Released soon after Gibson had acquired Epiphone, the Coronet model - here called the Francis B. Jr. - represented a student-level option comparable to the Les Paul Juniors of the period. Simplistic and minimally appointed but with a unique and fresh symmetrical double-cut body often referred as a "double-cut Esquire", the Coronet has more recently climbed the ranks in the vintage electric world with growing appeal.
Gibson manufactured these first version solid body guitars in very low numbers, which has factored into their relative rarity and general lack of familiarity among even the most astute vintage electric aficionados. At their core, they represent a unique take on a timeless recipe that made legends out of the Les Paul, SG, and many more mahogany body Gibson electrics.
Thomas brings this early student model design back to the forefront, adding a level of build quality that we quite honestly think few can rival. Using a combination of lightweight tone woods, excellent pickups and hardware, and precision fit and finish, this Francis B. Jr. model is without question the best modern version of the original Coronet design we've come across. Playability and feel shine bright here, capturing great vintage sensibility without some of the clunkiness we sometimes run into with older instruments.
Thomas's eye for design is well documented in this model as well- Gibson/Epiphone purists might notice a nod to the old Epiphone "bikini" badge used on many of Epiphone's instruments from the late 1930s through Gibson's first few years of ownership. Instead of using a metal badge, Thomas inlays a beautiful piece of wood into the headstock in the shape of the original badge, with an overlay of the Rodriguez insignia elegantly placed atop it. Sure, it might seem like a minor detail, but Rodriguez doesn't overlook details, big or small, on his builds.
Now for the real good stuff- a very lightweight one-piece African mahogany body and neck combined with a MojoAxe wraparound tailpiece and a sweet sounding Fralin P90 pickup yield some instant classic "Junior" tones made famous by the likes of Keith Richards, Steve Marriott, and Leslie West, to name a few. When executed as well as this build is, there's no need to worry about what one can do with a single-pickup guitar. Tone is full, chimey, and open, with loads of versatility at your fingertips thanks to effective volume and tone controls. Playability is unquestionably contributing to this Rodriguez being able to navigate a wide range of inspiring sounds, to the point that you almost forget you're without a neck pickup.
We aren't kidding when we say that these are some of the very best electrics we've put in our hands. If you're looking for a fresh addition to your stable that will make your other guitars blush, a Rodriguez will definitely do the trick!
- Serial #: 335
- Neck: African Mahogany
- Body: African Mahogany
- Fingerboard: Indonesian Rosewood
- Scale length: 24.7”
- Fingerboard radius: 12”
- Frets: #141 wire, width .095, crown .045
- Neck profile: Soft V.
- Nut width 1 11/16”
- Nut: Ivory
- Controls: Volume and tone with a .022 Russian oil filed tone cap.
- Pickup: Lindy Fralin P-90, 5% over.
- Bridge: Mojoaxe wraparound, compensated for intonation.
- Tuners: Gotoh vintage style with white buttons.
- Finish: Faded cherry red.
- Weight: 7 pounds