The first guitar I ever had was a Spanish style with nylon strings which cost, as I recall, about £7 in the mid-nineteen fifties.
I decided to be smart and replace the nylon and wire-wound strings with steel ones in an attempt to improve the sound. The modification however, placed a much greater strain on the bridge, and I was advised by my local music dealer to screw the bridge down lest it part company with the guitar top. The new sound that I had acquired did not satisfy me for long.
The guitar was sold and I then purchased a Zenith acoustic archtop, marketed by Boosey and Hawkes. (Where did all the Zenith guitars go?) The guitar was designed by the late Ivor Mairants, who owned a music shop in London, and was manufactured by the Franconian Musical Industry Company, better known as Framus. It is difficult to recall the Zenith’s qualities, but it was perhaps not as good an instrument as a Framus or equivalent Hofner.
The world moves on, and my next upgrade (if you can call it that) was to a Zenith archtop cutaway, similar to the Hofner President. It was a striking looking guitar, with a deep sunburst finish, bound fingerboard, and pearl bar inlays.
For some reason I have a better recollection of this guitar’s qualities, in that it had a reasonable cutting sound and good action. I was still stuck with an acoustic guitar and a desire to go electric. I decided to make my purchase and invested in a Hofner combined tailpiece and pick-up which was followed very quickly by a Watkins amplifier. By this time I thought I had died and gone to heaven
Several years later, I had completed a five-year apprenticeship and was earning decent money. You guessed it; another upgrade beckoned. I visited one of the top music stores in my hometown of Glasgow. I must have spent hours trying out the various guitars on offer, but I was determined to get an instrument that would last me a long time. I left the store with my prized possession; a 1963 Hofner Committee E2 in a gorgeous deep wine sunburst complete with hard case lined with purple velour. Wow! I think the total bill was in the region of £75. It seemed to me then to be such a beautiful guitar and some forty years later my opinion is unchanged.
Some time later, in a moment of sheer madness, I parted with my beloved guitar, an act which I have regretted for many long years.
In 1991, I was reading a copy of the Guitarist magazine when I saw an advert for a Committee. I contacted the owner and was lucky to settle on a deal. When the guitar arrived, I was surprised, to say the least, as the instrument was vastly different from my 1963 Committee. After some discussions with Hofner, I was advised that the instrument that I had obtained was one of the companies early models. At that time, this information did not mean a great deal to me.
Now that I have acquired a greater knowledge of Hofner guitars, I appreciate just how lucky my purchase in 1991 was. Little did I know that the guitar I bought twelve years ago would now be instrumental in my researching Hofners today.
Over the past twelve years I have collected some thirty guitars, each with their own character. Some may be better than others, but they all share a common heritage that is Hofner
It has been a very time consuming project, but I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute, and I am grateful for the knowledge gained about these fascinating guitars.
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© Ramsay McKinnon 2006.