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Hofner Icon vs. Contemporary

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Johnny Alien, Mar 21, 2009.

  1. I know there are threads on both of these basses out there and I also know that north Coast Music has a comparison. I am interested in possibly getting a Beatles bass for my birthday. I by no means need to get a German made one as it will probably only be used for in home practicing, jamming to the Beatles now and again and also some recording.

    I know the spec differences....Icon is all Chinese while the COntemporary is Chinese made but with German electronics and such.

    But my real question is for those that may have played both or one or the other and a Hofner. Which one sounds closer to the true Hofner sound? The Contemporary has the pickups but also the soundblock which will change it's sound. The Icon is fully hollow but with Chinese electronics. Both have their downsides.

    I have to admit I prefer the look of the COntemporary for the burst alone. I don't like the burst as much on the Icon and also do not want to get a solid color one. BUT if the Icon sounds more Hofner-y then I suppose I might need to suck it up.

    Also I am sold on getting a Hofner so I don't need any "Get a Brice" or "Get a Rogue" suggestions :)
  2. Btone


    May 5, 2001
    Can't really help you - but what's the difference between the Icon and Contemporary bursts?
  3. agplate


    Jan 12, 2005
    Here is a thread I started when I got my ICON. I had originally purchased a CT, and while I love the solid and heavier feel to it, I could never really get it dialed in and had several small niggling issues with it. I was able to return it and have been much happier with the ICON.


    Read through the initial comments on page one and a further review after a gig on page two- good luck!

    Also, as to the ICON bursts, I believe the more recent ones are much closer to the original German color.
  4. The Contemporary is more of a yellowish burst that looks more like an authentic Hofner finish to me.


    The icon finish is just more of a generic sunburst. Darker and not as appealing (to me).


    I also prefer the binding on the neck and headstock that the Icon doesn't have. Looks wise the contemporary wins but if the icon sounds more like a Hofner than I may need to just deal with it. Plus it is cheaper.
  5. agplate


    Jan 12, 2005
    For what it's worth, I'm pretty certain those pics aren't really good representations of the colors of either. I recently saw a new ICON at a local store and it was a little more mellow than the orangy/brown in the north coast photo. But just the same, I totally understand what you're talking about with the compromise of color :)

    Maybe check some ebay pics and see if you get any better idea of the color...?

    You wouldn't want a 'dark burst' would you?
  6. Your darkburst photos look alot better than the regular burst IMO although I suppose it is less like a traditional Hofner burst.
  7. Caksi


    Nov 28, 2008
    I must say I never played CT, but did few vintage Hofners, and I have ICON... it's the same idea, same sound, same features as german Hofner, and it's about 7-8 times cheaper... maybe CT looks more like a german Hof, ICON is not bad looking either! And still 2 times cheaper than CT!!!
    Enough for my decision!
  8. Btone


    May 5, 2001
    I can agree with you, Johnny, comparing those two pics - but pics don't always tell the truth..
    What would you say, agplate - you've had the opportunity to compare the two finishes in real life?
  9. funkytoe

    funkytoe Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2008
    Northern California
    I have played both and currently own the ICON. The deciding factor for me was the center block. The ICON is a true hollowbody, just like the original Hofner 500/1. It has no center block and no restrictions on the vibration of the maple top. So, strung with flats, you can get really close to that vintage McCartney tone. The CT has a center block, which means less vibration/resonance through the body and a more "modern" sounding bass.

    I prefer that hollowbody sound. So, I went with the ICON.

    But I do think the CT looks nicer ;)
  10. This is the type of information I was looking for. Thanks! I have a feeling that even with the different electronics that the Icon is going to be a more traditional sound. I still wish the Contemporary was an easy sell as I prefer the finish alot.

    And the binding.
  11. Are you looking to sell yours?
  12. I am leaning towards a Contemporary I think. With flats I think it will get the sound most of the way there and it just looks a ton better.

    So.....does anyone know where to get the best price on one of these?
    El Pelusa likes this.
  13. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis

    Dec 11, 1999

  14. agplate


    Jan 12, 2005
    I am thinking of selling my ICON- so PM me if you end up going that route. The CT is a very nice bass though, and I think I probably just had a dud with my experience. I love the solid feel of them.
  15. I decided to go for the Contemporary Club. I like the shape alot and figured it would be about the same as the Violin tone wise.

    Got a really really good price from the guys at The Music Zoo in New York. And they not only gave me a great price but are going to play all of the Sunburst and pick out the best one with the most accurate 62 Burst color.

  16. lowselfesteem


    Jun 24, 2007
    great choice. I would love to have one of them.
  17. DeanT

    DeanT Send lawyers, guns and money...

    I own both. The Icon is hollow all the way through, so it sounds more "authentic." Particularly with flats or tapewounds. But the Contemporary is no slouch and comes pretty darn close because of the German pickups.

    The Contemporary is a bit heavier than the Icon because of the soundblock. The Icon is virtually weightless compared to my Fender Jazz and P-bass. Both Hofners sound great and are fun to play.

    Here are my two. The Icon is the Pink one.

  18. Great looking basses! I have no idea how many pink ones were made but there are still tons of the other special colors out there but you never see any in pink.

    From talking to some people that have owned them I have deduced that although the Icon will get you more accurate Hofner tone, the Contemporary with flats will get you pretty much the same sound.
  19. So I got the Contemporary Club and Tim @ Music Zoo did a great job picking out one with the perfect finish. The bass sounded great however the E tuner was stripped and would not turn making it impossible to tune or restring. Tim took it back and sent me a new one. The finish on this one is nice but not quite the same great color the first one was. It was however lighter than the first one, the tuners all worked great and it sounded amazing. So all in all it was a good trade.

    The bass itself is really nicely made and the German pickups sound great. Strung it up with TI flats and it has plenty of the Hofner tone. I would still like to get a fully hollow Hofner and based on how great the Contemporary is I would LOVE to see how much better a real German Hofner is so on my short list is a Hofner violin bass but my poor man budget might make me end up with an Icon someday.

  20. Timpala


    Nov 13, 2011
    I know this a VERY old thread, but I am facing the same decision between the Hofner Club Contemporary or the Ignition (old ICON) series. I was wondering if you still like it today or ended up getting the full hollow body?

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