"Incredibly grateful": Paul McCartney has been reunited with his Beatles Höfner bass guitar after over half a century

aul McCartney from The Beatles performs at Alpha TV studios in Birmingham, England during filming of ABC TV show 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' on 15th December 1963
(Image credit: Mark and Colleen Hayward/Redferns/Getty Images)

Back in September 2023 there was a flurry of activity online regarding Paul McCartney's original Höfner 500/1 bass – probably the most famous bass guitar of all-time, and featured on the Beatles' seminal early songs including Love Me Do, She Loves You and I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

The 1961 model went missing in 1972 after being last used in the band for the Get Back/Let It Be sessions… and 51 years ago was the last anyone saw or heard of it. Höfner's Nick Wass wanted to set that right with the Lost Bass Project, and McCartney was backing it. But surely after all this time it was merely a last-ditch attempt with little hope? Well, it worked – it's back with Sir Paul. 

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Earlier today we reported that a 21-year-old film student and X user by the name of Ruaidhri Guest posted on 13 February to share a photos of a Hofner bass with the following message: 'To my friends and family I inherited this item which has been returned to Paul McCartney. Share the news.'

Guest added in a post that, "As of this moment, no further comments at this time" and has blocked the ability to message his account. But on 14 February he added a photo him holding the bass. McCartney reportedly removed the pearloid scratchplate on the Beatles' 1966 US tour. 

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Now McCartney has confirmed via a spokesperson that he's been reunited with his long lost bass – reportedly originally stolen from the back of a van in London in 1972. 

"Following the launch of last year's Lost Bass project, Paul's 1961 Höfner 500/1 bass guitar, which was stolen in 1972, has been returned," said a spokesperson for the Beatle. 

"The guitar has been authenticated by Höfner and Paul is incredibly grateful to all those involved."

That's just the icing on the cake to know that bloke we all love is smiling tonight because his old guitar is back

Meanwhile, the trio behind The Lost Bass Project could barely believe how quickly the search came to fruition.

"There were no leads, no evidence really where it might be," journalist Scott Jones told BBC News. Jones joined the search in September last year alongside wife Naomi and headed by Höfner bass expert Nick Wass.

"To have found it quite quickly is amazing and we've heard how thrilled Paul McCartney is to have it back.

"That's just the icing on the cake to know that bloke we all love is smiling tonight because his old guitar is back."

The BBC further reported that the bass's whereabouts were confirmed back in September. After tip-offs suggested it had been taken from the back of a van in Labroke Grove in London during October 1972, the search team discovered it was then sold to a landlord of a pub in the area, before it made its way to Sussex, where it was sitting in a man's attic.

McCartney originally bought the bass for £30 in Germany during the Beatles' infamous Hamburg era. “I found a nice little shop in the centre of Hamburg, near a big department store called Karstadt," McCartney recalled in an interview with Tony Bacon in 1994. "And I saw this bass in the window, this violin-shaped Höfner. It was a good price, because my dad had always said I shouldn’t do the never-never [buy on credit], but we were earning reasonable money. I liked the Höfner’s lightness, too. So I bought it, and I think it was only about 30 quid.

The bass was found with its original case in late September last year but will reportedly need some repairs. We're hoping to see McCartney play it once again! 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.