Höfner, 459/S, 1957


Birdseye Maple
The Story Behind

Karl Höfner GmbH & Co. KG is a German manufacturer of musical instruments, with one division that manufactures guitars and basses, and another that manufactures other string instruments. It was established in 1887. The company that bore his name became the largest maker of fretted instruments in his native Germany, and quite likely in all of Europe as a whole. Moving energetically into arch-top design after the war, Höfner soon assembled a formidable array of models, whose breadth and range rivalled any catalog of the era. The dominant jazz guitar in Europe and England for decades, Höfner attracted such luminaries as Attilla Zoller, John Stowell, Bobby Broom, Sid Jacobs, Peter Leitch, Joseph Reinhardt and Martin Taylor among other top performing artists.

Much of Höfner's popularity is attributed to Paul McCartney's use of the Höfner 500/1 bass throughout his career. This violin-shaped model is commonly referred to as the "Beatle bass”.

The first Höfner guitar to be given the designation 459 was introduced in 1952. It was a normal size arch-top guitar, with a laminated birds-eye maple back and sides, and a hand-carved parallel braced soundboard of solid Alpine spruce top. The basic details of the guitar were very similar to the early version of the 457 model, apart from the birds-eye maple, a rarely seen tone-wood found on some prewar D'Angelicos and Epiphones. The model is further distinguished by its flame-shaped sound-holes, Frequensator inspired tailpiece, and art-deco pearloid headstock.

The finish for the 459 was natural or tinted blonde, no doubt to show off the lovely birds-eye maple to best advantage. However, other factory-applied custom finishes are not unknown.

Initially, only a non-cutaway body was available, but after a few years, cutaway versions (459/S) appeared as an option. No electric version was offered ex-stock, although as usual with Höfner, anything was available to special order. 

The 459(i) was discontinued in 1960, with that designation remaining vacant until the arrival of the 459(ii) violin-guitar in 1967.

This particular guitar has a Höfner pickup mounted.

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