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P90 equipped guitars made a big comeback in recent years, but in most cases it’s been a throwback style re-run. Yamaha’s Revstar RS502T brings the familiar P90 tone with a modern style inspired by the company’s rich motorsports heritage.
Appearance-wise, it recalls their familiar SG style with a symmetrical body shape. The top color of our test model was finished in a classy Bowden Green that reminded us of vintage ’60s motorcycles and British roadsters of the same era, and the cream binding is a great transition point to the gloss black finish that encompasses the back. All of the metal hardware has a brushed satin look and feel, from the tailpiece and bridge to the knobs and tuners. The only logo is a bespoke version of Yamaha’s tuning fork icon at the headstock, which gives it a sleek, boutique look.
Underneath all of that beauty is a mahogany neck with a maple-topped mahogany body. The neck has a nice hefty feel and girth to it, but it’s actually not too large for smaller hands. It’s reminiscent of the typical medium carve most modern players favor, with fantastic fretwork and finishing. The overall fit and finish is just excellent. It’s hard to believe it’s a production-line guitar under $1000, and not something that came out of a small builder’s workshop.
The electronics are alnico P90s with a 3-way blade switch, and a traditional volume and tone controls. But the tone knob is where it goes into untraditional P90 territory, with its “Dry Switch.” Pull up on the tone knob and it engages a low pass filter that screens out the pickup’s lower frequencies and gives them a slinkier and spankier single coil tone. We really enjoyed this sonic characteristic when played cleanly through a loud, slightly overdrive amp.
Being single coil, P90s have some of that 60-cycle hum in there, but in this case, it didn’t really become noticeable unless the gain was piled on heavy. But these pickups really love the gain settings where the punch is from volume, and not over-saturation. The neck pickup is like butter, super smooth, but still had plenty of top end and definition. That classic top end sparkle was there in the bridge pickup, as well, along with the roundness of a single coil. The pickups are also well balanced together, getting a nice blend in the middle position, without one pickup over-coloring the other. Players looking for a sound that has the depth of a humbucker, but the clarity of a single coil, should consider a P90, for sure. Engage the dry switch, and it starts to respond more like a Tele or Strat, with a nice bubbly feel.
The overall feel was beyond fantastic; the neck shape and P90s really connected well, and the dry switch adds a lot more tonal colors to the player’s palette. This Revstar can be found for $649 (if you score a sale price), and for that price it’s a lot of guitar for the money. P90 guitars are workhorses, and this one can get the job done in any style imaginable. There’s no downside to this instrument, plain and simple. It’s where classic and contemporary meet.
Excellent design, fantastic pickups, dry switch is a great functional feature.