Club King 290 review by Reverend

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Features: 10
  • Sound: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.6 (8 votes)
Reverend: Club King 290

Purchased from: Vintageandmodernguitars

Features — 10
This is the 2010 model and are still in production today in 2015. It has a 25.5" scale maple neck, two of Reverend's own award winning P-90 pickups, Solid wood construction throughout, with no veneer or plywood. The back, sides and center block are produced from one slab of korina which is routed from the top, and then capped with a solid spruce top. This gives the guitar phenomenal sustain and substantial resonance. It has a single volume and single tone knob (I like the simplicity of this but some players prefer having dedicated controls for each pickup) but it also has Reverend's own Bass Contour Control and this is where an otherwise simple guitar suddenly becomes feature packed. The guitar is also adorned with Wilkinson pin-lock tuners and tunomatic bridge & saddle.

If a guitar with individual controls, coil tapping, phase switching, automatic robotic tuners and every gadget under the sun gets a score of 10, I give this guitar an 8: it's simple but the features it has are all very well thought through and the guitar doesn't feel lacking in any way. The Bass Contour Control adds a whole new realm of versatility from the addition of a single knob/pot.

Sound — 10
Right, I've been playing 17 years and previously owned an Ibanez SZ550, Epiphone SG400, Fender Mexican Jaguar, Fender Custom Shop Strat and a Gibson Les Paul Studio. I play through a 1x12 6l6 valve amp made by Ibanez (called the TSA15, check out the reviews on these, they're the most underrated and surprising amps ever, ditched my Orange TH30 for it). The Club King 290 is the best guitar I've owned and one of the best I've ever played. I play funk, soul, rock, pop, blues and indie. This guitar covers all those bases very well. The Alnico P-90's have a slightly compressed sound that delivers a distinctive warm yet articulate sparkle. Thr Bass Contour Control allows you to re-voice the pickups on the fly, you can go from a thick full bodied P-90 down to a '60s strat single coil and have loads of sweet spots in between.

There is plenty of low end and warmth from these P-90's and this means a 1x12 speaker is a must as a minimum. Through my valve amp it's just chock full of character and complex harmonics generated by the resonant chambered body. I like to roll of the Bass Contour Control slightly fir rhythm and then crank it for leads. I just melt when I strum a diminished chord with a little reverb and let the increadible sustain of this guitar carry the notes through a spectrum of subtle frequency changes. It can be bright and sparkly ir it can be smooth, marm and creamy. I just love it.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Every Reverend guitar is set up by their master luthier in america and has to pass their high standard of quality control. The quality of workmanship is what I would expect to see ona guitar significantly more expensive. It's in all the areas that matter... The neck joint, the routing, when you look inside the f-hole, the fretwork, binding and truss-rod action. It's all perfect. The guitar is meant to look retro and a bit simple. The neck finish is wonderful but the body finish is nothing special. A maple topped offering with a shinier finish as an upgrade would be nice. I didn't like the black pickup covers so I put some chrome ones on and now I think it's stunning.

Reliability & Durability — 9
The tuners, saddle, bridge, graphite nut and construction all make for excellent tuning stability and reliability. The neck feels lovely and my luthier loves setting it up when it goes in for its bi-annual service. I spank around playing funk fairly aggressively with this guitar and it is extremely resilient.  I think the finish may wear slightly over time but that is the only issue, every other aspect of this guitar is perfect. I will be playing this live and will be totally confident it won't let me down.

Overall Impression — 9
It appears Reverend have managed to make a guitar that is very unique, has a variety of sounds thanks to the versatility offered by the Bass Contour Control and plays/sounds like a guitar that would usually cost you upwards of 3 times the price. They have compromised slightly on the paint but that is a compromise I am happy to make.

I played over 100 guitars in the last 12 months whilst looking for this guitar and I can safely say that no Epiphone, PRS SE, Gretsch Electromatic or Gibson Les Paul under £1000 will come remotely close to this guitar. The resonance and sustain coupled with the tele-style neck along with the fat P-90 pickups is just a match made in heaven. Please, Please, PLEASE give these guitars the respect they deserve.

