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Maude

NBD Hofner 185 (resto thread)

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The band is predominantly centred around around the Mod and Ska revival of the late 70s early 80s and Northern Soul, whilst also playing some original Mod stuff, The Who, Small Faces, Spencer Davis Group, Kinks, etc. 

So while you are correct about the basses of that era, the late 70s was all about the Rick, albeit the 4001 or 4003.

Ok,ok I'm completely wrong, but the 4005 is going nowhere so pack it in! 😄

 

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Reverting back to identifying the various features of this bass, it's always worth remembering that Hofner weren't engaged in building vintage basses that would attract lots of interest in 60 years' time on the Internet. They were churning out as many instruments as they could possibly manufacture, so as to meet the entirely unforeseen explosion in demand following the early success of The Beatles.

Especially with the solid-body instruments (considered to be cheap'n'nasty when compared to the craftsmen-built traditional instruments like archtop guitars) this was a parts-bin operation. There were great stacks of parts and components in the factory, built in different batches and often sourced from outside ... the factories that made Framus, Klira, Hopf and many other brands were literally just down the road from Hofner.

Depending on which models had recently had a production run boosted through the system, the next instruments to be made might feature parts or components originally intended for other models.

Some of the Hofner basses I had (dating from 1958-65) definitely included non-Hofner parts, especially the tuners. These parts were original fitments, not later retro-fits.

 

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@Happy Jack, yes I'm well aware I'm probably fretting far to much about the details of this bass, but I was just trying to decipher the historical mods and pin down, as close as possible, what it originally was. It's just to satisfy my personal curiosity and it passes the time while waiting for suppliers to open up again to get the parts I need.

I'm happy that we've narrowed it down to the model and the year, give or take a year either side. 

Also just a point I've read when researching, as you mentioned The Beatles explosion, apparently these were all red in the UK due to the popularity of The Shadows so it seems odd that they all had black scratchplates and not white. 

So much for cream body and copper pearl scratchplate then 🙄 😁

 

 

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I took the bridge and tailpiece apart today to give them a little clean. When the string holder part was separated from the baseplate I found, possibly, initials etched into it. It might be M. G. Quality Control? More mysteries never to be solved. 

Jq5WPRq.jpg

 

GGNrMhr.jpg

The string saddle and its baseplate appear to be cut from sheets/slabs of brass which are chromed before the parts are cut out as, on the baseplate, the edges are brass and the faces chrome, and the saddle the opposite way around with chrome edges and brass faces.The brass surfaces are too clean to just be worn away chrome.  Presumably they use large pre-chromed slabs of brass and cut/stamp out the pieces before machining.

jDStSt4.jpg

They've cleaned up nicely, even the brass screws. 

VLGQPgx.jpg

 

Edited by Maude
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Posted (edited)

We are now entering the next phase of 'Adventures in Hofnerland'. 

I spent a long time to-ing and fro-ing over whether to try and find all genuine parts to make it as original as possible, or just get the parts to make it a decent usable bass whilst looking period correct, a resto-mod if you like. 

Unfortunately for @Shaggy he kindly messaged me to let me know of a Hofner pickup on ebay, I then proceeded to bore him with the details of my dilemma. 😉

And now I'll bore everyone else. 😄

Whilst a proper restoration would be lovely, sourcing genuine tuners, pickups, electrics, knobs and scratchplate would likely cost more than the bass was worth, or what I could buy a genuine one for, and it would still have a badly molested body which is painted the wrong colour. Also I have my Club for proper Hofner tones and my 4005 for that retro 'pickups at both extremes' tone. 

So sympathetic resto-mod it is. If the correct parts ever came my way it would all be easily reversible anyway. 

I've ordered the chrome mini humbuckers from Warman, as the Hofner staple pickups are mini humbuckers and these have very similar specs, some switches and pots and my scratchplate material is here. The pickups are four wire jobbies so the plan is to install two slide switches where they were on 185s and wire one pickup through each switch, the three way switches will give me single coil and double coil in series and parallel mode. These will be wired through two tones and two volumes (one for each pickup) with one of the pots being a push/pull which will put the pair of pickups in either series or parallel with each other. This should give me a much better range of tones than the standard ones but still retain the core original tone. If I can work out how to wire it up. 😁

Hopefully everything will be here by the weekend and I can get to work. 

