Hofner-clone "Beatle Bass" kit from Bargain Musician

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JLT
Posts: 241
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:13 pm

Hofner-clone "Beatle Bass" kit from Bargain Musician

Post by JLT »

I recently acquired a kit from Bargain Musicians. It's a short-scale (30") semi-hollow violin-style body, similar in looks to the famous Hofner "Beatle Bass" popularized by Sir Paul McCartney.

https://www.bargainmusician.com/inc/sde ... it/94/1939

The assembly of the kit looks to be extremely simple, sort of like the Grizzly guitar kits, where the neck is already pre-shaped with the fret board, frets, and truss rod already installed. The body is also pre-assembled, and you're left with the task of applying your finish of choice and figuring out how to put the damn thing together. The instruction sheet is for their entire line of electric guitar kits and therefore unhelpful with your particular model. No illustrations or photographs, and the parts are all jumbled together in a plastic bag, without even a parts list to help you know whether you've got the right parts, or all the parts that you need. The instruction sheet does note that they will email you a wiring diagram for your specific model when asked.

I probably won't be posting many pictures, since I'm a lousy photographer and there really isn't much to show. But I'll try to describe my progress and point out any pitfalls for anybody who wants to try their hand at this kind of kit.
JLT
Posts: 241
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:13 pm

Re: Hofner-clone "Beatle Bass" kit from Bargain Musician

Post by JLT »

I'm working now on applying finish to the body. Before I did that, I had to scrape the bindings down to level where they had stuck out a little. I also re-cut the head stock to eliminate that characteristic Hofner "wave" and inserted a laser-cut rosette up there, which I've done with most of the stringed instruments I've made.

I'm using the Behlen/Mohawk stringed instrument lacquer with the recommended vinyl sealer on the body of the instrument, and Tru-Oil for the neck.

Another thing: although the instructions said to glue the neck to the body, I've decided to go to a bolt-on neck configuration, since I expect to be taking the thing apart by and by. I'm using a Fender plate-and-screw arrangement. Does that make it a screw-on neck?

As for the electronics, I can't really assess them until the guitar is together, but it seems that if I want to replace it with genuine Hofner parts or reasonable facsimiles, it shouldn't be hard to do.

The instrument appears identical to a lot of the "violin" basses selling on eBay for anywhere from $100 to $200. It also looks like the "Rogue" version sold by Musician's Friend and Sweetwater for around $250. But until I can compare mine directly to one of those, I can't really say how it would stack up to them.
jread
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Re: Hofner-clone "Beatle Bass" kit from Bargain Musician

Post by jread »

looks like a fun kit project. hard to believe you can get all that for $239.
JLT
Posts: 241
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:13 pm

Re: Hofner-clone "Beatle Bass" kit from Bargain Musician

Post by JLT »

Well, the bass is built. I've had some issues with the kit, but the result is a playable bass.

Some things I've found:

As I said earlier, the instructions are abysmal. I had to go on the "TalkBass" forum to get some ideas of what was to go where, what the switches were for, and so on. They were extremely helpful.

The body needed a little attention, as the bindings weren't perfectly installed. And as I played it, I found that the edges of the bindings were too sharp and needed to be rounded down. I wish I'd realized that before I applied the lacquer.

Interestingly, the neck fit the body perfectly when I did a test assembly before applying the finish, but not afterwards. I was amazed at how much difference there was. I don't know if the body wood swelled or the neck wood, but I had to apply a light bit of shaving away with a chisel, followed by careful scraping, to achieve that perfect fit again.

I had no issues with attaching the neck with a bolt-on arrangement rather than gluing it on.

Assembling the electronics was also pretty straightforward once I figured out which of the pickups went where (hint: the leads on one are longer, so I assumed that went to the neck pickup rather than the bridge pickup.

I'm getting a buzz from the E-string (the fattest one) that I haven't tracked down. I think it might be from the string sitting on the metal strip that serves as a saddle. I'll try to slip some paper or soft leather in between the string and the saddle to see if that stops it.

I'll also be ordering some flat-wound strings from Strings By Mail, since I don't like the feel of the round-wound ones. (I'm told that Sir Paul likes to use them on his Hofner.)

Was the kit worth it? Well, I got it on clearance for $100 since there was a slight blemish in the wood. That's pretty much what the neck alone would have cost on eBay, so in effect I got the body, tuners, electronics, and strings for free. The best thing about the set-up is that all of the last three things are easy to upgrade. I'll probably replace the circuit board for the switches and pots for a hand-made one, since I found a schematic for the genuine Hofner wiring on the internet. And it looks like the pickups will be easy to switch out if I want to do that later on.
Diane Kauffmds
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Re: Hofner-clone "Beatle Bass" kit from Bargain Musician

Post by Diane Kauffmds »

About that buzz, locate the problem by playing each fret up the board. Starting at fret 1, play each fret. When the buzz stops, that location is your problem child. So, if you start at fret 1 and play each fret up the neck on string 4, and the buzz disappears on fret 6, then fret 6 is too high under that string. Correct it by lightly sanding or filing the fret, only under the area played by string 4, until the buzz disappears.
Diane Kauffmann
Country Roads Guitars
countryroadsguitars@gmail.com
JLT
Posts: 241
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:13 pm

Re: Hofner-clone "Beatle Bass" kit from Bargain Musician

Post by JLT »

Diane Kauffmds wrote: Sat May 21, 2022 5:09 am About that buzz, locate the problem by playing each fret up the board.
First thing I tried. It's in all the positions along the fretboard, which makes me suspect it's a problem with the saddle. But I suspect that it will go away when I install the flat-wound strings.
JLT
Posts: 241
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:13 pm

Re: Hofner-clone "Beatle Bass" kit from Bargain Musician

Post by JLT »

UPDATE:

I replaced the strings with flat-wound strings and the buzz disappeared. It also gave the bass a softer sound, which i think is what Sir Paul was looking for as well.
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