A tribute to this Midwest guitar institution's 25th anniversary, this versatile instrument plays superbly well in every regard
A well-built and impressively versatile guitar that segues effortlessly from girth and power to brighter, snappier tones
Some players might enjoy a more vintage-leaning humbucker in the bridge position
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Phew! That quarter of a century went by in the blink of an eye. In the course of it, Reverend grew from a small Michigan company making guitars on a modernized Danelectro template to an Ohio-based outfit offshoring a comprehensive catalog of instrument designs that suit a range of needs and playing styles.
The original Six Gun HPP was released a couple of years ago to lend a new pickup configuration to one of the company’s longstanding body styles. Now it’s doing honors as one of two electric guitars (including the Sensei Jr) and a bass (the Decision P) graced with special Limited Edition 25th Anniversary cosmetics to celebrate this milestone.
The Six Gun is Reverend founder Joe Naylor’s own take on the offset-waist asymmetrical double-cutaway solidbody, reflecting a marriage of sumptuous curves and edgy angles in its familiar, yet original profile.
It has a body of solid Korina, with comfort contours at the forearm and ribcage positions, plus subtle access contouring at the back of the cutaways around the neck joint.
To celebrate the silver anniversary, it’s dressed in a Metallic Silver Freeze finish, with white binding around the body’s top, a brushed-aluminum pickguard, and a pearl XXV inlay at the 12th fret. The fingerboard itself is upgraded from the standard rosewood or roasted maple to ebony. All told, it’s a superbly classy look and an apt statement of the company’s pride in reaching this milestone.
As ever, it’s a 25 ½–scale, bolt-neck build with a roasted maple neck, which, on our example, displays a lovely grain with some subtle flame across its back. It’s carved to what Reverend calls a “medium oval” profile – pretty much a comfortably rounded medium C, by most standards.
As we’ve come to expect from Reverend, the entire thing is replete with clever design touches that increase performance and usability without screaming for attention.
Access to the dual-action truss rod is via an open channel at the headstock end, and the headstock carries Reverend’s Pin-Lock tuners and a nifty offset triple string tree that increases tension across the nut for all three unwound strings.
The vibrato bridge is Wilkinson’s WVS50 IIK, a modern two-point design with individually adjustable saddles, a push-in arm, and a good reputation for return-to-pitch stability. It has an easy action and more than enough drop for serious dive bombing, with some up-bend also available.
A fingerboard extension allows 22 medium-jumbo frets, which are all flawlessly dressed and polished, aiding a guitar that plays extremely confidently right out of the two-tone, teardrop-shaped case. To my eye, one oddity amid the otherwise plush esthetics is the use of off-white plastic dots for the rest of the fingerboard’s position markers, when pearl dots matching the silvery pearl 12th-fret inlay might have been a more elegant option. Dealer’s choice, I guess.
The HPP pickup selection that gives the guitar part of its name includes a Reverend HA5 bridge humbucker plus two 9A5 P-90s in the middle and neck position, wired to a five-way switch that should deliver some Strat-on-steroids voicings.
The Alnico V humbucker is a hottish affair, wound to around 13.32k ohms using 43-AWG wire. The P-90s are more vintage-leaning, wound with more traditional 42-AWG wire to around 7.65k ohms each and also boasting Alnico V magnets. In addition to the master volume and tone, the electronics include Reverend’s handy Bass Contour control, which I’ve always found extremely effective at tweaking pickups across the dark-to-bright/thick-to-thin voicing spectrum.
I tested the 25th Anniversary Six Gun HPP through a Friedman Mini Dirty Shirley and 2x12 cab, a tweed Deluxe-style 1x12 combo, and a Neural DSP Quad Cortex modeler into my studio monitors, and in all scenarios found it a great performer.
One of the more immediate stand-out impressions is the model’s impressive versatility. Between the pickup configuration and the simple but extremely effective control complement, there are a lot of bold and original tones available, as well as plenty of sculptability for crafting familiar sounds that stand in well for the timeless classics.
Through it all, the Korina-maple-ebony wood combination works toward a solid, yet articulate response, with tight lows, balanced mids, and some extra harmonic sparkle in the highs.
The power is there in abundance via the hot-leaning humbucker, so sizzling rock leads and power-chord crunch are second nature to this thing. But dialing down the volume control just slightly and winding the contour fully counterclockwise lets the humbucker do a much better single-coil impersonation than almost any coil-splitting options I can recall.
Via the same process, the P-90s convert from fat to thin single-coils, while retaining plenty of richness and character. Sure, these tweaks might not sway you from your prized pre-CBS Stratocaster, but the 25th Anniversary Six Gun HPP has a good take on most general renditions of the breed, and certainly with enough confidence to pull off your David Gilmour–, Mark Knopfler–, and SRV-inspired voicings in front of a sweaty club crowd on a Saturday night.
The guitar plays superbly well in every regard, and any real weaknesses are difficult to ferret out, especially considering what it delivers at this price point. If anything, I think I would personally enjoy the 25th Anniversary Six Gun HPP with a vintage PAF–style humbucker in the bridge position, allowing a little more sweetness there in full-girth mode. But that’s a matter of taste, and with the contour control to dial back the higher-gain humbucker’s thickness, Reverend likely calculated that it gives that position some extra gusto.
Truly, though, if I were limited to a budget just slightly north of $1k and needed one solid guitar to tackle a wide range of sounds and styles, this would likely be a top contender for the job. The Reverend 25th Anniversary Six Gun HPP deserves an Editor’s Pick Award for that achievement.
PRICE: $1,199 street
NUT: Synthetic bone, 1.692” wide
NECK: Maple, medium oval profile
FRETBOARD: Ebony, 25.5” scale, 12” radius
FRETS: 22 medium-jumbo
TUNERS: Reverend Pin-Lock
BODY: Solid Korina
BRIDGE: Wilkinson WVS50 IIK vibrato
PICKUPS: Reverend HA5 humbucker in the bridge position and 9A5 P-90s neck and middle
CONTROLS: Master volume and tone, contour, five-way switch
FACTORY STRINGS: D’Addario .010–.046
WEIGHT: 8.1 lbs
Dave Hunter is a writer and consulting editor for Guitar Player magazine. His prolific output as author includes Fender 75 Years, The Guitar Amp Handbook, The British Amp Invasion, Ultimate Star Guitars, Guitar Effects Pedals, The Guitar Pickup Handbook, The Fender Telecaster and several other titles. Hunter is a former editor of The Guitar Magazine (UK), and a contributor to Vintage Guitar, Premier Guitar, The Connoisseur and other publications. A contributing essayist to the United States Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Board’s Permanent Archive, he lives in Kittery, ME, with his wife and their two children and fronts the bands A Different Engine and The Stereo Field.