The feel of the Asheton is solid and smooth, with a neck profile Reverend describes as “medium oval.” The frets are clean and, although I perceived a slight scratchiness when bending notes around the 12th fret, a visual inspection revealed nothing but nicely polished wire. The output jack, located on the outer edge of the lower wing, seemed odd at first but it actually makes a lot of sense and keeps the cable out of your way. Like any V, this thing is not easy to play sitting down. (So? Stand up already!) Another potential playability drag is that the big P90 in the middle occasionally gets in the way of my plectrum work and hybrid picking, although I got over this pretty quickly.
The honorable Reverend Asheton has a punchy, snappy voice with great clarity through any amp. This comes, in part, from the korina body and neck and also from the cool electronics. P90s are just some of the hippest pickups on the planet, but I’m used to guitars having only two of them. The addition of a middle pickup provides lots of useful colors and can take this guitar from brash, bridge-position crunch to “Castles Made of Sand” on steroids with a flick of the 5-way switch. I even like the middle pickup on its own, which is not something I can say about a lot of guitars with three single-coils. The neck pickup is very sweet and creamy on dirty sounds, clangolicious on clean tones, and smoky and jazzy when the Tone control is rolled back a bit. Combine two pickups in the second and fourth positions and they become hum canceling. Super cool.
This is a great range of tones already, but then you add in Reverend’s secret tonal weapon, the Bass Contour control. This clever knob lets you adjust the amount of low end in your tone from big, fat, and huge, to skinnier and more sparkly (and anywhere in between). This radically expands the flexibility and is a brilliant way to go from a less obtrusive chord tone to a thick and rich single- note voice. It’s not hyped or overblown in the least. It’s musical and usable.
Reverend has successfully made a bold visual and sonic statement with the Asheton. It bridges the gap between vintage and modern— and the gap between punk and rock—with style and attitude. Shemp has always been my favorite Stooge, but after playing this Reverend, I’ve got to say that Ron Asheton is pretty damn cool as well.