Hofner Icon B Reviews 4

'Violinburst' or tobacco sunburst finish; 30' scale, four-string violin-shaped bass. Comes from the factory with roundwound strings.------------------------------ I've played bass professionally for 44 years. I currently play in a praise band in a local church and also do studio work. I favor rock but have played just about every style, even -- shame -- disco. Favorite players include Paul McCartney, James Jamerson, Tony Levin, Chris Squire, Joe Osborn, Bob Glaub and Sting.

Purchased used on Ebay, with a very bad gigbag, for $230. MSRP $599; street price new varies between $339 and $439, depending on whether it has a hard case. I bought this because Paul McCartney is my main influence and the reason I became a bass player. Plus, I'm still thinking of starting a Beatles cover band, and the Hofner is just about required for that. But I will not pay $1,500 just to have a bass that looks like Paul's unless I start to make a whole lot more money.

The Icon looks like the German-made Hofner 500/1, otherwise known as the Beatle Bass because Paul McCartney popularized and still uses that model. I like the looks, but most of all I like the sound -- very big for a small bass. Although many people think the Hofner is a one-trick pony, there is a range of sounds to be had from it by mixing pickups and playing with a pick or fingers. Although the electronics are not the same as the 500/1, the sound is very close to vintage McCartney (pre-Rubber Soul).

The stock roundwound strings are terrible. First thing I did was replace them with LaBella Beatle Bass flatwounds. It's also a bear to intonate because the bridge saddles aren't on spring-loaded screws like a fender or most other basses. You can get it close, but as you move up the neck, intonation is not exact. Cosmetically, I don't like the stock, Jazz-Bass style control knobs. I replaced them with 'teacup' knobs as on the German made model. Getting used to the short scale can be tricky, especially if you normally play a 35' bass, as I do.

The Icon is well made and should stand up to even daily use, but a hard case ($60) is a necessity IMHO. Finish is good and workmanship is fine for a $350 bass. No neck or fret problems, and the electronics are quiet.

Hofner's B (for Beatle) bass is the company's low-cost, Chinese made version of the German Hofner 500/1 'Beatle Bass,' made famous by Paul McCartney, and it's great for the closet Moptop in you. But it also sounds great, both live and recorded. I did a few tracks at home and the Icon nails that British Invasion sound at a savings of $1,200 over the German model. It's Fab Gear!

Laklander rated this unit 4 on 2009-12-03.

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