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:

cong1a.jpg 

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

  • Lower Bout width: 14.5"

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

  • Tortoiseshell scratchplate. 

  • Two piece neck

  • 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.

c1955 - c1956:

cong1a.jpg

  • Revised headstock facia as shown - mother of pearl inlays.
  • Hofner logo on body - early guitars have Hofner stamped into body top adjacent to bridge. Later guitars have Hofner decal on upper top body bout. 

c1956-c1957:

 

  • Neck meets body at 14th fret.
  • Neck now has 22 Frets
  • Brown sunburst replaces overall brown stained finish.
  • "Compensator" Tailpiece introduced sometime during this period.
  • Hofner decal on upper top body bout generally.
  • Generally three-on-a-plate tuners, but some guitars have single "open" tuners fitted.

 

c1957 - 58:

  • Lower Bout width: 15" 
  • "Compensator Tailpiece fitted.
  • Generally two, but sometimes three-part necks.
  • Generally three-on-a-plate tuners, but some guitars have single "open" tuners fitted.

 

PRIOR TO 1960 AND AFTER 1956:

 

This very plain headstock was used on some pre-1960 Congress guitars. The period when it was used is not known exactly. 
  • Compensator tailpiece

1958 - 1959:

 

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

  • Generally three-on-a-plate tuners, but some guitars have single "open" tuners fitted.

 

 

1960 - c1962:

 

 

  • 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.
 

 

1963 - 1964

 

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

1964 - 1972:

 

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

 

 



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