The Hagstrom Coronado bass is one of those odd-looking guitars that people immediately love or hate. Certainly the silhouette is unconventional. And the controls a little peculiar. But these are great playing basses and rightly have their fans. And as a functional instrument they are pretty unique, what with a medium scale, all-mahogany bolt-on construction, and slider volume control. The Coronado was only produced in moderate numbers; 1157 basses in total, in seven batches between 1963 and 1970. A combination of rarity and desirability as a player means the Hagstrom Coronado bass is one of the brands most collectable vintage guitars. They were also distributed in the UK, and beyond by Selmer as the Futurama Coronado bass.
America had no shortage of quality guitar manufacturers, but Hagstrom still managed to export guitars there, to be distributed firstly by Merson, then Unicord (after it merged with Merson) and finally Ampeg. The Coronado was a good middle ground between a typical Fender and Gibson bass guitar. It had a mahogany body with translucent burst finish, and mahogany and neck, with rosewood fretboard - just like a Gibson; but with a bolt-on construction and single-coil pickups like a Fender. Most commercially available electric bass guitars at this time had a scale of 34" (long) or 30" (short). Fender and Gibson each produced basses with both scales, but 34" is generally associated with Fender, and 30" with Gibson. Again, the Hagstrom Coronado blurred the boundaries, having a scale of 32", half way between the two. This must have been one of, if not the earliest medium scale bass.
Coronados were available as a four string bass and a six string bass, though the six string did not sell well, and was discontinued in 1966. Initially the model was simply designated Coronado, then Coronado I and II for four and six string versions respectively, finally settling on the more informative Coronado IV and Coronado VI.
The basic Coronado design remained the same across the course of production, but there were subtle changes across the batches produced. Most notably, the Bi-Sonic pickups were replaced with a smaller unit; still single coil but much more traditional in design. Hagstrom, however continued to call them 'Bi-Sonic' in their catalogues. but also: switches: Initially numbered 1-4, later 1-2, L, H; output jack: Initially enclosed by the scratchplate, later, a separate screw-in metal version (from batch 658). scratchplate: initially single-ply black plastic held in place with larger slot head bolts; later (1966) three-ply with typical screw mounting. finger rest: This changed from a long bar below the pickups to a tall metal post above and below the neck pickup. truss rod cover: the aluminium 'Kings Neck' truss rod cover only appeared up until 1965, with later headstocks having a string bar and no access to the truss cavity from the headstock end.
The table below compares the Hagstrom Coronado with a number of other basses, and 1966 US prices.
A comparison of several Hagstrom and other basses available in the USA in 1966. The Coronado IV is more expensive than a Fender Jazz bass, Fender Precision and even a Gibson Thunderbird (though these had just been reduced in price due to poor sales) - no doubt in part due to shipping and import duties.
|Hagstrom Coronado IV||2||32"||$299.50|
|Hagstrom Concord I/II||2||32"||$260/$435|
|Hagstrom F B||2||32"||$165|
A total of 1157 Hagstrom Coronado bass guitars were shipped, in seven separate batches. The batch number is the first three digits of the guitar's serial number.
550 Coronado - the first batch of 149 Coronados produced between 1963 and 1964, branded Hagstrom and Futurama. Both IV and VI string basses. Bi-Sonic pickups. See an example from this batch here.
566 Coronado I - 194 four-string Coronados from 1963. Bi-Sonic pickups.
567 Coronado II - 97 six-string Coronados from 1963. Bi-Sonic pickups.
589 Coronado I - a batch of 200 Coronado Is from 1964-65. Bi-Sonic pickups.
597 Coronado IV / VI - A batch of 100 Coronados from 1965-66; 50 IVs and 50 VIs. These are the last six string Coronados produced. Bi-Sonic pickups.
658 Coronado IV - 1965-66. The largest batch; 274 Coronado IV from 1966-67. Non-Bi-Sonic single coils. Have a closer look at a bass from batch 658
717 Coronado IV - The last batch was of just 143 basses, built over three years, 1967-1970. Non-Bi-Sonic single coils.
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