Law's 10 year old kid plays one.

    In contrast, they picked up an original '65 Club Bass that needed a LOT of work, including a neck reset. Played it when it was finally done, and it was feather light. When you tapped on the body, it made a sound like thin glass. Like I said, it rang like a bell when played. All said and done, they were asking $2500 for it, and I couldn't justify it to myself. It just wasn't worth it. It was nice, but not for that price.

    Apparently it sold later for asking, so it's really personal preference, but be careful about originals, they often need a lot of work, and people rarely put the right strings on them, so a neck reset is often in order.
  15. itsjustmeee


    Dec 20, 2013
    Thanks for the advice Treadstone71. The "asking price" for mid 60's seems to hover around $2,500 from what I can tell but since I've been monitoring them on Craigslist and Ebay, they're not moving at those prices. At the end of the day, a guitar's worth is only what someone is willing to pay for it. Honestly I'm giving myself a crash course in Hofners for this purchase and reading everything I can online. From what I can tell, there's no real bad years to avoid ... at least not that I've come across yet. A new one would be nice because I know exactly what I'm getting but the downside is that there's no vibe there. I have plenty of guitars laying around with the price tag still on them that are pale imitations of their vintage model counterparts. That seems not to be the case with new Hofners. Everything I read on them tells of excellent quality control with the German made ones. Like I said, any advice is welcome.
  16. sneha1965


    Nov 7, 2007
    You can find German Hofners for around $1400 used, sometimes less. Here's one i picked up for $1400.