Reverend Guitars Ron Asheton Model
If Ron Asheton had recorded just one album in his musical career – the Stooges’ 1969 debut – he still would be regarded as a legend. The Stooges’ proto-punk opus laid the blueprint for a thousand punk, alt-rock, and grunge bands that followed and featured the cult classic “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Asheton passed away in 2009, but the folks at Reverend Guitars have honored him with their Ron Asheton model, available in both white and a rather badass deep orange.
The Ron Asheton solidbody merges several ideas into one compelling instrument. Obviously, there’s the Flying V-styled body (made of white limba Korina, no less), but Asheton and Reverend builder Joe Naylor also added the big block inlays that recall a Les Paul Custom. The triple P-90 pickup configuration speaks to a number of vintage guitars, like the early-version Gibson Switchmasters and the non-reverse Gibson Firebird III. A raised body elevation down the guitar’s face also brings to mind the venerable Firebird.
In addition to the historical touches, Naylor and his team added some cool tweaks, like a rosewood fingerboard with 22 medium-jumbo frets, a dual-action truss rod, a black swept-wing pickguard, a five-way pickup selector, and chrome control knobs. Other design perks include three lightning bolts on the upper wing of the V and a laser graphic of Asheton’s signature, located on the back of the headstock.
Like the three-piece body, the Gibson-scaled neck (24.75″) is also Korina and features a 1.65625″ graphite nut. The Reverend-design triple CP90 pickups include a bridge unit that is hotter than a traditional P-90, while the middle and neck versions are slightly cleaner and reputedly less noisy than vintage P-90s. The neck has a pretty flat 12″ radius with a medium-oval profile, while the three-and-three headstock features Reverend pin-lock tuners. Hardware also includes a tune-o-matic-style bridge and stop tailpiece. For controls, there are Volume and Tone knobs along with a bass contour, basically a passive bass roll-off that adds more single-coil twang to the CP90s and puts some variable pickup voicing in easy reach – cool idea. Better still, the Volume knob is smooth and perfectly sited for volume swells on the go.
Plugged in, the Ron Asheton quickly impresses. It’s a nicely balanced guitar and the neck feels great. Its weight is right on the money and the body’s resonance is obvious before the cable is even inserted into the nicely recessed input jack. Tonally, the Asheton offers a big sonic dimension, even when played through smaller combo amps. Asheton may have been proto-punk in his day, but this guitar is killer for both flat-out rock and electric blues. The pickups offer a wide range of tones, including easy and meaty Clapton- and Peter Green-style sounds from the neck CP90. A swing through the clean to dirty ranges finds all sorts of warm, puckery tones. And don’t be fooled by the Flying V shape – you may even be surprised at the cool country twangin’ the Ron Asheton delivers. Want to crank up the gain and go to Metalville, but are afraid of the P-90 noise? Positions 2 and 4 on the selector switch are completely hum-canceling and deliver all the crunch with a little out-of-phase tone for good grace. More importantly, these pickups are super-clean, giving incredible note definition with the crunch on, in some cases better than that from a typical humbucker. Clearly, Asheton and Naylor knew what they were doing when they designed this solidbody.
Made in Korea, Reverend guitars are set up in the United States by in-house technician Zack Green (whose initials are on the back of every headstock). And the build itself is fairly superlative – the guitar is solid and its controls and switches seem tough enough for regular gigging. The neck is fast playing, allowing relatively easy bends on the high E, and the tone is versatile and pleasing. Onstage, the V shape, three CP90s, and hot finish will more than grab fans’ attention. Ron Asheton’s spirit clearly lives on in this fine guitar sure to unleash any guitarist’s raw power.
This article originally appeared in VG November 2013 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.