Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Sound — 7
This is a nice sounding instrument, but is a good deal brighter than I had hoped from the rather conservative pickups selected. This is largely a matter of taste and is No Doubt largely a result of the dense mahogany (or "Asian Mahogany," which is not true mahogany) body and maple neck.
Overall Impression — 8
Given the extreme quality spread between the two instruments I received, it is hard to come to a conclusion about what quality one might expect. My experience with Cor-Tek product has always been that they produced guitars with excellent build quality and adequate parts and materials. The "8" is for the better of the two, with the expectation that it's typical. People vastly overrate the products they review here; "8" is very good, and that's about how I'd place this guitar. It could do with better minor parts and a less offensive color scheme, but that's what FMIC ordered. You can't blame Cor-Tek for Fender's weird ideas.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Neck mounting is excellent and rugged, and the guitar seems exceptionally durable. The ouput jack and plate seem a little weak and I would replace them with heavier-duty units for hard gigging, but they are perfectly serviceable if not damaged. Wiring was done very cleanly (sonetimes a problem with Cor-Teks), and the Cor-Tek pots have good action as well as being noise-free. Neck buttons are stout, so much so that they are too big to be used with most of my plastic strap ends, but I'm sure they will hold up.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
I received two of these guitars. The first one was absolutely atrocious. It was also severely damaged in shipping. Its defects included a smeared racing stripe under the clearcoat, poor alignment, a cracked neck pocket, a bad nut and worst of all, extremely poor fret seating with large gaps as much as .008" between the fret shoulder and the fingerboard. This is becoming an extremely common defect due to recent developments in fretboard production in all price ranges and brands. Players are not aware of this problem and are not raising the uproar they should be over this slovenly quality control. Check your guitars for this fatal defect that cannot be repaired without a total refret. This was the first time I have seen this on a Cor-Tek instrument, however, and was quite a shock, as they normally have excellent fretwork that is usually superior to Fender's US andf Mexican production. I sent back the lemon and received a much better example, which was also well set up, though really fine setup cannot be expected of instruments that have endured as much shipping as the typical guitar has by the time it reaches the buyer. I personally do major bench setups of all my incoming instruments, but this one required little except for repairing a stripped saddle adjusting screw, another defect that's becoming way too common on current instruments. Of course, the output jacks were loose on both of these, but they seem to always be on all new guitars at any price for some mysterious reason. One problem with both guitars was a really messy pooling of the polyurethane finish in the recesses of the control covers, which prevented the covers from seating properly. They will protrude until the gobs of finish in the route are scraped out, which is quite a job.
Features — 7
[2005 production] This is the most recent of the Fender Toronado models, and (debatably) technically the best, given the quality of the US Seymour Duncan '59 (RP) & Pearly Gates Plus humbucking pickups. These Duncans are not the same as the aftermarket versions available retail, but OEM versions made specifically for Fender with slight variations, including wider pole spacing on the Pearly Gates Plus compared to the retail Pearly Gates, and a reverse polarity coil on the '59 neck pickup. Unfortunately, someone at FMIC has for the past few years been laboring under the delusion that guitar buyers are clamoring for Korean instruments with hideous racing stripes, this despite the continuing failure of these otherwise good models in the marketplace. This Toronado is certainly the ugliest example so far, but as a consequence, those of us with strong stomachs can pick up long bargains when the large remaining stocks are blown out at around thirty cents on the dollar. The hardware and control electrics are adequate and typical of Cor-Tek's usual contract product for FMIC and other makers. This guitar loses points for the awful aesthetics of the concept.