PRS SE Torero
Paul Reed Smith Guitars, prsguitars.com
Originally published in Guitar World, May 2010
Paul Reed Smith's SE Torero marries PRS’s slick playability with active EMG pickups, a double-locking Floyd Rose bridge and rock-hard neck
Paul Reed Smith's much-beloved Custom Series guitar and its various derivations are among the most meticulously built and tonally inspiring neo-vintage instruments. Players from practically every genre of music have used them to craft their signature tones, including Carlos Santana, Mark Tremonti, Al Di Meola and Orianthi Panagaris. On the other hand, the six-screw tremolo bridge and PAF-style pickups mean the guitar has not been well suited to the needs of metal players.
For them, PRS has created the SE Torero. (“Torero” is Spanish for “bullfighter”). This grand departure from all other PRS guitars is loaded with everything that metalists wished for: a real Floyd Rose tremolo system, active EMG pickups, a maple neck, an ebony fretboard and simple controls. Because the Torero is part of the imported SE line, this hot new screamer is affordable to the masses and should give young metalheads and shredders a chance to discover the legendary playability of a PRS with the features that fuel high-gain madness.
The SE Torero has a number of features that are new to the PRS brand, and all of them are intended to give this PRS long sustain, searing tones and maximum tremolo functionality. To begin with, the SE Torero has a maple neck-through construction, with the neck extending entirely through the body’s center. Some designers believe that this design produces superior sustain, thanks to the direct resonance transfer from fretted notes to the pickups and bridge. The maple neck is topped with an attack-enhancing ebony fretboard that is bound and devoid of inlays. The wide-thin neck carve is fast as ever, with enough wood in the hill to keep it comfortable.
A double-locking Floyd Rose tremolo allows for whammy wildness and the excitingly abrupt pitch changes that can only be achieved from this style of bridge system. It’s floating and back routed, so you can pull up, dive out or shake it frenetically. PRS has outfitted the Torero with EMG’s most popular pair of active pickups: a model 81 near the bridge and an 85 at the neck. The volume knob and three-way switch are well placed, but I wish that the tone knob was not behind the bridge, where it can interfere with the tremolo bar travel.
From a perspective of shape, the body outline is almost identical to a PRS Custom 24. But PRS has modified the contours to better suit players who perform highly technical feats in the upper registers. For instance, the neck heel blends into the body so that it’s completely unobtrusive, and the deep lower cutaway makes it possible to effortlessly play scales and bend notes in the top four frets. Shredders will also probably prefer the ergonomics of the SE Torero’s flat top and forearm contour as opposed to PRS’s expensive carved top. Flamed maple veneer caps the bound maple top, for that high-end PRS look, and mahogany is used on the guitar’s back to warm the tone.
Even though PRS made a lot of changes to its typical hardware, neck construction and body contours, the SE Torero still feels like a PRS. The action is consistent and low across the 24 frets, and the neck’s shape is a gateway to speed. The instrument balance is excellent, and notes ring with equal power in all registers. The use of maple and ebony in the neck-through design certainly makes this a highly articulate addition to the PRS SE line. What it gives up in mahogany-born sweetness, it makes up for in sheer power and burning sustain. The EMGs are expectedly hot and tuned for high-gain applications, but they also sound somewhat more organic in the PRS platform. Remember that EMG systems are easily expandable, making it possible for you to add various gain- and tone-shaping preamps should you decide to boost this beast’s ferocity factor.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Paul Reed Smith's SE Torero marries PRS’s slick playability with active EMG pickups, a double-locking Floyd Rose bridge and rock-hard neck woods. This modern PRS incarnation is expressly built for blinding speed, whammy tricks and a high-gain assault on the senses. It’s also a tremendous value, offering PRS’s legendary quality at an affordable price.
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