(As posted by Fran in the forums. Nicely written Fran!)
I thought i would write a review up on this, video clips would’ve been nice but nothing much seems to be working on my pc at the moment. I purchased this guitar off ebay for 217.00 quid after playing a model in a shop a month before that impressed me.
When i first purchased this guitar off ebay my only concern was the guitar may look a little too ‘bright’ for my tastes. The bright red finish and racing stripe made me think ‘starsky and hutch’ and F1 racing immediately. But upon collecting the guitar it does not look as garish as the pictures suggest. Although different lighting does affect how it looks, something common with a few Fender colours.
All this aside the finish is very good.
This model is Korean built. You might not think this at a glance especially with the high spec hardware, but the ‘feel’ of the neck gives it away.. something i will talk about later.
The set up is similar to a Les Paul (TOM bridge, 4 controls and toggle selector), the pickups are seymour duncans (supposedly a ‘Pearly Gates’ in the bridge position and a 59′ in the neck position), the frets are medium jumbo and the abalone inlays are a nice touch.
The neck carries a matching red headstock and is bolted to a solid mahogany body with 4 new type large black screws.
This is where i suspected the Korean construction would become apparent… and it does.
The neck feels more like my Les Paul Junior than my other Fenders, the med/jumbo frets are comfortable and well finished making string bending effortless.
I would say it is a fairly fast neck and it has a very new non glossy feel to it. I’ve noticed MIM and Korean made necks feel much more modern than Jap and US necks. Even when i have played brand new Jap Fenders the necks have an old feel to them. Strapped on it is comfy with a rib contour and well balanced, not too heavy – not too light.
The construction and hardware suggests what this guitar is going to sound like and it is pretty much right.
Playing straight into a Marshall JCM 2000 the mahogany body creates a warm tone. On clean settings the Pearly Gates is bold and defined but nothing much more. The 59′ has a reasonably good neck tone but by far the best on a clean setting has to be the inbetween position. Sonically this is as close to a traditional Fender sound this guitar is going to get.
On a crunch setting the Pearly Gates is already struggling to behave itself, it starts to dirt up with the guitar volume set at 2! The other two positions stay similar to the clean setting buy with more bite and sustain. I got some nice Bob Mould style ringing chords on the inbetween position.
On the full distortion channel the nitros injection kicks in (Lolz). The Pearly Gates screams “Zak Wylde” with every note.. harmonics galore and thick punchy chords. But i soon select another setting as i become aware i am pulling faces with each string bend..yeah anyway … The 59′ as you would imagine isn’t quite as aggressive but is still lively, the inbetween position becomes a diluted version of the two.
After owning several Fender models with humbuckers and also modifying a few single coil models with humbuckers i can honestly say the Toronado puts them all to shame in that particular tonal ball park.
I assume the mahogany body and bridge have something partly to do with this.
The neck will not suit some people but is not poor quality by any standard.
Personally i like the retro type looks, especially the Jaguar-ish top horn and matching headstock. I also like its weight.
On the downside the Toronado does not shine on clean settings like say a Jaguar or Telecaster….. but i never thought it would. This is a different animal.
Unfortunately in the UK Toronados are quite expensive and you would be able to buy a Jap Tele, Strat or Jaguar for around the same price.
All in all i am happy with the purchase. I love Fender looks but miss Gibson tones at the same time… this guitar has both.