Introduced in 1955, the Höfner Violin Bass has become something of a legend, thanks to Paul McCartney who used one as his primary bass throughout the '60s. Because of that, the 500/1 model is often referred to as the "Beatle bass."
The 500/1 may seem straightforward, but it's very different from other electric basses. Its small, violin-shaped body is totally hollow, but it has no f-holes so feedback is mitigated. It has a short 30" scale, a Spruce top, and Maple back and sides. Originally, the two pickups were close together, so between the two, there wasn't a huge difference in sound. But in 1962, the treble pickup was moved right up against the bridge, and that gives a much wider range. Plus, Hofners use a unique control configuration to coax a variety of sounds out of the pickups
This 1990s 500/1 Reissue is a cool German-made interpretation of the early-'60s transition-era specs. It has the adjustable pole-piece pickups that rolled out in '61, and the pickup spacing is appropriate for '62. Just like Paul's original Beatle bass, it has the horizontal script decal logo, and the original tuners have been swapped for two-on-plate tuning machines. It came to us with an excellent setup, and the tone absolutely thumps.
From what we can tell, this 1990s Hofner '63 Reissue 500/1 has spent most of its life in the case. In fact, it may have spent too much time in the case because the binding has reacted with the plush lining inside the case. Because of that, the green plush inside the case has turned yellow, and the binding around edges of the bass is crumbling all around. Nevertheless, the bass shows minimal playwear and–apart from the binding—shows little cosmetic wear. The metal parts are tranished, and the tailpiece shows some green oxidation. The effect makes the bass seem a lot older than is.
All in all, this 1990s Hofner '63 Reissue 500/1 is a cool violin bass with the authentic "Cavern club" sound. There's no experience quite like playing a Hofner. They're incredibly lightweight (this one weighs 4 lbs 8.8 oz), and the neck—chunky and full-feeling, but narrow spaced with minimal taper—feels just right. If it's good enough for Sir Paul, the Violin Bass should be plenty for us mere mortals. Too cool!