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The page where other people's Hofner guitars are featured.

 

HOFNER FULL-BODIED & THINLINE ARCHTOPS
SELMER UK DISTRIBUTED MODELS: c1953 to Mid-1970's

(INCLUDING SELMER-BRANDED HOFNER MODELS)



A nice photo taken by Matt Armstrong of his 1959 Hofner Committee and c1964 Selmer Zodiac amp.



The following picture-sets of Hofner archtop and semi-acoustic guitars have been sent to me over the years by their owners. This has allowed me to present a much greater range of models and vintages than encompassed by my own collection, and maybe this will help other visitors to the site to identify and date their own Hofner.

Click on the underlined heading for each guitar to view photographs of that particular example.




THE HOFNER "FOUR SQUARE"

The Four Square was one of the first pre-war Hofner guitars distributed by Selmer, appearing only in the Selmer 1952-53 Catalogue. It has all the features of the Square Dance below, including the flat body top and back, but it has a 20 fret neck as opposed to the 18 fret of the Square Dance, plus a slightly smaller body at 19.5" body length x 14.5" lower bout. Because of the earlier body label style and lower Serial Number, I think that it is safe to assume that the Four Square pre-dated the Square Dance, which replaced it about a year later.

 

 

THE HOFNER "SQUARE DANCE"

This guitar seems to have been the predecessor of the Congress. Small 19.5" x 14.5" x 3" body, with an 18 fret neck joining the body at the 12th fret. (Rather strangely, the illustration in the Selmer 1953 catalogue shows the guitar having 21 frets!) It had a flat top and back, rather than arched, and the body depth was slightly tapered. Single dot fret markers, and very plain headstock. Presumably replaced in the Selmer catalogue by the Congress in 1954/55.



THE HOFNER CONGRESS

The budget guitar, made only as a non-cutaway acoustic archtop, and only in "brunette". (Early guitars were finished in a non-sunburst brown stain, that is sometimes mistaken for a "blonde" finish.)
Produced between about 1955 and the early 1970's, this guitar has a smaller body than other Hofner archtops at 19.5" x 15" x 3". (Early Congress guitars have a 14.5" lower bout dimension.) The equivalent European market Hofner archtop was the Model 449. The Congress was the guitar that started Hank Marvin on his way to fame.



THE HOFNER SENATOR


Produced in acoustic archtop, electric archtop, and thinline electric versions, all in either blonde or brunette finishes. A single pickup was fitted to electric versions. The acoustic was produced from about 1953 onwards, with an electric version appearing from about 1957 onwards. The Senator Thinline appeared towards the end of 1959. The electric archtop and semi received a Venetian cutaway in 1965/66, with the acoustic being likewise equipped in 1966/67. The Thinline Senator was still in the Bell's Catalogue in 1971, but disappeared soon after. The comparable European market Hofner archtop was the Model 455.



THE HOFNER COLOURAMA

The Hofner Colourama (not to be confused with the Hofner Colorama) was a very short-lived version of the Senator model. A very small number were produced only for Selmer London for a few months in late 1956, early 1957 and I have seen it in only one catalogue - the Selmer 1957 Season Trade Brochure which was actually printed in September 1956. I have ever seen only one example in real life. It has to be said that this guitar did not take off with the British guitar players of the time!

This guitar was "flash" in the Italian style, with a glitter body finish offered in red, gold or silver. The pickguard was white pearloid and the headstock matched this also in pearloid, but with a glitter diamond/dagger inlay to match the body finish. Pearloid strip fret-markers, again inlaid to match the body finish, were provided. Other than that, apart from having a bound neck, it was really a star-struck Senator.........

 

 

THE HOFNER CLUB 40

The Hofner "Clubs" were small hollow-bodied archtop guitars, and this version is the basic Club model with one pickup and very little decoration. Produced between about 1956 and 1962, and available in either blonde or brunette finishes. Very early models have the simple circular control panel with just volume and tone rotary controls. From 1958/59, to the end of production, the rectangular Hofner control consul was fitted with one rotary volume control and three slide switches.



THE HOFNER CLUB 50

Two pickups fitted, together with either a four rotary control oval control console on very early guitars, or more usually the rectangular Hofner console with two rotary volumes and three sliders; otherwise very similar to the Club 40.



THE HOFNER CLUB 60

The deluxe specification model in the Club range. Produced between 1958 and 1962. Better quality flame maple veneers to back and sides, an ebony fingerboard, more complex body binding/purfling, ornate mother of pearl fret markers and headstock inlays.



