1963 Höfner 500/1 violin bass d Paul McCartney

The Beatles played a series of concerts in Hamburg, Germany, in early 1961, and while there, the Beatles ‘ original bassist Stu Sutcliffe decided to leave the band. Paul McCartney, then 18, was chosen to switch from piano to bass, which meant he had to get his own instrument.

“Eventually, I found a small store in the center of town, and I saw this fiddle bass in the window,” he told Tony Bacon for a book story on the bass player in the summer of 1995.

McCartney recalled purchasing his first bass violin Höfner 500/1, a right-handed model that he modified for left-handers, for the equivalent of $45. Unfortunately, his Höfner 1961 was stolen in the late 1960s. Another bass guitar, given to McCartney by Höfner in 1963, has been seen and heard as early as that year’s “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

He removed the pickguard in 1966 and used it throughout the rooftop concert of “Let It Be” in 1969, putting it away for years until Elvis Costello asked for it during the 1989 Flowers in the Dirt sessions. He has been on the road with Paul ever since. Apparently, it still has the set list of the Beatles‘ last shows, in 1966, pasted on one side.