„The first time I saw Paul’s first Höfner Bass was at the Top Ten 1961. The instrument was  leaning against the Piano on stage. It was the  last appearance in this club with Stuart as their bass player. First time I saw Paul playing the Höfner bass  was at the opening of Star Club 1962. I could see how good he felt playing this bass. A natural symbiosis and a deep friendship. Well, it seems „ Till death us do part!“  The boys became famous and so did the bass.  I hope they find it and we can all see it once more, that would be something really special.”

Klaus Voormann – August 2023


Get to know the Lost Bass

Paul McCartney’s original Höfner bass is unique, in every way.

The Loss Bass project will give you the knowledge you need to identify McCartney’s original 1961 Höfner 500/1 Violin Bass – and rule out the fakes. Use these photographs to get to know the Lost Bass – and to check that the bass you have seen or heard about matches the spec of McCartney’s missing bass.


4 simple ways to spot the lost bass

The Lost Bass looks like no other 1961 Höfner 500/1 Violin Bass. And its appearance changed between 1961 and 1964. The photograph below shows two replica bass guitars. When the Lost Bass was made by Höfner in Germany, it looked like the replica guitar on the left. This shows the missing bass in its original condition, when Paul McCartney bought the Höfner 500/1 Violin Bass from Steinway Musikhausin in Hamburg in 1961.

But after repairs and a respray in London in 1964, the Lost Bass emerged looking like the replica guitar on the right. You can see how significant changes were made, leaving the Lost Bass looking like no other Höfner. For example, in 1964 the two pick ups were housed together in one wooden block.

Identifying the missing bass is simple. Here are four key things to look for;

  • the three-part sunburst colour
  • the two pickups mounted in one solid block of black wood
  • the mother of pearl pick guard was removed
  • the missing bass is left handed.

If the bass you have in mind fits this description, please get in touch with the project team.


Know the lost bass in detail

The full spec of the lost bass includes;

  •  a solid spruce top
  •  maple back and sides
  •  one-piece flat back
  •  three-piece neck (maple-beech-maple)
  •  two Diamond logo pickups with no poles
  •  Van Gent ‘rugby balls’ tuners
  •  long tailpiece with arched thin bar.

The Violin Bass sounds like no other bass. It was designed by Walter Höfner as an alternative to the upright double bass, with the same hollow body. It’s one of the smallest and lightest basses around, but it produces “massive bass lines” with that “distinctive deep and penetrating thud.”

The last thing to look out for is the name. Some people call the 1961 500/1 Violin Bass bass the ‘Beatle bass’ or ‘the Cavern bass’ after McCartney made the 500/1 Violin Bass world famous on the back of Beatlemania.