How Paul McCartney’s Lost Bass Guitar Was Found Five Decades Later

No one seemed to know what had happened to one of the most important bass guitars in music history, though in the decades since it went missing there had been some dramatic rumors.

Was the Höfner violin bass, which had accompanied Paul McCartney and the Beatles to worldwide fame, tucked away in a private collection? Had it been secretly shipped to a wealthy fan in Japan?

It turned out the bass was passing time in a more unassuming locale: the loft of a family home in East Sussex, England. The family reported the guitar in late September, after a couple of journalists and a guitar expert started a new campaign looking for it in 2023, more than 50 years after it was last seen.

The guitar, which has been authenticated by its manufacturer, has been returned to Mr. McCartney, according to a statement posted on his website on Thursday. “Paul is incredibly grateful to all those involved,” it said.

It was the denouement to an enduring mystery that had gripped Beatles fans, including one group who pooled their skills to help find it.

‘It started Beatlemania’

The Höfner 500/1 guitar is a precious part of Beatles lore. It can be heard on recordings of hit songs including “Love Me Do,” “She Loves You” and “Twist and Shout.”

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