Höfner 189 Jazz Bass, 1977
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- Order number: 718
The 189 bass was added to the Höfner range in 1971, at a time when all German manufacturers were increasingly seeing their sales collapse and were looking for salvation in copying the successful American and Japanese models. The Höfner Jazz Bass also did quite well and remained in the range until 1983. And rightly so, because it stands out for its top quality and is miles superior to the US models of the early seventies in all aspects. In fact, only Höfner survived the disaster in the end. But the numbers were not high, the appreciation low and until today not many 189s have survived in this top condition. Many were "optimized", tinkered with and later disposed of, as they were "only" Höfner basses... Ours comes in the original case and is from 1977.
The body is composed of several maple parts, top and bottom with a wonderful flamed one piece layer. The neck is also made of maple, it is completely lacquered in black. It has a rosewood fingerboard with perloid dot inlays in eight frets and, of course, a steel truss rod. Rare at Höfner: It has the long standard bass scale of 86 cm ( "long scale"). The finish is beautifully and perfectly executed in the classic three-tone sunburst, the yellow-red areas transparent so you can see the beautiful flaming. High-quality, large, open Schaller single tuners, solid hardware, four-layer pickguard. Even the mighty pickup and tailpiece covers are present ("ashtrays"), which is rare because most bassists remove them at some point. Countless ones have been lost this way.
The basis are two so-called "HiFi" pickups with two magnets per string, very similar to the Fender originals. They are controlled with a volume control for each pickup and a master tone control. Just like the US model, there is no pickup selector switch. It couldn't be more logical, that's all it needs.
Our bass was bought new, complete with case, in a music shop in Essen, Germany in 1977. The owner was a young hobby musician who needed it for a school band, borrowed the money from his parents and of course couldn't pay for a Fender. He played the bass for only 2 years, then the band project came to nothing and there was no next one. So the bass actually lay untouched in its case for 44 years, went through several moves, but was never used again! When we got it, the original strings were still mounted, the Höfner was never changed or optimised! The first owner, who is now sixty-four years old, offered us the bass because he came across our website by chance, liked it and remembered that he still had the nice item. Of course we were happy to buy the perfectly preserved instrument.
Actually, the bass only needed a light cleaning, all lacquer surfaces had to be polished. We removed the resin from the somewhat scratchy controls. We slightly sanded and oiled the fingerboard and polished the frets. We also polished the hardware. The black stained strings were replaced with matching Pyramid pure nickel roundwounds, we did a basic setup, and that was all.
When you open the case for the first time, you think you are looking at a new instrument. The Jazz Bass shape is still current today, and the condition of the Höfner is as good as new. It's hard to believe that you're holding a 46-year-old veteran. The few tiny micro-scratches and dents are probably from the first two years in the school band; if the instrument had been played more, we wouldn't even mention them. Sound and handling are typical jazz bass, the US model can't do any better, but the quality of the Höfner's workmanship is significantly above that. The bass can do everything, from swinging background in the dance band to rocking sounds to dominating lead instrument and crisp slapping, there are no limits. The case has taken more of a beating over the decades - which is logical. But it is still in top condition and fully suitable for everyday use. So is this a unique collector's item and a valuable investment for the showcase? Or a contemporary bass that finally wants to be played properly? We don't know, it can do both, but that's up to the buyer to decide.
Overall length 46.4”/118 cm; body length 20.9”/53 cm; lower bout width 14.2”/36 cm; waist width 9.4”/24 cm; upper bout width 12.2”/31 cm; body depth 1.6”/4 cm; scale length 33.9”/86 cm (nut to saddle); fingerboard width 1.5”/3,8 cm at nut, 2.2”/5,7 cm at 12th fret; overall weight 3.970 g, string action on 12th fret 0.08-0.12”/2-3 mm (adjustable).
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