THE HOFNER CLUB 70

Made presumably as a replacement for the original Club 40/50/60's which had been discontinued, somewhat prematurely, some years before. It was introduced into the Selmer range at the British Musical Instrument Trade Fair of September 1967. The Club 70 was only in the catalogue for a year or so, and therefore examples are fairly rare, with less than 200 being made. Equipped with two "Blade" Type 512 pickups, it was the only Club to have two volume and two rotary controls not fitted to a console, plus a separate three-way pickup selector switch in the same locations as a Les Paul. Ornamentation on the guitar was fairly austere, in the same tradition of the Club 40/50.



THE HOFNER VIOLIN GUITAR

Introduced by Selmer into the UK in September 1966, presumably in an attempt to capitalise on the success of Paul McCartney's 500/1 bass. It used the same body as the 500/1, and a bolt-on neck with similar ornamentation to the Verithin - i.e. bar fret markers and vine leaf headstock inlay. Sunburst appears to have been the standard finish. All Selmer-distributed examples were fitted with twin pickups, and with three simple rotary controls and a three way pickup selector - most of its European/US market cousin, the Hofner Model 459, had active electrics fitted. As with the Club 70, the Violin was not a great success, with only 100 to 200 being sold during its production period in 1966 and 1967. The Brits at that time aspired after American guitars!



THE HOFNER PRESIDENT

The standard Hofner middle-of-the-range archtop throughout the 50's, 60's, and into the 70's. Introduced in acoustic format around 1953 as the upgraded version of the Model 457 for the UK market, the President was equipped with solid carved spruce top. This was dropped in favour of a laminated top, initially on electric models during the early 1960's and finally on acoustics as the 1960's progressed. The electric version appears to have been introduced in 1955. All versions of the President had a single body cutaway, Venetian style up to 1966, when this was changed to a Florentine cutaway. Triple dot fret markers, neck/F-hole binding, and vine leaf mother of pearl inlays to the headstock facia, provided a suitable level of ornamentation for this classy guitar. Blonde and brunette finishes were available. A thinline electric President was introduced during late 1959, although a full depth body version had been available from about 1957. Twin pickups were fitted, with controls following the usual Hofner pattern for the various periods - i.e. Oval console up to 1958, rectangular console up to 1962, four rotary controls up to 1966/67, and finally three rotary controls plus three-way selector switch up to about 1972/3 when the President disappeared from the Selmer catalogue.



THE HOFNER VERITHIN

Appeared in the Selmer London catalogue of 1960, at around the same time as Hofner introduced the same basic guitar with the 4574 model designation in the general European market price list.

The Verithin featured a hollow, twin cutaway body with a depth of only 30mm. Laminated flame maple was used for the body back & sides, with a laminated spruce top. The body cutaways were the rounded "Venetian" type through to 1965, during which year these were changed to "Florentine" pointed cutaways. The Florentine guitars were given various marketing names, such as "Deluxe" and "66".

A three-piece maple/beech glued-in neck was usually fitted, but sometimes this was two-piece maple. Pearloid/tortoishell strip fret-markers were inlaid into the rosewood fingerboard, and a "President-style" bell-flower design was inlaid into the ebony fascia of the headstock. For the first year or so, the guitar was finished in "russet-mahogany", but this then changed to the brighter "Cherry Red" finish that is synonymous with the Verithin. Some of the very last guitars were finished in brown/yellow sunburst.

A "Lyre" style tailpiece was the standard fitting throughout the production life of the Verithin, but a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece was offered from late 1961. In the actual event, the majority of Verithins left the Hofner (or Selmer workshops in th early years) fitted with Bigsby units.

The slotted "ebony" bridge with fretwire saddles as fitted for the first two or three years was later replaced by Hofner's "Micromatic" bridge. The usual floating pickguard, in black celluloid with white edging, was fitted to the body by means of panel pins and a single chrome bracket.

A twin pickup arrangement was the norm on the Verithin, although a small number of three pickup Verithin "65-3" models were produced in 1965-66. This model was basically the same as the European/US market Hofner 4575 model.

A stereo version of the two-pickup guitar was available between 1963 and 1965.

Pickups on the first Verithins were of the "Toaster" type, but these changed to keep up with the latest Hofner pickup development, with the very last Verithins being fitted with the Type 513 "Blade" units. Likewise, the electrical controls changed over the years in order to keep up with the latest Hofner policy. The first guitars had the Hofner rectangular control console, but this changed to four rotary controls, and later three rotary controls + pickup selector.

A bass version of the Verithin was introduced in 1963, at Selmer's instigation, in order to capitalise on the success of the Verithin in the UK.



