May 162018
 

There are so many guitars introduced at the annual NAMM shows that an editor can be forgiven for “blurring over” a bit when confronted with aisles and aisles of solidbodies, hollowbodies, and acoustics. But Reverend certainly made sure we didn’t space out when we came across two very different models for 2018.

BILLY CORGAN TERZ

Let’s briefly talk about what this guitar is, and then I’d like to get to what I see as the more important subject: What it does. What it is, is a sleek, sexy, short-scale Reverend model made for Billy Corgan, intended to be tuned a minor 3rd above standard (G, C, F, A#, D, G, low to high), to accommodate the many tunes where Corgan capos his guitar at the 3rd fret. It has a single Railhammer humbucker in the bridge and Reverend’s great Bass Contour control to give you way more tonal flexibility than most one-pickup guitars can offer. It sounds great and plays great.

Now for the fun and interesting stuff. I don’t know if you’ve ever tuned a guitar up to F, but I have, and it was eye-opening to say the least. I’m a huge capo guy, so I’m no stranger to how cool it is to play your same old licks in a higher register. But a guitar tuned higher than standard and a guitar with a capo are not the same thing. The open strings don’t ring the same and the dots just aren’t in the right places (yes, I look at them). We all love what happens to guitars when you tune them down (thanks Jimi), but almost no one ever pitches them up, and that’s just not fair. Here’s my take: When tuned higher, guitars become brighter and janglier, your ideas become more orchestral, and you naturally gravitate towards voicings that are very different from the power-chord ghetto that a lot of us reside in. You let go of the need for low end, and instead, embrace the upper register that is so prevalent with a higher-tuned instrument.

String sections and orchestras do this kind of thing all the time. Why don’t guitarists? To a conductor, the idea of an instrument that is pitched a minor third higher makes perfect sense. Heck, they don’t even care if you have to write the charts in a different clef. (Sorry, viola players!)

So who is going to want this? I’m guessing that the player in a cover band probably doesn’t want to have to transpose “Chain of Fools” to play it on the Terz. But a songwriter/ bandleader who is playing original music? Oh yeah. A studio rat who is already a capo junkie and is constantly searching for ways to come up with clever overdubs? Absolutely.

I don’t expect we’re going to start seeing “guitorchestras” with guitar equivalents of violins, violas, cellos, and basses (not to mention the clarinet and sax families), but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. This is a great idea, beautifully implemented in a fine guitar, and someone is going to embrace it and do crazy stuff with it. Why not you?

Thank you, Reverend, for this bold move. Here’s hoping that players take this and run with it.

REVEREND AIRSONIC HC

The first thing you probably noticed about the Airsonic is the presence of thru-body f-holes, and those are a guaranteed conversation piece. Adding to the visual allure are the thinned-out body wings and the sparkly Superior Blue paint. So straight away I’m digging the Airsonic’s look and was eager to check out the tones.

I plugged it into a plexi Marshall profile on a Kemper Profiler and hit a chord. The Rail-hammer Humcutter bridge pickup, which is a P-90 voiced humbucker, delivered a throaty bark with a detailed snarl. What struck me, though, was the resonance and sustain that the Airsonic’s body facilitates. Reverend’s website talks about Joe Naylor’s dream of marrying the open voice of a semi-hollow with the sustain and immediacy of a solidbody, and you can definitely smell what he’s cooking when you dig in with the Airsonic.

My favorite feature on Reverend guitars is the super-musical Bass Contour control, which does a great job of turning a humbucker into a single-coil, with a ton of cool sounds in between. That knob, perched Gretsch-tastically on the upper horn, gives this guitar a huge range of sounds. You get even more bang for the buck when you factor in the treble-bleed circuit on the Volume control, which keeps the tone lively and present as you roll it down. Yes!

The Airsonic rocks a roasted-maple neck, and I don’t know what it is about this whole roasted-maple thing, but every guitar I play with a neck like this seems punchier and vibier than other guitars, and this one is no exception. The neck shape is substantial and comfy, and I could reach even the uppermost frets with no prob. There were a couple of tuning anomalies that I had to struggle with—most likely due to the floating whammy—but the Airsonic is a joy to play.

Reverend does its own thing, with no regard to trends, and that’s beautiful. Bottom line: If you’re looking for a guitar that shows respect for tradition while unabashedly putting a hip new spin on it, plug this thing in.

SPECIFICATIONS

CONTACT reverendguitars.com

MODEL Billy Corgan Terz
PRICE $1,199 street, hard-shell case not included
NUT WIDTH 43mm Boneite
NECK Roasted maple w/medium oval profile
FRETBOARD Roasted maple, 21.5” scale, 12” radius
FRETS 22 medium-jumbo
TUNERS Reverend Pin-Lock
BODY Korina
BRIDGE Hardtail
PICKUPS Railhammer Billy Corgan Bridge
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, Bass Contour, 3-way switch
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario XL .010-.046
WEIGHT 6.5 lbs.
BUILT Korea
KUDOS Brilliant concept. Super inspiring. Overdubbing secret weapon.
CONCERNS Might be tough to apply in some musical situations.

MODEL Airsonic HC
PRICE $1,199 street, hard-shell case not included
NUT WIDTH 43mm Boneite
NECK Roasted maple w/medium oval profile
FRETBOARD Roasted maple, 25.5” scale, 12” radius
FRETS 22 medium-jumbo
TUNERS Reverend Pin-Lock
BODY Korina w/thru-body f-holes
BRIDGE Wilkinson WVS50 IIK tremolo
PICKUPS Railhammer Humcutters
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, Bass Contour, 3-way switch
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario XL .010-.046
WEIGHT 7.6 lbs.
BUILT Korea
KUDOS Cool look. Impressive sustain. Broad range of tones.
CONCERNS Minor intonation issues.

Reverend Billy Corgan Terz and Airsonic HC
Source: Guitar Player