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Reverend Pete Anderson Signature Electric Guitar Review

July 20, 2010
Pete Anderson came to prominence in the ’80s as country star Dwight Yoakam’s lead guitarist and producer. Along with the Blasters and Los Lobos, Yoakam and Anderson brought roots music into the Los Angeles punk and alternative clubs, establishing a fresh audience for a new genre that would soon become “Americana.” Thanks to Anderson’s twang-infused Tele work and back-to-basics production, Yoakam was embraced by Nashville as a “new traditionalist,” creating country-radio hits alongside George Strait and Randy Travis. Not satisfied with sticking to chicken pickin’ and crying steel guitars, the team crafted songs like “Fast as You” that revealed elements of Anderson’s Detroit blues beginnings. His post-Yoakam solo music delves deeper into the blues, while his work with singer Moot Davis explores swing and rockabilly.


Download Example 1
Clean - Neck pickup, then Bridge pickup
Download Example 2
Dirty - Neck pickup, then Bridge pickup

Searching for an instrument that could handle the variety of styles at his fingertips, Anderson joined forces with Joe Naylor at Reverend Guitars. Anderson had been playing a modified Epiphone Joe Pass archtop on the road for a few years, and the tweaks he made to that instrument inspired him to design his own dream machine with Naylor. The result is the Pete Anderson Signature guitar—Reverend’s first hollowbody.

Hot-Rodded Hollow
The PA’s body consists of a laminated spruce top and laminated maple back and sides. Reverend offers the guitar in two finishes—satin vintage clear (the color of the model we tested) and satin black. The lack of a gloss finish gives the guitar a funky, road dog look, while the set-neck construction and cream binding on the body, f-holes, and three-piece korina neck speak of a classier instrument. It’s a combination that works well to express Anderson’s fondness for pawnshop specials.

The guitar’s 2 3/8" body is fully hollow but sports a novel top brace that Reverend calls the Uni-Brace. This single wood strip starts at the neck block and ends at a second block under the bridge. This bridge block allows Reverend to mount a fixed Tune-o-matic-style bridge, rather than the moveable wooden bridge often found on hollowbody and archtop guitars. If you’re like Anderson—used to performing wide blues bends and pedal-steel licks—a fixed bridge is essential. The Uni-Brace runs the body’s full depth, but because it’s only a ½" wide it allows the instrument to retain the classic tonal characteristics of a hollow f-hole guitar.

Running along the bass-string side of the body, the Uni-Brace divides the interior and limits internal air movement. This contributes significantly toward reducing uncontrollable feedback at higher stage volumes. Connecting the bridge block to the neck block, the Uni-Brace also increases sustain and adds structural integrity. This reinforcement prevents the neck from pulling up and forward over time. Stiffening the bass side of the body also increases low-string punch and clarity.

Other modern specs include a 1 11/16" graphite nut, low-friction roller saddles, and Reverend Pin-Lock machine heads. These all help keep the guitar in tune when using the Bigsby B70 vibrato. The nut and rollers offer silky string slippage, while the tuners eliminate the need for any string windings that might loosen and fail to tighten up fully as you work the Bigsby arm.



The electronics incorporate some tricks that weren’t typically employed on vintage instruments. The two Reverend dog-ear P-90-style single-coils are reverse-wound to cancel hum when used together, and each pickup is sonically calibrated for its respective position. In addition to standard Volume and Tone knobs, the PA also includes a Bass Contour knob—a passive low-frequency roll-off control common to all Reverend guitars.

Contemporary players will also appreciate how the neck joins the body at the 15th fret for improved access to upper regions of the 22-fret rosewood fretboard. A moderate 12" radius and medium-jumbo frets promote clean bends and comfortable chording.

Plugging In
The guitar arrived set up with extremely low action, yet it exhibited no string buzz through the amps I plugged it into (all guitars will buzz acoustically with the action this low), nor did it fret out at any point on the neck. I prefer my action a tad higher, so I simply applied a screwdriver to the task of raising the bridge a bit. Both acoustically and amplified, the guitar exhibited more sustain than a typical hollowbody, but a little less than your average solidbody. The Reverend arrived perfectly intonated and it stayed in tune despite my severe Bigsby manhandling.

I played the PA through an Egnater Rebel-30 and an Orange Tiny Terror, in addition to running it directly into Ableton Live with Line 6 POD Farm plug-ins. Through the Egnater’s clean channel, the neck pickup produced warm jazz tones à la early Jim Hall with his Gibson ES-175. The PA’s tone knob was voiced nicely for this classic sound. Using the Bass Contour knob to roll off the lows, I was able to coax a striking Strat-like blues character from the neck pickup.

Switching to the bridge pickup produced plenty of Tele-style twang. At lower volumes, I found it unnecessary to roll off any lows with the Bass Contour. At increased—but stil clean—levels, I rolled off just a bit of bass to maintain good bite. Applying full bass rolloff to the bridge pickup produced a slightly scooped midrange that didn’t float my boat on clean settings, but it gave me a great throaty tone with snap and articulation when I dialed in higher gain on the Egnater’s lead channel or with the drive cranked on the Tiny Terror.

When I switched on both pickups, the PA offered chiming tones with or without the bass rolled off. The dual-pickup setting blissfully cancelled the standard 60-cycle P-90 hum as well.

Though the PA excelled at traditional jazz, blues, country, and rockabilly riffs, it was no slouch at soaring ES-335-style fusion and all-out distorted rock. The guitar even revealed its charms through amp-modeling software, a quality I’ve usually only found in more expensive instruments.

Playing through the amps in clean mode, I was able to sit facing the speaker with no feedback issues, despite relatively high volumes. Even with a fair amount of distortion, the feedback remained controllable, though if you want to avoid run-away feedback onstage, you’d better turn down the guitar volume before taking your hands off the strings to clap along with the crowd. Of course, fans of semi-hollow and hollowbody guitars know that controllable feedback can be one of their most gratifying pleasures. And that was certainly true of the PA—I really enjoyed adding Bigsby vibrato to its feedback- sustained notes.

The Final Mojo
The PA is a well-crafted and finely tuned machine. Its combination of spruce and maple keeps potentially muddy P-90s clear and focused at all volume levels, making the guitar suitable for a wide range of musical styles. Its hollow body produces the woodiness associated with this type of instrument, while the Uni-Brace really mitigates the howl often associated with cranked archtop guitars. That’s why the Reverend Pete Anderson is a no-brainer for roots players—but rockers who aren’t dedicated Floyd-wigglers might want to give it a shot, too.
Buy if...
you need a cool-looking, fantastically versatile hollowbody.
Skip if...
locking tremolos and metal are your thing.
Rating...


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