Monday, March 15, 2010

The Fender Coronado

In 1966 Fender developed a guitar to compete with Gibson’s ES-330. This was an era when double cutaway guitars were popular since they were being played by many British groups.

Gibson had several models, from the ES-125T to the ES-355. So did the Epiphone with the Casino, Sheraton and others, which by now were being manufactured by Gibson. The Beatles were seen with a pair of Epi Casinos. Guild, Gretsch and even Hagstrom had come out with hollow body, double cutaway instruments.

Fender once again went to guitar designer/luthier Roger Rossmeisl to come up with a hollow body, thin, double cutaway instrument and Roger came up with the Fender Coronado.

Just like the ES-330 the Coronado did not have center block. It was a true hollowbody instrument. Even the horns were hollow.

The Coronado actually looked more like Hagstrom’s Viking guitar than the rounded horn Gibson ES design. The upper cutaway bouts were sharper and the lower body appeared to be wider.

Fender offered four versions of the Coronado within their catalogue. The Coronado I featured a single pickup below the neck.

The Coronado II had a neck and bridge pickup. The Coronado XII was a double pickup twelve string version. Plus two Coronado basses were offered.

The top, back and sides of the Coronado body featured laminated beechwood. The tops were arched. The Coronado I was a rather plain instrument.

The body was bound, but the “f” holes and the neck's fingerboard were not bound. The rosewood fingerboard featured white circular dot markers. The body came in a variety of colors, however the headstock on the Coronado I was always black with a gold Fender decal.

The Coronado I bridge was a very plain, non-adjustable, non-anchored, rosewood arch top guitar bridge. The trapeze tailpiece was also very plain. All the Coronados featured a glossy nitrocellulose lacquer. Incidently, the nitrocellulose lacquer process is what Fender uses on it's new line of Thin Skin models and custom shop guitars.

The Coronado II was a much fancier instrument. Its two “f” holes were bound with white plastic as was the rosewood fingerboard. The fingerboard also featured white block position markers. The body was bound with a sort of semi-herringbone trim. The color of the headstock was either black or matched the color of the body. Once again the decal was the gold Fender logo. This guitar featured an archtop guitar bridge with a chrome adjustable poles for each string. The bridge was not anchored to the body. The tailpiece was deluxe and embossed with a gold “F”.

It could also be ordered with a rather unique vibrato unit. The arm on this vibrato was the same long one used on Jazzmasters and Jaguars.

The Coronado XII featured the same appointments as the Coronado II except for the headstock. The headstock on these guitars was the same one used on the Fender XII  guitar which came to be known as “the hockey stick” style, however the headstock was painted to match the body color.. The decal on this instrument was located on the downward curve at the top and read Fender Coronado XII, instead of just Fender.

The Coronado II bass also had the same fancy appointments of the Coronado II. The pickups were of course different and the headstock was painted to match the body and featured the 4 on a side style similar to that found on the P or J bass. The decal read Fender Coronado Bass II. The Coronado II bass featured bound “f” holes, deluxe binding on the body, a neck and bridge pickup, a bound rosewood fingerboard with white block position markers. Both basses featured Fender’s bolt-on neck. The bridge on both instruments was sort of a staggered stair step type of bridge for compensation.

As I've mentioned the Coronado basses came in two versions.

Once again the Coronado I bass had one neck pickup, no binding on the “f” holes and white dot position markers on the fingerboard. This bass had an unusual non-adjustable bridge.

As on the Coronado I guitar, the Coronado I bass headstock was always black.

The potentiometer knobs on all the guitars were black plastic with a silver top. The single pickup models featured a volume and tone control. The double pickup models came with two volume controls and two tone controls plus a three-way pickup selector switch which was located out of the way on the bottom horn. The tuning keys generally had chrome buttons and posts.  The chrome bass tuning keys were the open Fender oval style. (Although I have seen the bass with the cloverleaf style pegs.)

The fancier models were available in a variety of finishes including “Wildwood”. Wildwood was a process developed by a Danish inventor in which beech trees were injected with dye prior to havesting. This created a unique veneer that contained the dye in the grain.

Fender also offered the Coronado in what they referred to as Antiqua. This was a finish that created a dark gilt effect on the parameter of the guitars body and “f” holes.

Probably the most unusual feature for Fender was the use of DeArmond pickups for the Coronado line. DeArmond pickups made in Toledo Ohio were somewhat popular with jazzers. That is the only reason I can imagine Fender would outsource the manufacturing of pickups.

Unlike the Montego, Fender shipped these guitar complete with cases made by Victoria Luggage, a USA company.

The instruments were expensive to make and were never the hit Fender expected. Jazz players once again did not like the bolt on neck and Rock players did not like the hollow body because of feedback from loud amplifiers.

Gibson kept it’s hold on the hollow and semi-hollow body market.

Fender 2013 Coronado
In 1970 Fender ended construction of the Coronado I and in 1972 Fender stopped manufacturing all Coronados.

As I update this, I want to remind everyone that the Fender Coronado Guitar and Bass are back!


Anonymous said...

I own a 67 Coronado II in pristine condition.made for someone that I nevr got the name of.beautiful axe.the prettiest rainbow Green wood I ever saw(not like they have in stock photos) and action second to none.serves me well and has since 67 along with a HSS fat Strat counterpart.

toby said...

Gretsch and Guild players love DeArmond pickups :)

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Anonymous said...

I presently own 4 Coronado II Guitars. I purchased a used but like new Antigua about 1968 and played it in my band for about 7 years. Since then I purchased a see through red, a Sunburst, and a Wildwood. I also purchased a 2nd Antigua but I sold it. They are excellent guitars, and like any hollow body are subject to feedback, but I found that it could be controlled and even used to an advantage. They are still my favorite guitar for all around use. I also have Strats, Teles & other solid body and hollow body guitars so I have done a lot of comparisons. The Guitar is under rated.

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