Author Topic: Höfner Pickups  (Read 102 times)

Chris P.

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Höfner Pickups
« on: May 02, 2017, 02:03:58 AM »
Posted this at a Höfner 500/1 group on facebook. I thought you might wanna read it too:

I had the opportunity to check those very different Höfners in an A/B/C test. That was not only nice but I also encountered some surprising differences. This is not an in depth review, but just a small report about the differences. Of course I'm open for any questions. (About the basses, that is.) English isn't my mother tongue, so apologies for some strange sentences.

Feel:
Of course all three are light, all three have quite chunky necks, but all three feel very different. The orange one is the most 'normal' violin bass. It's light, the neck is quite a hand full and because of the narrow body with a carved back, it's always a bit wobbly on your body. The red one has that same feeling, but the neck is more comfortable and easier to play. The satin/oil kinda finish feels less sticky than a high gloss neck. I prefer Fender's with satin finish and I always roughen up gloss necks a bit with steel wool. I love that satin feel. I also think the neck is a bit thinner (not narrower) and no bindings feel different.
The Club, of course, has a bigger body and because of that it's a bit more stable on your body. The neck is more like the orange one. The orange is the only one with real side dots. The other two have gaffa side dots :)

Sound:
Let's first compare the Club to the orange one. IMHO there's not much difference between the neck pickups solo of both basses. Maybe a tiny bit of difference in character (Club might be a bit rounder) but that will also have to do with body size, set up, string age. To be short they are very similar. I don't think the bridge pickup solo is usable on a 500/1, but it ads some treble to the overall sound with both pickups on and it makes the overall sound a bit more compressed.

The neck and middle pickups together makes the Club sound enormous. Open, wide, big and great. Bassier than the Violin. The middle pickup solo is more middy and pushy. A tad more 'modern' although it will never has a solidbody sound. It's still big but a bit tighter and it's more usable for modern songs or rock songs. I gigged this one and I use the volume controls (imho faster than operating two switches) as pickup selector. Both pickups in ballads and the middle one in more up tempo songs.
Now the most striking difference. I wanted to compare the red one and the Club only, because of the similar spacing. But the output of the toasters on the red one is an awfull lot lower. After playing the red one, I had to put the volume down, cos the paisley was totally distorting the amp. After playing the paisly, there was hardly any sound, with plugging in the red. I almost thought the red one was broken, but I guess it is single coil versus humbucker. And maybe pots? I gigged and recorded with the red one and sound engineers love it (both studio as live) so it definately isn't broken:)

Now comes the difficult part, explaining how the red one sounds. Still Höfner, but les round and woolly than the others. More focused, tighter, but still warm and low. But first a comment: I'm a very bad pick player and I almost always use fingers. Sometimes the orange and paisley can be a bit too much oomphy, but I don't care. With a pick you've got the instant Höfner sound. As fingerstyle player, I love the cavern spacing cos I can use the middle pickup as a thumb rest (I mounted a rest on my HCT Verythin). But I think the red one suits finger style better, with the focused more mid heavy sound. The overall tone is very organic and woody, versus more boxy and low end heavy on the others. Both pickups are still very warm and the middle one pushes out mids a lot more than the paisley. Sound wise and feel wise it's my favourite.

Conclusions?
I thought there would be a lot less difference in pickup sounds. I learned staples (orange) would be a bit hotter than diamonds (paisley) but both are a lot hotter than the toasters (red), but not that different from eachother. I also think that I want a Club once with satin finish and Cavern Toasters, haha! I always wanted that for looks and 'finger rest', but I think that would be perfect. That's an awfull conclusion, haha, cos I don't need any more Höfner basses, cos it's already hard to choose between sunburst, orange and paisley:) I just let it depend on what clothes I wear.
Sorry for boxy, woody, oomphy, pushy, woolly, etc. I guess you nerds will get it!

PS:
Thanks guys. I did some checking here and there. Both the singlecoils Toasters as the two humbucking type pickups use the same pots. The last couple of years, the humbuckers are a bit more overwound than they used to be, while the toasters are quite tiny, so that explains the much higher output. I do like the lower output ones, but all is a matter of taste, playing style,





ilan

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Re: Höfner Pickups
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2017, 04:59:49 AM »
Thanks for that. Very interesting and informative.

FWIW, the original art deco toaster on my 1960 500/3 has slightly more output than the original 60's staple-top on my '64 Senator, and a modern reissue staple-top I once had on that bass. The 1960 toaster is also brighter and imho better balanced than the staple-tops, both vintage and reissue. Chris, could you ask your friends at Höfner if the innards and specs of their reissue toasters are the same as the original ones?
A bad day of playing bass is still better than a good day of playing cello.

Chris P.

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Re: Höfner Pickups
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2017, 05:05:36 AM »
From a non Höfner guy, but an expert I heard this: "The last couple of years, the humbuckers are a bit more overwound than they used to be."

Dave W

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Re: Höfner Pickups
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2017, 07:26:45 AM »
I'd take a Club Cavern any day regardless of which pickups.