Some Thoughts About “Sailing on Fantasies”

I was listening to some of the cuts posted at Somewhere There Is Music as well as those posted on YouTube and remembered how crisp the bass is in many of the later cuts. If anyone listens closely, they can hear the difference in the songs which were recorded earlier “Sailing on Fantasies” and those that were recorded later.

Early on, I used my Hofner Beatle Bass for several of the songs like “Sing Me Your Love Songs” (actually Ken played my bass on that one!) and “Rock and Roll Game”. But in the middle of the sessions I switched to Frank’s (the producer) old Fender Precision bass. It had these great round wound strings which gave it a crisp, clear sound that we used on the likes of “Bad News”, “Hand in Hand” and many of the other tracks.

However, the Precision’s neck was too wide for me to use for live performances, so I went out and bought a Fender Jazz bass which I occasionally used for live performances (which I still use today). Unfortunately, it was (and still is) too heavy to hang around my neck for any long periods of time, so I prefer the super-light Beatle Bass for performing live. Since the Hofner is a vintage 1968 or earlier, it tends to NOT stay in tune harmonically. The neck is so thin that the strings cause it to bow slightly and go out of intonation. The bridge is not as well designed as the Fender tail piece. It’s more like a violin than an electric bass guitar.

Pre-1968 Hofner Beatle Bass like the one my hero, Paul McCartney, used in the Beatles.

Pre-1968 Hofner Beatle Bass like the one my hero, Paul McCartney, used in the Beatles.

Regardless, I am waiting for “Antiques Roadshow” to come to town so I can have the Hofner appraised! Yes, I said antique. My Beatle Bass is well over 45 years old! The one I still have is older than the one I bought new in 1968 when I was with The Contents Are:. I picked the older one up at a pawn shop somewhere in Minnesota and believe it is pre-1968 since the Hofner on the tuning head is in raised lettering and not embossed like the one I bought new from Texas “Slim” Richie in Lubbock, TX in 1968.

The older one I named “Hugh” Hofner and the newer one I named “Me”. I thought I was being very clever. (Hugh and Me.) But I had the newer one refinished in black by a fan in Minnesota who did that sort of work. It ruined the sound. I am not sure whatever happened to it, but it has been long gone for many years.

Mick Orton

Categories: History

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