Mike’s Höfner Ignition Beatles Bass

Mike Thompson admits that he is not really a bass player, more a six / twelve-string guitarist and lead singer. He ended up in the role of bass player and lead singer when he joined rock band ‘Heat Treatment’. In the last twelve months he has been involved with a Beatles tribute band and he currently plays with sixties covers band ‘The Choice’. Being a massive Beatles fan, Mike had coveted the Höfner Violin bass for a long time and when a good friend and fellow bass player recommended the budget model Höfner Ignition Beatles Bass VSB he had to give it a work out and immediately fell in love with it. 

Image of Mike with his Höfner Ignition Beatles Bass VSB

Mike with Höfner Ignition Beatles Bass VSB

Mike bought his Höfner Ignition Beatles Bass VSB new from Thomann Musikhaus just a few months ago for €259 (inc. VAT). This was the ‘bundled’ price that includes a hard case.

Mike describes the tone as ‘deep and warm’ and, not unsurprisingly: ‘Beatle-esque – quite a difference from the solid-bodied Vintage Active bass that Mike uses for his rock band. The other significant difference between the two basses is the weight. Mike says the Höfner Ignition Beatles Bass VSB is one of the lightest basses you can buy and it’s really easy on the back – which is vital when playing long gigs!

The guitar is made in Indonesia and features a hollow body finished in ‘Vintage Sunburst’ with a spruce top, maple body and rosewood fretboard. The neck is glued into the body and is short scale (76cm) with 22 frets and is 39.8 mm wide at the saddle and the action, as supplied, is nicely set up and quite low so it has a very comfortable feel and is very easy to play.

The control panel is fitted with two volume controls and two on/off switches (one for each of the Höfner humbucker pickups) and a rhythm/solo switch for volume boost with a hint of a tone change. The hardware is nickel-plated.

The bass is unashamedly a budget version of the iconic Höfner bass guitar as played by Paul McCartney and it is an impressive replica and Mike loves the classic, ‘Beatles’ look and sound.

In the early sixties, it was practically impossible to buy round wound strings so must basses (and electric guitars) were fitted with ‘flat wound’ strings and these gave the bass guitars of that time, quite a distinctive more mellow sound. Nowadays, many bass players in sixties tribute bands fit these flat wound strings to help create the authentic bass guitar tone of that era and Mike strongly recommends doing this. He has replaced the strings that were supplied with the guitar with’Pyramid’ flat wound strings (gauges: 040, 055, 070 and 100) and says that while they are quite expensive, they make a massive difference to the tone, playability and speed around the neck. To help in the speed and tone of his playing Mike uses a Planet Waves medium gauge pick and plays through an Ashdown bass amp. He also fitted a Planet Waves lockable strap which he says is essential for keeping the Höfner safely attached during gigs!

Mike loves the iconic look and the sound and playability of his Höfner Ignition Beatles VSB bass and says the tone range is quite wide and the guitar stays in tune well. His only minor criticism is that the adjustable bridge is made of plastic and looks a little fragile for the role – but he plans to upgrade it at some stage soon so it should not be problem.

Mike’s love of the Beatles and the influence of the sixties music can be seen by a couple of the many other guitars that he owns: a Rickenbacker 360 12-string and a sunburst Epiphone Casino – so the Höfner Ignition Beatles VSB bass sits perfectly within his collection!

In summary, Mike says the Höfner Ignition Beatles VSB bass guitar is a purposeful and iconic guitar at a price that ‘doesn’t break the bank’. His advice is that if you are looking for an inexpensive bass guitar with good playability and the classic sixties tones then Höfner’s Ignition Beatles VSB bass guitar is perfect for the job – but invest in a set of flat wound strings to get that truly authentic sound!