Epiphone solidbody guitars, including their USA-made models from the late Fifties through Sixties and even some Japanese models from the Seventies, are some of the greatest “sleepers” on the vintage market.
One of the all-time coolest early Epiphone solidbody models was the Coronet, which essentially was the Epiphone version of a Les Paul Junior (or SG Junior), featuring a thin slab mahogany body, single P-90 pickup, stop tailpiece, and volume and tone controls.
Epiphone recently resurrected the Coronet with the help of Japanese recording artist and vintage guitar connoisseur Tamio Okuda, who added a few custom touches that make this new Elitist Coronet model cooler and more versatile than ever.
While the original Sixties Coronet always had just one dog-ear P-90 single-coil pickup at the bridge, Okuda modified the model into a two-pickup version with a soapbar P-90 at the neck. As a result it also adds an additional tone and volume control and three-position pickup selector toggle switch.
The over design is sort of a mashup of Sixties Coronet features, including the three-by-three “open book” headstock design of the early Sixties and the asymmetrical body shape, optional jade green “Silver Fox” finish, tremolo tailpiece, and “barrel” knobs from post-1962 Coronets. The ABR Tune-o-matic bridge is an upgrade from the original model’s compensated stop bar bridge.
The one-piece African mahogany slab body, one-piece African mahogany neck with Sixties slim taper D profile and 24.75-inch scale length, and Indian rosewood fretboard with 12-inch radius are as good or possibly even better than the materials Epiphone originally used in the Sixties. The nitrocellulose lacquer finish and oiled bone nut are period-correct details, while the 22 medium jumbo frets provide the playing comfort modern players prefer. This limited edition Elitist Coronet is made in Japan and is a “Custom Outfit” model, which includes a certificate of authenticity, photo and hard case.
Epiphone’s Elitist builders have completely nailed the authentic feel and vibe of a vintage Epiphone with this model. The neck is rock-hard solid and stays in tune even when submitted to pounding rhythms, which is quite a feat for a solidbody design like this where the uppermost fret is about where the neck meets the body.
The Gibson USA P-90 pickups scream with toothy, aggressive tone but deliver noise-free performance that allows all of the grit and growl to dominate in all its glory. If you love the Coronet’s funky vibe but want more versatile performance, the Tamio Okuda Elitist is a much better choice than a beat-up Sixties version that actually costs more.
STREET PRICE $1,850
MANUFACTURER Epiphone, epiphone.com
• A pair of Gibson USA P-90 single-coil pickups provides a vivid rainbow of screaming hard rock and bold blues tones.
• The Trem-o-tone tailpiece delivers wonderfully wobbly tremolo and stays solidly in tune even after deep dives.
THE BOTTOM LINE The Ltd Ed Tamio Okuda Elitist Coronet is a ripping, hard-rocking solidbody that resurrects the vintage vibe of Epiphone’s beloved Wilshire and Coronet models with its screaming P-90 pickups and ultra-cool tremolo system.