The New Asia-made Höfner Archtops

November 21, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Apparently, Höfner is now following the general outsourcing trend. I first noticed this when I visited a musical instruments shop in Soho a couple of weeks ago, and spotted a very beautiful new Hofner archtop (it resembled a President) priced at about a third of the normal price. I was told that the reason for the low price lies in outsourcing to Asia. Here is a rather pretty, Korea-made specimen, priced at only 389 Pounds. (I haven’t been able to locate a listing of which models are now produced in Asia).

I am a bit surprised at the low price quoted for these guitars. Other manufacturers with at least as much brandname capital as Höfner, such as Gretsch, have also outsourced production of high-end archtops to Asia (I own an excellent Japan-made Synchromatic G400), without, however, having to reduce prices as much as Höfner has done.

A key issue obviously is whether Höfner is outsourcing all manufacturing, or whether they want to run a budget-line (as in fact Gretsch is doing with their cheapo line of wanna be Synchromatics) and keep a Euro-produced high-end line with a heavy price premium.

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9 Responses to “The New Asia-made Höfner Archtops”


  1. Hi Nicolai,

    I just read your article and just wanted to let you know that I am trying to get my hands on one of the Korean made J5F-R model which I beleive is a copy of the New President German made guitar which I own. I would like to stay in touch with you and let you know what the difference is, if I can get one.
    Speak to you soon.
    Richard. Autenzio

  2. Nicolai Foss Says:

    Hi Richard, I’d really appreciate to receive this info. The specimen I saw in that London shop seemed to me to be slightly less impressive in terms of finish, etc. than the German-made ones that I have seen. Nicolai Foss

  3. Rene Says:

    I just saw one on ebay.com: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=180218984423&ssPageName=ADME:X:RTQ:US:1123
    Notice that the controls are not on the pickguard
    Rene van Acht


  4. I am a Hofner dealer, http://www.fortmadisonguitars.com 319-372-0268 in Fort Madison, Iowa U.S.A., and will be glad to order any new item for you, at a significant discount. thanx


  5. Hi Nicolai,

    Got some good news. I have finally managed to get one of these new Asian Hofners from the US and it is on it’s way.
    Unfortunately I did not get the one with the floating pick up and it’s red, I would have prefered the floater & Natural finish.
    The model I have coming has the pickup attatched to the top of the guitar. I am still trying to get one with the floating pick up as this will be a better comparison to the New President I have. Some say these guitars are made in China and others say they are made in Korea. Also I have heard from one dealer that they have stopped making them. I don’t know if that is true but I can tell you that the Hofner importers here in Australia did not know that they even existed when I contacted them a few monts ago and they don’t seem to have any intrest in importing them.
    Anway as soon as it arrives, which should be as soon as next week I will let you know what I think.
    Best wishes Richard.


  6. Hi Chance,
    Nice to pick up your comment and offer. I buy a lot of guitars from the U.S. mostly because I can’t get them here in Australia.
    My biggest problem is postage charges. Postage can be very savage and on the cheaper guitars it can be more than the guitar. So I can only buy from dealers who know how to work USPS and ship them to me for US$150 – including insurance.
    The more expensive guitars involve customs duty, Service tax etc on arrival so I have to factor all that into the ppurchase price. I am open to any further comments or offers as I am looking for a full hollow body Jazzica.
    Richard.


  7. Hi Nicolai,

    Well ithe Hofner H5 arived this morning from the Stated.
    No case but packed well.
    Bad News. Its a great guitar. It’s is made in korea not china and I have to tell you they never stop amazing me how well and cheap they can make a guitar. You see I don’t have to be a snob about guitars because I have got a lot of arch tops with big names. Carved tops or laminated tops made in USA, Korea, China, Japan, Germany etc I enjoy them all but when I get one of these so called cheapies and the intonation is good, the sound is balanced from top to bottom with no one ringing string or sounding different in colour from the others, and with a good centre of tone on each note. What can I say except be polite about the instrument in question. In short, I think that Hofner may have picked a good factory to make their guitars and one day they may even regret it, like some of the big USA manafacturers who have at times been embarrased by how good the Asians have made and finished their instrument by comparison to their own local factories. The same situation has accured all orund the world with some furniture manafacturers.
    I would love to talk to you more about this guitar as I explore it more and pass on more information on to you as I proceed with it today.
    Please contact me on my e-mail richard@showbizsound.com
    you may be able to be just the person I can bounce off and be of help to one another. I like Hofner guitars and am in the market for a German made Jazzica, so I would like to continue this conversation with you.
    Richard Autenzio from Australia.


  8. Hi Nicolai,

    Just re read your first posting again.
    I am intrested in you gretsch G400 guitars. Cats eye correct?
    I just bought a Korean Grecsch cats eye by mistake, I thought it was fully hollow but it is a semi but it’s still a very nice and very rare guitar. Historic series G3140. I have always wanted a G400, its a great guitar. The Japanese gretsches are made in the same factory as the D’Aquisto’s. That is a top factory.
    I would not be surprised if they also made the N.Y D’Angelico’s
    Vestax guitar. I have both and they look very simlar.
    Keep in touch.


  9. Hi Nicolai,
    Just wanted to let you and your reader know that I have just purchased a Hofner Jazzica (Made in Germany) Great guitar.
    This guitar will go down in the Hofner history books as being one the most unique guitar of the 21st century. It is a beautiful guitar in all respects. A classic in it’s own time.
    There are many guitars out there that we are told are the greatest guitars in the world but only after their time has gone and when most of us can’t afford them, so anyone considering buying one of these guitars should consider my comments.


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