Höfner 490, 1974

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Instrument: The 490 was Höfner's best-selling twelve-string guitar, very successful for many... more
Höfner 490, 1974

The 490 was Höfner's best-selling twelve-string guitar, very successful for many years and in the range from 1968 to 1992. In Great Britain it was marketed as Arizona. During these 24 years it was reworked countless times, from the shape of the body to the headstocks, the pickguard, bridge and string suspension, no detail remained as it was in the beginning. Ours has a barely legible date on the soundhole label: 1974.

The top is made of bookmatched spruce, the sides and back of beautifully flamed maple. The black lacquered neck is also made of maple and has a rosewood fingerboard with pearloid dot inlays in six frets. It features a truss rod and high-quality open tuners. There are black bindings around the body and the rosewood bridge has the classic 12 string pegs made of cream-white plastic. The four-ply pickguard has an engraved Höfner logo.

Instruments history:
The guitar was bought new in 1974 in the former Kühlwetter music store in Giessen, used a lot in the first few years and, above all, played in really well. At some point, the owner converted it into a six-string and unnecessarily unscrewed every second tuner. By the mid-nineties, it was so tinkered with that it could no longer be played. The string action was far too high, the neck was sticking out of the body at a slight angle, the bridge glue was coming loose, the grub screw of the patented neck was worn out, tuner bushings were missing - in 20 years, the guitar had undergone the typical career from new favourite instrument to messed-up and unloved bulky waste candidate. Fortunately, it was not thrown away, but given to a friend as a gift. Of course, he couldn't do anything with it either, but kept it for 30 years. In early 2023, he then tried to repair the guitar himself, but was unable to cope and finally offered it to us, which we gladly accepted.

Restoration work:
Firstly, we made and fitted a new, functioning neck grub screw and glued the bridge back together perfectly and stably. Veneer inlays in the neck pocket now ensure the correct alignment again. This allowed the neck angle and string action to be corrected. The gutted tuners were removed and replaced with a set of new Höfner 12-string tuners, including new new-old-stock bushings and original string pegs. We also replaced the saddle, which had been filed in far too deeply. The fingerboard and frets were sanded, the fingerboard oiled and the frets polished. Of course, the rather dirty guitar was thoroughly cleaned, all lacquered surfaces polished and the body blown out. Thorough airing for days dispelled the musty odour. Finally, the Höfner was given a new set of Pyramid strings in phosphor bronze and a basic tuning.

Current condition:
If you are looking for a classic German acoustic guitar with 12 strings, this beautiful veteran is the perfect choice. The three-colour look is harmonious: black for the pickguard and headstock, rosewood for the bridge and fingerboard, plus the beautiful, clear lacquered natural wood. It has a bit of subtle patina, a few small blemishes on the top and a few scratches on the back of the neck - but none of this detracts from the guitar's charisma. Of course, everything works as it should and the guitar is absolutely clean and odourless. All glue joints are bombproof again. It now plays perfectly easy again, thanks to the low 1-2 mm string action at the 12th fret, modern slim neck and near mint frets. The sound is marvellous, twelve strings don't get any better than this: clear, brilliant, endless overtones, harmoniously combined with broad mids and a thoroughly fat bass. All warm and full of wood, you can hear Barclay James Harvest, Leo Kottke and the late Beatles. So if you're looking for a great-sounding 12-string with charisma, you shouldn't wait any longer - this 490 is now fully operational again and ready for the next 50 years.

Overall length 110 cm/43.3”; body length 50,5 cm/19.9”; lower bout width 40 cm/15.7”; waist width 27 cm/10.6”; upper bout width 29 cm/11.4”; body depth 9,5 cm/3.7” at neck, 11 cm/4.3” at lower bout; scale length 64 cm/25.2” (zero fret to saddle); fingerboard width 4,6 cm/1.8” at zero fret, 5,5 cm/2.2” at 12th fret; overall weight 2.030 g, string action on 12th fret 1-2 mm/0.04-0.08”.

Purchase and payment:
Send us an e-mail to info@german-vintage-guitar.com and you will receive your invoice immediately. Or simply order here through the shop. We are happy about a direct bank transfer (SWIFT/BIC), because this is free of charge, in contrast to the PayPal payment with its service fees.

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