- taken from the front cover of the
1990 Hofner Children's Guitars Catalogue.
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.
Hofner, like other German manufacturers such as Framus,
produced a range of guitars that covered all ability levels and budgets. At the
bottom of the tree were what Hofner sometimes called "Wander" guitars; the impression being given of guitars that could be taken on hikes and
picnics in the countryside! At other times they were called "Jugend" or
"Youth" guitars, or simply "Classic Guitars for Beginners".
They tended to have a shorter scale length than Hofner's Classical Concert
guitars, which obviously helped as far as the younger end of the market was
concerned, and also most had laminated body tops.
Like Hofner's other flattop acoustics, the evolution of the various models and ranges of Hofner
Jugend/Wander 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 Visitors' Galleries, which also include
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 516 A very simple
guitar, with the whole body made of maple faced plywood. The only "luxury"
on this model was the use of white/black celluloid binding around the top
edge of the body and the soundhole. It would seem that in the early days,
"nylon" or gut strings were not available on Hofner guitars and so
steel strings would have been fitted. The guitar was finished in a light
brown semi-matt finish.
HOFNER MODEL 522 Basically the same guitar as the 516, but
fitted with a trapeze tailpiece, a pearloid scratchplate and given a reddish-brown
finish. Definitely intended to be steel-strung. This guitar was very
popular, and was sold in great numbers up until 1981. For the first few
years, it was available set up as an acoustic Hawaiian guitar. A version
of the 522 called the 522a was introduced in 1971, after the demise of the 523
Concert Model to run in parallel with
the basic 522 model. The 522a had a combined bridge/tailpiece and was
intended for nylon strings. The 522 was actually used as the basis for
one of Hofner's first electric guitar, the Electric Hawaiian Guitar Model
522EH. This appeared in 1951 and stayed in the price lists for a couple of
HOFNER MODEL 512(i) An even more
basic guitar than the 516, this guitar had "imitation" binding
(black paint!) around the edge of the body top and the soundhole. Otherwise,
the 512 was the same formula as the 516, with maple plywood body and brown
semi-matt finish. An even earlier 512 model had been made by Hofner prior
to the Second World War at Schoenbach. This instrument was very similar to
the 1950 guitar, but had a metal tailpiece instead of the classical style
combined bridge/tailpiece fitted to the later version.
HOFNER MODEL 482 Yet again, a spruce top with laminated flame
maple for the back & sides. The finish was brown all over, but with the
back and sides highly polished, and the top matt finish. Celluloid binding
(multiple) around the body top and soundhole.
This guitar was the same as the 483 Model below,
except for the different finish to the body top and possibly the 482 may
have had white body binding (?).
HOFNER MODEL 513 A spruce top with
laminated maple back & sides, finished in a matt antique brown lacquer.
A genuine rosewood fingerboard was fitted, but there was no
binding to either the body or neck. This model had a simple carved
decoration around the soundhole. The model was offered in a "larger
size" from 1962 to 1981. This was designated the 513G. The 513
briefly reappeared in the price list in 1984 but then disappeared for ever.
HOFNER MODEL 520
A small Viennese-style guitar, made with a spruce top and laminated maple
back and sides. The body top, body back, and soundhole were bound with black
and white celluloid, and the guitar was given a red, highly polished finish.
A white celluloid scratchplate was fitted, and as a metal tailpiece was
used, the guitar was presumably intended to be steel-strung.
HOFNER MODEL 483 The same guitar as the 482 model, but with a natural, highly polished finish
to the body top and black multiple body binding.
HOFNER MODEL 512(ii) This model moved
the 512 up the quality ladder a little, as it gained a laminated spruce body
top and also a genuine black plastic binding around the body top and the
edge of the soundhole. The finish of the body top was also lightened to a
natural finish. The body back & sides were still laminated maple and the
soundhole had no decoration. Certainly by the mid-1960's, it was being
supplied fitted with nylon strings. From the early 1960's a full
gloss-finish could be specified (512h), and in 1969 a small bodied version
was available for a few years, called the 512k.
