Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 54

COLUMN The (Way) Back Beat

(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) Aria's early
Höfner clones, 1968; Still Beatles-y after all
these years. The 1974 Spiegel catalog. The
final Vox violin bass - the Astro IV, from 1968.

Danelectro folded before many of these were
shipped to U.S. in '68 or put into use; they still
pop up for sale in their original box!
By this time, Japanese builders had embraced the design whole hog and through the
mid/late '60s spun out a bewildering array of
variations on the Höfner theme, some quite
fanciful. The world's ultimate violin-bass
collection would run to several hundred
instruments. By the time many came
to market, The Beatles were no longer
touring, and McCartney himself increasingly playing a Rickenbacker. No matter,
the flood of violin-body basses from Japan
continued well past the Beatles' dissolution,
and a generic version emerged by the turn of
the decade that became a staple of jobber
books and mail-order catalogs. Many
early ones carried the Greco or Arai
Diamond name; by the '70s, most
were sold unbranded. In the late '60s,
the guitar industry itself slid into the
"copy era," and the violin bass was an
early indicator of the trend.
Ironically, there are period Japanese
copies of the Gibson EB, most sold with
the Univox brand, and some expanding
on both designs with florid body shapes
or fanciful detailing. A nice variant sold
under Bugeleisen & Jacobson's Kent brand
borrowed Klira's pointed (but functionally

pointless) treble-side horn and added extrafancy binding and trim.
By the end of the '60s, these light, easy-tohandle basses fell from professional favor as
stage volumes rose, making them feedback
machines. The often-microphonic pickups
didn't help. While most Höfner basses and
their imitations disappeared from rock
stages after '68, Paul's had one more iconic
appearance, in Let It Be, enhanced by a sticker
on the face reading "Bassman." It would then
disappear for years.
This was less problematic on the
amateur market, and trading on the
familiarity of the original "Beatle Bass,"
thousands of Japanese-made Höfner
copies were sold even into the '80s. My
own first bass (in 1976) was one, bought
from a Spiegel catalog for $79.98. The
look appealed to a young bass dreamer's
desire for something different... "It's like
the one The Beatles used," my 16-year-old
reasoning went. "It must be cool!" Years
later, to many the violin bass is still wicked
cool - a statement of intent and individuality,
even if based on a cycle of blatant imitation!

VINTAGE GUITAR

54

February 2018


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - February 2018

Contents
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - Cover
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - IFC
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 3
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 4
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 5
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 6
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 7
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 8
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 9
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - Contents
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 11
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 12
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 13
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 14
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 15
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 16
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 17
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 18
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 19
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 20
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 21
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 22
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Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 24
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 25
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 26
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 27
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 28
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Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 30
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Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 35
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 36
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 37
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 38
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Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 40
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 41
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 42
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 43
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Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 50
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 51
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Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 53
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 54
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Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - IBC
Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - BC
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