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Hofner Icon or Contemporary, wich sounds more like the original.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by no1likesme, Sep 2, 2008.

  1. no1likesme


    Dec 26, 2006
    Shepherd, MI
    I was at a local music shop today (elderly instruments in Lansing, MI) and I played this '66 hofner 500/1. I fell in love with it. If I could only play one more bass for the rest of my life it would be this hofner. I played a few vintage fenders, new '08 fenders, gretsch, etc... and nothing compared to the hofner. The only problem is that they wanted $2400 for it and I am poor.

    Since I cannot justify spending $2000+ on a bass right now I have been looking at hofner's budget models.

    Both the Icon and the contemporary look the part but do either of them have the same sound/feel?

    From what I read the Contemporary series has better electronics but it also has a "tone block" under the bridge. How much does this change the sound?

    The icon seems to still be a hollow body but has cheaper chinese electronics.

    Then there are the other brands like epiphone, brice, jay turser, etc... (however I would prefer a hofner branded one for purely aesthetic reasons)

    I am just trying to get a bass that feels/sounds as close to the original as possible.

  2. no1likesme


    Dec 26, 2006
    Shepherd, MI
  3. Hawaii Islander

    Hawaii Islander Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2007
    Rio Rico, AZ
    I tried the Jay Turser and wasn't too impressed by it.

    The Hofner Contemporary Series has Hofner Staple pickups and electronics (according to their website). I would probably go with the Contemporary over the Icon because of that. JMO
  4. funkytoe

    funkytoe Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2008
    Northern California
    I have owned a mid-60's 500/1 and currently own an Icon bass. Through a Vox AC-100, I thought the Icon sounded every bit as good as the original. Strung with flats, you will get a very authentic Beatle/McCartney sound.

    Now, as I understand it, the Contemporary series bass has a center block, so it will not produce the same upper register bloom that the hollow body Icon produces. As the original 500/1 was also a true hollowbody, I think that the Icon likely resonates much closer to an original 500/1 than does the Contemporary.

    Having said that, the Contemporary has other features more like the original 500/1 -- including original Hofner staple pickups and a zero fret (which the Icon does not have).

    I love my Icon. It sounds like my old 500/1 and now that I have set it up, it plays wonderfully. For me, I do not need to spend the extra $300-$400 for the Contemporary Series. But I suspect many here who have played both right out of the box will tell you that the Contemporary Series is a better made instrument overall.

    Bottom line: Play them both if you can and decide for yourself. For me... the Icon just fits the bill perfectly.
  5. funkytoe

    funkytoe Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2008
    Northern California
    Paging Thornton Davis .... Paging Thornton Davis...
  6. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I'd love a 500/1, but it's pretty low on the list. As to the budget models, I've played a Hofner Icon, Epiphone Viola, and a Jay Turser. All felt like toys, but the Turser had the best neck. I'd pass on all of 'em and save up for the real deal.
  7. Personally, I'd never pay $2,400 for a bass.

    I have the Hofner Icon and it is GREAT for the money. I played the "real deal" in high school when a friend lent me a German made Hofner. Not much difference, surely not $2,100 difference.

    But if having an "original" means that much to you, then save and get one.

  8. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis

    Dec 11, 1999
    You sir are absolutely correct with your comments above. If you want "the sound", the Icon B-Bass strung with flatwounds will be much closer than a Contemporary HCT500/1 strung with the same strings.

    The purpose of the Contemporary HCT500/1 is to offer a almost exact physical copy of the German made 500/1 at a lower price point. The center block (which runs the length of the body) adds to string sustain and eliminates the hollowness of the string vibration across the top of the body of the instrument, making it sound more like a solid body instrument than a hollow body one.

    Remember that 95% of the Contemporary is made in China where 100% of the Icon Series is made there. The only components in the Contemporary HCT500/1 NOT made in China are the 2 German made type 511B humbucking pickups. Everything else including the control panel is Chinese made.

    For any one that's interested, you'll soon be able to purchase a Contemporary HCT500/2 Club Bass here in North America if that body style appeals to you.

    Buy yourself a used German made Hofner or Klira if you can. They are the best (and the originals).

    I made a personal decision awhile back to not own or purchase any musical instruments or amplification that have been made in China. From now on I will only buy North American or European made instruments. I'd rather support our musical industry manufactureres than those in China, so i've sold my HCT500/1.

  9. agplate


    Jan 12, 2005
    Thornton is the man.

    I've played all three Hofners (I have a '66)- and have found that the '66 has the real sound, of course as it is the real deal. I owned a Contemporary for a short time, and while the thing was beautiful and very well built, the tone was a little off for lack of better word. I thought I'd like it more because of the tone block, but it was different and not quite close to the 66. I have since bought an Icon bass, and would say that with a little tweaking of the EQ on my amp it gets very close to the '66. It's well built and actually less "quirky" than the contemporary series which I was glad to get rid of. I really love the Icon, especially for $400 or so.
  10. no1likesme


    Dec 26, 2006
    Shepherd, MI
    Sounds like the Icon is the bass for me unless I can find an amazing deal on a german made bass.

    How much should a used german hofner or klira cost?
  11. DeanT

    DeanT Send lawyers, guns and money...

    I've got the Icon strung with tapewounds and it nails the Beatles sound dead on. I haven't played the original or a Contemporary, but I know the Icon comes very close to what Paul sounded like in those days (though my playing is not as good!).

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