HOFNER MODEL 511 At around the same time as the 512 model
was given a make-over, the 511 was introduced as the bottom-of-the-range
guitar. This was actually a 512 with a brown finished laminated spruce top,
which was bound in black. It went on to become one of Hofner's long production models, finally
being discontinued in 1990. Initially there was no soundhole decoration, but
during the 1970's, the 511 seems to have gained an imitation mosaic rosette.
HOFNER MODEL 517 A spruce top, finished in
a light natural lacquer with maple back & sides. The edge of the body
top was bound and purfled with an attractive hatched pattern, as was the
soundhole. The finish on this instrument was highly polished.
2. EARLY 1960's SERIES
Year of Introduction
Final Year of Production
HOFNER MODEL 518 This guitar had a laminated mahogany body back
and sides, with a natural clear lacquered spruce top. Binding was provided
to the body top edge and soundhole. The whole guitar was highly polished.
HOFNER MODEL 523 This seems to have been a
development of the Model 522 above
and was again a steel-strung guitar but with a classical-style combined
bridge-tailpiece. The 523 was even finished in same distinctive red lacquer
of the 522, and had the fret marker dots
inlaid into the fretboard. However, the body binding/purfling was more
elaborate than on the 522, with white pearloid binding to he body top and
back edges, as well as around the soundhole. The 522a model appears to have
been its repacement.
3. Late 1960's SERIES
Year of Introduction
Final Year of Production
HOFNER MODEL 509 A small budget guitar,
13.5"/9.75" body width, made of plywood - maple for back and sides
with laminate spruce for the body top. The back was slightly arched. but no
binding was provided to the body edges. A brown/yellow polished sunburst
finish was used, and a black plastic pickguard fitted. The guitar was steel
HOFNER MODEL 510 Same body size and basic
construction as the 509 model above and also steel strung. The 510 was
finished in a lighter near-natural matt finish, and had a plastic headstock
fascia which was plain except for the Hofner logo. A pickguard was not
HOFNER MODEL 5120 This appears to
have been a 512(ii) with an imitation soundhole rosette and a matt finish.
The laminated spruce top had a plastic binding. The back and sides were
laminated maple. The same guitar but with a full polished gloss
finish was available for the full production run of the 5120. An
option (5120 BG) was available for a neck width of 50mm at the nut, instead
of the standard 45mm. This version, which seems to have been intended as a
young person's student guitar, does not seem to have been given fret
marker dots on the fingerboard. See below.
HOFNER MODEL 5121 The same as the 5120
model, but with a darker brown polished finish.
HOFNER MODEL 5170 This followed directly
on from the earlier 517 model, and was basically a re-run of the the 517. It
had spruce top with laminated flame maple back & sides, together with
the black binding and dog's tooth purfling around the body top edge and the
HOFNER MODEL 5180 This guitar again took
over from an earlier model - the 518. It also had a spruce top and mahogany
back & sides. In addition it had a real wooden mosaic soundhole
decoration, together with multiple binding to the body edge.
HOFNER MODEL 4830 A nice quality
instrument, with spruce top and laminated flame maple back & sides. An
inlaid wooden soundhole decoration was fitted, and the highly polished
finish had a slight brown tint.
HOFNER MODEL 4831 A similar guitar to the
4830, but with laminated rosewood back & sides.
4. CHILDRENS' GUITARS (1970 to 1990)
Year of Introduction
Final Year of Production
Hofner Model 506
Hofner Model 507
Hofner Model 508
Hofner Model 509 Solid Top
Hofner Model 5120BG
HOFNER MODEL 506 A 3/8 scale (525mm) child's guitar made with a
laminated spruce top and Gabun plywood back & sides. Fingerboard width
of 43mm and a small body length of just 350mm. No rosette to the soundhole,
and fitted with steel strings. Intended for the 4 to 6 year old age
HOFNER MODEL 507 Of similar construction
to the 506 above, this guitar had a 3/4 scale (585mm) and a 43mm fingerboard
width. It was intially steel strung, but later versions were nylon strung.
It sported a genuine wooden mosaic rosette around
the soundhole. The body length was 420mm.
