This section of the website has been put together in order
to assist owners identify the model and approximate manufacture date of their
Hofner guitars. It has been compiled by reference to all those
Hofner Catalogues and Price Lists that are available to me. I would like to
thank the Hofner Company in Hagenau, Germany for allowing me to consult their factory files with
regard to these sources of information.
Like Hofner's flattop "Western" acoustics and
their "Jugend"/"Wander" guitars, the evolution of the various models and ranges of Hofner
concert guitars over the years since they were first introduced in the
1940's is very complex; more so than the history of the other types of Hofner
guitars and basses. In addition, differences between some of the various
models seem to be only slight. These may be the reasons why there is
so little information about these models to be
found elsewhere. Putting these guitars into some sort of order just isn't
straightforward! In an attempt to simplify matters, I have therefore split the various models into
various date-based series, in order to hopefully produce a small degree of logic
into the exercise. I have also used scans of models and variants
taken entirely from contemporary catalogues, rather than using gallery photos of
owners guitars, in an attempt to provide some consistency into the presentation
of the details.
I have retained the previously existing Visitors' Galleries, which
actual photos of some of the guitars described below, to allow for further research, and they
can be accessed using the following link:
HOFNER MODEL 484 This model showed a very
brief appearance in the 1948/50 price lists (but not in the catalogue) and
then seems to have disappeared until 1954 from when it remained in
production through to 1984 . Spruce top with laminated mahogany back
& sides. Both the top and back of the body were bound in black, and the
guitar had a rosewood fingerboard. Initially this model had only a very
simple inlaid circle around the soundhole. By the 1960's, this had been
replaced with a wooden mosaic soundhole decoration. It would appear
that Hofner made their Concert Guitars in two body sizes. The 484 was one of
the small-bodied guitars, with body bout widths of 27.5mm and 36.5mm, and a
neck width of 50mm. The scale length was 64cm, which seems common throughout
all the Concert/Classical guitars. A version of
the 484 ( designatedHOFNER MODEL 484a) with flame maple back and sides and a matt finish was introduced in
1969, and this then ran in parallel with the mahogany-backed 484 until
HOFNER MODEL 487 A large-bodied concert
guitar with body bout widths of 28.5mm and 37.5mm, with a neck width of
52mm. This had a spruce top with laminated mahogany back & sides.
Both top and bottom edges of the body were bound (wooden binding and
inlays) and a wooden mosaic soundhole decoration was provided. The machine
heads were good quality. Up to the mid/end of the 1960's, fret marker dots
were inlaid into the rosewood fingerboard. These then disappeared. An
adjustable bridge (for height only) was fitted up until the late 1950's. It
therefore appears that over this early period, Hofner fitted steel strings to
the 487. Prior
to the mid 1970's, the body top was natural finished in clear lacquer. After
that time, the 487's top was tinted dark brown, but an alternative version
called the 487HD was available with a clear lacquer top.
HOFNER MODEL 494 This is the
guitar that was shown in all the catalogues up to 1975 as a rear-view
photograph only. Hofner preferred to show-off the beautiful birds eye maple
back & sides rather than show the prospective purchaser the front of the
guitar! The body top was made of good quality spruce, was in a clear natural finish.
This contrasted nicely with the dark brown mahogany neck. The body was provided with black
binding around both the body top and back, with heavy purfling around the
body top to match the rosette design. The large Hofner
concert guitar dimensions as for the 487 model. A genuine wooden rosette was provided around the
soundhole. As with the 487 model, a height-adjustable bridge was fitted on
earlier examples, strongly suggesting that during the 1950's, Hofner
considered the 494 to be a steel-strung acoustic guitar, albeit built on a
classical style. In the mid-1970's, the 494 lost the heavy purfling
around the body top, and gained a new soundhole decoration complete with
images of rather delicate looking roses. An option of having this model with a rosewood back & sides
was available between 1952 and 1962. This version was named the 494P
HOFNER MODEL 488(i) This one appeared in the 1949 price list
only. I don't have a catalogue with it in. It is described in the price list
as being a "Masterclass" large Spanish model, with birdseye maple
back & sides, together with a fine spruce top. The designation 488 was
also used for a short lived concert guitar in 1964 which had a mahogany
back & sides.
