Hybrid—it’s pretty much the hip thing to be right now. Hybrid cars blend the tradition and comfort of an internal combustion engine with the sustainability of a rechargeable battery. Hybrid wines consist of a blend of grapes working together to make the perfect bottle. Sure, the greatest wines have always been blends, but I digress. In the guitar world, we have hybrid fuzz pedals, with the stability of a silicon transistor supporting the sweetness of a germanium transistor. The list goes on.
So why the talk of hybrids? It’s because that’s the best frame of reference for the Tricky Gomez 290 from Reverend. The headstock, six-to-a-side tuners, and hollowed slab body pay homage to the Thinline Tele. The dual P-90 pickups, the Bigsby Vibrato, and the 24.75-inch scale length lean more towards Kalamazoo, MI. The sum of these parts is one of the more versatile and downright fun guitars I’ve played this year.
The Tricky is made from a routed piece of Korina with a solid maple top. The neck is also Korina with a rosewood fretboard. The mother of pearl inlays are placed precisely and the headstock is finished in a very sleek and modern matte black. The finish on my test guitar was Satin Metallic Alpine Green. The combination of the matte finish with a little sparkle is striking. I love that the finish is resistant to fingerprints and feels like an old guitar without resorting to faux distressing. The satin finish is especially nice on the back of the neck where it makes for quick and effortless movement from the high to low frets and back. Finally, the neck and body are outfitted with off-white binding.
I first tried the Tricky unplugged, and it sounds like one would expect a good semi-hollow to sound. It’s rich and resonant with a naturally occurring reverb. The tone is well balanced from highs to lows, and the sustain is impressive.
Plugged in, the Tricky comes to life. The bridge pickup is hot and juicy and the neck pickup is mellower. The controls on the Tricky consist of master volume, master tone, bass contour control, and a three-way pickup selector. The bass contour control is a passive bass roll-off controls that allows the thick and mean P90s to sound a little more like Strat or Tele pickups.
Starting with the bass contour control fully on, the neck pickup is great for big chords and single note playing. Rolling off the tone makes for serviceable “jazz box” tones. The bridge pickup alone is mean and cutting, especially when going into a cranked amp or an overdrive pedal. The combination of the two pickups has that great acoustic quality. Rolling off on the bass contour brings out the other side of the Tricky—now the neck pickup is more bell-like and can certainly sound like a Strat, especially when running into a Tube Screamer. The bridge pickup becomes big, bright, and twangy—a combination of country tones and surf guitar. The beauty of this setup: Since the bass contour is variable, players have access to all the shades in between. This control also adds flexibility when running into a fuzz or a cranked amp. Rather than rolling off the volume to clean up, players can shave a little off of the bass contour and get a cleaner tone without losing volume—pretty awesome.
Like all current day Reverends, the Tricky is built in Korea and set up in Michigan. And like every Reverend I’ve ever seen, it comes equipped with three initials: ZSG. Those initials stand for Zack Green, the man that tests every Reverend before it leaves the shop. Clearly, Zack is doing a great job, because my test guitar had great action, near perfect intonation, and played like a dream. The frets are polished nicely with no sharp ends and the nut is perfectly cut. The tuning is extremely stable, even with heavy use of the Bigsby. Speaking of the Bigsby, it has the Reverend “soft-touch” spring which makes it softer and more responsive to the touch. I’m sure you’ve heard stories of how Bigsbys rob a guitar of sustain. That’s never been my experience with the Reverend Bigsbys and it certainly isn’t the case here. Additionally, the Reverend Pin-Lock tuners and the roller bridge combine to make for an extremely stable instrument.
Probably the single greatest thing you can say about a guitar is “I just couldn’t put it down.” That was certainly the case with the Tricky. Every time I picked it up and started playing, I just kept playing.
What We Like: The Tricky strikes the perfect balance between a bolt-on 25.5-inch scale and a set-neck 24.75-inch scale guitar. It’s comfortable and compelling to play and it flat out sounds great! It also doesn’t hurt that it looks cool as hell.
Concerns: While the volume knob is placed perfectly for pinky finger volume swells, it had the tendency to get in the way of the Bigsby’s lever. For players with different Bigsby technique, it may not be an issue. And it’s far from a deal breaker.