Missing: One Beatle Bass

Paul McCartney's Höfner hasn't been seen since 1969
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2023 5:15 PM CDT
A Global Search Is On for Famed Beatle Bass
Paul McCartney shows his bass guitar to Ed Sullivan before the Beatles' 1964 live television appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in New York along with John Lennon, center, and Ringo Starr, behind McCartney, and Beatles manager Brian Epstein, behind Sullivan.   (AP Photo)

Almost anyone who runs across a certain distinctive, left-handed Höfner violin bass guitar will recognize it, Nick Wass said: "It's the bass that made the Beatles." And if anyone sees it, Wass would like to know. He's heading up a global search for the famous bass Paul McCartney played throughout the 1960s, the BBC reports, and was last seen in 1969 when the band filmed "Get Back." The bass evidently then went into storage, but no one is sure where. McCartney has asked for help finding it, which led to Wass' Lost Bass project. He calls the Höfner "the most important bass in history" but says, "ultimately, we're just doing this to get Paul his guitar back."

McCartney bought the Höfner at a Steinway shop in Hamburg, Germany, when the Beatles had a four-month residency there in 1961 at the Top Ten Club, per CBS News. He was switching instruments after becoming the band's bass player. The main attraction, McCartney told Guitar Magazine in 1993, was the price—about $38, though that would be $585 now. He said he wanted to avoid going into debt. "And once I bought it, I fell in love with it," McCartney said. He took it back to England and played it on Beatles hits including "Love Me Do," "She Loves You," and "Twist and Shout" as well as during shows at Liverpool's Cavern Club.

By the time it disappeared, the bass had a new look, after being resprayed and given a three-part, dark sunburst polyurethane finish. The original pearl pickguard was removed, and the two pickups were mounted in a single piece of black wood, per the BBC. The Höfner logo appears vertically on the headstock of this bass but is horizontal on similar models McCartney played later. There's precedent in Beatles history for such a find. The Gibson acoustic guitar that John Lennon wrote "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on disappeared during the Beatles' Christmas Show in 1963, a year after he bought it. The guitar resurfaced a half-century later, bringing $2.5 million at auction. Information about the location of the bass can be shared here. (The Rolling Stones, contemporaries of the Beatles, made an announcement Monday.)

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