HOFNER MODEL 486 Even by Hofner standards,
the 486 had many changes during its long production run. However, it
retained the basis of being a large bodied concert guitar with a highly
flamed maple back and sides with spruce top through the years. When
the guitar was first introduced, it had a trapeze tailpiece and a celluloid
pickguard. These features seem to have disappeared in 1968/69. From 1962 to 1968, a 486a model with a conventional combined
bridge/tailpiece and no pickguard ran in parallel with the 486. From 1969
onwards, the version with the trapeze tailpiece was dropped, and the 486a
version with the combined bridge/tailpiece then continued on, but with the
HOFNER MODEL 485
The one with the carved soundhole decoration. At least this proved that the
485 had a genuine solid spruce top! Back & sides were highly flamed
maple, and the basic version was finished in a dark brown lacquer, polished
on the back & sides, but left matt on the body top. The basic version
used the smaller Hofner classical guitar dimensions (275mm/365mm body
width), but a large bodied version (285mm/375mm body width) called the 485G
was produced between 1953 and 1970. The 485 was supplied to Selmer London
as the "Vienna" model.
HOFNER MODEL 497 One of Hofner's Master Guitars, and hence of a very high quality. Initially
the 497 had a spruce top, with laminated rosewood back & sides, and an
ebony fingerboard. In the mid/late 1970's, the body top was changed to cedar, but from around 1982, it had reverted back to a spruce top. Up to the
early 1970's, the top and
back edges of the body were bound with cedar and purfled with multi-ebony strips. After
that, black plastic binding was used. The 497 was marketed
under the Werner Pöhlert endorsed range in 1969 for a year or so. This model was
supplied to Selmer London as the "Concert" model from 1952 through
to around 1957.
HOFNER MODEL 490 This model lasted for just over a year in the
Hofner price lists. No photos of the 490 have been found, but it was
apparently a large Torres model, with flame maple back and sides, and a high
quality spruce top. Mosaic purfling was provided to the soundhole and the
body edges, and a wide concert-size fingerboard was fitted.
HOFNER MODEL 495(i) This
guitar, although nylon-strung, has been included in the "Western"
Acoustic Guitar section as I believe that it was intended more for use
as that type rather than that of a classical/concert guitar.
HOFNER MODEL 514 A lower quality
guitar, more appropriate to the Jugend/Wander range, which Hofner sometimes
included it with, but usually qualifying for the Classical section due to its large
concert-size body (275mm/365mm body width) and 50mm fingerboard width. It
had a natural-finish spruce top with laminated maple back & sides.
Initially the guitar was given fret-marker dots on the fingerboard, but
these were discontinued sometime during the 1960's. A simple double-line
inlay was provided around the soundhole, and the whole guitar was finished
in matt. A highly polished version called the 514h was produced from 1968 to
The 514 was the model supplied to Selmer London under the
HOFNER MODEL 498 A large size Torres
model, with spruce top and highly flamed maple back & sides. Wood
binding and mosaic inlays to top and back edges of the body. Ebony
fingerboard and gold-plated machine heads. As with the 497 model, the top was changed to cedar for a few
years from the mid/late 1970's to around 1982, when it reverted back to
spruce. Another top quality Master Guitar.
2. The Early 1960's
Year of Introduction
Final Year of Production
HOFNER MODEL 4980 This large bodied
Torres model guitar was Hofner's top concert guitar when introduced in 1961,
and retained that crown until the introduction of the 4985 in 1970. It had
laminated rosewood back and sides, with a high quality solid spruce top
(although this was changed to a cedar top for a few years in the late
1970's). Up to about 1970, the guitar had a prominent houndstooth wooden
purfling around the body edges, but a plain headstock. After this date, the
purfling around the body became simpler, but a rather nice central mosaic
inlay was added to the headstock.
HOFNER MODEL 493 A good mid-range
classical guitar with Hofner's large size body. Laminated rosewood back and spruce top.
HOFNER MODEL 488(ii) A fairly short lived guitar that appears as
a description only in one catalogue - no pictures of it unfortunately. This
is my attempt at translating what the catalogue says: "Large concert model, according to the Spanish style. Back &
sides mahogany veneer, spruce top, binding and wood inlays to top and back,
inlaid purfling to soundhole. Nickel plated machine heads. Nylon
3. The Late 1960's/Early 1970's
Year of Introduction
Final Year of Production
HOFNER MODEL 515 Like the 514, this guitar
was at various times marketed by Hofner in both their Jugend range, and also
with the Concert guitars with which it was best suited because of it's size.
