- acoustic guitars
- bass guitars
- classical guitars
- electric guitars
- double bass
Höfner was established in 1887 by Karl Höfner (1864 - 1955) - Höfner was a violin maker with a workshop in Schönbach at the center of Eriuopean violin making. His sons joined him in the company which quickly expanded into export markets and started making cellos, violas and double basses. The 1930s saw the addition of guitars to the Höfner product range withthe steel stringed “Schlaggitarren”, forerunners of the modern day archtop. At this point the company employed 30 staff at the Höfner factory but an additional 300 outworkers who worked in their own homes and workshops.
After the second World War Schönbach was located in Czechoslovakia and the assets of the German-speaking population were seized by the state. As a result in 1948 the Höfner family left for West Germany where they had to restart their business from scratch: first in Möhrendorf and then Bubenreuth, Bavaria. As the 1950s rolled by the company rebuilt its reputation and exports once again grew. Some of the iconic Höfner models were introduced at this time; the President, The Committee and the Violin Bass. With the birth of Rock n Roll the demand for guitars surged and Höfner had to extend their Bubenreuth factory. Guitars were now Höfner's biggest selling instrument.
Import restrictions on American guitars to the UK were lifted in 1961 meaning Höfner now faced competition from Fender and Gibson. Sales declined from the mid 1960s onward and Höfner refocused on their orchestral stringed instrument division. The 1970s and 1980 saw increasing competition from Japan and China and by the early 1990s Höfner was in difficulties. In 1994 Höfner was sold to Boosey & Hawkes, who closed the factory at Bubenreuth and moved all production to a newer factory at Hagenau. Höfner was sold again to a British investment consortium in 2003 and again in 2004 to a Höfner management buyout.
Following the management buyout Höfner invested heavily in its Chinese manufacturing facility. The Beijing produces Höfner student level instruments while the mid-priced and master-built instruments are made in Hagenau, Bavaria. Circa 2017 Höfner is the largest manufacturer of stringed instruments, guitars and basses in Western Europe exporting products throughout the world through their extensive distributor and dealer network.