This six-string Hofner CT Club 2009 in Antique Sunburst is a true “closet guitar.” A close associate of one of Austin’s premier blues and rock singers bought it new, hoping to start performing. But other priorities came up, as they often do.
The famous behaviorist Pavlov conditioned Russian dogs to, when hearing the word “Hofner”, respond with “Beatle bass.” OK, that wasn’t Pavlov, that was Paul McCartney, but my point stands. Say “Hofner to any Russian dog, and the dog will respond “Beatle bass.” But Hofner makes more than basses, as this beautiful little six-string makes clear. The hollow mini-Les-Paul body is light and resonant, and the pearl appointments and headstock inlays sparkle.
Although it’s a new made-in-China model, they’ve done a great job of retaining a vintage look and feel, right down to the hard-to-figure-out Veg-O-Matic switching.
If you find yourself trying to figure out the switching on one of these, here’s how it works. The Treble switch boosts treble response and turns off the bass (neck) pickup. The bass switch does the reverse, boosting bass and turning off the treble (bridge) pickup. So they work together like this:
- Bass and Treble switches off: both pickups are engaged.
- Bass on, Treble off: neck pickup ONLY is engaged.
- Bass off, Treble on: bridge pickup ONLY is engaged.
- Bass on, Treble on: NEITHER pickup is engaged. Odd. But that’s the way these are wired. So to rock out with both pickups, turn both switches off.
In investigating the switching I pulled the electronics plate, which let me verify the serial number. On these guitars, it’s inside the body cavity, so that’s the only way to find it. While there, I cleaned the contacts and blew out the body cavity, because who knows when it’ll be opened up again?
It still needed a good setup, so I strung it up with some Ernie Ball 9’s and started tweaking. When capoed at the first fret (to rule out anything related to the nut), the action was higher than it needed to be, when measured against the string height guides in Dan Erlewine’s Guitar Repair book. Neck relief was about right, though. So I dropped the strings at the bridge, using the wheel-style adjustments, and was able to get it lower than factory specs while still avoiding any buzz.
I dropped the pickups a tad to accommodate the lower action, as pickups too close to the strings can muddy the sound. I used the standard Strat setup of keeping the strings (when fretted at the last fret) about 1/8 above the strings on the bass side, and about 3/32 on the treble side. It can be hard to see the measurement, so sometimes I’ll just grab a 1/8 or 3/32 Allen wrench, slide it between string and pickup, and adjust the pickup down until I feel it touch.
I was blown away when I plugged it in. Played clean with a touch of delay, it had a Rickenbacker-ish jangle. But add some distortion and light both of the mini-humbuckers up, and the tone became an aggressive snarl, like an angry small dog. Lots of fun to play.
I listed the Hofner CT Club in the Vintage Soul Store on Reverb.com and it promptly sold to Jonah Byrd of Jigsaw Soul. The word “eclectic” is overused, but it really applies to his music. So we’ve got a happy ending: the guitar’s out of the closet and in the hands of a musician for whom it’s a perfect fit! A bit of Jigsaw Soul’s music is below.