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  #044   Hofner AZ AWARD.  
       
 
  Real quality.    A hand carved Top.  
   
  .... and a hand carved back too  - just as it should be.    
   
  Attila asked for a new and distinctive headstock shape.    Series 1 models had his name inlaid on the head.   The Hofner logo was used after Attila's endorsement deal ran out and he returned to Framus with launch of the new AZ10.  
   
  More radius than normal. No need to compensate the B string  
         
  Nice touches everywhere!  
     
 
 
"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 areas.  

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!!    Perfect.   
   

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:
 
Well. my 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. 

Taking everything into account, this must rank as Hofner's best jazz guitar ever!

 

 
   
  Herb Ellis and Jimmy Raney playing AZ AWARDS  ....  and of course AZ too.  
 

 

  If you are in the mood, these represent just one facet of Attila  

   Attila playing

   Attila playing a snatch of When its Time

and here's snatch of Jimmy playing.    I must try to get a better recording of this!

   Jimmy Raney playing Autumn in New York

 

   

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