Sometimes you’ll see a new bass and it seems familiar—an instrument you’ve gotten used to over the years. But then you look again and realize your first glance deceived you. That’s the case with the new series of basses from Reverend, the company that brought you the legendary Rumblefish before leaving the bass business in 2004.

Reverend basses are back, but are now being produced in a high-end Korean factory rather than their US headquarters. The designs and specs still spring from the brain of Reverend’s founder Joe Naylor, who aimed for seasoned woods, tight tolerances, and high-quality components. Naylor also designed his pickups with specific tonal characteristics in mind—so that the bridge and neck pickup each bring something unique to the sonic palette—beyond what comes naturally from their onboard locations.

Like the original Reverend basses, these new axes bring a fresh take on design, but have only a slight resemblance to their predecessors. Two of the five new basses were designed with a set-neck, while the other three use a more conventional bolt-on. For this review, Reverend sent one from each group.

The set-neck Thundergun bass is reminiscent of a well-known bass that also begins with “Thunder,” while the Justice bass reminds you of an old standby model that also has the letter “J.” The two basses share some common details including a 1 21/32" nut width, a two-way locking bridge, a korina wood body, and a bound-and-blocked five-piece maple/ walnut neck with a rosewood fretboard. The bi-directional truss rod, tuners, and knob set are the same too. But after that, the similarities depart pretty significantly.

The Thundergun: Old-School Meets Modern Sound
This bass has a striking look that makes you want to go a little bit nuts by playing a little harder and driving the music a little more. It’s like getting behind the wheel of a muscle car and feeling the need to drive a little more aggressively. The Thundergun has a familiar and sturdy feel in the hand, yet weighs in lighter than expected at about 8 pounds. Its Vintage Clear glossy finish was applied very evenly, with nary a glitch on some of the more difficult finishing spots like the raised lip of the body’s center section.

The setup was carefully adjusted, and the control knobs and tuners felt solid, smooth, and consistent. One of my pet gripes about many basses is that the nut slots aren’t cut deeply enough at the factory. That wasn’t the case with the Thundergun. The wiring in the control cavity was tidier than most basses I see, with less excess wire and a tie keeping things in place. Shielding was accomplished via a good coat of conductive paint.

As I mentioned, Naylor created pickups for this bass with a specific sound in mind. The Split Brick neck pickup is essentially a P-style pickup in a humbucker case—with mighty big magnets. Sound-wise, this pickup’s voice is aimed toward the lows and mids. I thought it served decently when soloed, much like a P-style pickup should. The Thick Brick bridge pickup, in contrast, provides mainly mids and highs. I can’t imagine its somewhat nasally sound being very useful on its own, except for the muddiest of rooms.

Blending the bridge with the neck pickup created several useful sounds with both body and bite. This task was made easy with the black plastic Blend control, along with the master Tone and Volume controls. On most basses with two pickups, there would be two volumes and one tone instead. When the pickups were balanced evenly right at the detent, I noticed that the volume went down a little, but that’s normal for any two-pickup, parallel-wired bass.

I can see this bass working well when edge is needed rather than thump, as most of the sounds lean toward the modern, but a simple Tone knob adjustment imparted more warmth and thump when needed. Another thing to consider is the body edge shape, which is slab cut on the front side. If you’re the type of player who rests your wrist on the body top while playing, the sharper edge could create a pressure point on your wrist joint.

Thundergun Rating:
Buy if...
you’re after a dependable bass that’s eye-catching on stage and you like some edge to your sound.
Skip if...
you’re a traditionalist in both sound and design.

Street $1098 - Reverend Guitars -