HCT J17 review by Hofner

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  • Sound: 1
  • Overall Impression: 4
  • Reliability & Durability: 4
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 3
  • Features: 1
  • Reviewer's score: 2.6 Junky
  • Users' score: 7 (10 votes)
Hofner: HCT J17

Price paid: £ 419

Purchased from: Guitar Village

Sound — 1
I'm an arch top player using a range of Marshall and Fender amps. The Floating style pickup has lower volume and very limited range of rather brassy tones. The pickup can is perhaps no better or worse than the modern Chinese floating pick-ups, but will never approach the power and range of modern single-coil or humbucking pickups.

Overall Impression — 4
I'm an insturmental composer. I've been playing for over 40 years, I have 16 guitars, some very expensive, some cheap. I would not buy another of these were it lost or stolen. I own half a dozen archtops and this is not comparable with any of them. Other than the failings in the neck, (which is of course the MOST important factor) I should say it was barely competitive and would not recommend it. I bought it only because it is one style of archtop that I didn't own.

Reliability & Durability — 4
This is not a professional guitar, although most models should be quite adequate for amateur players. The finish, binding, bridge, pick-guard and tail-piece are very good. Like many cheaper guitars, you must beware of the security of the locking nut on the jack input which are not often sufficiently tightened.

Action, Fit & Finish — 3
I bought a bog-standard Trans-Red finish. I bought it unseen on the internet, but at the lowest possible price. I may have done better to buy blond or sunburst, but they were not available at the low price. The worst problem was considerable fret rattle and an excessive relief of the nece requiring work on the truss rod and stoning down the frets even to make it tollerably playable. I would hope that most of them would be better than this.

Features — 1
No accessories. But by far the best case was purchased from Woodbrass. 99% perfect fit for this guitar, sewn-in satin shroud, excellent design, and ridiculously low price. Mine is brown leather-cloth, with deep red plush. Internal case design was exceptionally good.

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    usually i dont hear or see bad from this brand im sorry you got a dud here
    I just bought the model with the fulltype Humbucker and without Cutwaway (J17 NC-SB). Acoustically it has a very balanced sound, so it ist even nice to play without amp. Amplified the sound is full and warm, exactly what you expect from this kind of guitar. The instrument was perfectly set, nothing to complain about. The store I bought it at had several similar guitars (Epiphone, Ibanez, Godin Kingpin), the hofner was definetly the best sounding. I'm sure, yours is an exception.
    I have several Hofner's and even though I've only known about the brand for several months they are now my favourite brand. Everything i've ever touched of there's just blows me away, whether its on price, playability, beauty, tone, features, or a combination of all of those. I'm quite saddened to hear you had a bad experience... and frankly a little suprised.
    Strange. All the Chinese built (and setup in Germany) hofners I have played have been excellent.. I hope yours was a duff one as I have always rated the them highly.
    I own a the exact same Hofner hct-j17 and love it. I don't have any of the concerns that the reviewer posted. Of course I had it set up by a professional immediatly after purchasing it. I've never had any problems with fret buzz or intonation and the action is perfect. The only problem I had was with the picguard. It was missing a screw...or it broke off or something...but it kept rattling. I fixed this by removing the pickguard and throwing it away in the trash. This was my main guitar for a year and a half and has seen about 100 gigs. I've never had any problems, or complaints about it.
    I received this as a gift. I had the same issue with the necks and frets. Tremendous rattle on the low E. This was due to a slight raise/warp in the neck. Would have required leveling of the neck and refretting the guitar but I exchanged for a new guitar (different model).
    I have the same Hofner J17 model also, but in a cherry sunburst finish. It's a beautiful guitar, however, I had exactly the same problem says the reviewer did. I took a guitar to my repairman and he leveled the frets, polished them, and polished the fretboard and it's much better now. However The neck is pretty chunky, which I don't like. The floating pick up is really very thin sounding. It's way too bright. It also hums so much that it seems more like a single coil. An acquaintance told me that he changed the pickup and put a Benedetto floater in it and changed the strings to tape wound and it helped the guitar tremendously. Acoustically, it sounds pretty good. I have several arctops and, like the reviewer, have some very expensive ones and this guitar actually holds it's own acoustically against some of the guitars costing 25 or 30 times what this one does. Unlike the reviewer, I would never play a jazz guitar through a Marshall. A 335, yes, but not a real archtop.