Höfner, Colorama, 1962 - Howard Newcombe


Serial Number: 
Red Vinyl finish with white piping
Type 510 "Diamond Logo"
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. To distribute its products Höfner has always been responsible with the exeption of certain countries. One of those exceptions was the UK in the 1950’s, 1960’s and early 1970’s Höfner instruments were distributed by Selmer of London (not to be confused with The Selmer Company).

The Colorama was Selmer's budget-level solid and semi-solid guitar. It was based on the Höfner 160, 161, 162, 163, and 164 European models. It was made specifically for the UK market, (although it was also distributed all over the world to Commonwealth countries by Selmer). The various models ran in parallel with and were almost identical to, similar non-Selmer distributed instruments in Höfner's main catalogue.

The Colorama was very popular in the UK between about 1961 and 1964, and was responsible for launching many budding guitarists into the world of rock bands and electric guitars.

The Colorama was first introduced into the Selmer catalogue in 1958/59, and was based on the single cutaway semi-solid 160 and 162 models. For a short period in 1959/1960, these were replaced by the later semi-solid 161 and 162 models, but in 1961 the twin symmetrical cutaway fully solid Colorama based on the 163/164 models was introduced. These initially had set, three-piece necks, but in 1962 were again replaced by the later 163/164 models, still with symmetrical cutaways, but with bolt-on one-piece necks. Finally, in 1964, an asymmetrical body shape was used. The Colorama disappeared from the Selmer catalogue around 1966.

Finishes on the very first Coloramas were red or blue "sparkle", but this changed to red lacquer with the introduction of the later 161/162 and 163/164 types. During 1962 to 1964, many Coloramas had a red vinyl finish with white piping. In the last year or so of production, white and blue finishes were an option, as well as red.

The Colorama was offered in either one or two pickup formats, with Höfner's built-in vibrato tailpiece being available from 1961. Pickups were initially small black-bar type, followed by "toasters in 1960/61, and finally Type 510 "Diamond Logo" units. Höfner's rectangular control console was fitted through to 1962, and this was then changed for rotary volume and tone controls.

The Colorama was a very popular guitar in the UK during the early to mid 1960's. It was used by many amateur and semi-pro bands.

Obviously this is 1962 Colorama.

At this stage, the pressure was coming on Höfner to produce as many budget solid guitars as possible, preferably in bright red influenced by Hank Marvin fista red guitar.

Höfner seemed to approach this requirement for speedy cheap production in three ways - by cheapening the body and the neck construction, together with developing a finish that could be applied without wasting the time to let paint dry!

The majority of these later guitars were covered in a red vinyl material, with white piping running all the way around the edge.

The guitar could be fitted with or without a tremolo. Höfner had by now begun fitting their own integral units routed to fit flush with the body top.

This guitar was once owned and played by guitarist Howard Newcombe of the 1960's UK band ‘The Casuals'. The Casuals were a British pop group from Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England. They are best known for their 1968 #2 UK hit, "Jesamine". Originally formed by John Tebb (piano and vocals) and Howard Newcombe (guitar), they added Don Fortune (drums) and Zenon Kawolski (bass), and became The Casuals in 1961. Upon turning professional in 1962 Fortune and Kawolski left, to be replaced by Mick Brey and Ian Good. In 1965 they won the TV talent show Opportunity Knocks three times, leading to a recording contract with Fontana Records who issued their debut single "If You Walk Out", which was unsuccessful. After different changes and a final single, "Good Times", that flopped, they disbanded in 1976.

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