In the beginning, 1997 to be more precise, Reverend Guitars was founded by luthier and amplifier technician, Joe Naylor.
Since then, the marque has picked up more endorsements than your average boy racer with the likes of former Bowie sideman Reeves Gabrels, gifted Dwight Yoakam and Buck Owens collaborator Pete Anderson, and the late great Ron Asheton of The Stooges, securing signature models.
Like all Reverend models, our T-Style Buckshot features a chassis hewn from your finest slabs of Terminalia superba. You’ll know this stuff best as limba or more likely korina, the Holy Grail timber Gibson used to build its iconic late 50s Flying V and Explorer guitars.
Quizzed on his spec sheet staple, Reverend’s Joe Naylor explains why he’s forsaken all other timbers in favour of korina: “It’s very consistent weight-wise, very resonant, and has a very even tonal quality that works well with almost any pickup.”
Rattling through the rest of the specs you’ll find that the Buckshot features roasted maple six-screw bolt-on neck with a snappy Fender-style 648mm (25.5 inch) scale length, 305mm (12 inch) radius fingerboard, 22 medium jumbo frets and a set of locking tuners. You’ll also be glad to hear that none of God’s creatures, either great or small, were harmed in the making of the Boneite top nut. This beautifully cut item is designed to be much more slippery than actual skeletal remains, and no bones about it.
Like Noel Gallagher of Oasis, Joe Naylor is obviously adept at taking classic ideas and making them his own. Yes, the Buckshot is influenced by the Telecaster yet the anchored Les Paul-style tune-o-matic bridge and stop tailpiece give it a very different look and feel. While the Greasy T bridge pickup triggers deja vu too, here the thing is direct mounted to the body; it’s like something Eddie Van Halen would’ve done to a Tele had he been raised on country. The Buckshot’s other pickup is the RevTron. As the name suggests it’s a nod towards the classic Gretsch pup cherished by everyone from AC/DC’s Malcolm Young and Stray Cat Brian Setzer.
Before we plug in and play, we should mention the roasted maple neck. Just as torrefied or baked timbers have become a big deal in the acoustic guitar world, roasted maple is causing a buzz among electric geeks. It might look like fake tan for maple but according to the Reverend website the process involves heat treating the wood “at temperatures over 300° Fahrenheit to remove sugars, moisture, and other impurities”. Joe elaborates: “The tonal difference is not big, maybe a little less lower-mids but the big advantages are the beautiful caramel colour, and extra stability, which means that it will require less seasonal adjustment. It’s a process we will be sticking with. In fact, Reverend is the first major company to offer roasted maple necks as standard issue across all of our bolt-on guitars and basses.”
Sounds and Feel
The Buckshot features a palm-friendly ‘medium oval’ neck profile plus a low action and smooth buzz-free performance at all stations on their respective fretboards. Upper fret access is good too thanks to some subtle contouring at the body heel too.
Plugging in, we’re immediately struck by the sustain and sheer beefiness on offer. “The Buckshot is aimed at the player who wants a T-Style guitar but with a thicker overall tone,” offers Joe, “so I went with a ceramic magnet for the bridge pickup.” A ceramic magnet can betray a lack of tonal warmth but we don’t get that with the Greasy T. It plays nice when clean - it shimmers, in fact - but it’ll gleefully kick your teeth in when you dial in some dirt. The pickup’s closeness to the korina body delivers more bottom end grunt than you expect from a traditionally mounted T-Style pickup.
The volume balance between the Greasy T and the neck position RevTron is perfect. Run together, the neck unit tempers some of the Greasy T’s clean brilliance, and its distorted aggression. On its own the RevTron delivers the warmth and punch promised by the Reverend sales pitch. It adds to the Buckshot’s fat persona.
After much deliberation, the gospel is thus. The Buckshot provided us with the religious experience we were praying for. It’s easy to sing the praises of guitars that have been designed this well and Joe Naylor has ensured that every aspect of his guitars has been tweaked to perfection. Okay, there is some familiarity in the profiles of the Buckshot but we can’t fault the build quality, playability, tuning stability tone and value for money. We’re converts for sure.