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★★★★★

“I purchased my F-ender Toronado in the year 2000 and...”

Written on: 23/11/2008 by I A (1 review written)

Good Points
The best feature of the Fender Toronado is the choice of pickups. The Humbuckers on this model are very powerful and real punchy. The pickup on the bridge has great definition and has a very Fender like brightness, but with power and agression. When distorted, this axe will be able to hold its own with some of the big hitters in the humbucker territory, such as Ibanez and Gibson. Perhaps this sounds a little too much like a non-Fender guitar so it is not surprising that its adoption wasn't that wide in the Fender camp.
The sound on this guitar is awesome, and I can't tell you how much I regret selling mine for pretty much nothing.

The Guitar's Appearance. I love off-set waist guitars. The look of the Toronado lured me into buying one all those years ago. The finish was Arctic White, which didn't look as cool as the black version, but looking reflecting on the issue, perhaps the whiite finish was less common because all other examples I have seen of the original model are in black.

Playability. This guitar, like a Telecaster or a standard Les Paul, is a no nonsense plug-in and play instrument. A hard tail bridge means there are no tuning issues, and very little maintenance is required. Being a Fender, it can take a lot of abuse and will generally withstand anything, so this is, if not anything else, very durable.

Bad Points
No Tremolo. Maybe the omission of a vibrato unit is not a big deal, but guitars that have it do give you a few more things to try so it would have been a welcome feature. As it is, without a vibrato, the guitar always stays in tune, so it is not all bad, since there is always a trade-off when it comes to Vibrato's.

I would also like to say that, while I love guitars made by Fender Mexico, the Toronado I owned had one problem (although I never had it fixed and it never affected tone). The part of one tuning head where the string is inserted, had not been fully wedged into its slot, and stuck out. It caused no problems but did look sloppy on a guitar that cost over £540, by one of the world's biggest guitar manufacturers. The Mexican Fenders, nevertheless are good guitars, and I have not seen another instument made by them that had the same problem, but then these Toronado models were quite rare, and I never checked any of the models in stores for similar faults.

General Comments
I purchased my F-ender Toronado in the year 2000 and it was my very first guitar. Anything I owned prior to this, I only kept, at most, for two or three months before trading up, so after a variety of Stratocaster's I wanted to purchase something that was a little less ubiquitous. The kind of music I wanted to play was surf and I had originally looked into Mosrites (I was about 19, and I loved surf music, and though the Ventures were not strictly a surf band, I loved the sound of their Mosrite guitars, as well as their music. I don't like the Shadows though!!) but they were hard to find, very expensive and rarely in 100% original condition, so the next choice was my favourite Fender guitar, the Jaguar. The Japanese Reissues were not being distributed to export markets (because of a Fender export embargo, I was told by various shops) at the time I was looking for one so I thought I should look for a different model. I had the 1999 Fender Frontline magazine which featured images of a selection of guitars and the Toronado caught my eye and at the end of 1999 it was in many guitar shops. After playing one I was very impressed since it had a powerful tone and it was punchy as hell. Quite punchy - it should have been called the Tornado, not the Toronado! I loved that sound (when I eventually got mine, I raised the bridge pick-up from the high end for some extra wow factor. Playing this clean was awesome. I put some heavy gauge flats on it, and boy, it did sound good).

