New neck for a Hopf

This old Hopf guitar came in recently with some issues that the original design and construction made hard to fix. Not impossible, but difficult at a price point to make it worth it.

Hopf guitars are descended from one of the oldest instrument manufacturing companies in Europe with lines going all the way back to the mid 1600's. In the late 1940's they set up a new factory and in the late 50's started focusing more guitar manufacturing as the guitar became more popular. Their beautiful archtops from the mid 50's are, like a lot of German made acoustics, a wonder. 

In the early 60's their hollowbodies stared getting pickups attached and soon there were electric hollowbody and solidbody guitars being produced. In '63/64 a whole line up of solidbody electrics hit the market including the Telstar, Saturn, Jupiter and the very non space age named Twisty, shown here.

The Twisty is obviously very Fender offset influenced and came in 1 and 2 pickup versions and a bass. Hardware and specs changed regularly with many different types of pickups being used and several different bridges and tailpieces available. 

This single pickup version is one of the more common versions available and like most German guitars from this period are almost industrial in design and construction, but well made. The body is solid timber that appears to be a low grade pale spruce (as used by Hofner for internal fittings) or some sort of European pine? I've actually not experienced this before in a solidbody but it's very similar to the timber used by manufacturers like Hofner as internal blocks on their hollowbodies.

It is finished in a hammertone enamel finish which is rare in the guitar world but actually works really well. It looks great and would have been very easy to apply and need little to no polishing or finishing.

Under the metal scratchplate, which holds all of the electronics, there is a swimming pool rout which would have accommodated any of the versions available. The cavity has been "hogged out" with spade but routing but these bodies must have been very easy a quick to make.

The neck is a multi-laminate affair like a lot of German manufacturers used which was also adopted by Japanese manufacturers in the mid 60's. This neck appears to be pine or similar with a rosewood fretboard and brass frets with no markers. The plastic string guide places the strings over the zero fret and to the 6 in line open gear tuners.  

The neck has actually stood up to time quite well and if it had a trussrod, could have been salvaged to make this guitar playable. Unfortunately, the neck has no rod, adjustable or otherwise and the relief was just getting too much to do a decent set up.

The owner wanted it playable to use and after a short discussion about removing the fretboard and fitting a trussrod he decided to go with a new neck instead. With the original neck glued in it meant removing the old neck with steam, cleaning the pocket and fitting the neck neck with a standard Fender 4 screw method.

The original neck was 20 fret, 24.5" scale which of course was going to be hard to find. I could make one but that would defeat the purpose of trying to get this guitar playing cheaply as repairing the old neck would have made more economic sense. The neck pocket was slightly narrower than a standard Fender pocket so a Mustang/Jaguar neck wouldn't just drop in either. 

Many years ago I bought a stack of NOS Aria necks off the importer that were no longer needed for warranties. They were lying around the warehouse and  I figured I'd probably use them one day, somewhere. Well, this was my somewhere.

I laid out the new neck so the bridge was in the right spot as I wanted to keep the "harmonics" behind the bridge and shaved the width down to fit the pocket. I then cleaned up the fret ends and rounded over the fretboard. The customer didn't want to spend a fortune so I didn't refinish the whole neck, which had a pretty decent sealer coat except where I'd thinned it down, which I just sanded and steel wooled until smooth.

 

There were 3 holes in the body (and neck) that had never had screws installed so I covered these holes with a standard Fender style neck plate and reattached the new neck with 4 screws. The body had a couple of cracks around the neck pocket which showed up when I steamed the neck out. The enamel paint had been covering these small cracks but when steam started coming out I knew these would have to be fixed before fitting the new neck.

 

The original neck had a slot cut in the end that the scratchplate slotted into rather than the scratchplate cut around the neck heel. I cut this slot into the new neck and screwed it all in place. The string height was slightly higher which means the bridge had to come up (which is actually an advantage with this tailpiece) and everything was left to settle in.

 

The next day I did a set up and man, it plays and sounds GREAT. This ultralight body, combined with this great pickup and electronics, with this new longer 25.5" scale made this this come to life. It was harder to play before but I liked it, but now I love it. The new neck is SO MUCH better to play and sounds great, and, that headstock actually works with this shape. All in all, a great outcome for an old player.