Let me tell you about my “baby” … it’s a Hofner “Vintage ‘62 Reissue” 500/1 Bass Guitar.
Strangely, the ’63 Reissues, first released in 1996, are not built to the specifications of McCartney’s ’63 Original; they are built to another version built in 1963, to ’63 specifications. There were at least five different versions of the 500/1 bass built in 1963.
One of them, the bass owned by McCartney which he still plays today, is built to ’62 specifications.
My “Vintage ‘62 Reissue” was “finished” in the Höfner factory, on 21st October 2003. It is built to the ’62 specifications. So, this is a modern guitar. It has an unbound 2-piece neck, 2-on-a-strip machine head gears, short "neck pickup" surround, and is made of German maple back and sides with a select spruce top. It is a beautiful instrument although valued at close to $4,000 one would have to question it's value in musical dimensions. It's cost and market value is based on it's heritage as well as the excellent build.
Musically, it is soft - a mellow, warm bass - unsuitable perhaps as a driving thrash boomer, although very satisfying to play.
Paul used his original ‘61 model (which he had bought in Hamburg) up until 1963. He used it on July 1st 1963 at EMI Studios, but he used a new ‘63 model on 16th July 1963 at the Paris Studio. It is said that McCartney's ’63 500/1 pot code is 283, meaning it was built by Höfner in the 28th week of 1963, perhaps therefore in July 1963.
The “Vintage ‘62 Reissue” pedigree descends from the MusicGround 20/40 (for 20 years of MusicGround and 40 years of Hofner), which appeared in 1996. My “Vintage ‘62 Reissue” is so named because they wanted to name it after McCartney’s ‘63 Original that was built to ’62 specifications, but the “’63 Reissue” name had already been applied several years earlier to the ’63 Reissues built to the ’63 specifications, with many being sold as "40th Anniversary" Editions. Confusing huh ?
So the reissue of McCartney’s bass that had been built in 1963 to ’62 specifications became the “Vintage ‘62 Reissue”. As most people did not know that McCartney’s bass was in fact a 1963 bass built to ’62 specifications, this did not, and does not, seem to matter. The only difference between Paul's bass and a "real" 1962 500/1 is the lack of a small "Hofner" body logo. In 1962, there was a body logo - in 1963 there wasn't.
The so-called "’61 Cavern Bass” was released in 1994 as a “limited edition” copy of the 1961 500/1.
The '63 Reissue” is built to ’63 specifications, an inferior guitar with poly finish, 3 piece neck and individual tuners, matching tall surrounds on the pickups, and has African anigree (“a maple type wood”) back and sides with a spruce top instead of the German Maple used on the “Vintage ‘62 Reissues, and original 60's Hofners. The ‘63 Reissues cost less but now have the same nitro based finish. Many ’63 originals were made, but only a few like McCartney’s; two were “lefties”; he has one of them.
I can't bring myself to even discuss the Chinese Hofners, the so-call "Chop Suey Hofners" ... just crappy rubbish, made in paddy fields out of plastic, plywood and polyfiller with tin strings and not worth the asking price of $600 or so.