The Beatles: Guitar Heroes 34 – John Lennon’s Hofner Senator

Share My Guitar is proud to release a special series of guest posts by John F. Crowley about guitars owned by members of the Beatles. Each week we will unleash another article covering the history and impact of these fab guitars.

John Lennon’s Hofner Senator (f-hole acoustic), “Compensator” tailpiece!

An advert of the period shows this handsome guitar that boasted a “powerful, penetrating tone,” and doubtless one of the Quarry Men played one, but was it Lennon?  Mal Evans’ widow Lil auctioned this guitar in 1984, saying Lennon had given it to Mal.  She provided a letter to her from Harrison calling it “one of the first guitars of John’s going back to Liverpool (1960-ish).”  It went for £15,500 at Sotheby’s.

Six years later it was auctioned again and found a home with AEI Music in Seattle, where it is displayed in the lobby, mounted in a brass likeness of Lennon.  Although AEI promotional materials call it the “Abbey Road Studio Guitar” and say it was used in the recording of “Love Me Do,” “From Me to You” and “This Boy,” these claims will have to be revised, for the Senator likely never saw the inside of Abbey Road, and the songs mentioned were all recorded with Lennon’s J-160E.

John Lennon would have turned 70 years old on October 9, 2010

No photos exist of Lennon playing this guitar, and he never mentioned owning a Senator.  An “authenticating” photo given to the most recent purchaser shows Lennon with a totally different guitar (his Epiphone Casino).  One Quarry Man who did own a Senator is Ken Brown, and I asked him about it:

“I do not recall John actually owning one during the time I knew him,” he replied.  “He may of course have acquired one at some later stage. I of course did own such a guitar.”   Brown added cryptically that there was more on the subject in his autobiography, now making the rounds of publishers.   So go figure.

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