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This article was originally published in issue #44
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Reverend makes a smashing return to GI's pages with its Billy Corgan Signature. Was Tom Quayle impressed? You bet he was.
Reverend Guitars was set up in the late 1990’s in a garage behind a bicycle shop in East Detroit by Joe Naylor. Joe made his trade initially as a vintage guitar repairer, studying Industrial Design and Lutherie, before deciding to build his first, unique Reverend guitar in 1997. The company now has a global customer base and manufactures guitars in South Korea at an affordable price for quality instruments that have garnered the attention of some big names such as Reeves Gabrels, Pete Anderson and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins fame. Billy Corgan is an exceptional guitar player and has teamed up with Reverend to produce his signature model, a guitar some very unique features designed to suit the needs of Billy’s equally unique music.
Reverend guitars have a distinctive, retro inspired look and the Billy Corgan signature is no exception with its asymmetrical, chambered korina body that looks like a 1960’s sci-fi vision of a futuristic guitar. The central part of the body is raised compared to the thinner ‘wings’ in order to reduce weight, further aided by the strategic chambering under the pickguards to add resonance to the already inherently resonant korina. The guitar features a maple neck and fingerboard with an ultra- smooth satin finish that wouldn’t be out of place on a guitar costing three times as much and the guitar is set up with a string through design to enhance sustain.
The retro/modern sci-fi look is further enhanced with all chrome hardware and a segmented aluminium pickguard on the upper and lower wings that looks fantastic on all four of the available finishes, especially our Satin Pearl White review model.
The hardware on offer is high spec with locking tuners, graphite nut, a string-thru bridge with stainless steel saddles and custom ‘Railhammer’ Billy Corgan pickups, developed by Railhammer and Billy to give P90 clarity and attack but with the low end grunt and noise floor of a humbucker. The design is topped off by a unique take on the classic ‘6-in-line’ headstock and a trio of low profile, chrome controls including a bass contour knob for greater shaping of the low end and the usual volume and tone controls plus a three-way pickup selector switch for a multitude of tonal options.
Having never tried a Reverend before it's immediately striking just how good the build quality and attention to detail are on this signature model. Every element of the design feels incredibly solid and well put together with a feeling similar to that of many boutique, custom guitars that cost significantly more money. The neck in particular is exceptional, with its supremely comfortable oval profile, excellent fretwork and silky finish that is perfect for long gigs or studio sessions and for both technical and more reserved playing styles. The body shape is just as comfortable as the excellent neck with a much appreciated belly contour on the back and a subtle carving leading into the bolt on, six screw neck joint for very good access all the way up to the 22nd fret. By no means is this a cheap guitar of course, so you’d expect quality, but it is pretty surprising that Reverend has managed to squeeze such a high quality feel out of the Billy Corgan guitar given the very reasonable asking price.
Thanks to that chambered korina body, the Reverend exhibits impressive sustain, resonance and acoustic volume that bodes well for its amplified tone. The whole guitar vibrates with every note, feeling alive and reactive in a way that Korina is particularly renowned for, thanks primarily to its light weight. Plugged in, the guitar is equally impressive due to the excellent pickups that genuinely seem to offer the clarity and bite of a P90 but with a very low amount of noise and a very respectable amount of low end thump. All three positions are very detailed and translate pick attack accurately, making this a very expressive guitar that rewards dynamic playing with pick or fingers. P90s are superb for both clean and drive sounds and these Railhammers are no exception, featuring a very versatile sound palette, expanded further by that enhanced low end response, making power chords and chugging sessions more akin to a classic Rock PAF tone but with more ‘air’. The Bass Contour control allows you to tame this low end if desired, giving you a thinner, more traditional P90 tone in the middle setting or acting almost like a high-pass filter at the highest setting.
Reverend has created an instrument worthy of Billy Corgan’s reputation and musical brilliance with this signature guitar. A superb modern/retro combination design, excellent workmanship, hardware and that stunning neck combine to make a guitar that is amazing value for money whether you are a Corgan fan or not. The only small downside is that there is no included case, but one can be purchased as an extra. By not plastering his signature all over the design the company has cleverly kept the appeal as wide as possible and if you’ve never checked out this brand, now might well be the time to correct that. Highly recommended.