Psychedelic-Rock'n'roll: FENDER CORONADO BASS 1966

6 March 2009



Fender's new owners made a concerted attempt to capture a share of the hollow-body bass market then dominated by "Guild Starfire Bass" and Gibson.
The "Fender Coronado Bass" was a result of this NEW DIRECTION and was a RADICAL departure from any other Fender bass—perhaps because the Coronado line was designed by ex-Rickenbacker guitar designer "Roger Rossmeisl", the esteemed luthier who designed the groundbreaking "Rickenbacker 4000" series before joining Fender in 1962.
The single-pickup "Fender Coronado I Bass" debuted in 1966 and was followed with the two-pickup "Fender Coronado Bass II" the next year.

"Roger Rossmeisl" gave the "Fender Coronado Bass" a few unique touches, including a slightly rounder version of the traditional Fender headstock, spoon-shaped tuners, a short-scale bolt-on neck, and "DeArmond pickups".
The latter were a first for Fender, out-sourced pickups.

The body's dramatic finish was another first: Fender's legendary "Wildwood" finish, which was created by injecting various dye colors directly into growing beech trees.
The results sometimes fall into the "so ugly it's beautiful" category, but this one has aged remarkably well, with the swampy green and yellow grain displaying an almost 3-D quality.

Interestingly enough, the two versions of the "Fender Coronado Bass" have more differences than just the number of pickups and knobs.
Each has a unique bridge design with a groovy "F" logo trapeze-style tailpiece: The single-pickup Fender Coronado Bass I has a more traditional compensated bridge, while the "Fender Coronado Bass II"'s bridge can be adjusted for height and intonation.
This particular Coronado is a hybrid, with a "Fender Coronado Bass II" body (bound ƒ-holes) and an unbound, dot-inlay Coronado I neck.
The knobs have been replaced, but other than that, it's completely original.

fender_coronado_bass,1966,guild_starfire,epiphone_rivoli,Roger_Rossmeisl,Rickenbacker,DeArmond_pickups,Wildwood,gibson_sgSonically, the "Fender Coronado Bass" is unlike any other Fender.
The pickups' output is fairly weak, but the tone is thick and warm, especially in the low mids.
With flatwounds, it's got the classic mid-'60s thump, though its sound is less full-range than Gibsons or "Guild Starfire" basses.
Ironically, the owner's manual contains a mini-lecture titled "Use Your Highs", about not rolling off the tone controls so that the instrument can be "heard properly and can guide the band".

Played acoustically or plugged in, the "Fender Coronado Bass"' sustain is a bit uneven, which may be due to the fully hollow body.
Regardless, the lack of a center block turns the "Fender Coronado Bass" into a feedback machine at modest levels.
This of course can be used to your advantage if you are looking to take it into the realm of sonic madness.

fender_coronado_bass,1966,guild_starfire,epiphone_rivoli,Roger_Rossmeisl,Rickenbacker,DeArmond_pickups,Wildwood,gibson_sg,SunburstTop 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.

see also "The Fender Bass: An Illustrated History"


Paul said...

A "feedback machine"? This is often heard or read, but is not true. Remarkable considering its construction, but as long as you don't push the pick-ups in the speakers this bass stands at high volumes.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Paul, don't agree. I used to own a Coronado I bass for a few years and the feedback made it virtually unusable live. I could get a reasonable sound for recording, but at any volume it used to screech like mad, unless I turned the tone right down and then it sounded rubbish. Stuffing a towel in the sound holes might have helped, but I never tried that. It was really poorly balanced on the strap as well, excessively neck heavy. Having said that, it was well made and looked great, just in practical terms probably the worst designed bass that Fender ever made.

Anonymous said...

Just got one. Black headstock. Favorite bass ever.

Paul said...

Sorry Anonymous, you probably had a bad one... Don't forget that even any 'worst designed bass' has it's pro's!