THE HOFNER AMBASSADOR

Introduced in 1965, this thinline archtop had twin Type 511 "Staple" pickups, and two Florentine cutaways on it's 2" deep body. Finish was tobacco sunburst, and with its fully inset neck joint, as opposed to Hofner's usual cantilever violin style joint, it was much more in the style of a Gibson. The Ambassador was available to Selmer customers only, up to about 1968. It's European/US equivalent was the Hofner Model 4578. The option of having factory fitted De Armond pickups at extra cost was offered in the Selmer catalogue.



THE HOFNER COMMITTEE

Top of the regular range of Hofner archtops, the Committee was designed to impress. It was introduced as a UK-only model around 1953/54. The Committee sported the over-large "frondose" headstock up to 1963, when this was replaced by a President size headstock, but still retaining the the impressive "tulip" style mother of pearl inlays in the facia. Birds eye maple veneer was almost exclusively used for the body back and sides, with carved solid spruce body tops, although these seem to have been replaced with laminated tops during the 1960's, particularly on the electric version. As with the President, a full depth body electric version was available from about 1957, with a thinline model appearing in late 1959. Twin pickups were fitted on these, with four rotary controls plus a large three-way selector switch taking over from the Hofner consul in 1963. This arrangement changed to three rotary controls plus selector switch in 1967. The Committee retained its single Venetian (rounded) body cutaway throughout its production span, which ended around about 1969.



THE HOFNER (COMMITTEE) DELUXE

The deluxe version of the Committee model, and fore-runner to the Golden Hofner. Made over a very short period in 1958 and into 1959, these Deluxes are rare and beautiful! It would seem that they were part of the development process leading up the Golden Hofner model, as they incorporate quite a few features of the Golden, most notably the 11-piece neck construction. The 17.5" wide "body has a solid carved spruce top, with heavily flamed maple back and sides. The effect of the binding and purfling around the body top and back has been increased dramatically by staining of the maple strips enclosed by the purfling.


THE GOLDEN HOFNER

The "Holy Grail" of Hofner collecting! For a full description of the Golden's assets and history, visit the Golden Hofner Factfile elsewhere on this website


SELMER BRAND-MARKED ARCHTOP GUITARS MADE BY HOFNER

For a year or so in 1966 and 1967, Selmer commissioned Hofner to produce a series of archtop and flattop "Western" guitars with the "Selmer" brand-mark on them. There was no reference to Hofner on these guitars, although they did tend to be based rather loosely on Hofner's existing models. Their style and finish was unmistakably Hofner, although the usual Hofner ornamentation such as inlaid headstocks and neck binding was missing. This was made up for by the use of good quality fittings, such as Schaller pickups and Hofner's own enclosed machine heads. Any finish was available, providing that it was brown sunburst! These were obviously intended to be very much "working guitars".

THE SELMER TRIUMPH

 The Triumph model was based on the Hofner Senator and its European equivalent, the Hofner 456. It had a laminated maple top, with laminated flame-maple back and rims. A two-piece maple neck with rosewood un-bound fingerboard was fitted. Moderate body edge binding and purfling was provided, and generally the guitar lacked ornamentation. However, a very impressive tailpiece was fitted in the shape of the then current Selmer "Harp" logo.

An acoustic and an electric model were available; the acoustic having a full 3" deep body. The electric had a 2" "thin-line" body, and was equipped with a single Schaller-made twin-coil pickup. Both versions had a Venetian body cutaway.

 

 

THE SELMER DIPLOMAT

This model was up a level upon the Triumph, with a laminated spruce top, more layers of purfling around the body edges, and a Florentine body cutaway. Other than that, it had the same simplicity and workmanlike appearance of the Triumph. Probably the nearest equivalent of the other Hofner models to the Diplomat is the Hofner President Florentine.

Also as with the Triumph, both an acoustic and a thinline electric version was available. However the electric model was treated to two Schaller-made pickups instead of the Triumphs single unit, together with a three-way pickup selector switch. (At that time, the Hofner-branded archtops were not fitted with a selector switch but relied simply on juggling around with the two volume controls.)

 

THE SELMER ASTRA

Basically a less ornate version of the Hofner Verithin Florentine Deluxe and Hofner 4576 models, this twin pickup electric model had a veri-thin 1¼" deep body with a Florentine cutaway. A laminated spruce top and flame-maple back & rims were used for the body, with a two-piece maple neck and un-bound rosewood fingerboard. As with the other guitars, the main ornamentation was the Selmer "Harp-design" tailpiece.


THE SELMER EMPEROR

Continuing with the same formula, the Emperor was actually a disguised Hofner Ambassador / Hofner 4578 model, but with the same Schaller pickups, three-way selector, and other fittings as the above three models. As such, it sported a 2" deep body. A three-piece maple/beech/maple un-bound neck was fitted instead of the two-piece maple on the other models. This guitar was only available as a twin-pickup electric model. 





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