Höfner bass expert Nick Wass has teamed up with two investigative journalists in an effort to reunite Paul McCartney with his long lost Höfner 500/1 violin bass – an instrument that has been missing since 1969.
The bass guitar was first purchased by McCartney during the Beatles’ 1961 residency in Hamburg for around £30 (approximately $37) from the Steinway Musikhaus store.
The rest is history: the violin bass was used extensively during the Beatles’ early years, including singles like Love Me Do and She Loves You. Following repair work in 1964, it became a backup instrument, but still found use in later sessions, most notably to pen the track Get Back and in the Revolution video.
The Lost Bass Project says its last sighting was on January 21, 1969, days before the band’s rooftop show at the Apple HQ on Saville Row, London. Following that it was probably stored with the other Get Back gear, either at Abbey Road or in the Apple HQ basement.
“While nobody really knows what happened to the bass, it was very likely stolen,” says Wass. “To this day it remains a mystery. There have been rumours over the years, but this is all they amount to – just rumours.
“But someone somewhere knows what happened to this bass and where it is now. This information is out there if only the right person would come forward.”
The Lost Bass Project is appealing for anybody with leads or information can contact them (in the confidence they will remain anonymous).
The organizers – namely Höfner expert Wass and British investigative journalists Scott and Naomi Jones – have even put together a handy checklist for anyone getting in touch, including a set of images.
It’s important to note that the bass, which was unusual in the first place due to being a left-handed model, was heavily modified during its time with McCartney, so early Beatles images may not be accurate comparisons.
The bass the team is seeking has two pickups mounted on a black wood block, a three-part sunburst finish and has no pickguard.
The team says it has no desired outcome other than reuniting McCartney with the instrument and has already had plenty of approaches.
“We are dealing with hundreds of emails and we’ve already picked out two (emails) in particular, because we know it instantly marries up with something that was known before,” Scott Jones told UK newspaper The Evening Standard on Sunday (September 3).
“We didn’t expect to get necessarily thousands of super-hot leads instantly… what I’m anticipating is that people who know something will probably just sort of reflect on what they know and then come forward at some point.”
If you have any potential tips or leads for the team, please contact the Lost Bass Project.
In the meantime, if you want to know more about the storied instrument, read our full history of Paul McCartney’s Höfner 500/1 bass, written by none other than The Lost Bass Project leader Nick Wass.