Electric bass guitar, Violin Bass, 500/1 model. Hollow viol-shaped body, wood, tinted varnish finish. The volume and tone controls are on the lower right hand quarter of body, on an imitation mother of pearl panel; imitation mother of pearl scratch pad on upper right quarter. The guitar has four overwound wire strings. The face of the headstock is painted in black lacquer with Höfner logo in gold paint.
Despite its name, the Höfner 500/1 Violin Bass body is actually the shape of a double bass or viol. Designed in 1955 by Walter Höfner, the 500/1 earned icon status and the nickname "Beatle bass" when one was purchased in Hamburg, in 1961, by a 19 year old Paul McCartney. Because of the symmetry of the violin bass, it could easily be played by left or right handed musicians - McCartney played a left handed version. Its hollow body made it lighter than other bass guitars and gave it a warm, deep tone, similar to that of the double bass. The Selmer Company, based in Charing Cross Road, London, began importing Höfner guitars from 1958.