It’s been a long and winding road, but a prized bass guitar bought by Sir Paul McCartney before he became famous has apparently been returned to the former Beatle.
A global search for the missing instrument, bought by McCartney in 1961 for £30, was launched in 2023, some 54 years after it was last seen while The Beatles were recording what would be their final album, Let It Be.
The guitar, a distinctively shaped Höfner bass, became synonymous with the versatile musician during his time with the Beatles and was purchased while the then-unknown band toured Hamburg’s famous club circuit.
A year later, the band released the debut single Please, Please Me, a hit in the United Kingdom that would spark the Beatlemania phenomenon and change the lives of McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr forever.
Despite the guitar’s low price when he purchased it, the instrument would become a staple in the rise of Beatlemania, and McCartney regularly took it on stage from 1961 to 1963, until it disappeared just before the band broke up. dissolved in 1970.
On Tuesday, a young student claimed to have inherited a Höfner bass that originally belonged to Sir Paul McCartney. Missing instrument sparks global search in 2023
McCartney bought the guitar in Germany while The Beatles were residing in Hamburg and it was last seen during the band’s Let It Be sessions in January 1969 (pictured).
He was last seen in the days before McCartney and his bandmates took to the roof of their Savile Row offices in 1969 for what would be their last live performance.
Since then, McCartney has been searching for his “favorite” guitar, a violin-shaped Höfner 500/1 electric bass, until now.
On Tuesday, a young student claimed that the instrument was left to him as part of an inheritance, but was later returned to its legendary owner.
Sharing a photo of the guitar on X, formerly Twitter, film enthusiast Ruaidhri Guest tweeted: “To my friends and family I inherited this item which has been returned to Paul McCartney. Share the news.’
McCartney previously said he “fell in love” with the guitar, which could now be worth up to £10m, because its shape made it look more symmetrical when played left-handed.
Although he put it aside briefly during his time in the band, he picked it up again for the recording sessions in London when the group was recording Let it Be. The instrument can also be seen in Get Back, the Peter Jackson documentary that was released in 2021.
Höfner stepped in to help the musician in his desperate search for the instrument online by creating the hashtag ‘tracingthebass’ and inviting people from all over the world to track it.
They have been McCartney’s preferred brand throughout his career. Since 1961 he has owned four Höfner basses and to this day he plays one of the basses that the German company gave him.
Film enthusiast Ruaidhri Guest shared a photo of himself, supposedly with the prized guitar, on social media on Tuesday.
The bass was last seen before McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison climbed to the roof of their Savile Row offices for their final performance (pictured in 1962).
Theories about what happened to the instrument vary, from rumors that a thief took the bass from Abbey Road, to a story that it disappeared from the basement of their Savile Row offices.
Höfner executive Nick Wass told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘I’ve worked closely with Paul McCartney’s team over the years, and when I met Paul we talked about his first Höfner bass and where it might be today.
‘Paul said to me, ‘Heh, since you’re from Höfner, couldn’t you help me find my bass?’ And that’s what sparked this big hunt.”
Theories about what happened to the instrument vary, from rumors that a thief took the bass from a cupboard in Abbey Road, to a story that it disappeared from the basement of the Beatles’ Savile Row offices.
Wass added that the bass could be valued “more like a Van Gogh or a Picasso than as a simple instrument.”
“This is the bass that Paul played in Hamburg, at the Cavern Club and at Abbey Road,” he said.
“Paul would be very happy and excited if this bass could come back to him.”
A representative for McCartney said: ‘Following the release of last year’s Lost Bass project, Paul’s 1961 Höfner 500/1 bass, which was stolen in 1972, has been returned. The guitar has been authenticated by Höfner and Paul is incredibly grateful to everyone involved.”
The instrument would become a staple in the rise of Beatlemania, and McCartney regularly took it on stage from 1961 to 1963 (pictured at Teddington Studios in 1964).