Here's my Hofner Icon, the budget model of the German bass that Paul McCartney made famous. When Hofner originally came out with the Viola electric bass in the 1950s, the idea was to have a teeny-tiny, small electric bass that sounded as much as possible like an upright bass. It does sound pretty good. The body is hollow, but it has no sound hole (to reduce the possibility of feedback.) This bass is perfectly balanced, light as a feather with a skinny neck that feels great and is a breeze to play. It also looks really cool and has a beautiful deep thudding tone. The only drawbacks are that the strings are really close together, and the body is so small (and such an odd shape) that you can't rest your arm on it or tuck it under your arm .. so after a while I start getting uncomfortable, because I can't relax. I like the Hofner too much to ever get rid of it, though. One thing that mystifies me is this: Why does the Icon (made in China) cost one-fifth as much as the heirloom model (still made in Germany) when there is no really appreciable difference between them? Aside from the tuners (which had to be replaced after the key crumbled off of one of them) I have had no problems with my "cheap" model. The original Hofner was not an expensive bass when McCartney bought his. I think if he hadn't played it in the Beatles, it would still be a cheap bass - or it might not even be in production today. Food for thought.
Contents copyright 1994-2009 by JW Kennedy.