Hofner 12 String Neck Reset

 Hofner 12 String Guitar

My friend Jeff’s wife bought this Hofner 12 string at a pawnshop when she was in college. It would never stay in tune and was never played much because of that. He brought it to me to see if I could do anything to make it playable. I searched the web and couldn’t find much information about Hofner acoustics. So I thought that this article might be of interest.

My best guess it this one was made in the 60’s to cash in on the folk and blues craze of the time. It is a good-looking guitar but cheaply made. The top back and sides are all wood laminate. Judging from the sound hole I believe it may be two-ply on the top and three-ply for the back and sides. The top veneers on the back and side are nice flamed maple, while the top appears to be spruce. It is interesting that Hofner chose to put a classical rosette on a blues guitar WA-NA-be. The tuning machines are 6 on a plate and the backlash is about a quarter of a turn, which makes tuning a challenge.

From the day it was made this guitar had a big problem. The front edge of the bridgeView through the soundhole. patch was bisected by the top row of pinholes. This had caused the top portion of the patch to splinter so the fat strings’ tension was absorbed by only the bridge and top. To add insult to injury, the patch did not butt against the X-brace. I made and installed a new maple patch. Because of the laminated top, it was impossible to remove the old patch without some damage to the underside of the top. Using yellow or hide glue to attach the patch would have left voids between the patch and top, so I used thick epoxy instead. (Good luck future repair person.)

The most interesting thing was the neck joint. When I got it you could wobble theNeck joint detail. neck side to side and back. The attach system seen here relied solely on a pivoting hook (#2) that latched down on the mild steel bar (#3) that bridged the slot in the neck. The threaded stud (#1) pushed against the lower half of the hook to hold the neck in place. This puppy had been forced down so hard that there was a 1/8” dimple on the steel bar. The string tension of D’Addario lightest set is 220 lbs. at concert pitch. Now I am not an engineer, but how Hofner could have thought this was an adequate arrangement is beyond me. I have to say that this was not German engineering’s finest moment.

To complete the repair I lined the neck pocket with maple veneer shims to create a tighter fit for the neck side to side and then removed the finish from the top under the fingerboard. I made a new bar from much harder steel than had been originally used. I reattached the neck using the original system but also used white glue to strengthen the joint. Finally I replaced the cheap plastic bridge pins with decent rosewood pins and strung it up with D’Addario extra lights.

The final result is good. Once you finally get the thing in tune, it will stay in tune. The action is stiff, but assuming Jeff’s finger calluses are up to it, this is now a playable instrument.

John Timblin