REVIEW: Reverend’s Reeves Gabrels Signature Model Guitar
Reverend’s Reeves Gabrels Signature Model Guitar!
Reverend Musical Instruments, based in Livonia, MI, is known for unique construction, retro styling, playability, and affordability. Once manufactured in the U.S., founder Joe Naylor adapted to changing market forces and shipped construction to Korea while improving features throughout the product line. Enjoying a reputation for quality, Reverend teamed up with David Bowie/Tin Machine/solo guitarist Reeves Gabrels for a signature model based on Reeves’ requirements for a versatile and adept solidbody for covering shred to blues.
FRESH OUTTA THE BOX
The first thing catching my attention was the Red Flame Maple top. The deep ruby richness of the color is given great texture by the wood grain that comes across in patterned, yet organic, horizontal stripes. Black pickups (DiMarzio Fast Track 1 in the neck, Reverend humbucker in the bridge), a black pickguard, and a finely finished glossy black body give the top a great background and elegance against which to stand out. Chrome hardware (master volume, master tone with push/pull phase switching, bass contour, Tune-o-Matic style bridge with stop tailpiece, black-capped 3-way pickup selector) and cream binding offer additional touches of class. The body shape is reminiscent of…well, I don’t really know what it’s reminiscent of, but imagine a sexy round-bottomed woman leaning her weight to one side with her elbow out, hand on her hip. Oh yeah.
Simple cream-colored dots are inlaid into the bound rosewood fingerboard outfitted with 22 large jumbo frets. This is laid upon a maple neck with an amber tinted satin finish. A black graphite nut serves as a base to the headstock which is finished on its face in the same glossy black as the body. The backside is a continuation of the natural finish of the neck. The front of the headstock sports a rolling string tree for the high E and B strings and the Reverend logo. The back features Reeves Gabrels’ signature and a hand-written serial number and initials by the setup technician. Tuners include custom Reverend Pin-Locks which feature thumbwheel-controlled steel pins to lock strings in place.
HOW’S SHE FEEL? HOW’S SHE SING?
Durably built with a neck you can really get a grip on and body mass of solid Korina to match, this guitar is substantial. A body contour on the bass side and smooth curves all around provide a good fit and I felt comfortable with it in my lap and strapped. The neck profile, described as medium oval, tends towards thicker, but well shy of baseball bat territory. To each his/her own, but I prefer designs like this that allow me solid anchoring and give me more chunk to dig into. Control knobs and the pickup selector all operated smoothly and felt hard-wearing. Time to plug in!
Starting with the custom Reverend humbucker in the bridge position, I ran the output through a Maxon ST9Pro+ Super Tube pedal and into a BitMo-modified Blackheart half stack. The sound of this pickup has roundness to it with the edgier intensity you would expect plus a little Strat-like punch. With a separate tone control and bass contour control for filtering out bass frequencies, I found there to be a wide range for shaping my sound. Switching back and forth with the overdrive pedal, I played everything from clean arpeggiated progressions to warm bluesy leads to harder Zeppelin-like riffs. I was impressed by how much I could do in this single position.
Switching to the Dimarzio Fast Track 1 pickup, I traded bridge definition for neck roundness. Tonally, the two pickups are very compatible. The Dimarzio is designed as hotter, bright, and clean and putting that in the neck position with the Revered humbucker down low results in a well matched pair. Playing through similar styles, I achieved a heavier sound overall. I got a real kick out of dialing the bass contour all the way down and popping out some funky rhythms that gave me real nice “chicka-chicka” muted strums along with soulful warmth. Note: There is a loss of volume as bass contour is dialed down. This may appeal to some players as an onboard volume/frequency swell whereas others might wish for consistent volume throughout the frequency range.
Finally, I switched to the middle position, combining both pickups. As you would imagine, all the characteristics come together to provide a sound that is wide across frequencies: rich and warm with a defining attack. It is also in this position that phase-switching can be activated by the push-pull feature of the tone control. When in phase, the sound is full. When out of phase, the tonal range narrows considerably and offers up a unique sound reminiscent of Brian May’s signature wired-in-series setup that I have yet to experience with another guitar.
THE FINAL WRAP
Reverend and Reeves Gabrels nailed their goal of developing a versatile guitar to cover a wide range of styles from blues to rock to shred. Not only did they accomplish this in their pickup selection, wiring scheme, and variety of controls which offers up a true multi-tonal palette, they put it all together in a unique package that is as beautiful as it rocks.
PROS: Solidly constructed and beautifully designed. Wide variety of tonal options. Great sustain.
CONS: Dialing down bass contour reduces volume which may be an issue depending on your playing style.
MSRP – $999
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