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This article was originally published in issue #48
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Regular readers won't have missed our growing enthusiasm for the products of US guitar maker Reverend.
Comfortable to play
Great playing neck
Good variety of tones
Bass Contour control won't fool a hardcore single coil fan
Regular readers won't have missed our growing enthusiasm for the products of US guitar maker Reverend. Every one we've tried has impressed us and they seem to offer that breath of fresh air for which we think guitarists are yearning. But not everyone on the GI review crew has yet had the Reverend experience, so we borrowed a new model for Lewis Turner to try. Is he the next convert?
I've not played a Reverend guitar before, but word travels fast at GI Towers and it was obvious that there was a real buzz developing about Reverend from the previous reviews we'd run and the happy faces when we were told a new model was arriving to test.
That model is a significant one as it has been produced to celebrate Reverend's 20th anniversary - they call it the Special Agent W 20th Anniversary. The W? That stands for a Wilkinson tremolo, in case you were wondering. And in case trems aren't your thing, there is a hardtail alternative, a single cutaway equivalent, the Double Agent OG, which will save you a chunk off an already more than fair price.
Pulling it from the case, the Double Agent's styling instantly says 'vintage' but with a modern twist, and to my eyes it looks cool - very cool! From the headstock to the scratchplate everything is just a bit different and unique, but never odd. Coming up with convincing new guitar designs is hard - too hard for many manufacturers, who either more or less copy the obvious big two names from the past, or , sadly, just get it wrong. Reverend, on the other hand, manages to do the opposite and gets it just right.
With lovely contours on the body of this guitar, finished in a stunning Sky Blue Flame Maple, it's bound to turn heads. It was also light, and if you have ever read my previous reviews then you will know that I think this is a good thing. Back saving aside, light guitars just sound better (ducks for cover…).
The bolt-on maple neck with rosewood fingerboard was a pleasure to play. At a 12' radius, medium oval shape and 22 medium jumbo frets, it felt comfortable and effortless. A nice big cutout for the lower horn made upper fret access attainable despite the elongated upper horn, and the whole set-up was just spot on, nice and low but with no fretbuzz or intonation issues. Overall, you just get the sense that this guitar has been designed and set up by players for players.
Reverend has opted for a korina body on this model. This is a medium-light weight wood, highly prized for its tonal consistency and often found in boutique and vintage instruments. Matched well with the maple neck, the combination gives the Double Agent a wide tonal spectrum that consists of a tight bottom end, with scooped mids and just enough top to make things cut through, you can feel how well the guitar resonates when playing it unplugged.
The body, despite its unique shape, is super comfortable, feeling small and unobtrusive. A Wilkinson WVS50 IIK Tremolo system is used and that's another choice that can only be applauded. Trevor Wilkinson hardware is highly respected in the industry and this floating bridge with pop in trem arm worked a treat, providing a smooth action with no play in the bar, keeping everything in place and in tune. This quality is also helped by the Pin Lock tuners and Boneite Nut, the latter of which reduces friction, allowing easy gliding for the strings. Overall, this set-up gives you confidence to bend as far as you can and to make ample use of the bar without the fear of it going out of tune. This guitar is as stable as anything.
The Double Agent uses two custom humbucker pickups with a three way blade switch. A Hyper Vintage is used in the bridge, with a CP90 in the neck, each specifically designed for its position, providing balanced volume and tone when switching. These are great and further reinforce this guitar's intentions: the bridge pick up is bright and cutting, while the neck is mellow and scooped for smooth lead lines. Mixing the two gives you a decent clean tone.
Alongside the standard volume and tone controls, the Reverend also has a Bass Contour control, which is unusual and clever. It's intended to tighten up the bottom end or re-voice the pickups, with the intention of turning a humbucker into a single coil, or give a P-90 that classic twang tone. In practice it does work, and to my ears it gets close to a single coil. It's not exactly the same as a single coil but it's useful because it gives the Double Agent a greater versatility than you will usually get with a P90 equipped guitar.
So, yes, it seems that I'm in agreement with the rest of the GI team. The Reverend 20th Anniversary is a fantastic guitar at a great price. It's perfect for many styles with a good nod to vintage looks, and sporting pickups that have been designed specifically for classic tones. The neck shape and playability back this up, and you will soon be rediscovering all your favourite classic Rock/Country licks when you pick up one of these. Even better, it's so nice to play that it will soon have you pushing your boundaries, which is always a great sign
As I say, this is a really stable guitar, so put all the controls on 10, turn the amp to 11 and riff away, because that's exactly what this guitar is meant to do!