Thinline semi-acoustic guitars were all the rage in the mid 1960s. The blues guitarists that had been playing them since the late fifties were being emulated by the groups of the time. The likes of John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Keith Richards had made the Epiphone Casino very popular - whilst other guitarists were playing the blues on Gibson ES-335s (Eric Clapton, Alvin Lee) or the Guild Starfire (Dave Davies). Entry level semis from the likes of Harmony were selling in absolutely huge numbers.
1966 Fender Coronado II in Cherry finish
In 1966 Fender attempted to capture some of the lucrative thin-line semi acoustic market, by launching a range of semis of its own. There were single and double pickup six strings, a twelve string and the Coronado bass. They were designed by ex-Rickenbacker guitar designer, Roger Rossmeisl, who left in some Rickenbacker touches like checkered binding, and F-tailpiece.
Standard colours were Cherry and Sunburst, however Fender custom colours were soon available, along with some interesting finish ideas - the naturally grainy Wildwood and the antique-style Antigua.
Fender had been injecting dyes into growing beech trees, in order to create interesting grain effects for the Wildwood acoustic guitar. When harvested the wood was primarily green, blue or brown - giving rise to three actual finshes - Wildwood I (Rainbow Green), Wildwood II (Rainbow Blue), and Wildwood III (Rainbow Gold). The very nature of the process meant that each Wildwood guitar was unique; "the color follows the grain and becomes a rainbow of colors and patterns. This causes each instrument to differ from the next"
The Coronado series was announced in November 1965 in the Fender newsletter Fender Facts. The guitars are said to be in the final stages of production. The Coronado II pictured has a different bridge and switch position to the production version.
||One DeArmond single coil
||Two DeArmond single coils. By 1970 these are described as Fender pickups.
||Two DeArmond single coils|
||Maple top back and sides. Bound front and back. 16" wide, 1 11/16" deep
||As Coronado I, but with bound f-holes|
||21 frets. Width at nut 1 5/8", dot inlays, rosewood fingerboard.
||As Coronado I, only bound, with block inlays, and optional maple fingerboard from 1969
||As Coronado I, only bound, with block inlays. Fender curved 12-string headstock.|
||Chrome plated. 1 volume and tone control. Optional tremolo. Simple tailpiece with embossed F
||Chrome plated (optional gold hardware from '69. 2 volume and tone controls, pickup selector switch. Optional tremolo, but comes as standard with the Antigua II.|
||Cherry and Sunburst 1966-1969. DuPont colours 1967-69
||Cherry and Sunburst 1966-1969. DuPont colours 1967-69. Wildwood finish 1967-70. Antigua finish 68-72.
||Cherry and Sunburst 1966-1969. DuPont colours 1967-69. Wildwood finish 1967-70. Antigua finish 68-72.|
The Coronado hardware did vary somewhat - particularly the tailpiece and bridge. The image below shows some of the colours available, and some of the different tailpieces used throughout the course of production. Top Row: Sunburst Coronado I, Cherry Coronado II, blue Coronado XII, White Coronado bass, Sunburst Coronado II. Note the tailpiece. Bottom Row: Rainbow Green Wildwood Coronado II, Rainbow Gold Wildwood Coronado II, Antigua II and Cherry Coronado I. Once again note the tailpiece.
1965 First mention of the new thinlines in Fenders sales leaflet Fender Facts 10, November 1965
1966 Model launch. The Coronado was first listed in the July '66 price list - three models, the Coronado I, II and XII, at $229.50, $319.50 and $449.50 respectively. Cherry and Sunburst are the only colours listed. Optional tremolo for an extra $55
1967 Prices were unchanged from '66, with Wildwood II and XII models first listed at $449.50 and $524.50. Custom DuPont finishes are now available at 5% additional cost
1968 Prices still unchanged from '66, with a new model - the Antigua added to the line. Only the II and XII were available in Antigua finish - prices (March '68) $429.50 and $489.50 (the XII dropped to $479.50 in July '68)
1969 By the end of the sixties models were starting to be phased out. The Antigua and Wildwood finishes were the only ones available, with all Coronado Is dropped from price lists. Six string models had an optional maple fretboard (5% extra) and all models had optional gold hardware (15% extra). Base prices are (May '69): Antigua II $449.50, Wildwood II $469.50, Antigua XII $499.50, Wildwood XII $549.50.
1971 Base prices are (Jan '71): Antigua II $469.50 (left hand $515), Antigua XII $525.
1972 Feb '72 - base prices unchanged
The July 1966 Fender pricelist featured the Coronado range on the front cover
The Coronado is often described as Fenders answer to the Gibson ES-335TD, and in terms of looks perhaps it was. With regard construction and fittings however, its closest Gibson would be the ES-330TD / Epiphone Casino; unlike most Gibson thinlines these guitars had no central maple block, and single coil pickups instead of humbuckers - or perhaps even the Gibson Crest, with its Wildwoodesque grainy rosewood body and still fully hollow.
No Gibson/Epiphone had a bolt-on neck at that time, so there was no model that could compare like for like with the Coronado. Perhaps one of the closest models to the Coronado was the Hagstrom Viking which ressembled the Fender in many ways.
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