Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The vintage Hofner Colorama II restoration project (part 1)


Some of you may remember me mentioning the 1963 Hofner Colorama II (also known as the Hofner 164) that I bought a while back on ebay. What do you mean you don’t remember? I posted about it right here: http://diystrat.blogspot.com/2008/11/my-first-ever-electric-guitar.html

Oh wow, was that really three years ago? Who knew?

Anyway, as is always the danger when you buy something without seeing it in person first, especially a 50-year-old guitar, you never really know what sort of shape it’s going to be in. The photos showed a guitar that appeared to be in fairly average shape for its age and most of the original parts seemed to be there, but upon closer inspection it appeared that this particular guitar needed a lot more work than originally anticipated. In fact, I don’t think there’s a single part of this guitar that doesn’t need work in some way or another.

In that previous post, I mentioned that I completely messed with my original Hofner Colorama II almost 25 years ago, and so I feel like this is a chance to redeem myself. Kinda like adopting a puppy after inadvertently running over another one, or something like that.

Here’s a list of the main problems:

1. Neck – The neck is back bowed and the fretboard is both badly gouged in the cowboy chord positions and has a crack running the length of several frets. The frets themselves are badly worn in places too, so a total refret will be required. The neck needs to be completely re-lacquered, the tuners need replacing with something a bit closer to original (and the extra screw holes from the replacement tuners will need to be filled in too). The logo will need replacing due to having to re-lacquer the neck.



2. Body – The paint needs to be stripped and the body refinished. The paint is literally flaking off, and there are some cracks where the pieces of wood are joined.



3. Pickguard and back vibrato cover – Both plastic covers are warped and are now somewhat convex in shape. The screws have obviously been lost/replaced over time and are a bit of a (bad) mix now, so will need replacing.



4. Vibrato/tremolo – The thumbscrew that holds the vibrato arm on is missing and the arm is held on only because the threaded stud had been hammered down like a rivet, destroying it in the process. Also, the chrome vibrato cover has completely split where the screw at the front end goes in.



5. Bridge – The bridge has been replaced with one that has the wrong spacing, radius, and won’t intonate correctly, due to being straight across, so will need to be replaced (at least the top part).



6. Volume/tone knobs – Oh boy, would you look at the state of those? They're in dreadful condition and will all need to be replaced. The knob markers/pointers are also really, really rusty and will need a thorough cleaning.



7. Electronics – The pots are not behaving well at all (cutting out, very scratchy, etc.) and will need to be cleaned out. Additionally, one of the pickups does not appear to be behaving well, although that might (hopefully) be fixed after giving the pots some attention. The output jack could probably do with some attention too.



Wow, what a lot of work for just one guitar, but, hey, think how much FUN it’s going to be! Amirite? Plus, you know, this will totally sort me out with the Hofner karma police.

So stay tuned as all of these jobs get tackled over the next few posts.

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