Manta Ray HB review by Reverend

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  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 8 (2 votes)
Reverend: Manta Ray HB

Price paid: $ 500

Purchased from: USED

Features — 9
Made in Korea around 2008. This was a 1st gen Manta Ray, with female maple top on a mahogany body, semi-hollow, one f-hole, 2 Reverend HBs, Volume, Tone and Bass contour controls. Set neck, medium oval profile, very comfortable for what I do. The body is double-cut, very good access to the last of the 22 medium jumbo frets. Mine came with Wilkinson EZ lock tuners; there's nothing easy about the lock, which involves two holes on the post instead of one and is hard to undo without pliers, but y'know what? It stays in tune very well using just one hole. Bridge is Tune-o-Matic; I changed mine for a Reverend roller bridge, because I re-tune a lot (slide oblige) and roollers make it smoother and more stable. A key feature is that the body has a back panel for access to the electronics. If, like me, you hate rewiring a ES335 type semi-hollow, you will appreciate that simple, brilliant solution. Bought used, no accessories.

Sound — 9
The bridge pup sound on this guitar is what HBs are supposed to do - thick, chewy and bright all at once. The neck pup never sounded great to me (though other Reverend players like it fine); I changed it out for a noiseless single coil. Roll off the treble and that makes it an excellent jazz guitar. It's surprising how much resonance and hollow tone you get from this guitar with the treble rolled down. The bass contour allows you to take the tone in the other direction, narrowing it down to a Tele thinline effect. My percussionist told me, "It sounds so big." This is my number one axe for applications ranging from classic rock and blues to cajun. In open A, where I like to use it most (with 11-52s), it rings and crunches very well. I run it through a Laney VC15, great blues and rock amp that does the job without effects. A friend of mine who knows sound said, "It sounds perfect." One point off for the pickup change. I wish Reverend would make a MR with one of their benchmark P90s in the neck.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
This is a beautiful piece, like all Reverends. It stands out on stage amidst all the look-alikes, and that's fine with me. Joe Naylor is very and justly proud of his design skills. The horns evoke an SG, the body a 335. Like a SG it's a little neck heavy; I bought a wide strap, done. I've been playing this guitar several years, haven't noticed any flaws yet. Graphite nut, nice touch. I do my own setups, because slide guitar requires higher action than most folks like. Stock, Reverends come setup by their guy Zach, who is famous among Rev owners.

Reliability & Durability — 9
Reverends are made to play. They are boutique guitars at working player prices. Can you depend on them? Man, why would I buy a guitar I can't use? I take this to gigs all the time without a backup, because it's versatile and reliable. The finish is gorgeous, the Korean manufacturer does it right. Had some issues with the output jack, I think Reverend had a bad run of them. I pulled it, adjusted, popped it back in, problem solved but one point off.

Overall Impression — 10
I've been playing 50 years, pro, semi-pro and just for the fun of it. I play every day. I own about 15 guitars collected over the years - more Reverends than anything else. I look for value, meaning sound and design, not brand name. I have also modded cheap guitars with good parts to make a killer axe. The core of my style is Delta blues: open tuned, with a slide. I fit every style I can on top of that base, from "Moon River" to Motown, Sting and my own stuff. I require strong bass response and a ringing high end, and I get it from the MR. I will say that it took me a while to make the shift from solid to semi-hollow sound, especially the larger body and DC neck joint, and to adjust this guitar to reveal its potential. I'm glad I took the time. What a great piece to play! If you're looking for a semi under 1000$, look hard at this one. For me the deal maker is the back door, which makes maintenance and mods simple. I'm rating for the value I got from a $500 used purchase plus $50 in parts - just incredible. Look, if it went away, I'd buy one new. The improvements made in later generations, including locking tuners, would justify the extra cost for me. In any case, I would not want to lack this sound and feel.

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