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- Order number: 639
The 173 was one of the most successful Höfner electric guitar models and was built over 10 years from 1962 until the seventies. With its shape and three pickups, it is of course strongly reminiscent of the Fender Stratocaster, but goes its own way. Due to the almost prohibitively expensive US brands in the sixties, the 173 was one of the most sought-after musical instruments - among professionals and amateurs alike - and with countless bands on stage.
The body is made of the very light abachi and has three layers of maple veneer on the top and back respectively. In addition, a beautifully executed three-color sunburst finish. The neck is made of three pieces of longitudinally glued maple, continuous including the headstock and is painted black. It has a truss rod accessible from the body. The fingerboard is dark rosewood with double pearloid dot inlays in nine frets. As usual, it has no zero fret. Open single tuners with tulip handles. The tuning stable, solid tremolo unit is recessed and invisibly hidden under a front (metal) and a rear (plastic) cover plate.
The three twin-coil humbuckers are the type 511 Nova-Sonic, also called "Staples," at the bridge and neck, and the type 510 "Diamond" in the middle, all made by Franz Pix. Each has its own on-off switch and tone control. In addition, there is a master volume control. This is useful and intuitively easy to operate, and allows a total of seven different pickup combinations, eight if you count "off" too - the maximum. It is connected to a modern standard jack socket.
Unknown. We took it over from its Dutch owner in 2021 as part of a small Höfner solid body collection.
There was not much to do. We completely disassembled the guitar into all its individual parts. All the lacquer surfaces were carefully cleaned, a few quirks were retouched and everything was elaborately bale polished. We sanded and oiled the fingerboard and polished the frets. The tuners were disassembled, cleaned and re-oiled, all hardware cleaned and polished, the roller bridge greased. The electrics worked fine and did not need any attention. Finally, new 10 gauge strings were installed and a setup was done.
Above all else, the sound of the 173 must be mentioned: This is a rock monster! Brachial, rocky, with lots of sustain, the pickups are in top condition. The range goes from Stevie Ray Vaughn over Rory Gallagher to Mark Knopfler or Hank Marvin. There are a few minor scuffs and playing marks on the body, especially on the bottom edge, plus a few tiny scratches on the back, the top is virtually flawless. The neck is also like new, but considering it's a rock guitar that's nearly six decades old, that's just vanishingly small and hard to photograph. Fretboard and frets are refurbished and fit for many more years of use, the tuners work reliably. Of course, the guitar is completely in original condition. It is stable, solid and fully functional. It is sparkling clean and odorless, the varnish surfaces shine like new. With a very low string action of about 1 mm at the 12th fret, it is very easy to play and suitable even for light fingers. At the same time, at 2.9 kg, it's a lightweight that's easy to carry even for long gigs. Players who are looking for a gorgeous vintage solid body with a killer sound are in the right place. But in this condition, it will also do well in any collection. There are cheaper 173s out there, but none better!
Overall length 98 cm/38.6”; body length 46 cm/18.1”; lower bout width 32 cm/12.6”; waist width 22 cm/8.7”; upper bout width 28 cm/11”; body depth 3 cm/1.2”; scale length 64 cm/25.2” (nut to saddle); fingerboard width 4,3 cm/1.7” at nut, 5,2 cm/2” at 12th fret; overall weight 2.890 g, string action on 12th fret 1,5 mm/0.06”.
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