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BASS EXPO Could there be any better way to celebrate the glory of the bass guitar than with a series of profiles of some of the most iconic instruments ever to grace stages and recording studios across the globe? We don't think so. Kicking off our series of bass profiles is the four-string that a certain mop-topped Liverpudlian used to take the world by storm in the early 1960s...
PRODUCED: 1956 – current
TYPE: Hollow violin-shaped body, 4-string
BODY: Spruce top, flamed maple back & sides, fully bound
NECK: Maple, glued-in neck, 22 fine frets plus zero fret
SCALE LENGTH: 762mm (30-inch)
FINGERBOARD: Rosewood, white dot inlays
HARDWARE: Chrome trapeze tailpiece, rectangular pearloid control plate and matching scratchplate (often removed), rosewood bridge has slots in the top to take four small lengths of fret wire to act as crude string saddles, small guitar-sized open gear tuners
PICKUPS: Two Hofner ‘staple’ units on this 1962 version
CONTROLS: Two volume controls and three slide switches
FEATURES: The rosewood bridge has slots in the top to take four small lengths of fretwire to act as crude string saddles, although the body and headstock are bound the fingerboard is not
FINISHES: Brown Sunburst
COMMENTS: By the time that Paul McCartney popularised the Violin Bass it had already undergone several changes. By 1961 most notably the oval control plate was replaced by a rectangular one, extra switches were added and the smooth black single coil pickups were replaced by the staple ones we see here.
Initially these two new pickups were placed close together towards the neck but by spreading them apart as here. At the outset there were 20 frets, then 21, but when it reached 22 the bass finally came of age and has remained in production ever since. Along the way it’s been called the Beatle Bass and the Cavern Bass, had gold fittings, ebony fingerboard and even active circuitry but that’s just gilding the lily in our opinion. Classic is best.