It had the smaller of Hofner's two concert body sizes (275/365mm width), and
had a spruce body top and laminated flame maple back & sides. The body
was provided with simple black (plastic?) binding, and a wooden mosaic
soundhole decoration. The 515 was finished in dull clear lacquer, but a
highly polished version was available in parallel throughout the whole
HOFNER MODEL 4830 In the price list for about a year,
information on the 4830 didn't even make it into the catalogues of the time.
Presumably it was overtaken by the 4840 model?
HOFNER MODEL 4840 The large-bodied
concert guitar with the inlaid rosewood soundhole decoration. Spruce
top with laminated rosewood back & sides and black (ebony or plastic?)
HOFNER MODEL 495(ii) This model took over
the 495 designation from the earlier 495 (1954 to 1963), which was a totally
different animal. The new guitar was a proper large-size concert model
with spruce top and a flamed maple back & sides. It had binding
and purfling to the body edges, and a rosewood
HOFNER MODEL 4985 This was, during it's
production run, Hofner's highest quality concert instrument, with a price to
match! It featured solid rosewood back & sides, ebony fingerboard, and
for most of its time a solid spruce top, although cedar was used during the
mid/late 1970's as with several other Hofner quality archtops. Details such
as purfling, soundhole rosettes, and the headstock design changed
frequently, and hence I have attempted to provide as many variations as
possible on the picture page. In the later guitars, a skeletal-type
headstock was used. The only consistent features seem to have been the solid
rosewood back & sides, and of course its obvious overall quality.
HOFNER MODEL 4820 A mid-quality concert
guitar with a laminated maple back & sides, together with a spruce
top. In later years, back and sides veneers were macore. Black binding to the body edges and a wooden mosaic soundhole
decoration. Finished in a dark lacquer and highly polished.
HOFNER MODEL 4984 Second only to the 4985
model, the 4984 was a very high quality guitar indeed, with a solid rosewood
back & sides, plus either a solid spruce or cedar top to the purchaser's
choice. Gold-plated tuners and an ebony fingerboard were used. With the
later versions, the guitar had a skeletal headstock like that of the 4985;
these two guitars being the first Hofner classicals to adopt that feature
which still continues to be used on only Hofner's very best guitars.
4. The Late 1970's/Early 1980's
Year of Introduction
Final Year of Production
Hofner Model 4981
Hofner Model 516(ii)
Hofner Model 4982
Hofner Model 519
Hofner Model T1
HOFNER MODEL 4981 A short lived guitar,
probably because it was so similar to other models in the range at that
time. It had a laminated rosewood back & sides, with a cedar top.
Binding and purfling to the body edges was of wooden strips, and of course a
genuine wooden soundhole rosette was inlaid into the top. The fingerboard
was ebony. A natural clear dull lacquer was applied to the guitar, but the
option of having the finish highly polished was provided with a variation
designated the 4981h model.
HOFNER MODEL 516(ii) This guitar used the
same 516 designation as an earlier Jugend guitar, but was a totally
different instrument. Designed as a budget full bodied (285/370mm width)
concert guitar, the 516 had a spruce top with laminated maple back &
sides and a rosewood fingerboard. An inlaid soundhole decoration was
provided, together with black binding around the body edges. The guitar had
a polished finish with a light brown lacquer to the body top and dark brown
to the back & sides.
HOFNER MODEL 4982 A further top-quality
classical to join the 4984 & 4985 models. The 4982 also had solid
rosewood for the back & sides of the body, with a solid spruce top.
Ornamentation included elaborate purfling and binding around the body edges,
as well as a wooden mosaic soundhole rosette. The fingerboard was ebony, and
the rosewood faced headstock was less ornate in design than the other two
more expensive master guitars. A clear lacquer was used for the highly
HOFNER MODEL 519 This short-lived model
appeared in the price lists for three years between 1981 and 1983. It seems
to have formed, with the T1 model, an attempt by Hofner to tidy up their
classical range by introduce a new range of low to mid-range classical
guitars. The 519 had maple back & sides with a spruce top. The
body edges were bound and purfled with the top being lightly stained and the
back & sides being dark stained. A wide 52mm rosewood fingerboard was
fitted. This model should be considered a mid-range guitar.
HOFNER MODEL T1 Introduced with the 519,
the T1 was presumably intended to be a lower price concert-size instrument
intended for school use. It was produced in two versions, the T1 and the T1h
with the only difference being that the body top of the T1h was finished in
a lighter stain than the T1 and was highly polished. Both versions had spruce tops and laminated maple back & sides. The body edges was bound,
and the rosewood fingerboard had a 50mm width. The T1 was finished in matt,
the T1h being highly polished.
