Reverend Reeves Gabrels Dirtbike Royale Review

The Cure, David Bowie and Tin Machine guitarist is honored with a new signature model.

Reverend Reeves Gabrels Dirtbike Royale
(Image: © Reverend)

GuitarPlayer Verdict

The Dirtbike Royale is well crafted, lightweight and tuneful, and one of the best realizations of a modern P-90 axe currently available

Pros

  • +

    Excellent playability and tones

  • +

    MojoTone Soapbar pickups are quiet and very responsive

Cons

  • -

    None

Why you can trust GuitarPlayer Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Reeves Gabrels has a long list of credits that includes stints with Tin Machine, David Bowie and, since 2012, the Cure.

The Dirtbike Royale (opens in new tab) is his latest Reverend Guitars signature model. It joins the clan as the only non-vibrato guitar among a group that includes the Dirtbike, Signature and Signature RG-SUS – all equipped with Wilkinson WVS50 IIK vibratos – and the semi-hollow Spacehawk, which has a Bigsby B-50 with a roller bridge.

Reverend Reeves Gabrels Dirtbike Royale

MojoTone Hot Quiet Coil P-90 Soapbar (bridge) and Regular Quiet Coil P-90 Soapbar (neck) (Image credit: Reverend)

Dressed in cool Feline Gray or Royale Red, and decked out with full binding, the Dirtbike Royale is a sleek guitar with an offset double-cutaway korina body, and a set, three-piece korina neck that carries a 24 ¾–inch scale (12-inch radius) ebony fretboard.

The neck’s medium oval shape has just the right amount of girth for a very comfortable grip, and the medium-jumbo frets are polished and evenly crowned. 

Dressed in cool Feline Gray or Royale Red, and decked out with full binding, the Dirtbike Royale is a sleek guitar

The nut is also very smooth on the ends and perfectly notched to route the strings to the pin-lock tuners without requiring a string tree.

The action on our review guitar was low and free of buzzing, and the intonation was tuneful throughout the span of the neck. This setneck design has a nice rounded heel for your hand to push up against, and the deep cutaways allow full and easy access to the high frets.

Reverend Reeves Gabrels Dirtbike Royale

Wilkinson GTB wraparound bridge (Image credit: Reverend)

The Dirtbike Royale differs from the original model in two ways: It has a Wilkinson GTB wraparound tailpiece with an adjustable B-string saddle, which helps steer it in a Les Paul Junior direction, and to further the LP leanings it has P-90-style pickups, specifically a MojoTone Hot Quiet Coil P-90 Soapbar in the bridge and a MojoTone Regular Quiet Coil P-90 Soapbar in the neck.

It’s a combination that delivers the performance Gabrels has long sought.

“I wanted something that would bark when I wanted it to and also be low noise,” the guitarist says. “I had a band called Modern Farmer when the first Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier heads came out. I had a ’56 Gibson Les Paul Junior and a ’59 Les Paul Special, and my whole thing was, ‘The volume control is the noise gate!’  So the idea of having a good hum-canceling P-90 is something I’ve been trying to do for 25 years.

Reeves Gabrels, 2016

(Image credit: Ollie Millington/Redferns)

“These MojoTone pickups are stock, too. Sometimes you want to have a signature model pickup, and then you realize you’re just going to have them make the thing they’re already making. On the bridge pickup, with the bass full up, you get a cocked-wah sound, but not so much that you can’t use a cocked wah with it!”

I wanted something that would bark when I wanted it to and also be low noise... A good hum-canceling P-90 is something I’ve been trying to do for 25 years

Reeves Gabrels

The tones that the Dirtbike Royale dishes out range from very clear with a touch of twanginess to rich, mids-forward growl when you unleash the beast.

MojoTone’s patent-applied-for Quiet-Coil P-90 is a hum-canceling design that features low-gauss Alnico magnets to provide vintage tone without the noise. They’re an excellent match for this guitar, which delivers supremely cool clean and overdriven tones that have great dynamic sensitivity and clean up beautifully when the guitar volume is turned down.

Reverend Reeves Gabrels Dirtbike Royale

Reverend Reeves Gabrels Dirtbike Royale in Feline Gray finish (Image credit: Reverend)

Played though Fender Deluxe Reverb and Victoria Double Deluxe 2x12 tube amps, the Dirtbike Royale easily covered territory that ranged from James Brown funk to Chris Stapleton-style alt-country dirt to ’70s/’80s hard-rock grind.

The fact that Gabrels deploys this electric guitar onstage for all the textures that Cure tunes require is a testament to the DBR’s versatility.

Reverend Reeves Gabrels Dirtbike Royale

Reverend Pin-Lock tuners (Image credit: Reverend)

The volume control preserves highs when rolled back, and the tone control is well voiced and can be run super low if needed, without muddying the sound. The bass contour control is highly effective too, as it allows you to get stringy single-coil tones at low settings and beefy, humbucker-like sounds when you turn it up.

It’s an extremely effective control that lets you very easily dial-in the guitar to your liking. Setting it about three-quarters up sounded great with our test amps, but there’s plenty of range to adjust for any rig you’re playing through.

The Dirtbike Royale is well crafted, lightweight and tuneful, and one of the best realizations of a modern P-90 axe currently available.

We’re giving it an Editors’ Pick Award and suggest you give one a spin.

Reverend Reeves Gabrels Dirtbike Royale

Reverend Reeves Gabrels Dirtbike Royale in Royale Red finish (Image credit: Reverend)

Specifications:

  • NUT: Bonite, 1.692” wide
  • NECK: Three-piece korina. Medium Oval shape
  • FRETBOARD: Ebony, 24.75” scale, 12” radius
  • FRETS: 22 medium jumbo
  • TUNERS: Reverend Pin-Lock 
  • BODY: Korina
  • BRIDGE: Wilkinson GTB wraparound
  • PICKUPS: MojoTone Hot Quiet Coil P-90 Soapbar (bridge) and Regular Quiet Coil P-90 Soapbar (neck)
  • CONTROLS: Volume, tone, bass contour. Three-way selector
  • FACTORY STRINGS: D’Addario .009-.046
  • WEIGHT: 7.5 lbs (as tested)
  • EXTRAS: Available in Feline Gray and Royale Red
  • BUILT: Korea

The Reverend Reeves Gabrels Dirtbike Royale is available here (opens in new tab).