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Karl Höfner GmbH&Co with a 100-year history is one of the largest European companies producing string musical instruments. Great sounding and truly German production quality gave Höfner the deserved respect both among professional performers and amateur musicians.

Brief history/technical and technological achievements:

Höfner was founded by Karl Höfner, who, as Anton Schaller's apprentice as a violinist, sold his first violin in 1887. He exhibited his works at Schönbach, the European instrument making center. His reputation grew, as did his business. He sold the most high-quality instruments throughout Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and other European countries.

Karl drew his sons, Josef and Walter, into the business, after the World War I, and together they began to expand their business rapidly, especially on the export markets. Thus, Höfner has gained a reputation not only in Europe, but around the world as a manufacturer of quality string instruments.

During the 1930s, the company began production of guitars, the first models among which were steel "archtops" (are known as "Schlaggitarren"), the predecessors of modern "archtop" guitars. By the mid-1930s, the company employed about 300 people working remotely and 30 crew members working at the plant. The World War II significantly limited Höfner and his company in goods export, so they set to produce wood products for the army, such as crates and soles for shoes.

After the war, the business suffered huge losses, since Schönbach was located in the Czech Republic, where the German-speaking population confiscated the company, and it was nationalized - in the summer of 1945 it was taken away by the state. The company wasn’t happy with this situation, so they decided to get back to West Germany, where they founded their business from scratch in Bavaria in 1948.

Conditions were far from ideal in Bavaria but, nevertheless, they worked tirelessly to start production and eventually the constant flow of instruments to the market began to bring steady profit. It was a difficult time. The daughter of Walter Höfner recalled many years later that at that time, you wouldn’t have bought anything, there was barter. Josef and Walter began to look for the possibility of building a new factory. After a long discussion with the officials, they found a place in the small village of Bubenreuth.

On October 20, 1949, the first stone was laid, and in 1950 the new Höfner plant was launched. 1950 allowed them to bring back the reputation of the company and they began to export products around the world again. Relations were re-established with all the distributors of the major countries with which Höfner previously cooperated. As musical tastes began to change, the production of guitars increased and models changed. Such guitars as "The President", "The Committee" and "the Violin Bass" were created (in 1955 Walter Höfner came up with the idea of creating a semi-acoustic bass guitar shaped as a small double bass and equipped with an electromagnetic sensor. The bass guitar with an index of 500/1, which has a very interesting design, was first demonstrated at the musical exhibition in Frankfurt), which later became the iconic isntruments of the company.

Sales were going alright, but no one expected what happened later - Rock'n'Roll.

Suddenly, the demand for guitars increased to such an extent that Höfner had to expand the plant in Bubenreuth and increase the production of guitars. By the early 1960s, Höfner had begun producing acoustic and bass guitars. The demand was so high that they needed a new way of painting the guitars, because the paint took too much time to dry.

In 1961, a young man went into the store and bought a guitar "Höfner 500/1 Violin Bass". Shortly after, he and his band smashed the world of music and youth culture, which exalted the Höfner guitars turning them into iconic instruments. The name of the young man was Paul McCartney, the bass player of the Beatles. Sir Paul continues to use these guitars and has contributed to the fact that Höfner has become a highly recognizable brand all over the world.

On January 1, 1994, Höfner was sold to Boosey&Hawkes, the major music company in Britain. For nine years they continued to produce guitars, but this period in business couldn’t be called successful. That took place shortly before the most important reasonable step was made - the closure of the factory in Bubenreuth and the relocation of production to Hagenau, which was expanded and modernized in 1997. At the end of 2004, Höfner was sold to Klaus Schöller and his wife, Ulrike Schrimpff.

Now the company envisages bright future and still occupies an honorable place on the world market of string instruments. Despite numerous changes, the company has been a one big family for 125 years. Graham Stockley, manager of electric guitars development said that they are unlikely to ever hire new employees, as no one is going to leave their family.