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14th October, 2019

Trace The Bass: Paul McCartney's lost Höfner guitar

In the spring of 1961, a young man walked into a music shop in Hamburg, Germany and purchased his first bass guitar, a Höfner 500/1 Violin Bass. He took it back to the band he was performing with who would play numerous times in Hamburg, then in Liverpool, at The Cavern Club and across the UK. He would use the bass to record the band's first two albums and several number one hits at Abbey Road recording studios. A young man's dream came true.

He is, of course, Paul McCartney of The Beatles. This first bass was replaced by a second almost identical model in October 1963, the one you see Paul play today. The first bass was relegated to back up duties and last used by Paul early in 1969 during the Let It Be recordings. Then it vanished, presumably stolen. It has not been seen since.


This is a modern recreation of how the bass would have looked after it was rebuilt in 1964. You will see the peculiar one-piece pickup surround that was made by the repairers – it is unique to this lost bass. The last photo of the bass, with Paul using it for the Let It Be filming in January 1969, show it without a pickguard.

It is without doubt the most important missing guitar in the world. It's the bass you hear on 'Please Please Me', 'She Loves You', 'Twist and Shout' and many other hits. These recordings alone make it a truly significant instrument. As his first bass it has enormous sentimental value to Paul and after all these years he’d love to know what happened to it and hopefully receive it back. Nick Wass, media and marketing manager at Höfner, wants to help him find it. The company has started a media campaign, #tracethebass, to try and locate and return the iconic bass to Paul McCartney.


Wass said: "While nobody really knew what had happened to the bass, it was very likely stolen. To this day it has remained a mystery. There have been rumours over the years, but this is all they amount to, just rumours. Someone somewhere knows what happened to this bass and where it is now. This information is out there if only the right person would come forward."



After all this time would it not be fantastic if this bass surfaced and could be reunited with the man who brought us a lifetime of wonderful music? It's not just a bass guitar, it's an icon, an instrument the world should be allowed to see again. This is Paul McCartney's first bass and no other instrument can have such intrinsic and sentimental value to us all. Let’s find it!

If you have any definite information about the whereabouts of the bass guitar please contact Hofner via email, all information will be handled in strictest confidence with no recriminations:


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