Höfner 500/1 Bass – Germany – 1956


Electric Semi-Hollow Bass guitar


Maple and spruce body, maple neck

Rosewood fretboard

Two 511B humbucker pickups


In 1955 Höfner made the 500/1, a bass guitar with a violin-shaped, partly hollow body. It was a lightweight instrument with a rich tone that was enhanced by two powerful Höfner 511B humbucker pickups.
The fact that Paul McCartney’s name became linked to the 500/1 was largely coincidental. In 1961, when The Beatles performed at the Hamburg nightclubs,Paul McCartney played the bass instead of the original bass guitarist Stu Sutcliffe. Being left-handed, he could only comfortably play the symmetrical 500/1.
The 1956 Höfner 500/1, a so-called violin bass, is one of the most iconic guitars in the history of pop music. Yet it is not an exceptional instrument. It wasn’t even the first bass guitar: Gibson’s EBI had appeared on the market with such a shape three years earlier. The instrument owed its status simply to being associated with the greatest pop group of all time: The Beatles. Just as John Lennon and George Harrison had brought fame to the Rickenbacker, Höfner would piggyback on Paul McCartney’s success.

Used by artist(s): Paul McCartney

Last updated on 12 May 2020
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