It is well documented
that the A2 was top of Hofner's archtop range when designs
were being drawn up for the AZ - the guitar that was to be
Hofner's flagship and endorsed by the great Hungarian jazz
guitarist Attila Zoller.
Whether the A2 was used
as the basis for prototyping the AZ is not known.
Certainly the resulting AZ was in the end nothing like the
A2. The A2 had already established itself
as a high quality model but the AZ, from the outset,
was the ultimate spec. It boasted an
entirely new body, with hand carved top and bottom, a
more classical shape with stylised
Hofner's know-how was concentrated on creating a tonal
masterpiece with huge, ringing acoustic volume.
Coupled with Attila's trademark pickup (the Shadow AZ)
this lead to an outstanding jazz guitar.
The neck and
headstock was also re-designed and Christian Benker told me
that Attila insisted on an entirely new headstock shape with
more weight at the top to balance the guitar.
So, trying to make
sense of #082 is not straightforward. As can be
seen from the following photographs, it mates an
AZ body to an A2 neck. I was of the
view originally that this was a prototype or perhaps a transition model
made during the running down of the A2 and the starting up of the AZ,
however, I have been working on this guitar recently
and have spent a lot of time examining it in great
detail. I now feel it is more likely that
it was a Special Customer Order.
The AZ fingerboard is
more radiused than usual and not to everyone's liking.
I can believe that a customer commissioned an AZ Award (it
was built with the correct AZ Award gold hardware) but with
the more conventional A2 neck and specifying the AZ
#082 appears to be a very early AZ Award Special but in Sunburst
which Attila himself preferred.