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Juttuja kitaroista ja bassoista
Hiljattain on ilmestynyt ensimmäinen vakavasti otettava kirja Höfnerin viulubassosta.
The Complete Violin Bass Story on Höfner-asiantuntijoiden – Steve Russellin ja Nick Wassin – huolellinen ja kattava historiikki Höfnerin klassikkobassosta.
320-sivuiseen kirjaan on hyvin kirjoitetun tekstin lisäksi mahdutettu suuri määrä bassokuvia – skaala ulottuu tunnetuista varhaisen 1960-luvun viulubassoista…
…ja 70-luvun malleista…
Kirjassa on mukana myös Tommi Posan ottamia kuvia minun omasta 90-luvun Höfneristäni!
My Rickenbacker 4003 is finished in silver, and sports the black hardware so common on 1980s Rickenbackers.
Old Rickies from the 1960s use Kluson tuners. Seventies models were most often equipped with Grover tuners. By the Eighties Rickenbacker had switched to Rickenbacker-branded Schaller tuners from Germany.
The original 4001 basses featured triangular ”shark-fin” inlays that went all the way from one edge of the fretboard to the other, effectively cutting the ’board into many pieces. The Rickenbacker 4003 has redesigned and slightly smaller inlays.
Viewed from the top both singlecoil pickups seem identical.
While the units feature virtually identical polepieces and coils, they do differ in the details. The neck pickup is powered by a single, flat bar magnet stuck underneath the bobbin.
The 4003’s distinctive bridge pickup tone of the Eighties model is produced by using a unique, thick rubber/ceramic-compound magnet that has a large gap (for the wiring) on the fingerboard-facing side. The hand rest has been removed by the previous owner.
The Rickenbacker bass bridge stands in its own recess inside the combined tailpiece and mute assembly.
In the Eighties Rickenbacker experimented with different tailpiece thicknesses, leading to quite a few bridge assemblies featuring two additional screws close to the ball ends. These factory-installed screws keep the – slightly too flexible – tailpiece from being bent out of shape by the string pull.
The body binding on Rickenbacker basses is usually glued to the body wings before the wings are attached to the through-neck.
Look closely, and you’ll be able to spot the glue-lines demarcating the through-neck.
Rickenbacker used several different numbering schemes throughout the decades. In 1987 they introduced a new numbering system with a letter indicating the month of production (A = January) and a number standing for the year (0 = 1987). Additionally there are four numbers on the lower edge of the jack plate (digitally wiped from this photograph).
The Rick-O-Sound-output is for use with a Y-cable (stereo plug to two mono plugs), splitting the pickup signals for use with two amplifiers or for adding different effects to each of the pickups.
This is what my own Rickenbacker-bass sounds like, when recorded using a SansAmp Bass Driver DI-box:
Some Rick-tastic clips:
The Epiphone Casino – a beautiful classic!
The Höfner 500/1 is a German electric bass guitar, which has been in production since 1956.
It is quite likely that this hollow-body, short-scale model (76,2 cm = 30″) would have been destined to become a mere footnote in bass history, if not for one small incident in 1961. A young, newly ”elected” bass player from Liverpool – named Paul McCartney – was browsing the local instrument stores in Hamburg (Germany), for a mid-priced electric bass, preferably left-handed. He found the Höfner 500/1 – and the rest, as they say, is history…
During the first years of production many of the 500/1’s specifications were changed on nearly a yearly basis.
The first production models came equipped with two long and narrow singlecoil pickups, which were placed in the neck and middle positions. An oval control plate sported two volume and two tone controls.
In 1959 Höfner changed the control layout: a long rectangular plate offered two separate volume controls, as well as three two-position sliders for turning each pickup on or off and choosing between solo (full power) and rhythm mode (slightly dampened). This switching (Aggregat E2 B) also gives you a fat, treble-deprived signal, whenever the middle (later bridge) pickup is turned off using the slider switch – Reggae-bass galore.
The singlecoils were switched to humbucking pickups in 1960. The metal covers on these units are stamped with a diamond and the Höfner-logo. This model is the bass that Paul McCartney bought in Hamburg (it had to be ordered left-handed):
In 1962 the second pickup was moved close to the bridge. Shortly hereafter it the 500/1’s humbuckers were switched to the so-called staple-top-pickups, which, despite their look, are singlecoils. The pickups got their nickname, because the bridge-facing polepieces look somewhat like staples. In 1963 Paul McCartney received/bought (the available info is not quite clear on this) this type of Höfner 500/1 – which he continues to use to this day!
From 1967 onwards Höfner’s new blade-pickups were installed on the 500/1.
The Höfner 500/1 stayed more or less this way until the latter part of the Nineties, before the Beatles Anthology -series kicked off a renaissance.
My own 500/1 -bass is a January 1990 -model. Then, demand for Beatle-basses was so low, that Höfner only built them on order, and for a very advantageous price.
My Höfner sports a maple neck, which is one-piece save for the neck heel. The tuners are sealed Gotoh guitar models.
The top of the hollow body is spruce plywood, while the sides and back have been crafted from anigré-plywood (lat. aningeria spp.).
The Höfner’s sound is big, fat, huge and warm, but still has ample zing and growl with roundwound strings.
I’m mainly a fingerstyle player, but tend to use a plectrum whenever I play the 500/1, because its strings sit rather high above the body and are quite close to each other.
For some strange reason my Beatle-bass sounds fantastic plugged directly into a mixing console or soundcard, even without using a DI-box!
These days Höfner produces the excellent mid-price Contemporary-version (made in China) alongside its more pricier German reissues:
The main difference is that the Contemporary 500/1 is semi-solid, with a maple centre block running the length of its body. This adds some sustain, as well as making the bass less susceptible to feedback than an original.
The Höfner 500/1 -sound is probably known to all of us – listen to virtually any Beatles-record pre-1966. Later examples include the Beatles-tracks Get Back and Come Together, as well as McCartney’s solo-single My Brave Face.
You can also check out my Höfner here and here.
…and rounding it all off, here’s a snipped I copied from one of my ProTools-sessions: