Pick Your King – 1968 EL-12 Crown Durango Professional 12-String Electric Guitar

Crown 12 1During the 1960s, 12-string guitars were just CRAZY popular!  There were tons of big name bands using 12-stringers including the Beatles, Byrds, Hollies, Who, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Bob Dylan.  It could probably be argued that 12 strings were the “kings” of the guitar hierarchy, and actually created a bridge to the acoustic folk boom of the Vietnam War era of the late 60s. Then again, I wasn’t born until the 70s so what do I know!!?!!?Crown 12 2This particular guitar had a big ‘ol body that was extremely lightweight, and it resonated beautifully.  It was the perfect guitar body to accentuate the 12-string “ringing” qualities.  That almost built-in chorus sound.  Really beautiful actually.  This guitar was a true survivor from the late 60s and was in excellent condition.  But the poor old gal had been strung with heavy gauge acoustic strings and the neck (as usual) was in bad shape.Crown 12 4Speaking of the neck, it had the most gorgeous piece of rosewood I’ve ever seen.  Check out this fretboard!  The whole guitar had an air of true quality because the binding work was great, and the overall finish of the guitar was top notch!  The one downside with this Crown guitar was that it was “head-heavy”, since the neck seemed to weigh more than the body.  It balanced kinda weird.Crown 12 3Now about that Crown name, these king-like badged guitars seemed to appear sometime in the late 60s.  Although the Crown Professional name was being used through the 60s, when this particular, simple badge appeared on the headstock, the guitars definitely contained an uptick of quality.  I usually find that all these Crown guitars were built with longevity in mind.  Crown 12 5Take a look at this guitar!  It’s just beautiful!  The finish was done in some sort of dappled red and really looked like a fine piece of furniture or something.  Wow.  The pickups read out at a healthy 5.34k at the bridge and 5.27k at the neck, and used a toggle switch (which is always nice).  And of course I have to point out that violin or cello shaped body which was all the rage thanks to Hofner and the Beatles.Crown 12 6The top and bottom of the body had a wonderful curve in the wood, and the cutaways were all tastefully done with multi-binding.  The body wood had all this crazy figuring and I swear if this were made in the USA it’d be worth thousands of dollars.  I wonder how much this cost in 1968?  There are Crown catalogs out there but I’ve never seen one yet.Crown 12 7The headstock also had a cool carving reminiscent of the late 60s Teisco guitars, but this one wasn’t built by Teisco or Kawai or Guyatone.  In fact, I’m still not sure who built this one but I have my suspicions.  If you own the Japanese Bizarre Guitar book, check out page 64 and you’ll see this same model.  Apparently some of these were sold in the Japanese market as well.  Any way you slice it, these late 60s Crown models were just great guitars with tons of potential.  And I need to point out the usual suspects since Dano at Happy Guitar Repair got this old gal singing again, and Mike Dugan gets to let ‘er rip.  Check out the video below….

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19 thoughts on “Pick Your King – 1968 EL-12 Crown Durango Professional 12-String Electric Guitar

  1. 10000max says:

    I’m restoring one now. These photos are priceless. The YouTube video sealed the purchase for me. My master luthier friend is doing the work. Hopefully find a new home when we are done. Gotta get these back in action!

    1. drowninginguitars says:

      Oh yeah. But the true master is Dave D’Amelio over at Happy Guitar Repair. I have his links all over these pages. He’s one of the best techs when it comes to these old guitars. And he’s affordable!

  2. Marc Roberge says:

    I bought the 6 string version at a garage sale in circa 1982 for $75. Lost it and I don’t know when or where. The same big crown shape on headstock. 2 F-holes. Violin/viola shape. Played great, quality instrument. Now I’m doing research. Which Japanese mfgr. ????

  3. Chuck E. Mong says:

    I’ve got a really similar 12 string guitar with a plastic logo on the headstock that says “Blackjack” with a sunburst finish, the same quality binding, tuners, neckplate, pickups and matching “tortoise shell” surrounding the pickups. It’s got quite a bit of finish checking but still sounds pretty “schweet”. One other one like mine has a different “Blackjack” label and has a shiny, chrome cover over the bridge.

  4. Saul Matas says:

    Great memories. I owned a guitar exactly like this one. In fact, when I look at the detail in the picture, this one looks like the same physical instrument that I owned. I purchased mine back in 1968 in a music store on 103rd Street and Cicero Ave. in Chicago, Illinois. I just fell in love with the instrument the moment I laid eyes on it and it sounded fantastic playing acoustically. I put it on layaway and worked all that summer, going to visit my precious each week after payday. In total I payed $170 for the guitar and another $12 for a cardboard case, plus tax of course. I sold it many years ago to a friend, who sold it to someone else, and we lost track of where it went after that.

  5. Carl Johnson says:

    Sure is a Kawai/Teisco built guitar, the headstock matches Teisco badged guitars, and the pickups are Kawai style rectangle block single coils.

  6. Dan says:

    I can see that I’m quite late to this thread but figure I’ll give this a shot; I’ve got one of these myself and am trying to determine the age and worth of it. Any pointers are appreciated!

      1. R Maxon says:

        I sold one a few years back in professionally reconditioned condition for $600. Of course, anything is what it’s worth to the buyer. Hope that helps.

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