|Zane Carney Hofner Jazzica Model|
Karl Höfner GmbH & Co. KG, better known as the Hofner Company, has been manufacturing stringed musical instruments for over 100 years, and was founded by Karl Höfner.
Höfner was originally apprenticed to Anton Schaller, who made violins, violas, cellos and double bass instruments. In 1887 Karl Höfner founded his workshop in Schönbach, to build his own instruments under his name. He established quite a reputation throughout Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and other European countries.
|The First Höfner Factory in Schönbach|
The earliest models of Höfner guitars were steel stringed instruments which had carved arched tops, or soundboards, based on violin design. At the time the company employed around 30 craftsmen and approximately 300 home workers.
During World War II, production was limited, and Höfner was conscripted to make transport crates and shoe soles for the German army At the end of the war, the Czech and German speaking population of Schönbach were expropriated due to the division of the spoils of war. The result was that the company, due to its location, was at the time, recognized by the Communist Czech state, was acquired by the Czech government.
|Höfner Factory at Möhrendorf|
Walter and Josef Höfner began working on a way to build a new factory and find houses in which their craftsmen could live.
|Höfner Factory at Bubenreuth|
It was during this era that many of the company’s best known guitars were created. These included The President, The Committee and the model 500/1 bass guitar. It was also during the 1950’s that Rock n’ Roll exploded on the scene.
|Mid 1950's Höfner Club 60|
This gave Höfners a place in history as the "starter" instruments of several well known 1960s musicians.
Höfner built another production site in the town of Haguenau to escape the room shortage in Bubenreuth. although also the complex was expanded in Bubenreuth three times. Later in 1961 import restrictions on goods imported from the USA were relaxed and American guitar manufacturers began to take hold in Britain and Europe. Unfortunately this did take away some business from Höfner.
Another complicating factor that reduced the demand for European guitars was the proliferation of low priced Asian instruments into the music market. Gerhilde Höfner Benker, Karl's granddaughter, and her husband Christian Benker did their best to keep the company competitive, but by 1991 Höfner was sold to the British company Boosey and Hawkes.
In the Boosey and Hawkes portfolio, there were already a number of musical instrument manufacturers including the viol bow manufacturer Paesold. By 1995 the two companies merged under the Höfner name.
|1960 Höfner President|
As mentioned, Höfner had already introduced a number of archtop guitars as early as the 1930. By the 1950’s the line up included The President, The Committee, The Senator, The Congress, The Verithin, The Ambassador, and others. Some came in both acoustic, as well as electric versions. At present, all high end Höfner guitars are still made by skilled craftsmen in Hagenau, Bavaria, Germany.
|1990 Höfner Jazzica|
The Jazzica model was revolutionary in archtop design when it first appeared in early 1989, perhaps due to its highly tapered body which provided ease of playing the guitar.
Additionally, the rounded jointing of the neck to the body at the 16th fret aided access to the fingerboard. The "slash" or “S” type soundholes and stunning finishes, violin varnish, or polyester, were also quite eye catching.
A carved solid European spruce top was used. The original models featured a Shadow Attila Zoller floating pickup, which was mounted off the bodies top by attaching it to the end of the fingerboard, This pickup provided the correct low end acoustic properties desired by most Jazz guitar players
|1994 Jazzica Special|
In 1991, the Jazzica Special model was introduced with a standard blonde finish, This instrument provided with binding around the rear body edge. The original Jazzica had no binding on the body back, presumably as this would not have fitted in aesthetically with the dark gloss finishes chosen for it and the overall style of the guitar.
|2004 Höfner Jazzica Custom|
A 24-fret fingerboard with a 25.5" scale has been used on the Jazzica throughout its production run. The bound fretboard is made of ebony wood, as is the headstock veneer on the later models. The inlays are mother-of-pearl split bock style. The pickguard/scratchplate is a carved block of ebony, and the same wood is used for the violin style tailpiece, as well as the machine head buttons.
|Jazzica Sound Hole Plugs|
And though the Jazzica was not present in Hofner Catalogs after 2008, thanks to Höfner’s relationship with guitarist Zane Carney, it is once again being made available, and at the remarkable price of $2000 USD, with a deluxe flight case. Considering this is pretty much a hand-built instrument, it is a great deal.
His band was called Carney, and included his brother. I left out the fact that at age 8, Zane was a child actor, appearing in the CBS show Dave’s World, and the 1998 movie, My Giant.
|2004 Höfner New President|
Zane stated that while touring the Hofner factory, his eyes caught sight of a Jazzica model that was on display. He was told the Jazzica was only produced in limited quantities. He asked if he could buy that guitar, and of course they gladly sold it to him.
He began making a few modifications to his new instrument. He contacted luthier John Buscarino and asked if he built any floating pickups that would enhance mid-range sounds.
|Buscarino Floating Pickup|
Zane generally uses the sound hole plug on the lower “S” hole to help reduce feedback, but since the upper hole is not blocked it enhances the instruments acoustic feel when he is practicing.
He says what stands out on this guitar is the tapered body, which goes from about a 4” depth at the heel of the guitar, to a depth of 2 1/2” at the upper section of the body.
|Zane Carney |
The instruments top is AAA grade European Spruce, and the sides and back are flamed maple. The head stock is a Höfner vintage style. As mentioned, the machine heads come with ebony buttons. The jumbo nickel-silver frets are hand slotted instead of done on a machine. The floating ebony bridge is compensated for the B string, to aid in intonation. As an archtop guitar, this instrument has a floating bridge, so the neck is pitched at an angle. This guitar has an ebony violin style tailpiece.
|Zane Carney his |
Höfner Jazzica model
The Buscarino pickup is pre-installed in the United States by Eric Chazz, who also tapers down the original ebony pickguard for enhanced playing.
Included in the price is a flight-ready hardshell case with a built in humidifier. The instrument comes with a certificate of authentication, and the model sticker inside the sound hole has Zane’s signature. The guitar is available from Zane’s web site, www.zanecarney.com/.
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