Global search launched for Paul McCartney’s lost Höfner 500/1 bass

“In many ways, we’re searching for the Holy Grail of Rock ‘N’ Roll.”

Paul McCartney playing his Höfner 500/1 Violin bass on stage

Credit: David Redfern/Redferns

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On 21 January, 1969 – while the Beatles were filming the Get Back/Let It Be sessions at Twickenham Film Studios in London – Paul McCartney’s signature 1961 Höfner 500/1 bass guitar completely vanished. But the Lost Bass Project believes it’s still out there.

Started up by Höfner aficionado Nick Wass, the project aims to hunt down McCartney’s beloved bass. “Paul and Höfner have been together for over 55 years, but the original 1961 bass will always be ‘the one’,” Wass explains. “I hope we can find the bass and get it back to Paul.”

The left-handed violin bass in question was the first McCartney ever owned. Hastily purchased in Hamburg in 1961 when bassist Stuart Sutcliffe dropped out of The Beatles, McCartney was elected to fill in for him. But he didn’t own a bass. 

With a show to play, McCartney went and bought whatever he could afford – a sunburst Höfner 500/1 for £30. The bass would go on to feature on iconic tracks Love Me Do, She Loves You, and Twist and Shout and more. 

Despite the rushed purchase, in McCartney’s own words, he “fell in love with it.” With The Lost Bass project, Wass’s mission is to recover musical history, and allow McCartney the chance to reunite with the bass that started it all.

Alongside him, Journalist Scott Jones of The Telegraph and Rolling Stone is also playing a key part in the search. “Tracing the bass is the most exciting challenge I’ve ever faced, given the bass could be anywhere in the world,” he says. “In many ways, we’re searching for the Holy Grail of Rock ‘N’ Roll.”

TV producer Naomi Jones, who has led major investigations at the BBC and Channel 4, is also involved in the core team. “This guitar is a symbol of the incredible change, the cultural and social revolution,” Jones reflects. “”When Paul McCartney walked into the Steinway music shop in Hamburg to buy his first bass, who would have thought that this teenager, and this violin shaped guitar, would change the world?”

Though there have been a few fakes over the years, The Lost Bass Project is dead-set on uncovering the mystery and hunting down the original.

If you’ve got any information on the whereabouts of the beloved Beatles bass, then The Lost Bass Project team want to hear from you. Your intel could play a vital part in music history.

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