We all know the Hofner 5001 violin bass guitar thanks to Sir Paul McCartney, and if you’ve ever played one you know that it’s a unique instrument. First of all it’s extremely light – kind of the anti-Les Paul in that you can wear it all day and your shoulder won’t get tired. It also has a huge booming low end that’s unmistakable.
That low end makes the early Beatle records interesting in that Paul’s bass sound really was never captured because no one was focused on the low end in those days, and the studios really weren’t set up to reproduce it. Ken Scott told me a story about how all the engineers were fascinated with the low end of American records:
“I remember one single that was particularly loud was a short-lived pop song called “Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)” by one-hit wonder John Fred and His Playboy Band. We tried and tried to get our records to sound like it and could never get close. The same goes for the bass sound that came out of Motown. We just never could duplicate it.”
That said, below is a great video on how a Hofner 5001 Beatle Bass is made. What you’ll notice is that it’s all hand built, that that there aren’t very many measurements involved. This is some fascinating stuff.
For more on the history of the violin bass, check this out.