Here's a few more pictures showing the body with the white scratchplate, to show how creamy beige the body is. The body, scratchplate material and neck, to show how the colour scheme should fit together, the cream and brown is meant to reflect the neck inlays. And another of the pickups which are on their way, I've ordered the chrome surrounds as well but not sure what they'll look like, I'll see when they turn up. 

 

bu2urZ2.jpg

4DL6Iv0.jpg

OOeFHYj.jpg

Edited by Maude
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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Maude said:

Unfortunately for @Shaggy he kindly messaged me to let me know of a Hofner pickup on ebay, I then proceeded to bore him with the details of my dilemma. 😉

 

Lol - it honestly brightened an otherwise dull New Years Maude, and anyway;  I get unfeasibly excited about bitsa bass projects 9_9 (as Mrs Shaggy knows to her cost.....)

The Hofner is really coming together - at the end you’ll have a bass better and more usable than the original, but definitely with that magic vintage vibe.    B|

Edited by Shaggy
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A bit more progress. I've made the scratchplate and headstock plate.

nvIMyF7.jpg

 

The scratchplate still needs pickup openings and screw holes drilling, I'm just about the tidy up the neck pocket part of the plate so I can then fit the neck and put an E and G string on to then mark where the pickups will go. Then cut the openings in the plate, then finally drill the fixing holes. The holes in the the plate that came on it aren't as the original so I'll drill them in the right place as per the pictures posted earlier in the thread. I also made the plate fit the curves of the lower bout better as the one I had wasn't great. 

tBmW09b.jpg

 

The headstock plate is certainly different. I honestly don't know if they all, or indeed any, had this. In some close up pictures it definitely looks like a separate plate covering the headstock. I've made one from the scratchplate material to see what it looks like and I really like it. Why don't more basses have this quirky little feature, kind of like a matching colour headstock but it matches the scratchplate. I've made it so it sits in a few mil from the edge so that you can still see the cream paint. The paint was applied a mil over the edge of the headstock to help with this. I don't even think I need to put any fixings in it as the tuner ferrules and string tree will hold it. I might put two screws in if needed, or maybe just a bit of double sided tape to hold it. I'll decide when the time comes. 

zFIUtf0.jpg

 

The pictures are a bit yellow looking, indoor lighting and phone camera. In the flesh it's not quite as gold, more of a brownish tinge. 

 

The next thing I need, which looks virtually impossible to find is a headstock badge. I could put a sticker on but it's just not the same. Does anyone know about 3D printing and what would be involved in getting one done? 

This is the badge, and you can also see the headstock plate. 

iyEHshy.jpg

 

 

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On 24/12/2020 at 14:57, ikay said:

Just a one off then by the look of it! Re the lack of a neck pickup rout, I just found this pic of a Hofner Artist in the process of being restored. The Artist was the Selmer version of the 185. Most of them didn't have the slider switches and ... drumroll ... it looks like the neck pickup was mounted to the pickguard as there's no rout.

1387805906_Hofner185body.thumb.jpg.02d67b9ee160feb2cf30a95c573c2967.jpg

34082750_HofnerArtist.thumb.jpg.7c43bd6496aa0a01edb6193a2ef4152a.jpg

My bass is absolutely identical to this, and i can confirm that the neck pickup is pickguard-mounted.

This thread has got me thinking about resto-modding mine too. Following with interest!

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12 hours ago, Rich said:

My bass is absolutely identical to this, and i can confirm that the neck pickup is pickguard-mounted.

This thread has got me thinking about resto-modding mine too. Following with interest!

One thing to consider though is that, if yours is all original, they make quite good money. While hunting around for parts I've seen them for sale up to four figures, whether any have sold for anywhere near that is another matter. I'd guess a decent one would get £6-700 though judging by the listings. 

Mine was too far gone to make finding all the original parts economical, hence why I'm doing what I am. 

