DATING HÖFNER GUITARS BY REFERENCE OF SERIAL NUMBERS
Höfner instruments had no serial number until the early 1970s. But some instruments before that time had on the back of the headstock a stamped or written date of manufacture. These are guitars sold by the English firm Selmer and the Dutch firm Van Wouw.
If you want to know the production year of your Höfner guitar, you can decipher it with the serial number decoder, or find it in explanation about the dating system below.
Between 1953 and 1971 Höfner produced a series of guitars for the British
distributor Selmer Company. These models were often similar to the Höfner
standard range but usually had small differences in detail.
The 'Selmer' guitars were given serial numbers, usually stamped on the
back of the headstock, or typed on a label that is visible in the F-hole.
Guitars distributed for Europe, the US and other countries did not have a serial number until 1976.
The Dutch distributor Van Wouw also used a serial number system which deviates from that of Selmer.
This can lead to confusion when a Van Wouw appears where Selmer guitars have been distributed.
Some Höfner dealers placed their own label on the back of the head with numbers. These are not 'Selmer' serial numbers.
Höfner history in short|
Karl Höfner was born in 1864 in Schönbach, Bohemia, which was then part of Austria.
In 1887, after studying with Anton Schaller, he started his company as a luthier in Schönbach. The high-quality instruments he made were in demand throughout Europe, as a result of which the company quickly grew.
In 1919 his two sons, Josef (1892-1994) and Walter (1904-1985), joined the company. In particular, exports expanded rapidly and the Höfner brand achieved a worldwide reputation as a producer of high-quality stringed instruments.
In addition to violins, double basses and cellos, they also started producing guitars in the 1930s. The first models were steel strung with a curved top and bottom.
After World War II, the company first moved to Möhrendorf in Bavaria in 1948. A more suitable location to rebuild the factory was found in nearby Bubenreuth. The foundation stone was laid on 20 October 1949 and the factory was opened at the end of 1950.
The company quickly recaptured the world market and the range of guitars was expanded. Models like President, Committee and of course the Beatle Bass (500/1) made Höfner famous. All models were designed and developed by Walter.
The demand for Höfner guitars increased due to the rise of Rock 'n Roll. The company had to expand considerably and the guitars
became Höfner's most important export product.
Walter and Karl Höfner
In the sixties, in addition to the archtop models, semi-acoustic, solid body and various models of bass guitars were built.
Due to lack of space in Bubenreuth and constant inquiries, a second factory was|
built in Hagenau.
Due to the increasing competition from American guitar manufacturers, Höfner's market share slumped. As a result, the English distributor Selmer had to close its business.
Gerhilde Höfner (daughter of Walter) ran the company together with her husband Christian Benker in the seventies to nineties.
Partly as competition from Japan and China increased, it became difficult for Höfner to remain independent.
Therefore, on January 1, 1994 Höfner was sold to the British company Boosey & Hawkes.
The bow manufacturer Roderich Paesold (also based in Bubenreuth) was also owned by Boosey & Hawkes. Paesold was merged with Höfner in 1995 and placed in their "Instrument Division". But both companies remained independent in terms of production and sales.
In 1997 Höfner moved from Bubenreuth to their second factory in Haguenau. They had more modern production facilities, and a new building was added.
In 2003, "Instrument Division" was sold to the British investment consortium "The Music Group" (TMG). At the end of 2004, Höfner (as part of "Instrument Division") was sold to Klaus Schöller and his wife Ulrike Schrimpff.
Klaus has worked at Höfner since 1989 and now became General Manager and Ulrike Chief Financial Officer.
A branch in Beijing was opened in 2009 which is one hundred percent owned by Höfner. As one of the few companies, the Chinese government granted Höfner an export license.
The instruments produced in Beijing are of equivalent quality to those produced in Germany. The quality level remains high due to the constant exchange of personnel between China and Germany.
Selmer serial nummers
The tables below with Selmer serial numbers are incomplete and not accurate. The series are based on delivery documents that have been preserved.
These documents may have been inaccurate.
You can consult the tables(*) to determine the production date of a Höfner guitar, but you also have to take other things into consideration, such as the pick-ups and pot meters.
Also on these elements are manufacturing data that can lead you approximately to the production date of the guitar.
As you can see in the tables, there are many overlaps of the serial numbers. The different models can therefore carry the same serial number.
Archtops and Semi Acoustic Guitars
*) Information is obtained from authentic Höfner documents.
Solid Body Guitars
1975 - 1984
1986 - 1999
During this period, the Hofner instruments received a new six-digit serial number.
The first digit stands for the year of construction, the second and
third for the month, the fourth and fifth for the day of the month.
The last digit is the sequence number of the guitar that was made
This means that a serial number starting with eg 8 in 1988
or 1998 has been built.
8051007 is the 7th instrument built on 10 May, 1988 or 1998.
2000 to present
In the year 2000 the first digit was replaced by a letter.
A=2000 B=2001 C=2002 D=2003 E=2004 F=2005 G=2006 H=2007
J=2008 K=2009 L=2010 M=2011 N=2012 P=2013 Q=2014 R=2015
S=2016 T=2017 U=2018. This system can therefore continue until 2023 (Z).
The letters I and O have been skipped to prevent confusion with
1 and 0.
M06085 is the 5th instrument built on 8 June, 2011.