Me rockin' the Reverend Buckshot
Reverend guitars have been around for a few years now – I remember drooling over them in Guitar Player back when they were solely a US-made operation – but despite some great offerings they’re still probably yet to enter the absolute forefront of most players’ minds. They’re perhaps still in the ‘Oh man, why didn’t I think to try this guitar earlier?’ category. Well that looks likely to change very soon once people get their hands on cool guitars like theReverend Buckshot. They’ve already managed to pick up some pretty cool endorsers (Pete Anderson, Reeves Gabrels, the late great Ron Asheton of The Stooges) and are establishing themselves as a serious contender in the vintage-inspired-but-with-modern-flair market.
The most striking thing initially about the Buckshot is the hard-to-pin-down nature of the design. It looks at once familiar and utterly unique. The body is made of Korina, the wood most often associated with Gibson Flying Vs and Explorers, while the Tune-o-Matic style bridge and stop tailpiece also recall various Gibson designs, while the control layout and Reverend T-style single coil bridge pickup suggest a Fender Telecaster, and the neck pickup (aReverend Revtron mini-humbucker) hints at a Gretsch influence. Pick it up for a noodle and you’ll find that the bolt-on, 12” radius neck feels a little like a Fender Strat Deluxe. And that’s before you even consider the body outline, which is neither Les Paul nor Telecaster, yet subtly suggests them both. There’s also another control pot on the bass side of the body, near the neck. That’s a bass contour control which lets you roll back the bass so you can really fine-tune your tone.
Finish options include a cream top with maple fretboard, or a 3-tone sunburst with rosewood fretboard and black-faced headstock. Both definitely have their appeal, but I reviewed the cream w/maple version. Whichever you choose, each model has black back and sides, which I feel helps to ‘classy up’ the look, especially when combined with the simple but well-executed binding that adorns the body of both models (and extends to the neck of the 3-tone sunburst Buckshot).
With a 25-1/2” scale length and a maple fretboard, the note attack is nice and snappy. There’s a fairly decent amount of sustain for a bolt-on, possibly aided by the Tune-o-Matic bridge and korina body. The bridge pickup is not too bright, nor is it too woolly, but if you feel that you need a little less warmth and more cut you can reach for the bass contour control, which you will find dips out some of the low end while keeping the highs intact, creating the illusion of additional treble without actually slicing your ears off with additional harshness. It’s quite similar to the old sound engineer’s rule that it’s better to cut frequencies you don’t need rather than boost the ones that you do.
The neck pickup is fuller and cooler than the bridge unit, with a nice rounded attack which makes it great for Jeff Buckley-style chordal moments as well as gritty blues leads. It responds particularly well to fingerpicking like another Jeff B (Beck). In the middle selector position, the two pickups combine into a rich texture for strummed, jangly indie chords. Again, you can increase or decrease the upper end detail and low end oomph just by fiddling with that bass contour control, or you can turn the master tone knob down for some sweet Clapton style ‘woman tone.’ This is a guitar that rewards low gain environments as much as it revels in higher ones.
The Buckshot is a surprisingly capable little guitar which sounds familiar yet new, much like how it looks. By the way, playability straight out of the box was utterly and absolutely flawless: low enough to not get in the way of more fleet-fingered wanderings, but high enough to maintain nice lively tone.
If, perchance, you dig the overall vibe of the Buckshot but would like something with a little more output, consider the signature model for one of my favourite players, Reeves Gabrels, which was released at NAMM this year. It has the same control array and bridge layout as the Buckshot but features a rosewood fretboard, a flamed maple top on a solid korina body, a Reverend humbucker in the bridge position and a DiMarzio Fast Track single coil-sized humbucker in the neck. There are also other models which use a similar outline but different configurations, such as the Flatroc (two Revtrons), and the Gil Parris Signature (two Reverend humbuckers and a Lace Sensor Burgundy single).
A different version of this review was in the May 2010 edition of Mixdown Magazine, and the guitar was loaned by 555 Music.
LINK: Reverend Guitars