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Paul McCartney's Guitar No Longer Gently Weeps: Bass Found

It’s no secret the hold and impact the Beatles have had on our society. People of the '60s were crazed to get a look or a ticket to their concerts, and fans to this day envy the chance that they had to. Beatlemania was a cultural moment that is evident even today 50 years later. However, things were taken too far when fans snuck backstage or stole belongings of the band. One well-known stolen object is Paul McCartney’s famous Höfner bass guitar. This unique instrument, with the violin shape, was originally purchased for about 30 pounds ($37) in 1961 by McCartney when the band was starting to get its start. Bought in Germany, as the brand is German-based. You can hear the Höfner featured in early songs of the Beatles, such as “Twist and Shout” or “She Loves You”.  The estimated value now is around 10 million pounds ($12.6 million).

Announcing its return on his website is the quote: “Paul is incredibly grateful to all those involved.

The guitar was unique to McCartney because of the fact that he is left-handed, and basses are constructed to be played by right-handed dominant players. So, it was altered to fit his needs, and have the neck switched to the opposite side. McCartney stated, “I got into that. And once I bought it, I fell in love with it.” It is clear to see this bass had much emotional value to McCartney. So when it was stolen, it was a deep loss. It is presumed that the instrument was stolen during 1969, when the band was recording a late album “Let it Be”. It is unclear the exact date or time it went missing. 

Reaching out to the Höfner company to find his beloved bass, he came into contact with Nick Wass… “Hey, because you’re from Höfner, couldn’t you help find my bass?”, the bassist asked. Safe to say Wass immediately agreed to join the hunt. As well as Scott Jones, a journalist for the New York Times. He and his wife saw McCartney headline a concert at Glastonbury Festival in 2022. With that, the search was kicked up a notch. Emails, DMs, and messages were flooded with information for the beloved bass. Searching the internet for any clue, while the word was being spread more and more. One of the 600 emails received was from a man named Ian Horne, a sound engineer who had worked with McCartney’s post-Beatles band “Wings” and possibly packed the instrument in his van after a concert. While there was no intent to steal, only to clean up the stage Horne states “But I’ve carried the guilt all my life.” McCartney assured him not to worry about the theft, and the two continued to work together for years after. 

However, that lead led them nowhere. As the bass was never returned to Horne after packing it in the van. So back to the hunt they went. Publishing that update, they received yet another lead. A son of an unnamed man. The father had no intent of stealing the bass and panicked when news came forward that he accidentally had. The unnamed father stated that he had sold it to the landlord, Ron Guest, of the Admiral Blake Pub. For just a few pounds and a pack of beers. The unnamed Guest had a daughter-in-law who had married the unnamed Father’s eldest son and contacted the studio telling them the bass had been in her attic for years. They had never attempted to sell it, and many had thought it had a striking resemblance to the one they were looking for. After sending the bass in, it took two months to authenticate it to make sure it truly was the one. After affirming it was the correct bass, it was once again returned to Paul McCartney. So, that’s the story of the hunt for the beloved bass. A happy ending for all involved, especially the left-handed Beatle himself.

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