If you have ever played a Reverend, then you may know what I mean when I use the words "streamlined" and "innovative" to describe these wonderful guitars. Since the late 90s, Reverend has produced some of the world's most useful, inventive, and unique guitars. Based in Detroit, Michigan, Reverend guitars started out as a local company headed up by Joe Naylor. For the first several years, they designed, built, and inspected every guitar in the USA. During the early years, Reverend Guitars accumulated a small, but very loyal following. Finally, the demand grew enough for mass production, and in 2006 they moved the manufacturing process to Korea.
Before Reverend moved their production overseas, they made a total of 4,956 guitars and basses in the USA, and the Reverend Avenger was one of the earliest designs of their USA series. There are a few variations of the Avenger model, but only 281 of the original Avenger guitars have ever been produced. Each guitar incorporated a unique set of pickups, finish, color and materials (this "custom" approach to guitars was something Reverend was famous for in its early years). Though Reverend liked to change things up from guitar to guitar, their signature design and style remained as an essential aspect of their brand. Every Reverend guitar is crafted with quality and individually inspected to make sure it stays that way.
I first received my Reverend Avenger as a gift several years ago, and it has stuck with me as my primary electric guitar ever since. It was built in 2000 (serial no. 01250) incorporating a set of three single coil "Strat" pickups. It has a simple five-way pickup switch, one volume knob, and one tone knob. The finish is comprised of an antique white phenolic layer, and a gold pick guard. The solid maple neck and fretboard on my Reverend has always been superb, only requiring occasional set up and adjustment once every year or so. The pickups are clear and versatile when using the pickup selector. The guitar always holds a tune, no matter how much I bend it and wail on the strings. Overall, it's solid and built well.
But the most interesting aspect of the Avenger is its ultra lightweight body. I mean, this guitar is not just kind of light. It's light as a feather. I think my hardshell case weighs more than the guitar itself. I'm almost baffled at the weight of normal guitars when I strap them on because I'm so used to the luxury my lightweight Avenger. This is made possible by the ultra chambered body of the Avenger, and the durable phenolic plastic finish around it. This may sound like some sort of cheap, shoddy alternative to a solid-wood guitar body, but my Avenger holds its own in sustain, playability, and comfort, even with its unorthodox design and build.
I have used my Reverend Avenger for many styles and genres of music, including rock, blues, jazz, experimental, folk, alternative, and other obscure styles. The single coil pickups are great and have a lot of character (I'll admit that I do not know how to classify them, but I do know that Reverend has used their own proprietary pickups for years). The bridge pickup, especially, has a lot of punch and works really well for lead guitar when I need an extra push in my signal. The volume and tone controls are actually useful as well, which can often be a hit or miss for guitars sold under the $1,000 price point.
I love my Avenger, and I don't ever see myself parting with it, but that doesn't mean that its the "perfect" guitar for everyone. I tend to be extra careful with my music equipment, but I'm not sure how well these guitars would stand up to wear in the hands of someone less careful. Just a year ago, I accidentally dropped my Avenger onto the hardwood floor of my apartment when the strap came loose. Because of its lightweight, "plastic" finish, a small corner of my guitar cracked when it hit the floor just right. Fortunately, it was easily repairable and didn't affect the playability of the guitar itself, but I can't imagine what could potentially happen to one of these guitars if it was abused day after day by a "hard working musician" (if you know what I mean).
Another thing to consider about the Reverend Avenger is that it's a discontinued model, so you probably won't find one unless you're actually looking for it. Many early Reverends are considered to be collectors' items, but you may still find them occasionally listed on resale websites for anywhere from $400 to $1,400.
The Avenger is just one of many collectable Reverend Guitars from the early years of the company's history. Each one is unique in its configuration, so if you're looking for a cookie-cutter guitar, you won't find it. Instead, you will find a guitar packed with character and quality, and you may just fall in love with it.