In the period 1983 to 1985, Hofner obviously realised that the range of
classical guitars described above had become too un-wieldy and hence far too
difficult for prospective purchasers to understand. Over those two or three
years therefore, the concert guitar models were re-designed and rationalised
into several new series of guitars, starting with the "HC" series in
1983, the "HS", "HD" and "HM" Series in 1985, and
the "MS" Series in 1986. Further series have been added during the
1990's and into the 2000's in order to replace or augment those first mid-1980's
series. These are all listed and briefly described below.
In 1990, a similar exercise was carried out in order to rationalise the
Jugend guitars, and this resulted in the "HS5" Series which is
described in the Jugend/Wander Guitar section of this website.
5. The "HC" CLASSIC SERIES (1983 to 1989)
Year of Introduction
Final Year of Production
Hofner's first new series of classicals was made up of low and mid-range
guitars. There does seem to have been considerable adjustments made to the range
over the four years that it was in existance - Hofner were obviously trying hard
to get things right for further development of the "series" theme.
Just as with the "HC" guitars above, those higher-quality guitars
fitted with solid body tops were also moved away from the "HC" range
to produce the "HD" range in 1985. This range was later expanded by
the addition of the HD71 and HD74 in 1988.
As its title states, this series comprises Hofner's highest quality Master
instruments made by between 1985 and the present day. The
"Master" designation means that they are produced only by Hofner's
most experienced "Master" luthiers.
A range of guitars designed in co-operation with the Institute of Stringed
Instruments Guitar & Lute (ISIGL) and specifically intended to provide
students with good sounding instruments at a reasonable price. Hofner introduced
them as all having solid tops, a new special sound-friendly varnish, and an
adjustable bridge saddle.
These were two guitars specifically made to celebrate Hofner's 100th
Anniversary. The HE20 had a solid maple back & sides, whereas the HE22 had
solid rosewood. Both guitars had a solid spruce top, which was finished in matt.
The back & sides were highly polished. Scale length was 650mm and the
fingerboard width was 52mm.
The ones with the psychedelic finishes. This range included some "Jugend"
range Trendstyle instruments (620mm scale; 45mm fingerboard width) which lasted
just a little longer than the full-size concert versions (650mm scale; 50mm
The replacement for the "HS" budget range, these two guitars had
laminated spruce tops and laminated mahogany bodies. The HL3 had a matt finish
with nickel plated tuners; the HL5 had a polished finish with gold-plated
A range introduced with three models - two in mahogany and one in rosewood -
for the 1990 Frankfurt Fair, and later expanded to a total of 7 models which
continue to the present day. All the HF range hare fitted with solid spruce
The HZ range was brought out at the same time as the above HF, in order to
offer a complimentary set of guitars fitted with solid cedar body tops. Two
guitars, the HZ23 and HZ27 were offered initially, but the range has been
expanded top five models which have remained in production to the present
14. The "HGL" GREENLINE SERIES (1997 to Present Day)
Year of Introduction
Final Year of Production
Hofner HGL50 SE
Hofner HGL125 Anniversary
Hofner fell into line with the Eco-Movement in 1997, and began producing
their Greenline series. These were made exclusively from renewable European
tonewoods substituting walnut for the usual rosewood and alder for mahogany, and
were varnished using an environmentally neutral process. Body tops were solid,
with laminated back & sides except for the HGL50 and HGL70 which had all
solid woods in the body. The original two models, the HGL5 with its laminated
walnut back & sides, and the HGL7 with laminated maple back & sides
continue in production to the present day.
HOFNER STUDIO 1 & 2 A
model that was made to be used with a school Music Laboratory that Hofner
and Multivox/Sorkin developed in 1974/75. The whole project was called the
Premier Music Lab, and it was based on the concept of a Language Laboratory,
only using guitars. The students listened to their efforts through
headphones. Hofner supplied the option of using three types of different
instrument models with the Laboratory - a single pickup solid guitar called
the "161" , a
nylon-strung thinline solid with a 45mm wide neck called the "Studio No
1 Guitar", and a similar one with a 50mm wide neck called the
"Studio No 2 Guitar".
HOFNER MODEL CS1 Hofner's answer to the
Gibson Chet Atkins guitar? This was a nylon-strung thinline classical guitar
fitted with a piezzo pickup and active circuit. The body was fitted with a
sustain block, and had a cutaway. Hofner included this guitar in their
"Profi-Line" range, which gives a good indication of its high
quality (and also comparatively high price!)