Reverend Descent HC Baritone Review: Hybrid Playability, Hipster Vibe, & Great Tone.
Reverend Guitars promotes the Descent HC Baritone as the instrument of choice for those who "want baritone growl, but don't want to feel like they are playing a bass." Does the Descent HC live up to the hype? Is it the baritone instrument for you? Check out our complete review to find out.
Reader note: the HC model has also been produced as the Descent H90.
About the Manufacturer
Currently based in Toledo, Ohio, Reverend Guitars started in 1997 out of an east-Detroit garage. All of their guitars are designed stateside, manufactured in South Korea, and set up by Revered Guitar staff back in Ohio before shipping to dealers.
Build: 5 out of 5
When you pick up the Descent HC, the first thing you'll notice is the weight. The guitar feels light on your shoulder or in your hands thanks to the Korina (aka White Limba) body.
Despite its light weight, the guitar feels solid. The neck and fretwork all give off the vibe that the folks at Reverend care about the details. The same is true of the Descent HC's finish work. The "oceanside green" finish on our test model was without flaw.
The Descent HC has a few appointments that discerning players will appreciate, including a Wilkinson tremolo (a tune-o-matic with stop tail bridge model, the Descent RA, is also available), locking tuners, and a graphite nut - all of which promote tuning stability. The Descent HC also features a satin finished neck, which, in my opinion, is second only to tung oil as a neck finish option.
Like other Reverend guitars, the Descent HC features a bass contour control. Twisting this nob is a bit like adjusting a low end presence nob on an amp. While it might sound odd, the bass contour is truly useful. It can tighten up your sound or flood it, taking your tone from humbucker-esque to a P-90-ish sound or even to a high-output single coil feel.
Ease of Play: 4.5 out of 5
The Descent HC sports a 26-3/4″ scale neck, which is just over one inch longer that a Standard Stratocaster. The neck sports a 12 inch radius and a profile that is best described as medium oval, a shape and feel that approximates the experience of modern Fender necks.
The Descent HC's more traditional scale and neck profile combine to make it one of the most agreeable baritones you'll ever play. You'll love jamming on this guitar for the same reason you love your favorite pair of jeans - the feel is natural, inviting, and comfortable.
I would have given the Descent HC a full "5 out of 5" in this category except for two factors: the instrument's neck joint and its loss of string tension at lower tunings.
Concerning the neck joint, the heal is a bit obtrusive when playing in the upper register. A sculpted heal would improve playability. If you're comfortable playing traditional bolt-on neck models, this may not be an issue.
Concerning string tension, the Descent HC becomes a bit buzzy when you experiment with alternative baritone tunings, such as A standard or dropped G. The tremolo also complicates tuning down further than standard B to B baritone tuning. Again, this may not be an issue for most players.
Tone: 5 out of 5
Plugged into a small Mesa combo and running through the clean channel, the Descent HC delivers fat, well-defined, lively tones that feel like the love child of a modern P-90 equipped Les Paul and a humbucker-equipped Stratocaster.
With a little compression and just a touch of overdrive, I was able to dial in a sound that felt like Mark Knopfler on steroids. Overall, the H90's clean tones feel instantly usable - with minimal work, you can dial up a clear crisp tone that will be a boon to any studio or stage situation.
The Descent HC also shined when I switched amp channels. Rolling back the bass contour, I was able to dial in a baritone "brown sound" that would have Eddie nodding in approval.
A little more adjusting and the Descent HC had me thunderstruck, delivering P90-esque tones perfect for gritty no-nonsense ACDC-style rock. The HC's chameleon like capabilities are possible because of the guitar's bass contour control and its unique RailHammer brand pick ups, which I must admit I first wrote off as a gimmick. In truth, the HC's RailHammer pickups offer up a tonal response that is between modern humbuckers and singles, while also delivering a balanced response.
Overall: 4.5 out of 5
Is the Reverend Descent HC the electric baritone for you? The answer might come down three questions:
1) Can you live without a Floyd Rose tremolo and easy access to 24 frets?
2) Do you prefer a classic neck feel over a wide/thin Ibanez style neck? And,
3) Do you you love dialing up idyllic tones with ease?
If you answered yes to all three questions, then the Reverend Descent HC might be the electric baritone you've been waiting for.
On the other hand, If you prefer a more modern rock/shred feel, check out our review of the Ibanez Iron Label Baritone. If the cost of Reverand (and Ibanez) are show stoppers, check out our review of the Squire Vintage Modified Baritone Jazzmaster.
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