How to Set Up a Hofner Bass

By Kirk Maltbee

Instrument manufacturer Hofner’s claim to fame came in the form of its 500/1 Violin Bass, made popular by Paul McCartney of The Beatles. The attention earned the unusually shaped bass a legion of fans who liked the Violin’s warm, woody sound and playable short scale length. Setting up your Hofner to suit your style is much the same as for other basses.

Lay your Hofner bass flat on a stable work surface with the blanket underneath to protect the body from scratches. Place the small pillow underneath the headstock for stability. Slowly turn the tuning pegs to remove the old strings and discard the strings. Wipe down the fingerboard to remove dust and debris. Use the lemon oil to restore luster to the wood if desired.

Thread each string through the tailpiece and over the bridge and through the appropriate tuning peg. Attach all strings, then slowly turn the pegs to increase tension on the strings, but don’t tune to pitch yet. Make sure each string is correctly in its respective nut slot. Pluck all open strings and listen for a buzzing sound. If you hear one, the neck needs to have a slight amount of bow to it.

Place your fretting hand across all the strings at the first fret and lay your other forearm across the strings at the last fret at the end of the neck. Use the index finger of this hand to press the strings down at the seventh or eighth fret. If you have to press them down as you normally would, your neck is fine. If not, you’ll need to adjust the truss rod.

Adjust the Hofner truss rod by unscrewing and removing the truss plate at the top of the headstock, just above the nut. Once it is removed, insert the large Allen wrench and turn a quarter turn clockwise for more relief (upward bow), or counterclockwise for less (closer to straightness). Don’t force it or overturn. Tune the bass to pitch and set aside to let the wood adjust to the new tension from the strings and truss rod.

Check the bass after a few hours. If there is any buzzing, redo Step 4. If not, continue the setup by using the screwdriver to adjust the pickup height to your specs: Raising the pickups increases their response, while lowering will give your sound a little more definition but less volume.


If you're in doubt about undertaking a setup by yourself, have the bass set up by knowledgeable instrument-repair technicians.