New strings and some TLC for this Hobner!

This is the last of my friend’s guitars that I attended to, and it sent me back some 30 years, when I started playing the instrument myself. Then, in India, a proper guitar meant a Hobner. 

Here’s a little side story for you.

The German brand Hofner was established in 1887 and gave Sir Paul McCartney his signature bass instrument that he continues to play to this day. Such was the success of Hofner that their models were exported worldwide and became models for guitar makers all over the world.

In the India of the late 70s, Hobner was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), and for the 80s teen, it was his/her first guitar. Hobner has since given way to Signature a name that today’s teen/youngster will quickly recognise.

Hobner was just one company. Guitar enthusiasts may also recall seeing Hobner’s cousin, ‘Hovner’: again modelled after the acclaimed Hofner, and also a Calcutta-based company, and thus, my quip about it being Hobner’s cousin. For all you know, cousins may have owned the two brands!!!!!!!!!

All, I needed to do with this f-hole, floating-bridge guitar, was to change its strings and give it a once over.

Giving it a once over, I saw that it had seen many summers and many bonfires. The battle scars were all too apparent.

The little black marks are probably where the pick dug into the wood.
Here you can see the odd plastic used to make the nut.

The little chip on the headstock, where it met with the neck of the guitar, had been taped with cello-tape. I thought long and I thought hard about removing it and fixing whatever was broken under the piece of the tape but finally decided against it.

You never know what little piece of history you may be pulling off by pulling off the little piece of cello-tape. Besides, my brief had not included fixing anything, anywhere.

But it was a beautiful headstock – very different and…warm!

Meanwhile, I also saw this

Look carefully at the feet of the bridge. My friend had marked exactly where the feet of the bridge should stand. A wise move. However, as the guitar lay before me, I noticed that the bridge had moved back a little on the treble side.

I asked my friend if he had noticed intonation issues, and he said ‘yes’! So, that was another little but important adjustment to be made.

The second thing that I noticed was the condition of the fretboard (deplorable)

and the ‘zero fretwire’. The guitar had a lovely, low action, thanks to the ‘zero fretwire’ because of which I did not think the odd plastic nut needed to be changed into bone. The zero fretwire, wherever present, acts like the nut as the strings ride predominantly on it than on the nut. The work of the nut in such cases is merely to ensure that strings stay in one place and don’t fall off the fretboard.

I got to work and with a little love potion for the fretwires

and a different love potion for the fretboard, it looked like this

The intonation turned out to be vastly different from what it initially was. Now, to wait for my friend to play it and say what he thinks of it.

Anyway, this beauty is ready to sing for a long time to come

Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me:

5 thoughts to “New strings and some TLC for this Hobner!”

  1. Good Newton ! It is an interesting write up. It took me back around 32 years , when I had purchased Hobner 12 string guitar, whild posted at Bagrakote in Eastern Sector. It was purchsed from Siliguri..Later it traveled with me to 17 Mountain Div Sector near Nathula pass where I was camping for two and a half months..It used be in afternoon only when the troops used to sit together and have drinks with me… the temperature being minus 5 degree.. It was there that this guitar of mine was introduced. A beginner, I use to play and troops used to sing… I remember the song , “aa chal ke chalu ek aise gagan ke…”. The defeaning silence and extreme cold , used to provide an excellent back ground to the music..

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