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Interview with Reverend Guitars

Reverend

Eric Lapp • Posted on 12/24/2020 • 4 min read

To get an in-depth look behind the scenes of one of the biggest names in electric guitars today, we spoke with Ken and Penny Haas, who together are part of the amazing leadership atop Reverend Guitars.

Give us a brief history on how Reverend came about.

Joe Naylor started the company in 1997 with a patent on a unique body construction for an electric guitar. Those guitars led to notoriety and a healthy artist roster that paved the way for the models we are doing now.

What do you think has been the driving principle behind Reverend's success?

It’s really three things: 

  • Designs that are interesting without being alienating. 
  • Practical innovations that are useful to working musicians of all kinds. 
  • Purposely deciding on treating everyone with respect – artists, dealers, and customers alike. 

Could you have imagined where Reverend would be when you started with them? 

I started with Joe a couple of years into the start of the company, and I could immediately feel the potential that the brand had. I am thrilled with how far it has come. 

Reverend holds a lot of innovations, what are some key features that make a Reverend unique?

  • The Bass Contour Control allows players to shape the low frequencies in a passive format.  
  •  We were an early adopter of putting locking tuners on all the instruments for tuning stability and ease of string changing. 
  • Recently, Naylor’s design of the Triple Tree is a great example of the simple innovations that we are continually putting out there. 

Joe Naylor seems like Reverends resident Isaac Newton, what is it like working with a creative force like that?

Joe’s brain is always at work.  It’s exciting, because not only does he incorporate ideas from us or from our artists, but he routinely comes up with game-changing ideas out of the blue.  

What started Reverend's love affair with the tone wood Korina? 

We experimented with a handful of different materials. We settled on Korina because of our desire to use a lightweight, renewable tonewood with an established reputation in the industry.  

Tell us something that isn't widely known about Reverend. 

We have a vast collection of conceptual art by our Head Tech, Zack Green, scattered throughout our building. He adds more pieces at random times and in random spots. 

What does the future of Reverend/Electric Guitar in general look like to you?

We are on a massive upswing in the industry, and young people seem to be gravitating towards the guitar again.  That generation seems to be gravitating to our brand, so our future looks very bright. 

Can you share any clues about any new stuff coming next year? 

It’s no secret that we are developing our second signature model with the mighty Greg Koch and releasing it this spring.  Reverend’s Signature guitars have led to some cool collaborations between Reverend and some other companies in the industry.  We have been lucky to work with Fishman through Greg, Hipshot through Mike Watt, and we are working on something cool with Reeves Gabrels and Mojotone Pickups.  

What is your favorite Russo Music Exclusive Reverend? 

I hate to be the guy that says the latest thing all the time, but that Venetian Gold top/Brown Back Charger is the bomb. 

You guys have some of the best colorways in the business, and you're always coming up with new ones. What is the process for choosing new colorways for your guitars every year? And do you name the color before you choose it, or does the color inform its name?

This is one of the few things where there is no direct path in our business.  Most of the time, Joe picks the colors, but sometimes artists arrive with a color in mind. Sometimes Penny or I, or someone else in our building, has a great idea.  Inspiration really comes from all over.

The names absolutely come after the color choice, and Joe names 99% of them. 

Anything else we should know about Reverend Guitars? 

Our sales manager, Zak Ward, wanted you to know that he proudly drives a Honda CRV.