I am now the proud owner of two (budget) Hofners!
Briefly, I first acquired my Hofner Ignition a couple of years ago. It was really a present for my wife who at the time was wanting to try out bass playing but didn’t like the higher tension strings on full-scale basses. We tried a Hofner shorty in the shop but then I thought why not get a ‘proper’ Hofner? As luck would have it, someone 10 mins down the road was selling an Ignition violin bass in the freeads for next to nothing and we bought it. For my wife
Anyway, I recently was contacted by a friend in a cover band who was looking for a bass player. He sent a list of songs over: basically a mix of Rock and Roll (Elvis, The Beatles) some soul (Aretha Franklin) classic rock (Highway to Hell, I love Rock and Roll) and some more modern Polish tracks (Perfect, Republika, Lady Pank). Now, I was faced with a problem – which bass to use? The Rick is not going to be visiting pubs for gigs. The Precision could probably do everything but it’s a bit, well, boring looking. My T-bird could do the newer tracks but isn’t as good for the older ones, and vice verse for the Hofner.
Still, the Hofner had the looks and charm so it was my favourite for this gig! I took it along to the local luthier for a setup to see if we could get it to sound a little brighter. Unfortunately, the verdict was not good – the time, effort and money needed to get the patient back on its feet was not worth it considering the cost of the bass, and the operation may not be a success anyway.
Fortunately, a Hofner Club bass was hanging on the stand next to us. It was the same colour as my current one but the next level up – a Contemporary. I plugged it in for a quick comparison and, may I say, I was very impressed! It’s apparently made in China, like the Ignition, but with original Hofner pickups and electronics. More importantly, the construction is semi-hollow, i.e. there is a column supporting the middle of the body; this actually makes a fair difference to the sound – the bass notes are still full, but much less boomy and with more tone, while the mids and highs are less ‘acoustic’ and more like solid-body basses. The fretboard is better set up, with a ‘zero’ fret at the end, and turning the knobs on the control panel actually makes a difference to the sound. Also it doesn’t go out of tune every couple of minutes.
So impetuous fool that I am, and with the possibility of actually playing in a real band with live people driving me on, I decided to forego the mandatory one-month cooling-off period, and put my money down on the spot😊
Having spent some more time with the Club since then, I am definitely happy with the purchase. It generally handles the playlist very well. It’s a bit heavier than the Ignition and doesn’t have quite the same punch as the hollow body on the rock n roll tracks, but there’s no neck dive, and I think the semi hollow construction might allow me to use higher tension strings? I would like to have got a Contemporary with the violin body, ideally with a natural wood finish, but the Club still looks nice and it’s comfortable with both pick and fingerstyle.
I tell you what though, if the ‘proper’ German-made Hofner gains on the Contemporary like the Contemporary does on the Ignition, it must be an absolute legend of a bass.