1965 HOFNER AMBASSADOR ELECTRIC GUITAR
Serial No: 73
With its double Florentine cutaways, was this Hofner's answer to the Gibson Barney Kessel model?
The Ambassador was available in the UK between 1965 and 1968. Also available during that time were Florentine versions of the President and the Verithin. There was obviously a view in Hofner that sharp pointy cutaways gave guitars a more up-to-date look!
The Ambassador however was not a revamp of an existing model. Its neck to body fixing made it fundamentally different to the other jazz guitars distributed by Selmers up to 1965. Gone was the rather flimsy end fixing and cantilever fingerboard over the body. This new guitar had a full length joint between end of fingerboard and neck heel, similar to that on the Verithin. The effect of this, and the robust pointed cutaways gives a much more solid feel when handling the guitar than with the more delicate earlier design Hofners. To be blunt, it feels more like a Gibson.
The body was only offered in the thinline depth, i.e. just under 2", and had a laminated spruce top with flamed maple sides and back. The timbers on the sides of my guitar are not anything like as fancy as on the earlier President models, but the full width veneer on the back has a beautiful soft marking.
I believe that the only finish offered was brunette, and this is a darker sunburst than on my other Hofners, with perhaps a touch of red. Again, a finish that looks as though it was inspired by Gibson.
Multiple body binding similar to the President has been fitted - Thick white/thin black/w/b/w/b.
The neck and headstock is very similar to the President, with five laminations of maple/mahogany/beech/mahogany/maple, and rosewood fingerboard board.
Headstock is again just the same as that which the President was fitted post 1960, with the usual mother of pearl vine leaf inlayed into an ebony veneer. The machine heads are of good quality, but still with open gearing, and of course a truss rod is fitted. This latter feature probably accounts for the much slimmer neck profile on the Ambassador compared to that of my 1959 President, which has to cope without a truss rod.
The tailpiece is the familiar
"Lyre" design, but the scratch-plate shape certainly broke new ground for Hofner. Quite apart from the shape, it is a black and white plastic laminate instead of Hofner's traditional tortoiseshell - they really had decided to look closely at Gibsons when putting the spec. together for this one!
The bridge is the Micro-matic, fully adjustable type, which from about 1965 was fitted as standard to most of Hofner's better quality guitars, including acoustics, that were brought into the UK.
Two of Hofner's own humbucking pickups are fitted, and these are controlled by one volume and two tone rotary pots. Pickup selection is by a very flimsy three-way selector on the upper treble bout. That is the only aspect of the whole guitar that can be said to be less than solid, but having said that that, it is still working OK after 35 years.
The Ambassador was also available fitted with De Armond pickups as an extra cost option.
In the Ambassador, Hofner was providing a good quality semi, with a much more American feel to it than their earlier designs, but at about half the price in Britain compared to those guitars made in Kalamazoo. Perhaps the fact that we all wanted the "real thing" was the reason that
less than five hundred Ambassadors, according to Selmer serial numbers, were ever made. On the evidence of this example, that is a shame.