Regular readers will have noticed that San Francisco brand Prisma made its TGM debut in last month’s Money Shot, in the shape of The Syndicate – a solidbody showcasing the company’s innovative use of rock maple reclaimed from old skateboard decks.
Prisma’s UK distributor, James Gascoigne, personally spec’d out this Toledo model, and Prisma mainman Nick Pourfard and his small team have delivered a real stunner. The striped skate top’s mesmerising Blue Burst finish looks inviting enough to dive into and, in combination with the Toledo’s clean lines, brushed-metal hardware and cream cupcake knobs, the overall package is one of the best-looking and most distinctive instruments we’ve reviewed in years.
The guitar’s nitrocellulose finish has been applied so thinly that you can feel the individual layers in the pressed laminate. A thin nitro finish is good news for overall resonance, and even though the guitar’s solid mahogany back means that it’s carrying a little more weight than your average alder or swamp ash offset, when strapped on, the Toledo is certainly not fatiguing. It feels svelte and balances perfectly.
The mahogany neck has been buffed to a glassy sheen, and its profile is somewhat reminiscent of a mid-60s Fender, although bends above the 12th fret offer less fight than you’d expect thanks to the ebony ’board’s 12-inch radius. In its higher reaches, the nicely rounded C profile almost becomes a soft V. It’s very comfortable to noodle away on, even when strung with the excellent-but-hefty Gabriel Tenorio ‘long twist’ 0.011 strings that were supplied.
The McNelly Sparkletron bridge pickup is voiced far closer to vintage Filter’Trons than many modern pretenders and here it delivers a gorgeous blend of complex harmonics, compression and clarity. Clean sounds are a delight across the board – the mahogany and maple helping provide a mixture of smoothness and snap.
Expressive, expansive playing is encouraged as once again we encounter a Mastery Vibrato that performs beautifully. Be prepared to lose hours in the middle setting when you add spring reverb.
Despite the Toledo’s offset outline, when you crank up the overdrive, the combination of the P-90-style neck pickup and the mahogany/maple/ebony construction sees a creamy lead tone come to the fore, especially in higher registers. Back down towards the nut there’s a greasy snarl that can be as tough as Texas – David Grissom fans will be right at home.
In the me-too world of boutique offset guitar building, it’s nice to see Prisma bringing something that’s genuinely individual to the table in terms of looks and construction, while sonically, it’s undoubtedly the real deal.
Prisma Guitars Toledo
• PRICE £2,750 (inc Mono gigbag)
• DESCRIPTION Offset solidbody electric guitar. Made in the USA
• BUILD 2-piece solid mahogany back with a bound hard rock maple laminate ‘skateboard’ top, bolt-on mahogany neck, ebony fretboard with 12-inch radius, 21 6105 frets, bleached bone nut
• HARDWARE Mastery Bridge and Vibrato, Gotoh vintage-style staggered-height 15:1 ratio tuners, dual-acting truss rod
• ELECTRICS McNelly soapbar-sized Stagger Swagger (neck) and Sparkletron (bridge) pickups with unplated nickel surrounds and gold foil covers, master volume, master tone, three-way toggle pickup selector switch
• SCALE LENGTH 25.5”/648mm
• NECK WIDTH 41.8mm at nut, 51.6mm at 12th fret
• NECK DEPTH 22.2mm at first fret, 24.4mm at 12th fret
• STRING SPACING 35.5mm at nut, 52.8mm at bridge
• WEIGHT 9.4lb/4.2kg
• FINISH Blue Burst nitrocellulose with natural back, sides and neck
• OPTIONS Custom build options available to order, see website
• CONTACT James’ Home Of Tone on 07584 947291 www.homeoftone.co.uk, www.prismaguitars.com