A search has been launched for Sir Paul McCartney’s first Hofner guitar, which the Beatle used on famous tracks such as Please Please Me and She Loves You.
Sir Paul, 77, bought the Hofner 500/1 Violin Bass in the spring of 1961 from a music shop in Hamburg, Germany, where the band carved out a reputation in the city’s Reeperbahn district.
His career-long use of the German violin-shaped make has led to it to being dubbed the “Beatle bass”.
When Sir Paul returned to Liverpool after three years, he took the bass with him and continued to use it during the band’s famous Cavern Club residency and across the UK.
Sir Paul played the Hofner on the Fab Four’s first two albums, Please Please Me and With The Beatles, as well as on a slew of number one hits including Twist And Shout.
The bass was finally replaced by an almost identical, although newer, model in 1963, but returned in 1969, when Sir Paul used it during the early sessions for Let It Be.
Then it vanished, thought stolen, and has not been seen since.
Beatles biographer Philip Norman raised the possibility in his 2016 book Paul McCartney: The Life that it might be owned by a famous fan dubbed The Keeper, who is thought to live in Ottawa, Canada.
Hofner spokesman Nick Wass said: “While nobody really knew what had happened to the bass, it was very likely stolen. To this day it has remained a mystery.
“There have been rumours over the years, but this is all they amount to, just rumours. Someone somewhere knows what happened to this bass and where it is now.
“This information is out there if only the right person would come forward.”
The guitar and bass manufacturer has also launched the hashtag #tracethebass in an attempt to aid the search effort.
Anyone with information on the instrument’s whereabouts should email email@example.com.