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#082  Hofner AZ AWARD CUSTOM      c 1986.
  It is well documented that the A2 was top of Hofner's archtop range when designs were being drawn up for the AZ - the guitar that was to be Hofner's flagship and endorsed by the great Hungarian jazz guitarist Attila Zoller.

Whether the A2 was used as the basis for prototyping the AZ is not known.    Certainly the resulting AZ was in the end nothing like the A2.    The A2 had already established itself as a high quality model but the AZ,  from the outset,  was the ultimate spec.    It boasted an entirely new body, with hand carved top and bottom,  a more classical shape with stylised f-holes.   All Hofner's know-how was concentrated on creating a tonal masterpiece with huge, ringing acoustic volume.     Coupled with Attila's trademark pickup (the Shadow AZ)  this lead to an outstanding jazz guitar.

The neck and headstock was also re-designed and Christian Benker told me that Attila insisted on an entirely new headstock shape with more weight at the top to balance the guitar.

So, trying to make sense of #082 is not straightforward.   As can be seen from the following photographs,  it mates an AZ body to an A2 neck.     I was of the view originally that this was a prototype or perhaps a transition model made during the running down of the A2 and the starting up of the AZ, however,  I have been working on this guitar recently and have spent a lot of  time examining it in great detail.    I now feel it is more likely that it was a Special Customer Order.   

The AZ fingerboard is more radiused than usual and not to everyone's liking.   I can believe that a customer commissioned an AZ Award (it was built with the correct AZ Award gold hardware) but with the more conventional A2 neck and specifying the AZ sunburst.

And so #082 appears to be a very early AZ Award Special but in Sunburst which Attila himself preferred.


  COMPARISON of #082 with an A2L and an AZ Award.
  Here is #082 on the Left compared with #084 A2HL.
  and here #082 on the Left is compared with #044 AZ AWARD.     The bodies are identical in shape and size except that the f-holes are a different shape and set at different angles to the centre-line.
  It is always helpful to look at guitars from the back.    You see more clearly the shapes and curves and proportions all of which are critical in identifying models.    This is particularly so with Hofners where there is more variety of shape than with most makers.
  Again, #082 (on the left) is compared with #084 A2HL.     You can see that there are significant differences in all the curves, especially the cutaway,  the waist and the whole lower bout.
  Here is #082 on the left compared with #044 AZ.     Clearly these bodies are the same!
  Top of the range headstock design on a Hardrock Maple neck.

  Restored with its new hard-carved Macassar Ebony pickguard true to the original.

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