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Test Drive: Reverend Unknown Hinson Signature

February 8, 2012
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Whether or not you believe that the man who calls himself “Unknown Hinson” is the “king of country western troubadours”—or any of the other things he claims to be—the signature model guitar that Reverend builds for the alt-country guitarist is as singular as Hinson’s hillbilly undertaker look.

However, take away the vampire-bat fretboard inlays and the Hinson outline on the headstock, and what you have is essentially a Club King model with a body that has been slimmed to a thickness of 1w" and reduced in overall size by ten percent. Reverend also added a fulllength korina block inside the semi-hollow body and bolted on a shorter, 24e"-scale neck with an amber-tinted satin finish. The Gibson scale is a plus for players who like an easier feel for bending, and the 22 polished medium-jumbo frets have smooth crowns and beveled ends for a sleek ride along the maple ’board.

Neatly trimmed in white binding, the gloss black body sports chrome-plated hardware and a pair of Reverend-made P90-style pickups. A small pickguard holding the chromed Bass Contour control and Hinson’s engraved signature sits forward of the Tele-style control plate, where the pickup selector and Volume and Tone knobs reside.

The Hinson’s tuneful intonation and good acoustic qualities help to ensure a warm and harmonically rich amplified sound. Played though a Dr. Z EZG-50 1x12 combo, the sound was full and balanced, with plenty of top-end snap and a gutsy midrange that punched through nicely when pushing some grind from a Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Signature Fuzz Face.

By itself, the neck pickup delivers sweet, detailed tones that sound great for blues with a little dirt, or for creamy rock leads when you slather on the distortion. Cleaned up, you can also get a cool jazz vibe with the Tone knob rolled down a bit and Bass Contour turned clockwise to emphasize the lows. Switching to the middle setting yields a broad, crisp sound that’s great for chording, with funkier timbres easily obtainable by increasing the Tone control and rolling back the Bass Contour knob to slim the response.

Packing a nice combination of fatness and slice, the bridge pickup is optimized tonally and output-wise to deliver everything from Tele-style twang to ballsy overdrive sounds on the order of a Les Paul Junior. And here too, the Bass Contour and Tone knobs work in tandem to make it easy to dial in the sounds you want for for blues, country, rock, and pretty much anything else you throw at it.

The Hinson’s versatility and excellent playability should please all, but if your tastes in cosmetics run to the less exotic side, you may want to consider the standard-issue Reverend Club King 290, which has a semi-hollow korina/ spruce body and P-90 pickups, but with a slightly longer 25w"-scale neck.

Specifications

CONTACT Reverend Musical Instruments, (734) 953-6984; reverendguitars.com

Unknown Hinson Signature

PRICE $1,329 retail/$1,099 street; Coffin case included

NUT Width 1 21/32"

NECK Maple, bolt-on

FRETBOARD Maple, 24 3/4" scale, 12" radius

FRETS 22 medium jumbo

TUNERS Reverend Pin lock

BODY Korina semi-hollow with spruce top

BRIDGE Tune-o-Matic style with stopbar tailpiece

PICKUPS Two Reverend P-90s (output/tone calibrated for each position; hum cancelling when combined)

CONTROLS Volume, Tone, Bass Contour, 3-way selector

FACTORY STRINGS 010-.046

WEIGHT 7 lbs

BUILT Korea

KUDOS Well made and finished. Lots of sounds. Plays great.

CONCERNS None, unless you have chiroptophobia.

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