HOFNER MODEL 508 This guitar was basically the same as the 507
model above, but was strung with nylon strings from the start, and hence had a slotted
HOFNER MODEL 509 SOLID TOP The 509 model seems to have been resurrected
in 1988 for a couple of years with a solid spruce top, presumably to fill in
the gap for a young student's guitar with a better quality tone. In fact, in
Hofner's introductory literature for this guitar, it is stated that the
guitar was being introduced to meet the requirements of music teachers.
According to the same literature, this guitar was intended for the 5 to 8
year age group.
HOFNER MODEL 5120BG This 7/8 scale
(620mm) model appears to be the same as the 5120 model described above, but
with a 50mm wide fingerboard. It was intended for the 8 to 12 age group.
5. Late 1980's SERIES
Year of Introduction
Final Year of Production
HOFNER TRENDSTYLE In
1989, Hofner introduced two Jugend Guitars as part of their new "Trendstyle"
range. These were classical-style flattop guitars with very modernistic
patterned finishes which Hofner hoped would appeal to younger guitarists. Six
models were included in the range, the TS 30 and TS 40 Youth Guitars with a
62mm scale and 45mm fingerboard width, and four Classical Guitars with a 65mm
scale and a 50mm fingerboard.
In 1991, Hofner swept away the whole of the above complex Jugend guitar
range that had developed over the past several decades, and introduced a
rationalised German-made range called the "HS" Series. The HS Series
were the last German-made Jugend/Wander guitars up to the present day.
HOFNER MODEL HS506 A 3/8 scale (520mm)
guitar with a neck width of 42mm, suitable for children aged 4 to 6.
The HS506 initially had a laminated spruce top, with a laminated mahogany
back & sides. At some stage during the production, the body top was
changed to solid spruce. The neck was maple, with a rosewood
fingerboard. A natural matt finish was applied.
HOFNER MODEL HS 509 A slightly larger
1/2 scale (550mm) guitar with a neck width of 50mm and suitable for the 5 to
8 age group. This guitar was given a solid cedar top from the beginning, but
still as with the HS506 a laminated mahogany back & sides. The neck was
mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard. A soundhole
rosette, together with an antique gold polished finish ensured that the
HS509 had good looks.
HOFNER MODEL HS 511& HS 512 Two 7/8
scale (620mm) guitars intended for the 8 to 12 age group, the two models
being identical except for the 511 having a 45mm wide neck, and the 512
having a 50mm . A laminated spruce body top was used with a laminated
anegree back & sides. The guitars had a rosette soundhole decoration and
were finished in matt antique gold. These guitars were dropped from the
range quite soon in 1995, perhaps when it was decided to give all the HS
solid tops, as they would be effectively displaced by the HS 513 and 515 7/8
scale guitars which already had that feature.
HOFNER MODEL HS 513, HS 515, & HS516 Three
more 7/8 scale (620mm) guitars, but both having solid spruce tops. The back
& sides of all three models was laminated mahogany. The differences
between the HS 513 and HS515 lay simply in their respective
finishes.........the HS513 had a matt natural finish and the HS 515 was in
polished antique gold. Oh, and the 515 had gold plated tuners with pearl
buttons! The HS 516, which only lasted in the catalogue for
about a year, was really an HS515 with a 50mm neck. The 513 and the 515 had
45mm wide necks. Perhaps the HS 516 was dropped because it was being
superceded by the HS 518, another guitar with a 50mm neck width?
HOFNER MODEL HS 518 Again, a 7/8 (620mm)
scale guitar, but with a solid cedar top and laminated mahogany back &
sides. The neck width was 50mm and the guitar was finished in polished
antique gold. Superior gold-plated tuners with pearl buttons were
fitted. As with all the other HS guitars other than the HS 506, a mahogany
neck was fitted with a rosewood fingerboard.
HOFNER MODEL HS 514 Well, this model was in the Hofner 1996
price list, but it seems to have lasted only for a very short time. I can't
find any mention of it in the Hofner catalogues. Apparently it was a an HS
513, but with a 50mm wide neck.