It was a little expensive though, at £550 in most places, and my skill level was so limited I couldn't justify spending the cash, so I ended up with a sunburst A Tex-Mex Stratocaster, but I just don't like Stratocaster's, so I called Coda Music (I am in the UK!!), and asked them if they had any Japanese Jaguars, so they said no, but they did have the Toronado in stock and in the Arctic white finish it was about £100 cheaper than the black version, so by trading in my Fender Stratocaster, I saved about £100 from the prices in London shops, and received the insturment. To tell the truth, I hated the Arctic white finsh (my brother always said it was yellow, not white!), but I dislike the blandness of the white colour on guitars, so this is an issue of personal taste. I had considered having it refininshed, but there was no real need, and I like my instruments to be played as designed (I haven't even added a Mustang bridge to my Jaguar and neither have I removed the mute, and neither do I want to install Humbuckers on it). The body shape, pickgaurd, vintage tuners and all the hardware was very appealing and sturdy and the action was set fairly high. Although difficult to play in this way, I found that the high action gave it a twangy Punch (if that makes sense), and with reverb, this could raise the roof. I mean, the sound is simply incomparable to any other Fender or Gibson. It sounds like a Gibson, but not quite. It has a very Fender character to the sound and with gain and effects there is virtually nothing you can't do with this guitar. I played jazz, blues, classical, clean surf, and a lot of experimental avante garde stuff. Punk sounds great, as does grunge and metal, and I personally think for a metal player this guitar would look great. Imagine walking on stage with an onscure Fender and then cranking it up! It would be worth it to simply annoy the metal traditionalists (who, apparently wouldn't touch Fenders). I loved playing the Toronado and learned many cool tunes on it. I wish I still had it. The problem was that after a few years, the Japanese Fender Jaguar's were flooding London shops and I got a good price on one, and although I had no intention of selling the Toronado (I loved it), I had no choice. My undergraduate studies left me in such financial strife, I pawned it. Even as I sold it I knew I was being ripped off and I felt very sad but the Jaguar being a newer guitar and my favourite at the time, was not on the sell list. My financial circumstances improved by the end of the year (though now I am in far worse financial position than I ever was), I was so busy with work, postgraduate studies, and life's chores that I neither had a chance to play guitar that much nor did I have time to acquire a new Toronado. Fender had changed the design by the point I may have even begin thinking of replacing my Toronado, and I totally hated the new look, and in any case, never would never have thought the original would have gone up in price by as much as it did. When I bought mine, the general feeling was that shops just wanted to get rid of them as they had become permanent fixtures in guitar shops, but that's what happens. I am saving up some cash to track down an original Toronado and replace it because I have not found another guitar I love playing as much. I even managed to get a Mosrite (an unmodded original 70s model with humbuckers), and though it sounds terrific, the Toronado was an excellent instrument.

It is great to play clean with lots of reverb but it could be quite grungy and loud with some great potential for thrashing and shredding under lots of distortion. The pickups are not very loud, but they are very effective in producing the kind of music best suited to humbucking guitars, and having played many different kinds of guitars (Rickenbackers, Ibanez, Fender's, Gibsons, Kramer's and Jackson's), I have not found another instrument that is as satisfying to play. Having said that, it was the first guitar I owned (anything prior to that was never really played), and I have so many fond memories of the times I used to sit in bed with my gammy legs (I have problems with my legs), playing the blues or Americana style stuff. If you have the cash, buy one (and though the latter models looked somewhat ugly, they did sound the same, so do not overlook them if you happen to come across any). If you have one already, weild it with pride. I just hope I can replace mine (this time with the black one - Arctic white was ugly but I have never seen another example in that colour - maybe it was rarer in that finish?).



Fender Toronado will claim its place in history over time, and I hope Fender start rebuilding the original styled version since the combination of its tone, looks and ease of use, it would catch on.

Before I end, it would be worth commenting that the Toronado actually looked cooler to me than the Jaguar, but in some finishes (such as Grey or Arctic white), it just looked drab. In black, with those wonderful carved countours and huge offset body, it looks so much better than the Jaguar. Both guitars are different and I love them for the different things they could do. Gibson Les Paul still rules though!!





(Please note: I have given this guitar 8 in terms of value for money. In the original price it was definitely a ten, but in the used guitar market (which is where you'd be likeliest to find it, it is way overpriced. The problem with this world is that people like their things to be of value, and as soon as the catalogue's start saying discontinued the sellers get into hardcore rip-off mode. Pay only what is reasonable because if you end up paying as much as a Les Paul, you may as well get a Les Paul! I mean, yes it is not very common and it does look very cool, but this was not built as a £1500 guitar and will never sound like one, so only get it if you could find it as a bargain, and although the originals look better, the guitar sound remained pretty much the same, so nab the ones still on the market!!)

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