Höfner basses are synonymous with Paul McCartney, but this new, long-scale Verythin is a different animal to both its fully-hollow 60s namesake and the similarly-spec’d 30-inch scale 500/1 Violin Bass with which Macca helped propel The Beatles to fame.
Featuring a semi-hollow body with a laminated-maple top, back and sides and a solid spruce centre-block, the Verythin Long Scale has a chunky dependability and a reassuring medium weight.
The strings are anchored via a tune-o-matic-style bridge and stop tailpiece, so the strapped-on feel is a world away from the white-knuckle ride of using a Violin Bass with a floating bridge on a sweaty club stage.
The slim, fast maple/beech/maple neck doesn’t feel as unwieldy as some long-scale basses can (especially to those of us who are primarily guitarists), and while it’s slightly neck-heavy, in a playing position your right forearm rests on the 1.25-inch body edge and acts as a natural balance.
The bound headstock may say `Contemporary Series’ on the truss-rod cover but the Dark Cherry transparent sunburst finish, large f-holes and little touches such as the pearloid heel inlay and flame-maple neck give this enough of an old-school Höfner flavour to ensure that it wouldn’t be out of place in a 50s or 60s covers band – and that’s exactly the context in which we road-tested it.
Where a traditionally appointed Verythin or Violin Bass can be a little woolly and stylistically limited – especially with flats – this long-scale semi, strung with roundwounds, is capable of spanning several decades of bass tone. The punchy back pickup can sound quite modern if you need it to, but while the centre-block minimises feedback and adds a pseudo-solidbody push, there’s still a pleasingly vintage-sounding woody thump.
Experimentation with the individual pickup volume controls yields a number of sweet spots with varying degrees of softness and definition. Try the classic trick of damping the strings with a piece of foam down by the bridge if you want to accentuate the retro vibe – it works brilliantly for everything from pseudo-upright walking lines to James Jamerson and `Duck’ Dunn-inspired soul grooves. As you might expect, if it’s Paul you need, the Verythin handles Beatles basslines pretty well, too.
For our money, the Verythin Long Scale is an excellent choice for bassists whose tastes include 1950s rock ‘n’ roll, old-school R&B, 60s beat, psychedelia, indie-rock and even early 70s funk.
Our only concerns are some slightly lumpy finishing around the f-holes and the fact that the potentiometers aren’t very well anchored to the top, but the former isn’t a deal breaker, the latter is a relatively easy fix and in all other areas, we’re mightily impressed.
Höfner Verythin HCT 500/8 Long Scale Bass
• Price £659
• Description Long-scale electric four-string bass, made in China
• Build Double-cutaway laminated maple semi-hollow body with spruce centre-block, three-piece maple/beech/maple set neck with bound rosewood fretboard, dot inlays, 22 frets, plastic nut
• Elelctircs 2x chrome-covered humbucking pickups, 2x volume, 2x tone
• Hardware Nickel tuners, adjustable bridge and stop tailpiece
• Scale Length 864mm/34inches
• Neck Width 42mm at nut, 52mm at 12th fret
• Neck Depth 20mm at first fret, 22mm at 12th fret
• String Spacing 33mm at nut, 55mm at bridge
• Weight 7.8lb/3.5kg
• Left-Handers No, but several Violin Bass models are available as lefties
• Finishes Dark Cherry transparent sunburst only
• Contact Barnes & Mullins 01691 652449