 

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A little bit more progress today. I drilled the holes for the tuners in the headstock plate. Seems easy enough but with my limited tools at home nothing is ever straight forward. 😄

The ferrules are just over 12mm and the biggest drill bit I have at home is 10mm, apart from some step cutter type bits. Also marking the position of the four holes proved trickier than you'd imagine as they'd have to be bang on or I wouldn't be able to get all four in. 

The inner diameter of the ferrules was 8mm though so I hatched a plan, yes Baldrick, a plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel. Well nearly. 

It taped the plate into position on the front and popped the ferrules in from behind. 

RpZwj1a.jpg

SrBzRch.jpg

 

I could then use an 8mm drill bit and the ferrule would act as a guide to stop it wandering and keep things aligned.

mCrQoay.jpg

 

I then ran a step drill through until the 12mm section and tried the ferrules, and they fit, but were they in exactly the right place? 

gT2sHyu.jpg

 

Tried to slot it all together and as if by magic, it actually fits. 

vVhUFhm.jpg

 

The neck is now on and I can pop a pair of strings on and line up the pickups tomorrow. 

kiWAe7E.jpg

 

The badge I mentioned further back is hopefully being sorted. @Dad3353 & @BigRedXhave teamed up and most kindly offered to design and 3D print one and it should be just the ticket. Massive thanks fellas. 🙂👍

 

 

 

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I wasn’t sure about the headstock plate initially, but now the tuners are on, it looks really good.

I should never have doubted you!

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28 minutes ago, Pea Turgh said:

I wasn’t sure about the headstock plate initially, but now the tuners are on, it looks really good.

I should never have doubted you!

Feel free to doubt me, I do it myself enough. 😉

I wasn't sure myself to be honest. When it isn't on there the bass just looks more 'familiar', if that makes sense, like basses always look. And there was the issue, overfamilarity. I've got lots of basses with either wooden heads or painted heads, but nothing like this. It looks like they all had a plate which was normally black, so not too noticeable, but then I saw some like the red one with matching sparkle/pearl scratchplates and head plates. So I thought just do it. 

It's quirky and more in keeping with how it should be than not having one, and I reckon one it gets a 3D Hofner badge and stings it'll look even better. 

On similar note I've always liked the Yamaha RBX with the half head plate. 

 

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Captures that retro vibe perfectly.

Edit - you could maybe hinge the scratchplate so when you lift it there is a pop-up cocktail bar!

Edited by Paul S
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1 hour ago, Richard R said:

image.png.d96189d9186bfcc52dee9da43a340c9a.png

That looks really good with the matching headstock. 

 

33 minutes ago, Teebs said:

I love this :o

:x

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Thank you both. 🙂

It makes you wonder why more manufacturers don't do it. It's like a colour matched headstock taken to the next level. 

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26 minutes ago, Paul S said:

Captures that retro vibe perfectly.

Edit - you could maybe hinge the scratchplate so when you lift it there is a pop-up cocktail bar!

The scratchplate could open downwards on two small chains to reveal a couple of shot glasses and a selection of miniatures in extended pickup cavities. 😄

It would be like Lemmy's bass case with JD bottle recess.

Dont get me thinking. 🤔

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1 minute ago, Maude said:

The scratchplate could open downwards on two small chains to reveal a couple of shot glasses and a selection of miniatures in extended pickup cavities. 😄

It would be like Lemmy's bass case with JD bottle recess.

Dont get me thinking. 🤔

I likes it!

3.gif.b2540b3559881d3924ecf85318aa7024.gif

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36 minutes ago, Maude said:

 

Thank you both. 🙂

It makes you wonder why more manufacturers don't do it. It's like a colour matched headstock taken to the next level. 

Tort headstocks... ugh! 🤢

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9 minutes ago, Doctor J said:

Tort headstocks... ugh! 🤢

Hmmm, now you might just be onto something...... OK maybe not. 

😁

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10 hours ago, Doctor J said:

Calling Talkbass...!!! 😁

I don't get it, 🤔

Have they got tort issues? 

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