The Beatles: Guitar Heroes 18 – John Lennon’s ‘59 Hofner Club 40

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John Lennon seen above jamming on the Hofner Club 40, one of his earlier guitars

The ’59 Hofner Club 40 hollow-body, fawn colored electric (vintage unknown). Although McCartney says in an interview that Lennon and Harrison both bought Club 40s in Hamburg, a photo taken in the autumn of 1959 — months before their first Hamburg trip — shows Lennon playing his Club 40 at Liverpool’s Casbah Club.

In his book Beatles gear, Andy Babiuk cleverly researched the origins of this guitar. Apparently, the guitar “Guaranteed Not to Split” had suffered some damage, so the day before that Casbah gig, Aunt Mimi, after considerable pleading, had taken Lennon to Hessy’s music store in Liverpool and plunked down a £17 deposit on this guitar and co-signed for it. Its total price, with hire-purchase charges, was about £30. Lennon made sporadic payments, and at one point Hessy’s account ledger notes “Son in Germany — mother paying.” He played this guitar — his first electric — until buying a Rickenbacker in Hamburg the following year. He then loaned this Hofner to McCartney, who restrung it lefty and used it until Lennon sold it, in his words, “at a profit.” Where is this guitar now? People of Hamburg, check your attics!

Note: Lennon’s Club 40 is not to be confused with the Hofner Club included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 2000 Lennon exhibit; that guitar, a Club 50 model, is erroneously described as an instrument Lennon purchased in Germany in the early ’60s and shared with Harrison. More likely, Lennon picked it up not long before he gave it to son Julian in ’74.

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