The Fender Toronado was debuted at the NAMM Show in 1998. The Toronado is reportedly the first Fender model to be fully designed and built by Fender’s Ensenada Factory and was the brain child of former master builder George Blanda. Initially part of the Deluxe Series of Guitars, with that featured ‘higher’ specs to other Mexican made models standard models.
Initially the Toronado’s were available from 1998-2001 in Arctic White, Black, Brown Sunburst and Candy Apple Red finishes. In 2002 the Black finish was accompanied by Graffiti Yellow, Orange and Pewter finishes.
Sporting an offset poplar body, two chrome covered Fender Atomic Humbuckers and large tortoiseshell pickguard, the Toronado had a 24.75” scale length, maple neck with 22 medium jumbo frets on a rosewood fingerboard.
In 2002 & 2003 Fender introduced American made versions of the Toronado into American Special and Highway One lines. The American Special Toronado featured an alder body, x2 open (uncovered) Fender Atomic Humbuckers or with x2 DE-9000 Black Dove P90 pickups in Butterscotch Blonde and Crimson Red Transparent finishes. These guitars sported smaller x3 ply black pickguards that were standard across the American Special Series.
The Highway One Toronado was available in Black, Pewter and Chrome Silver with the same specs as the American Special Series except for having only x1 tone and x1 volume control and a relocated 3 way toggle switch. Usually the Toronado has x2 tome and x2 volume controls and a upper horn located 3 way toggle switch. The original Mexican made Deluxe Series Toronado’s were retired in 2003.
The Toronado was reissued in 2004 with several differences from '98–'03 models, The 2004 versions featured more modern colours like Midnight Blue, Caramel Metallic, Blizzard Pearl and Chrome Red. The pickups were also uncovered like the USA made models as opposed to the covered humbuckers featured on the earlier models. The reissued Toronado’s lasted until 2006. The American Special and Highway One versions of the Toronado were discontinued in 2004.
As well as the Deluxe Series Toronado’s Fender produced a limited run of set neck Toronado’s made in Korea. The CT P90 Toronado’s featured a mahogany body with a flamed maple top and were available a cherry sunburst finish with Seymour Duncan P90s, only 30 of these guitars were built for the European market in 2005.
Another Korean made version of the Toronado was introduced in 2005 as part of the ‘Big Block Series’. Sporting a mahogany body and Seymour Duncan humbuckers rather than Duncan-designed pickups. The guitar came in four metallic finishes with a matching painted headstock and a racing stripe in a reverse L shape going from the left side of the body to the upper right horn. Unlike other variants of the Toronado, it has no pickguard. The finishes available were red with white racing stripe, blue with white racing stripe, green with black racing stripe and bronze with black racing stripe.
All the Toronado versions sport a Jazzmaster style headstock with a Fender spaghetti logo and the Toronado name apart from the Korean made versions. Although never actually put into production there was an Antigua Toronado prototype produced.
By 2007 all of the Toronado versions had been retired by Fender. However in Summer 2020 following on from Fender’s Parallel Universe and Alternate Reality Series, Squier introduced the Paranormal Series featuring Squier's first version of the Toronado. Available n in Lake placid Blue with tortoiseshell pickguard and black with a black pickguard. Featuring Poplar bodies with 22 Narrow Tall frets on an Indian Laurel fretboard with x2 Squier Atomic Humbuckers. The usual Toronado scale length of 24.75”, x2 tone and x2 volume controls and large 4 ply pickguard. The Paranormal Toronado sees a return to the 6 saddle hardtail bridge instead of the adjusto-matic bridge with anchored tailpiece seen on the USA & Korean made models.