Karl Hofner began making stringed instruments in 1887, but his company really took off one day in 1961 when Paul McCartney walked into a Steinway shop in Hamburg, Germany. McCartney later recalled:
"So… I found this Hofner violin bass. And to me it seemed like, because I was left-handed, it looked less daft because it was symmetrical. So I got into that. That became my main bass."
He also acknowledged that it was much less expensive than a Fender.
Over 50 years later, building the Hofner Beatles Bass hasn't changed much: