Let’s start with the case. Shaped like a teardrop in stark black and white, it’s kind of a monument to the hot-rod diners of the ’50s. And, once opened to reveal the sky-blue flamed-maple Double Agent W resting in black velvet, the optional hardshell case fulfills its promise of showcasing something beautiful and special.
The guitar itself is a celebration of 20 years of Reverend designs. Like some other noted American inventors, Joe Naylor—who holds a degree in industrial design and is also a graduate of the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery—started the company in a garage. A lot of Naylor innovations have made the scene since Reverend’s 1997 launch in East Detroit, and there have been some business evolutions, as well—a move to Toledo, Ohio, where the company is now run by Ken and Penny Haas with Naylor continuing to provide designs.
The Double Agent W 20th Anniversary is a fantastic set piece to remind players of Naylor’s delightfully off-kilter design aesthetic and Reverend’s commitment to quality. The craftsmanship of this blue-hued stunner with exquisite off-white binding is impeccable. The fret dressing is first rate, all hardware is top notch (especially the sensitive Wilkinson WVS50 IIK tremolo), and the brushed-aluminum pickguard is both unusual and practical (it’s durable and tough). As a long-time Stratocaster player, I liked the Double Agent’s similar contours, and the easy access to all 22 frets. I immediately felt right at home with the comfortable, medium-oval neck profile that invited fast runs and other fretboard abuse. Intonation was spot-on, and the excellent locking tuners kept me in tune—even as I continually worked the tremolo for solos and chordal effects.
My tone ranges from a growling, gritty jangle to full-on Robin Trower—usually powered by a Vox AC-15 with a single Celestion Greenback speaker—and the Double Agent effortlessly covered my sonic comfort zone. But there were added bonuses. This guitar definitely produces a depth and richness that my Strats can’t match. The Railhammer Hyper Vintage bridge pickup delivers all the brightness and attack I could ever want, while the Reverend CP90 in the neck offers ringing bell tones that are articulate, but simultaneously resonant and round. As if the two different pickup options isn’t enough variety, the Reverend Bass Contour control is an adventure in itself. I used it to dial in a multitude of tones that ran the gamut from rich to thin, stout to “filtered” sounding (such as a wah in cocked mode), bluesy to almost a metal-like kerrang, and beyond.
While recording tracks with my band, the songs required that I negotiate such things as gnarly overdriven tones for riffs, chiming funk-like chords, big rock punch for choruses, shimmery and ambient clean sounds for some sweetening parts, and articulate precision for driving an Electro-Harmonix Mel9 Tape Relay Machine (for simulated Mellotron flutes and strings). The Double Agent never let me down, and, in fact, it remained in my hands for the majority of the recording sessions. It’s that versatile of a tone monster, and it’s that fun to play. The bottom line is the Double Agent W is a great, great guitar. I think I’ll keep playing it.
DOUBLE AGENT W 20th ANNIVERSARY
PRICE $1,099 street
NUT WIDTH 1.69", Boneite
NECK Maple, bolt-on, medium-oval profile
FRETBOARD Blackwood, 25.5" scale, 12" radius
FRETS 22 medium jumbo
TUNERS Reverend Pin-Lock
BRIDGE Wilkinson WVS50 IIK tremolo
PICKUPS Railhammer Hyper Vintage (bridge), Reverend CP90 (neck)
CONTROLS Master Volume, Master Tone, Bass Contour, 3-way selector
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario, .010-.046
WEIGHT 7.75 lbs
KUDOS Excellent craftsmanship. Versatile tones. Wonderful playability.