So, you want something different - but perhaps not quite as different as Reverend's Bayonet model. So how about the more conventional Sensei? Michael Casswell samples the second of this issue's Reverend guitars.
Following on from my review of the Reverend Bayonet, what we have here is the Reverend Sensei. There are various finishes available in this range, in both Humbucker and P90 configuration. This Sensei is called the 290 Cream, presumably because it's equipped with two P90 style pick ups, and is a very nice cream colour. You can also get gold tops, flame tops, bursts and solid colours. Yes, with its two humbucker or P90 solid body spec, we are definitely into Gibson territory here.
Why would you buy this guitar over a Gibson or Epiphone Les Paul? Well for a number of reasons. Compared to an American Les Paul, it is a quarter of the price, due being manufactured in Korea, much like an Epiphone. However, in my opinion this is a notch or two above an Epiphone both in price and quality.
All Reverend guitars are made from a fantastic tone wood called korina, which doesn't seem to be used as much nowadays as it used to be in the '50s and '60s. Korina is light in weight, extremely resonant and lively and produces a great sounding guitar no matter what the body shape. This Sensei is just that, lively and resonant, probably helped greatly by Reverend using the correct amount of wood where the neck meets the body. On set neck guitars, this is always a key area, sometimes compromising upper fret access, but this guitar is very easy to play up at the dusty end and seems dead stable in tuning. The dual action truss rod on this guitar means that it will travel well and not move in set up, which what is needed for a touring player.
The P90 style pick ups are Reverend's own, and give that thick single coil bark that P90's are supposed to. They also seem to be fairly quiet, so this guitar is probably screened very well (unlike some more expensive brands). Response both acoustically and when plugged in is very good. I can nearly always tell how a guitar is going to be by how it rings before you plug it in to an amp. Most set necks guitars appear to give you more resonance than a bolt on neck, or a guitar with a trem, which makes sense, and this Sensei is very resonant and lively, meaning the pick ups really don't have to work that hard to make a good sound.
Like the Bayonet, the Sensei has an onboard passive bass contour pot next the the volume and tone. This fattens or tightens the bottom end, and really works well. It's almost like you are revoicing the pick ups. This little feature alone makes the Sensei and interesting prospect if you are in the market for a twin pick up double cutaway guitar. It would be very cool in a studio situation, where those subtleties on tone really count for a lot, but live as well, it can give light and shade to your playing and really add something if you know how to work the guitar volume and tube amp combination.
Overall the Sensei has a pretty tasteful look to it. It reminds me a little bit of the original Yamaha 2000 guitars, with its double cutaway and block inlays on the neck. The Sensei also has locking tuners and a graphite nut. This guitar sits with me better aesthetically than our other Reverend guitar, the Bayonet, but I'm a little trad in my tastes. To me the Sensei looks more grown-up, and coupled with how it plays and sounds, is a very good all rounder that ticks many boxes, not least because it represents really excellent value for money. Make no mistake, this is a professional guitar for not a lot of money. That's two Reverends in a row that win our top ratings. No wonder players back home in the USA are taking this relatively new brand so seriously.
Our grateful thanks for Reverend guitar's sole UK distributor, Vintage and Modern in Thame, Oxfordshire, for the loan of this stock model www.vintageandmodernguitars.co.uk