Reverend Charger 290

One of several new models to roll out from Reverend’s new Stage King series, the Charger 290 sounds like a muscle car that Mopar would have cooked up in the late ’60s. In reality, it’s a sleek, no-nonsense guitar that is priced and equipped to suit solidbody players who subscribe to the big-bang-for- minimal-bucks theory. The body is a little more curvatious than the standard Reverend recipe, and it features tone chambers and a 5.5mm-thick spruce top that’s finished in metallic gold and neatly trimmed with cream-colored binding. The satin-finished maple neck is vintage toned for a sweet look, and it fits into the body pocket with laser precision. The 22 frets are smooth and polished—though they are a bit pokey on the ends—and the small graphite nut is carefully set and notched for very low action with negligible buzz. The Charger’s headstock sports staggered-height Wilkinson tuners and a roller-style tree for the E and B strings, and the double-action trussrod is accessible through
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A swanky looking pickguard holds a trio of knurled, Tele-style metal knobs that includes Reverend’s new Bass Contour control—a passive tone circuit that lets you dial in the low-end booty to a degree unsurpassed by standard tone controls. Controlled by a 3-way selector, the two Reverend P-90 single-coil pickups fit snugly into their routs and are configured to cancel hum when combined.

Road Test

The Charger plays extremely well and sounds in tune as you romp around the neck. The semi-hollow construction and light spruce top give it a lively and resonant acoustic voice, with good sustain and a bright, springy attack. These qualities stood out when we plugged the Charger 290 into a mid-’70s 50-watt Marshall (driving a Celestion loaded Marshall 4x12), a new Fender Super-Sonic combo, and a Mesa/Boogie Lonestar Special. This guitar distinguishes itself with a snappy response and plenty of mid punch and low-end thunk. The Bass Contour control has a dramatic effect on the low-end content, which you’ll quickly notice as you sweep from skinny to fat bottom with a twist of the dial. The output is jacked a bit in the maximum-bass setting, and that’s pure coolness for pounding out huge riffs through a cranked-up Marshall. The Charger’s tightness, strong output, and slick playability make it an ideal lead guitar for rockers, blues players, and country twangers, and the

fierce tones we got from it though the Super Sonic in high-gain mode were knockdown impressive.

The Charger sounds extremely good for clean rhythm playing too, thanks again to the Bass Contour control. Turning the knob to a thinner setting really opens up the neck pickup for clear, stringy chording, and the dual-pickup setting sounded ravishing in this configuration when pushed though the clean channel of the Lonestar with its master dimed. With the Tone control backed off a bit, the tones remain crisp and detailed, yet very smooth on the top, and since the highs aren’t pruned off when you turn down, you get very consistent and balanced sounds as you ride the guitar’s Volume knob to elicit cleaner and dirtier textures.

Charge It!

The Charger has tons going for it and is a super deal for anyone looking for a hip guitar for gigs and recording. With its attractive price, excellent quality, and great sounds and playability, the Charger 290 (along with the other models in the Stage King series) puts Reverend front and center in the budget guitar scene. In fact, it’s unfortunate that this instrument didn’t make it into last month’s Roundup, but with the impressions of those 20 axes still fresh in our neurons, the Charger 290 clearly is well deserving of an Editors’ Pick Award.