THE HOFNER CONGRESS - FACT FILE

 

1963 Hofner Congress (Serial No.13308)

The Congress was the "bottom-of-the-range" archtop in the Selmer catalogue throughout the whole of Selmer's distributorship in the UK i.e. between about 1953 and 1972/73. It was Hofner's small body archtop with a body size of 19.5" length x 14.5" or 15" lower bout width x 3" body depth. This size feels quite a lot smaller than Hofner's "standard" body guitars, which had a lower bout width of 16", and consequently the Congress is an easier guitar to play than the likes of the Senator and President. It has almost a "parlour guitar" feel to it, despite it having a full-size 25.5" scale length.  

The main features of the Congress, carried across all variants, were:

A plain maple veneer body top, and the use of plain or slightly flamed maple veneers for body back and sides.

Small body size of 19.5" length x 14.5"(initially, with15" later) lower bout width x 3.1" body depth.

Brunette finish only. (Early versions had simple brown staining, with sunburst being adopted from around 1956/57.)

No electric version.

No cutaway.

Only binding to body top. None to body back, f-holes, or neck.

Double dot markers to 5th, 7th, and 9th frets. Single dot marker to 12th fret.

The European/US Market equivalent guitars were the Hofner Model 449, which if anything tended to be even more basic than the Congress.

There was an earlier budget guitar very similar in appearance to the Congress which was marketed by Selmer in the UK up to about 1954/55. This was called the Hofner Square Dance, and it was in-fact the predecessor to the Congress. The same size body as the Congress was used, with the neck joining the body at the 12th fret. However, the top and back of the guitar was flat, rather than arched as with the Congress. Only single dot fret markers were fitted, and the headstock was much more basic than the first Congress models. An even earlier model, called the Hofner Four Square, was produced, and it is assumed that this was actually the predecessor to the Square Dance model.    

 

There are several examples of this model in the Archtops Section of the Visitors' Gallery. In this Fact-File, I have therefore attempted only to describe the features of the Congress at the various stages in its evolution. The headstock and hardware changes are perhaps the most positive method of illustrating the various stages, and hence these are illustrated below. 

Please note that, as usual, the evolution described below should only be taken as a guide, and not as 100% gospel. Hofner being Hofner, there was a degree of overlap between the various stages, and not every Congress falls exactly into the pattern. 


c1954 - c1955:

Serial No: c2230 to c2400

cong1a.jpg 

  • Laminated body top and sides, with slightly flame maple back.

  • Domed Body top. Flat back.  

  • Lower Bout width: 14.5"

  • Plain white single binding to top edge of body only.

  • Tortoiseshell scratchplate. 

  • Both Two & Three piece necks fitted.

  • No binding to neck.

  • Neck meets body at 12th fret.

  • Neck has 18 Frets.

  • Double dot markers at 5th, 7th, and 9th fret. 12th fret has a single dot.

  • No truss rod.

  • Headstock facia as shown - mother of pearl inlays.

  • Machine heads are 3-on-a-plate open type. Simple white plastic buttons. No ferrules around tuner barrels. 

  • Rosewood-like fingerboard.

  • Simple "Trapeze" style tailpiece.

  • Two piece "ebony" /single plastic saddle bridge with only vertical adjustment.

  • Hofner logo stamped into body top adjacent to bridge. (Note: some don't have any logo at all.)

  • Only an acoustic version offered.

Late 1955 - Late 1956:

Serial No c2400 to c2800

cong1a.jpg

  • Revised headstock fascia as shown - mother of pearl inlays.

  • Hofner logo is stamped into body top adjacent to bridge.

 

Late 1956 - Mid1957:

Serial No c2800 to c5100

 

  • Neck meets body at 14th fret.

  • Neck now has 22 Frets

  • Flat body back initially. Changed to a domed back from around Serial No c3000.

  • Body Lower Bout Width increased to 15" from around Serial # 4500.

  • Hofner logo on body - early guitars have Hofner stamped into body top adjacent to bridge. Later guitars from approx Serial No 3000 have Hofner decal on upper top body.

  • Brown sunburst replaces overall brown stained finish.

  • "Compensator" Tailpiece replaces Trapeze Tailpiece from around Serial No 4500.

  • Hofner decal on upper top body bout generally.

  • Generally most have three-on-a-plate tuners up the around Serial No 4140, after which majority have single "open" tuners fitted.

 

 

   

Mid 1957 to End of 1957:

Serial No c5100 to c5900

 

  • Lower Bout width: 15" 

  • "Compensator Tailpiece fitted.

  • Both Two & Three-part necks fitted.

  • Generally single "open" tuners fitted, with very occasionally three-on-a-plate..

1958 & 1959:

Serial No c5900 to c8700

 

  • Revised headstock facia as shown - Plastic fascia with three dots and Hofner logo in block capitals.

  •  Generally single "open" tuners fitted, with very occasionally three-on-a-plate..

 

 

1960, 1961, and Early 1962:

Serial No c8700 to c11400

 

  • Truss Rod fitted to neck.

  • Plastic headstock facia as shown with "Treble-Clef" design. During first year or so of this period, "Distributed by Selmer, London" script inscribed below Hofner logo.

  • Generally three-piece neck

  • Single "open" machine heads fitted.
 

 

Early 1962 to Early 1964

Serial No c11400 to c13530

  • Simple black headstock fascia with Hofner logo decal. White surround to headstock.

1964 to 1968:

Serial No c13530 to c15500 

 

  •  Simple black headstock fascia with raised plastic Hofner logo attached.

 

 



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