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Accurate review. Most underrated guitars in the world. I prefer these to Gretsch guitars that coat considerably more.
    Cheers bro They are definitely something special aren't they. IMHO there's no excuse for buying a guitar in their price range without first checking them out. It's absolutely astounding... I Had a Fender Blacktop Jaguar that cost the same as one of these and it was simply diabolical, the frets were so rough that they cut my fingers and the guitar was toneless. Some guitars produced by the big brands these days are purely for profit with no regard to quality.
    This is a very honest review, has been a little harsh in places, unnecessarily so. Best bang for buck guitars on the planet
    this review is spot on, couldn't have written it better. I haven't had any issues with the finish though
    I just bought my first but not last Reverend. I got the Eastsider S and I have to say that Reverend packs a lot of guitar into an affordable price. This Eastsider sounds and feels better than any of my five Teles. Better guitars than the asking price.
    I had a Reverend Unknown Hinson model... very similar to this one (with the bass control knob). Definitely a unique instrument. It wasn't my cup of tea (sold it), but I can see where it would fit a person for the price. Nice feel, action and unique tones.
    Er, the unknown hinson looks similar, but with a much shorter scale length and dramaticly smaller body it sounds and feels totally different, plus it's nearly 20% more expensive. So it doesn't really compare
    There 3/4 of an inch difference in the body and the neck is 24&3/4# instead of 25&1/2# I don't know how that makes it DRAMATICALLY different. I've played a Stu D Baker and it was awesome. If you ever played one you'd see how incredible they are although I agree they are overpriced. They are $100 more than a Club King and come with a gig bag instead of a case. They used to come with a Coffin Case but too many complaints as Coffin Casses are not very heavy duty for an $1100 guitar
    Nice review but the guitar they reviewed didn't have Alnico Pick ups it has 2 P-90 reviews. You reviewed the wrong guitar
    The unknown Hinson and the Stu D Baker(that's the same thing but without bats on the fret board)are 24&3/4 inch length. The Club King 290 (with 2 P-90'sthe Club king RT has the same scale length as the 290 but uses 2 Revtron Pick ups and the Regular Club King is not made anymore so you can't get them with alnico's in 2015. IN fact you can't get a full scale Club King unless you get the shorter scale or get one with a Bigsby Tremolo. No more Alnico's in the Club King in 2016 and no more long scale without a Bigsby. SAD and Stupid.
    I was lucky enough to snatch a NEW Club King 290 with a Maple neck and all the trimmings (Pinwheel locking tuners, Graphite Nut, Bass Contour Control) and a TOM tailpiece. One of my Favorite guitars . The Korina Body and the 1/4# Spruce Top give it exceptional Tone and the Bass contour Control is like having 2 guitars in one. I LOVE this guitar and I just wish they would give you the option of ditching the Bigsby, but they don't. I have the Sunburst Finnish with the maple Neck and that Korina shows through beautifully. It plays like a dream and has a wide variety of Tones available for any type of Music! This guitar is a KEEPER!
    And by the way NOMOREFENDER- They cost over $1,000 now and some models run from $1499 to $1199 for the B. Corgan model. They are not the very affordable guitars they used to be. Reverend feels that anything under $1,000 is a good guitar. I own an American Strat 2012 w/Fat 50's I bought as a leftover and I paid more for my Reverend. They are no longer the working man's guitar. You have to spend a LOT of money to get one and for a Korean guitar (although it is very well made) it is still quite pricey
    Nomorefender said 1,000 Pounds which in Feb/2016 = +/- $1,450 US Dollars
    They start at $899 on the basic models is that the price on a Blacktop??? You better check Ebay or Reverb or go to the Reverend site and look at the retail price. They are very competitive price wise with American Special Strats and Les Paul Studios and they are made in Kore. A GREAT guitar but it is Korean and priced with some of the nicest americans
    Sad to say you can no longer buy a Reverend Club King without a Bigsby and they now list for $1199. You can buy a very old model Pre-2006 without, locking tuners or Graphite Nut in the $849 to $899 Range. I've even seen them for 600 but it was pretty worn and had sanding in the fret board and was badly scratched. They area FANTASTIC Guitar buy be prepared to spend some serious cash. They have a very Cult like following and some people swear by them and I too think they are GREAT guitars, just a little pricey for an import. but that's just my opinion.
    "for an import" lol. The last 37 US Jagiars, Teles LP'S and strats that I've tried haven't even come clise to one of these Reverend Guitars. And how much are US made guitars? Expensive! Being a US axe doesn't mean it's definitely better than any import. In fact I would argue that one of the reasons these guitars are so good is specifically BECAUSE they are imports.