Online campaign to search for Paul McCartney’s lost Höfner bass relaunched

Sunday, September 3, 2023


In October 2019, Höfner, the manufacturer of the violin bass used by Paul McCartney since the early 1960s, launched an online campaign to search for Paul’s first bass guitar, a Höfner 500/1 model purchased in 1961. Its last confirmed sighting came during the filming of The Beatles’ “Get Back” sessions on January 21, 1969, fueling rumours of its disappearance from Apple Studios in Savile Row around that time.

The campaign was relaunched in September 2023 and helped to debunk this rumour. On September 27, The Telegraph reported that, when Höfner launched this public appeal, they received 600 emails within the first 40 hours. One was written by Ian Horne, who was a roadie with Wings. He reported that the bass was stolen sometime after 10 pm on October 10, 1972, from the Ladbroke Grove area of Notting Hill, west London.

This breakthrough eventually led to the discovery of the lost bass, abandoned in an attic. The bass was returned to Paul McCartney in February 2024.

I’ve worked closely with Paul McCartney’s team over the years, and when I’ve met Paul we’ve talked about his first Höfner bass and where it could be today. Paul said to me, ‘Heh, because you’re from Höfner, couldn’t you help find my bass?’ And that’s what sparked this great hunt. Sitting there, seeing what the lost bass means to Paul, I was determined to solve the mystery.

Nick Wass – Bass expert and Höfner executive – From Search launched for Paul McCartney’s lost £10m bass guitar (, September 2, 2023

I saw Paul playing the Höfner bass in Hamburg. I could see how good he felt playing it. A natural symbiosis and a deep friendship. Well, it seems, ‘Till death us do part’. I hope they find it and we can all see it once more.

Klauss Voormann – From Search launched for Paul McCartney’s lost £10m bass guitar (, September 2, 2023

The lost bass needs to be valued more like a Van Gogh or a Picasso than just an instrument. Other than Beethoven’s piano, no instrument on earth can be compared to McCartney’s original Höfner. But the true value is in its history. This is the bass Paul played in Hamburg, at the Cavern Club, and at Abbey Road. That’s why we need to get this bass back. I know, because I have talked with him about it, that Paul would be so happy, thrilled, if this bass could get back to him.

Nick Wass – Bass expert and Höfner executive – From Search launched for Paul McCartney’s lost £10m bass guitar (, September 2, 2023

From McCartney’s lost 1961 Hofner Bass (

The Lost Bass team is carrying out targeted research based on existing information and insights – and they are gathering and responding to new information and insights, shared with the project by people around the world.

If you follow and support the project you can learn how to identify Paul McCartney’s original Höfner bass – and rule out the fakes. You can see the trail the lost bass has been on, following the mystery since 1961. You can get updates on the search today. And if you have credible information about the bass, this is your chance to share it and be part of music history. 

With a little help from our friends – from fans and musicians to collectors and music shops – we can get the bass back to where it once belonged. Paul McCartney has given us so much over the last 62 years. The Lost Bass project is our chance to give something back.

Nick Wass, who co-wrote ‘The Complete Violin Bass Story’ and is the world’s leading expert on McCartney’s missing bass, said: “While nobody really knows what happened to the bass, it was very likely stolen. To this day it remains a mystery. There have been rumours over the years, but this is all they amount to – just rumours. But someone somewhere knows what happened to this bass and where it is now. This information is out there if only the right person would come forward.”

To solve the greatest mystery in the history of Rock and Roll, Wass is working with Naomi Jones, a TV producer who has led major investigations at the BBC and Channel 4.

Naomi Jones said: “Paul McCartney’s lost bass changed the world. It’s a symbol of the amazing cultural and social revolution that The Beatles created in the Sixties. With this year marking sixty years since Love Me Do was released, and next year being the 60th anniversary of She Loves You, it’s time for fans around the world to come together, to help find the lost bass and get it back to where it once belonged.”

In 1972, Paul McCartney was preparing for his first UK and European tours with Wings, and the band was recording their second album, Red Rose Speedway. We had rented a truck to move the gear – guitars and amplifiers – to various recording studios and rehearsal spaces across London. We were often criss-crossing London to rehearse or record at Morgan Studios in Willesden Green, the ICA in The Mall, Manticore Studios in Fulham, Island Studios in Notting Hill, and Abbey Road in St John’s Wood.

One night, after a long day, we got to Notting Hill, where Trevor lived, and decided to park the truck up there for the night. We knew there was a huge padlock on the back doors, but when I got up in the morning and saw the van, with the broken padlock lying in the road, I knew it was bad news. I looked inside and the bass, along with one other guitar and two Vox AC30 amps, had gone.

We instantly suspected people living in and around Ladbroke Grove were responsible. One or two people living close by knew that we worked for Paul, so they would have known there was a chance that the kit in the back of the truck belonged to McCartney. We went from door to door, asking people if they’d seen anything or if they knew anything, but nobody said a word.

I knew it was Paul’s original Hofner bass that had been stolen, and I knew what it meant to him. Trevor and I did all we could to find it, but it was gone. Eventually we had to go to Paul’s house and tell him that the gear had been stolen from the back of the truck. He told us not to worry, and we kept our jobs. He’s a good man, Paul. I worked for him for six years after the bass went missing. But I’ve carried the guilt all my life.

Ian Horne – From Sir Paul McCartney’s missing bass guitar was stolen from a van in Notting Hill ( – September 27, 2023

When we saw Ian Horne’s message, we knew we had made our first major breakthrough. It simply said, ‘I was working with Wings, I was his sound engineer, when the bass was stolen from a hired truck.’ To hear from someone like Ian, who was there at the time, and who still cares deeply to this day about getting the bass back, we were blessed at a very early stage in the investigation.

Nick Wass – Bass expert and Höfner executive – From Sir Paul McCartney’s missing bass guitar was stolen from a van in Notting Hill ( – September 27, 2023

Using Ian’s evidence, coupled with other pieces of information that we have gathered, we are now focusing on two families living in the Ladbroke Grove area in 1972 who we believe are connected to the lost bass in some way. We are now honing in on what happened to that bass after the theft.

Naomi Jones, who is leading the archive research – From Sir Paul McCartney’s missing bass guitar was stolen from a van in Notting Hill ( – September 27, 2023

Is Paul McCartney’s Höfner bass the original?

It’s one of the originals. I had two but one got stolen and we still don’t know where it is. Just somewhere along the way the one I was using just vanished with no idea where it went, but the one I’m using is one of the originals. It’s one that I’ve used for a long time. It’s an interesting note to think ‘where did that one go’ because no one can bring it out, because everyone knows it’s mine, they’ve got pictures of it. So my theory is and it’s kind of half fantasy but it’s that you go to some German Castle way in the hills of Bavaria and you’ll have a dinner and then the host will say ‘come let me show you something’ and you go up into this little room and there’s my bass over his mantelpiece…

Paul McCartney – Interview for WIRED, September 13, 2018
From Peter Jackson’s film “The Beatles: Get Back“, 2021. Paul McCartney playing his 1961 Höfner 500/1 during the Get Back sessions, Twickenham studios, on January 3, 1969. It is briefly seen again at Apple Studios, Savile Row, on January 21, 1969.

Last updated on February 18, 2024


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