The brand behind Sir Paul McCartney’s famous violin bass guitar was founded in 1864 by Karl Höfner, a violin-making apprentice. Over the following decades, the company’s reputation grew significantly throughout Europe, prompting Karl to enlist his sons’ help.
Höfner began building its first guitars in the 1930s. With the popularity of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s, the company expanded its production capabilities to keep up with the skyrocketing demand for guitars, which, over that period, accounted for 50 per cent of the company’s stringed instrument sales. This changed in the 60s, as European import restrictions relaxed, and the company was forced to compete with American guitar manufacturers.
In 1994, Höfner was sold to British music company Boosey & Hawkes and then sold again in 2003 to the British investment consortium The Music Group (TMG). After only a few months, however, the music conglomerate sold Höfner to Klaus Schöller and his wife, Ulrike Schrimpff. Klaus had been the company’s general manager, while Ulrike had been the Finance Director, since 1995.
Investing heavily in the company’s future and incorporating the latest in renewable manufacturing techniques, the family firm has rebounded.