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Old 05-04-2019, 08:46 PM
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Default Hoffman guitars experience today

Back in the mid 1980s when my guitar repertoire was limited to Smoke on the Water and Cat Scratch Fever (intros only, and incorrectly played), I lived a few blocks from Hoffman Guitars in Minneapolis. I never went in.

I made the 20-mile trek today to get my Maton set up to eliminate a buzz. They offered to do it in the next 90 minutes or so, and asked me to play a little to demonstrate the buzz. The tech (I never got his name; my bad) recognized the buzzing was due to my (poor) technique. “A setup would do so little I’d feel guilty charging you.” Who says that anymore! We chatted awhile and I felt great that he was so friendly and was not trying to rush me out the door.

Gabriel was in the room and added to the conversation, and I learned he is Charlie Hoffman’s son, who is doing (most? all?) of the custom builds these days. He invited me to play the models hanging on the wall.

I tried a few including a piccolo guitar, which shimmered. I pulled another from the wall and asked, “Who’s this?” “Go ahead and try it but it’s not for sale. That’s number one.” Charlie Hoffman’s first build from 1970 and it sounded great! The craftsmanship was pretty darn good for a first build, it was no slouch, but in the subsequent years he really honed his craft to produce stunning works of art, both for the eyes and ears.

Great honest people and great guitars. Life is good. But I feel a whopper of a case of GAS coming on...
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Old 05-04-2019, 09:45 PM
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Default Charlie Hoffman

Ah, Charlie Hoffman...

Back in the day, I used to travel fairly often to the MPLS/St. Paul area on business. From Spruce Tree Music in Madison, WI I had acquired a Hoffman Concert 12 with Sitka over Macassar Ebony. The tone was glorious, but after a time I thought I had no reason to play a 12-fret guitar. I have since learned differently. Foolishly, I traded it (and another guitar) to get a Kevin Ryan at The Podium in Minneapolis. The Podium is now gone, as is the Ryan. But I digress.

Back to Charlie... I was so taken with the sound of that Hoffman Concert 12 that I went to Charlie's shop in Minneapolis. I had learned online that Charlie was an expert repair person for harp guitars, since many of the originals had been built in Minneapolis and had remained in the area. Since he had repaired harp guitars, he decided to start building his own. I decided to order a harp guitar, but since Charlie had, at that point, only built harp guitars with 5 sub-bass strings, I asked for one with 6 sub-basses, like the Dyer guitar owned by Stephen Bennett, my then and current harp guitar hero.

Charlie built the guitar in a 3-4 month period. I fondly remember traveling from Chicago by train to pick up the guitar, and brought it home the next day via Amtrak. Sitka spruce over mahogany, with two pickups installed to capture both the standard 6-string neck and the sub-bass part of the bridge, wired to a stereo endpin jack. Here's a really bad photo:

Hoffman harp guitar by Peter M, on Flickr

I wish I could say that I've played this guitar enough to do it justice, but I haven't. This thread is going to make me get it out of the case and play it more. Thanks for reigniting these memories.
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Old 05-04-2019, 09:56 PM
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Gabriel tongue-in-cheek asked me if by chance I wanted him to build me a harp guitar because he really wanted to build another... (l declined due to $) and he mentioned his dad’s first 6-string sub base, when all others were 5 string! You’re famous among those who count! :-) Thanks for the photo!
__________________
2017 Maton SRS808
2016 Andrew White Freja 112 NAT
2015 G&L Tribute Series ASAT
2005 Alvarez AJ-60S/12 NAT
2005 Aria Sinsonido AS-100S
2004/5 Fender Stratocaster Deluxe Series (MIM)
1988 Fender F-210S
... and because I love all my children equally:
1974 Tiesco “Strat”
1971 Ronda made for Paul A. Schmitt Music Co.
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Old 05-04-2019, 10:29 PM
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Crikey! I had no idea I was so important.
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Old 05-05-2019, 08:24 AM
seannx seannx is offline
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That's where I found my '68 Guild 12 string. Got to play some of Charlie's creations and meet Gabriel - a thoroughly enjoyable time.
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