"Blondie", as she
was known by her previous owner, arrived very cold after
a four day journey from Austria. I don't know any
prior history of this '89 guitar but she is virtually
Mint with only very minor fret wear in one or two
She is beautifully made, from the second series which
has the Hofner and not Zoller logo on the headstock.
There are real cues that this model set new standards
for the "New" archtops that followed.
What a difference it makes to play a guitar designed or
at least heavily influenced by a guitarist. The
one piece neck is quite unlike any other Hofner - easy
to hold, slender, easy to negotiate, comfortable and
just feels natural. It is closest in feel to my 1965
Hofner 4577 but with much more fretboard radius than
usual. I had the privilege to meet Hubert
Kaa at Hofner recently and I asked him about this heavy
radius. "Attila Zoller asked for that"
he told me. Great for chordal work
perhaps but not quite so good for fingering!
Moreover it is clear that
Attila Zoller really thought through the design.
He had already designed the pickup, but the guitar and
pickup are beautifully matched. He also
experimented with strings which resulted in the La Bella
Flatwound range where all strings are balanced.
The Bridge reflects this with no need for compensation
on the B string. When you play the same note
in different positions it sounds just the same!
You can't tell any difference!!
Then you play
.......and it just gets better and better.
I have played quite a few hand carved Spruce top
archtops but the tone from the Award is much more
complete, both mellow and resonant with very good
sustain. Acoustically, Blondie has
excellent tone and perfect string separation, all
enhanced greatly by the wonderful Shadow AZ pickup.
These have been my pickup of choice ever since I first
used one on La Provenšale. Amplified, she sounds
equal in my view to the very best Guild or Benedetto and
certainly better than most Gibson hand carved archtops I
have owned (except perhaps #001) and that would be a
close run thing!
After a month or so:
appreciation of this lovely guitar just grows. It is
now the AZ Award that is played each day. I have
had to adapt a little to the subtleties of this lovely
old guitar but it feels right.
into account, this must rank as Hofner's
best jazz guitar ever!