It fell apart when I got to Hamburg—the sweat and the damp and the getting knocked around, falling over and stuff.
So in Hamburg, with my guitar bust, I turned to the piano.” In mid-1961, bass player Sutcliffe gave his notice, saying that he intended to stay in Hamburg when the band went back to England.
You see, Paul Mc Cartney didn’t want to play the bass guitar in the first place.
In the early 1960s, The Beatles were playing in Hamburg, Germany, with bassist Stu Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best.
The guitar’s neck was initially made from solid maple and was quite hefty, but in later models the neck was slimmed down and truss rods were added for strength.
The fret board was made from rosewood and had 20 frets. The 500/1 featured dual pickups, located near the neck and bridge in early models, and in late 1956 both were positioned close to the neck.
Other winners include Jessie J, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Laura Wright.
The original 500/1 had a 30-inch scale—the length of the strings from the nut to the bridge—with the back and sides made from laminated flamed maple and finished in nitrocellulose lacquer.
The former Beatle has donated the instrument, an autographed Hofner bass violin guitar, to be sold at the 02 Silver Clef Awards which raise money for music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins.
He said: "I am delighted to have signed and donated this very special left-handed Hofner bass in order to raise funds for Nordoff Robbins.
Paul Mc Cartney played a Hofner 500/1 bass on the Ed Sullivan Show in front of 73 million people, and the Hofner violin bass became a rock-and-roll icon.
Despite the fact that Hofner produced only 250 of the 500/1 bass guitars in the seven years prior to the Beatles’ Sullivan appearance, Hofner was soon forced to increase production of the violin-shaped guitar just to keep up with new orders. Jordan, current sales director for Hofner, says that the Hofner violin bass has “been manufactured in large quantities almost unchanged for more than 50 years and is always attracting new aficionados.” The journey of the Hofner violin bass, from relative obscurity to icon status, began at the intersection of bad luck and necessity.
Hofner was already producing electric six-string guitars as well as violins, so Walter designed an instrument that could be manufactured with the machinery that was already in the factory.