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Classics are great, but finding a way to step outside the box, while maintaining familiarity isn’t easy. Billy Rowe’s Rock N Roll Relics have been doing just that, making classics that have the look and feel of vintage styled guitars, even down to the distressing and aged patina, but avoiding the headaches. Their Revenge model we were sent for review is a big, bad, beefy rock machine.
At first look, it’s kind of a blend of an LP and a Firebird, and a lil bit of RD Artist thrown in for good measure. The black limba/korina body has a raised center section, but it’s a set neck construction. Normally with odd body shapes, things tend to tilt a bit — not here, as the balance felt normal.
As we mentioned, RNRR does the aged/distressed/patina approach. Some players like it, some don’t. With the natural wood and clear finish, applying this approach makes it very subtle. Yes, some edges are a bit rough, and the finish doesn’t look like it’s under glass. Oxidation is present on the metal parts, but nothing that inhibits functionality, so it really feels like it’s been played for decades and looks like it’s, well… right.▼ Article continues below ▼
This neck is big, like a baseball bat for Andre the Giant. However, here’s where Rock n Roll Relics gets it right, where other companies miss; it’s a compound radius fingerboard, with 10” at the low end, and 14” at the high. This makes it a big neck that’s completely playable all along the fingerboard. We’ve gotten some guitars in with big necks, which is great for low end and low string riffs, but go to the higher registers, and there’s some shifting needed. Not here. You get the big tone that comes from a big neck, without having to compromise any playing techniques. With 22 medium jumbo frets, and a 24.75” scale, the feel is very familiar in that sense. One more thing about the neck; the scarf jointed headstock. This construction technique takes the fear of those “did I bump it?” moments, that usually mean a snapped headstock, out of the pictur
A single 3-way toggle sits on the lower bout’s pickguard, while the butt end has the volume and tone controls for the pickups, which by the way are Seymour Duncan Antiquities. These sounded really, nice. With a great top end chime, and big lows. These also had a nice vintage wear on it.
Bridge wise, it’s an ABR-1 style with its familiar tailpiece counterpart. With brass bridge saddles, even unplugged, the clarity and warmth were noticeable. At the other end, a set of Kluson 3 + 3 tuners.
Plugging it into a variety of amps, pedals, plug-ins and sims, this thing kicks butt! As we mentioned before, big necks like this usually love low end riffs, but paring it with the vintage style pickups, it favors those big and open driven tones. Think Palm Springs desert rock. Dialing in a Marshall sound on our Strymon Iridium, and we’re quickly covering everything from silky smooth solos in the 60s, along with 70s style crunch. Diggin into a bit more gain, it seems to get sweeter. It sits really nicely where punch is the driving force, not over-saturation.
The street price may look big at $2799, but you’re not overpaying. It’s a handmade vintage-inspired instrument with premium materials, and premium electronics. It’s not an imitation, it’s a foreword version of familiar, with a few twists n turns that make this a modern classic in its own right.
BIG, amazing neck, big rocker
Slightly pricey, but you’re not overpaying for quality like this
$2799 (includes case)