The Billy Corgan Signature modelwas revealed at NAMM 2016 by Reverend Guitars. The guitar, known as the BC1, features Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature pick-ups, a chambered korina body, a string-thru body design and a unique look. Appearance-wise, the guitar straddles the look of a Fender Jaguar and a Rickenbacker.
Billy Corgan has played an enormous amount of guitars over the years, but he is most closely associated with the Fender Strat. He released the Billy Corgan Stratocaster in 2008 which was engineered to provide the classic ’90s Pumpkins sound. However Reverend Guitar’s Corgan Signature is a different beast. While discussing his new axe, Corgan repeatedly refers to the versatility of the instrument. He clearly wanted a guitar that pushed boundaries. Reverend have delivered, both tonally and aesthetically.
The Railhammer pick-ups were designed with Corgan’s input to provide a variety of sounds. Reverend modelled them on the P90, but with additional lows and less noise. The Railhammers provide a wide range of tones, crossing the divide between the traditional humbucker and single coil sounds.
As Reverend founder Joe Naylor explained at NAMM, this wide range of tones are accomplished through the passive bass contour pot. Set at the lower range, the pot lends the guitar highly articulate single coil sounds. At the higher end it provides the well-loved Pumpkins thick, chunky roar or even a broad clean sound. The string-thru body enhances the ability of the guitar to provide a full, resonant sound. The controls provided consist of volume, tone, bass contour and a three-way pick-up selector. All pots have a low profile shape and are rendered in a chrome finish.
The BC1 features a chambered korina body. Korina is a medium lightweight wood intended to provide a lively response, rich in harmonics. The body has the unusual feature of four chambers, concealed below pickguards. They add resonance and reduce the weight of the instrument. The centre of the guitar is raised above the two wings which makes it reminiscent of a Gibson Firebird. The neck is maple with a satin amber finish.
The guitar includes in-lock tuners, which assist tuning stability and rapid string changes. The low-fiction graphite nuts also add to tuning stability. The guitar has a scale of 25-1/2″, 22 medium-jumbo frets and a medium oval neck profile.
The BC1 is available in satin pearl white, satin metallic alpine, satin purple burst, and satin silver burst. The overall appearance of the guitar is certainly unique, although it is many ways inspired by classic guitar designs, so it’s not entirely alien.
Billy Corgan’s history with Reverend
It may come as a surprise that Corgan chose to release a signature axe on a small, boutique brand, but Corgan’s history with Reverend spans 16 years. He played Reverend guitars during the Zwan era, most notably the Slingshot model. He also played their guitars on certain tracks on Oceania (which was a return to form for lovers of the expansive, progressive style the Pumpkins perfected in the ’90s). Current Pumpkins guitarist Jeff Schroeder uses Reverend, as did former bassist Nicole Fiorentino. Reverend is a US company formed in 1997 and based in Detroit, although all its guitars are manufactured in South Korea.
Not just a riff machine
Guitarists who wish mainly to recreate the classic ’90s Pumpkins sound will probably be best serviced by acquiring the Billy Corgan Stratocaster. This applies to other similar “fat Strat” designs on the market. The BC1 can certainly create a convincing chunky, old school ’90s sound. However, it seems to be much more focused on Corgan’s desire for a guitar capable of creating a wide variety of tones rather than recapturing past glories. The guitar is undeniably unique and would appeal to a wide variety of guitarists who are interested in using an instrument that has the tonal options to play a variety of styles. The guitar is not cheap, but for a highly customised signature model, its pricing is reasonable. As mentioned it is made in South Korea. Therefore at this price range one could be forgiven for preferring US-made instruments.
The BC1 was not the only interesting development at NAMM for rock and metal fans. German luthier Duesenberg released the beautiful Alliance Series Soundgarden Black Hole Sun guitars at the event, which resemble a highly-customised Les Paul. Mesa/Boogie also unveiled the JP-2C John Petrucci signature guitar amp head, which is derived from the classic Mark IIC+.