You can thank Dave Grohl’s signature Gibson and Jonny Greenwood’s playing a Fender Starcaster for the revival of interest in semi-hollows with six-on-a-side tuners. While Grohl’s model recalls a late-model Gibson Trini Lopez, the sharper cutaways on Reverend’s cleverly named Tricky Gomez hark back to an earlier Lopez, as well as to Reverend’s own Manta Ray model.
Whatever its inspiration, the Tricky Gomez is one stylin’ ax. The bound korina neck with its block inlaid rosewood fretboard combines with a flat, satin finished, solid maple top to create a look straddling high-end semi-hollow and pawnshop prize. Despite its retro looks, though, this Reverend’s modern touches make it a player’s instrument. A roller bridge, graphite nut, and locking tuners help the Bigsby stay in tune through both vibratoed chords and blues bends. The Revtron pickups are hum canceling, and the Bass Contour knob lets you go from fat tones to thinner ones without adding hum.
The Tricky Gomez came with low, buzz-free action. Easy bending was facilitated by the guitar’s 12" radius, 24¾" scale, and the fab finish of the medium-jumbo frets. Unplugged, the guitar rang beautifully in tune, with no sullying overtones. “Rang” is the operative word here, as sometimes a Bigsby and roller saddles can diminish sustain, but they appeared to have no ill effect on the Gomez. This Bigsby also had the smoothest operation I have felt on any Bigsby sporting a string bar.
Plugged into a Fender Blues Junior or a Little Walter 50-watt head, the Tricky Gomez served up a wide variety of tones. Its Revtron pickups are reminiscent of the Gretsch Filter ’Trons that influenced their name, delivering more beef than single-coils (especially after I raised both neck and bridge pickups closer to the strings), but with some Fender-style twang mixed in. The neck pickup offered clarity, even when distorted, while the bridge pickup had a bit of honk that also responded well to overdrive and especially fuzz pedals. Neither pickup is particularly warm, but their crisp high-end is well suited for funk, and also helps avoid the murkiness that can accompany the clean tone of some semi-hollows.
I wonder why the Reverend’s Bass Contour circuit is not offered on more guitars. It let me gradually roll off just the frequencies that distinguish a typical humbucker from a single-coil, and, unlike a switch, the control accessed a whole range of musical, usable tones in between humbucker girth and single-coil slice. For rhythm, I found rolling back the Contour knob rather than the Volume control let me maintain presence while still reducing volume and cleaning up chords.
The Tricky Gomez is well suited for a wide range of musical styles—blues, garage rock, funk, etc.—and its retro vibe and modern playability make it audition-worthy for any player seeking an affordable guitar with pawnshop-cool looks and custom-level craftsmanship.
PRICE $1,099 Street
NUT WIDTH 1 21/32"
NECK Three-piece, glued-in korina
FRETBOARD Rosewood, 12" radius
FRETS 22 Medium jumbo
TUNERS Reverend pin-lock
BODY Semi-hollow korina, solid maple top
BRIDGE Bigsby B-70
PICKUPS Revtron bridge, Revtron neck
CONTROLS One volume, one tone, one bass contour control, three-way toggle
FACTORY STRINGS D’ Addario, XL .010-.046
WEIGHT 7.5 lbs
KUDOS Cool retro looks. Highly playable. Easy Bigsby action.
CONCERNS Highs might be too crisp for some.