Offshore Paul Reed Smith that expands the family
Think PRS, think 10 Tops, bird inlays, that PRS vibrato… despite relative newcomers like the Singlecut, the McCarty, semi-acoustics and much more, that basic winning formula is ingrained into our brains.
Released alongside the 25th Anniversary Custom 24 SE (right up that familiar street) and a siggie guitar for Black Label Society’s Nick Catanese, the very un-PRS-like Torero – may change our minds.
Though we’ve become accustomed to flat tops on the SE models, the Torero‘s skinny shredder’s neck, Floyd Rose trem and active EMG humbuckers are quite a radical departure.
It’s ironic, seeing that PRS partly achieved such dizzying success by offering the antidote to all things ’80s.
Made in the Far East, the Torero has a through-neck and a bookmatched maple top over mahogany.
If this was solid it would certainly be a ‘10 Top’ in PRS parlance, but it’s a veneer, stained to make the grain pop and lacquered in a gorgeous shade of blue like lightly faded designer denim.
The body and neck are finished in gloss black with very slightly off-white binding.The unmarked ebony board has been buffed to such a high gloss that it almost feels lacquered – and with the flat radius it’s about as slick is it gets. The controls are a three-way switch with master volume and tone, and the pickups are active EMGs with an 81 at the bridge and an 85 at the neck.
Although quality machineheads always seem a bit academic when there’s a locking nut installed, these tuners are decent diecast units with PRS stamps on the rear. All the hardware is chrome and the tall jumbo frets have been highly polished.
The through-body neck is tapered away between the cutaways, and the design is so effective that you can wail away at the 24th fret and still wrap your thumb over the bottom string.
Acoustically the Torero’s inherent sustain is obvious, along with a very even string-to-string balance and a slightly subdued transient attack.
It’s a bit as if it has a built-in compressor – welcome news to anybody of the shredding persuasion.
Set clean, the pickups have fairly high output levels, but the active circuitry allows you retain an excellent signal-to-noise ratio, so when you turn down you don’t lose treble.
It isn’t bright and snappy, but it’s crystal-clear, well-defined and full-bodied.
Cranking up the amp brings out the Torero’s meaty character, and even if you’re not a metal player the responsiveness and power will put a grin on your face.
The pickups provide the broadest possible frequency response from one basic tone, although the bridge does have more midrange bark.
Through a high gain setup things are clear and precise, with the tone control combining well with the neck pickup.
Even with the tone rolled fully back I was able to coax harmonics from the neck pickup.
The Torero is a whizzy, slick rock guitar with all the usefulness of EMGs intact. All in all, a very playable, well-built and fine-sounding guitar.