Dwight guitars were made by Epiphone as the house brand for Sonny Shields Music in East St Louis IL, which was owned by Mr Charles â€œDwightâ€ Shields.
Sonny Shields Music was a pretty big music shop back in the 50’s and 60’s and they also had several Dwight guitars made by Supro (and built by Valco), although the most well known was the rebranded Epiphone Coronet, marketed between 1963 and 1968.
The Epiphone built Dwight Coronet model has â€œDwightâ€ on the headstock and a â€œDâ€ in the scratchplate, similar to the â€œEâ€ in the Epiphone models.
Epiphone guitars of this period were built by Gibson at the Kalamazoo, Michigan, and were distributed by the Chicago Musical Instrument Company (CMI).
An ex-employee of Sonny Shields says that CMI sold the rebranded Dwights to Sonny Shields by the dozen, and that there are probably lots of old Dwights sitting in basements and attics throughout Southwestern Illinois!
These guitars, while rare and unusual are still around and tend to be cheaper that the Epiphone equivalent.
Many Coronets have the 6 on one side headstock as opposed to the 3 per side style of the Dwight, which is stronger in construction, and to my mind, looks better.
Epiphone guitars of this period were generally well made (American Epiphone production ran from 1961 -69) and the Dwights counted among some of the better ones.
These cool looking guitars are well worth picking up if you come across one.
The Epiphone Coronet was launched in 1958 as an alternative to the popular Gibson Les Paul Junior. It was part of a range of models made from the late 50s to 1970. The range included the Crestwood, Coronet Â and Olympic models.
The models were designed to compete with the Gibson Les Paul Junior, and so they all had slim mahogany bodies and necks, and were made in a slightly offset double cutaway format.
The guitars resembled a cross between a Fender Telecaster and a twin-cutaway Gibson Les Paul Junior. The Coronet had a single â€œdog-earedâ€ P-90 pickup at the bridge. The Olympic had one-single-coil pickup, like a Gibson Melody Maker, while the Crestwood, available as a Custom or Deluxe model, had two or three mini-humbuckers depending on model. The guitars had an optional Epiphone Trem-O-Tone vibrato, similar to the Bigsby unit widely used by Gibson.
The Coronet is the best-known of the range and is known as a very simple, playable instrument which is well built and has a classic single P-90 tone like a Gibson Les Paul Junior, which was the original target for the guitar.
Coronets are quite rare, as they never achieved the success they set out to have. An original will cost anything from Â£750 to Â£1500.
Epiphone no longer make any of these models, and the closest to a new one is the limited run of â€œUSA Coronetsâ€ made in the 1990s.Â However, these are nothing like the originals, and only share the shape of the 1960s models.
The USA models had optional Floyd Rose tremolos, Bill Lawrence pickups and an array of vibrant finishes. These will be anywhere from Â£400 – Â£750.