Paul McCartney’s Beloved Höfner Bass Returned After 54 Years Missing

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Paul McCartney’s favorite bass guitar has been returned to him after 54 years.

McCartney bought his violin-shaped Höfner 500/1 bass in Germany in 1961 for £30, during the era when the pre-fame Beatles were honing their skills in the clubs of Hamburg. He reportedly fell in love with the instrument because it’s symmetrical, so it doesn’t look weird when he turns it upside down to play it left-handed. McCartney kept the bass all throughout the Beatles’ tenure, but after the recording of Let It Be in 1970 — the sessions documented in Peter Jackson’s stellar Get Back documentary — but it was last seen a few days before the famous rooftop concert that became the Beatles’ last live performance.

McCartney has dialogued with Höfner executive Nick Wass about finding the bass over the years, and last fall, the company ramped up the effort by launching The Lost Bass Project, dubbing the instrument the “Holy Grail of Rock and Roll” and circulating the hashtag #tracingthebass. As The Guardian reports, the project was successful, which is to say the bass got back to where it once belonged. A 21-year-old British film student named Ruaidhri Guest posted photos of the instrument on Twitter/X with the message, “To my friends and family I inherited this item which has been returned to Paul McCartney. Share the news.”

A message on McCartney’s website confirms, “Following the launch of last year’s Lost Bass project, Paul’s 1961 Höfner 500/1 bass guitar, which was stolen in 1972, has been returned. The guitar has been authenticated by Höfner and Paul is incredibly grateful to all those involved.”