It is a truth universally acknowledged that it is pretty damned difficult to buy a bad guitar these days. There are so many producers competing with each each other, modern production techniques are so efficient….there is just no market for badly made guitars, no matter what the price.
But how good is good? What can we seriously expect of that sub £200 or £300 guitar , at what point does a beginner guitar be treated seriously as a working musicians tool.
I mused on these questions after spending some time with a couple of guitars from a company called Revelation. The business model is pretty familiar these days, UK designed, (even if the designs are very classic 1950’s US) with production outsourced to China. The name behind Revelation is Alan Entwistle, a legend in guitar pickups designs since the 1970s and a pioneer in guitar electronics design.
First up, well it is basically a Mary Kaye strat, gold plated hardware, maple neck and board and a translucent blonde finish with the grain of the basswood body visible beneath. It is staggeringly beautiful. The finish was perfect, and I do mean perfect and the woodwork was flawless. I don,t recall ever seeing s neck join so tight. But the neck is something else. A dazzling piece of lunatically figured maple for the board, topped by a pleasing scalloped headstock that is distinctive yet traditional. The neck itself? A nice, chunky soft vee shape, this is a neck with bags of character, it is chunky but fills the hand nicely. This is not what you expect on a £200-£250 guitar.
You get Kluson-type machine heads and a traditional bridge, very gold plated, very pretty and that trem is very well set up. Honestly, tuning was very solid even with some heavy wanging.
Though the fretboard provides a well finished playing surface, the frets could do with an extra polish, but to be honest I am really being picky here, as I’ve played a 2015 Les Paul Standard with rougher frets. The body is also very slightly more chunky than some strat types, but this is a matter of taste and has no bearing on the build or quality of the guitar.
Unplugged the basswood body has a lively, springy quality – always what you want with a strat- and the whole package feels tight and well balanced, and did I say that I loved that neck? It is a handful at first touch but give it 5 minutes and it feels incredibly comfortable.
Plugged in, the Entwistle pickups have a very pleasing chimy tone, with lots of transparency. The bridge pickup is spiky but not too shrill and things warm up with the middle and neck pickup. The overall tone is very 1950s, it is a lovely thing played clean but too much distortion can really muddy things up. These arn’t bad pickups at, but they are made to a price.
For the money this is staggerong guitar. It looks beautiful, it is astonishingly well made and sounds great out of the box, especially if you love clean tones. The overall quality is so good that a pickup upgrade could make a great little guitar truly fabulous.
To coin a phrase, Revelation have turned out to be……a revelation.