Reverend Contender 290 Review & Prices

Reverend Contender 290 Review
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  • From Reverend's 2021 Set-Neck series
  • Made in South Korea
  • 6 strings
  • 24.75"'' scale
  • 12" Fretboard Radius
  • Korina body
  • Three-Piece Korina neck
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: 9A5 Bridge (Single Coil/Passive)
  • 1 volume and 2 tone Dome knobs
  • 3-way Switch
  • TOM with Stop Tail bridge
  • Medium Oval Set neck
  • 22 Jumbo frets
  • Reverend Pin-Lock tuners
  • Compare Specs >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 77
Sound 77
Build quality 64
Value for money 73
Overall Score 73
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
Reverend Contender 290
  • Locking Tuners
  • Expensive Wood
  • Boneite Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • Made in South Korea
  • No Neck-Through Build
  • No Push Knob or Extra Switch Option
  • No Weight Relief
  • No Luminescent Inlay
  • No Tremolo
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $1300, which means that the Reverend Contender 290 is around 15% cheaper than the competition. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 6 strings and Fixed bridge that are made in South Korea.

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Your feedback

Not all instruments are created equally. That's why it's important to have different opinions. Here's what our users who have played this instrument say. If you've played it before, help others by voting below!

Weight

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Is it Easy to Play?

The Reverend Contender 290 meets 5 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's a good guitar to start with as a complete beginner. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players to get used to.

New Player Friendliness

Reverend Contender 290
  • Comfortable shape
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Locking tuners
  • Tall frets
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Narrow nut
  • Short scale

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the Reverend Contender 290's construction is balanced for most hand sizes.

Nevertheless, this comes down in the end to personal preference. Make sure you test this guitar—or another one with similar characteristics—before buying.

Big Hands
Small Hands

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance the strings will span between the bridge and the nut. It can tell you a lot about the overall playability and tone of the instrument. A longer scale length means longer distance between frets, brighter tone and more string tension—which means lower action, but more difficult bending of the strings.

Here's the Reverend Contender 290's 24.75" scale length compared to other common sizes:

Reverend Contender 290 Scale Length Comparison
Reverend Contender 290's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

This is the scale length used in most Gibson guitars. If you like the playability of a Gibson, this guitar will feel pretty similar. It's a lot shorter than the typical Stratocaster (25.5'')

As you can see from the picture above, a shorter scale length also means shorter separation between frets. If you got really small hands, you probably will feel more comfortable playing this guitar than a Fender Stratocaster.

This scale length also allows for easier bends and vibratos because the strings will have lower tension due to the shorter scale.

Finally, another thing affected by scale length is tone. A shorter scale will give less room for the harmonics, thus resulting in a warmer, more 'bassy' tone.

Still, remember that you string gauge plays an important part in all of this. A lighter gauge will make it easier to perform bends, vibratos and will also give you a brighter tone.

More with the same scale length:

Neck Profile

Reverend Contender 290 Neck Profile
Reverend Contender 290's neck profile

The neck profile tells you the thickness (neck depth) and shape in cross section. Every difference will completely change the feeling and comfortability of the neck. This is a highly subjective thing, but most players indeed prefer certain types of necks (like Cs and Ds) because they feel nice in most hands.

The Reverend Contender 290's neck thickness is approximately 0.85'' (21.6mm) at the first fret, and 0.9'' (22.9mm) at the twelfth.

These measurements were taken either from the official Reverend website, or, in case this information wasn't provided, by researching multiple online marketplaces and forums where owners of this model have posted their measurements.

It has a C type neck. C-shaped necks like this have been the most popular for the last years. The reason is that they feel good in most hands. It's generally a thin neck that doesn't get in your way when playing fast, but that also has enough mass to give your hands a comfortable grip for chords if they aren't too big.

Thin necks like this make it easier to move your hand across the neck and it helps when playing fast solos, especially if you like to leave your thumb free while playing high on the fretboard. However, thinner necks are also weaker and will need adjustment more often than a thicker neck.

More for different hand sizes

Fretboard Radius

When it comes to fingerboard radius, personal preference will dictate which one is better for you. However, most people seem to agree that a more curved (lower) radius will make it easier to play chords while a less curved (higher) radius is better for soloing and bending.

The Reverend Contender 290 has a 12" fingerboard radius.

Here's an image comparing this fretboard radius to other popular choices:

Reverend Contender 290 Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
Reverend Contender 290's fretboard radius compared to others

This is the same radius that Gibson uses in most of their guitars. When compare to the other popular radius of Fender Stratocasters, you can see that it's a lot flatter. Guitars with this radius are usually made to bring a good balance between single-note and chord playing.

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the Reverend Contender 290 has the same radius across the board.

More with the same fretboard radius:

Playability compared to main competitors

24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.693'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius
25'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.688'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.688'' Nut Width
14'' Fretboard Radius

Nut Width

Reverend Contender 290 Nut Width
Reverend Contender 290 Nut Width

The Reverend Contender 290 has a nut width of 43mm (1.693''). This is within the most common range of nut widths for a 6-string guitar. It offers a good balance of string separation at the nut. It's the size that most guitarists prefer as it gives them just enough space to play open chords without muting the strings, but without spreading the strings too wide and making bar chords difficult to perform.

Frets

The Reverend Contender 290 has 22 frets. Even though 24 frets has become really popular, there's still a good reason to get fewer frets; the pickup at the neck position will be further away from the bridge. This makes the neck pickup achieve a warmer tone. You might want this if you're playing Jazz or similar genres.

However, if you don't care about the warmer neck pickup, more frets will always be better. It's always nice to have the option to play higher notes if you want to.

It comes with nickel silver frets, so they won't last as long as stainless steel frets. If you use your instrument a lot, you might need to replace the frets after a few years. But this is unlikely as most people change instruments before this happens.

More with the same amount of frets:

Fret Size

Reverend Contender 290 Fret Size Comparison
Reverend Contender 290's fret size (in orange) compared to other popular sizes

Finally, let's talk about fret size. Some people prefer tall frets because it's easier to press the strings and perform bends since there's less friction against the fretboard. On the other hand, some people like shorter frets because they like to touch the fretboard when playing, or because they got heavy hands and tend to press too much on the string and alter the of the note pitch accidently.

The Reverend Contender 290's frets are Jumbo size. This is a tall fret size that is becoming increasingly popular because it makes it easier to press down the strings cleanly. With this fret size, you won't feel the fretboard when playing, so if you press down too hard, you will get the notes out of pitch. However, this is something you can overcome by getting used to the taller size.

More with the same type of frets:

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 95
Chord Playability 55
Solo Playability 80
Playability 77

Tone Analysis

Wood will have little influence in the final tone of an electric guitar or bass. Instead, the hardware, especially the pickups, will be the most important thing to look at. Bur first, let's see the quality of the wood.

Wood

Limba wood pattern used for guitar building
Limba Body, Neck
Rosewood wood pattern used for guitar building
Rosewood Fretboard

Limba Body and Neck: Available in either black or white, it's a type of wood with beautiful natural patterns decorated with long dark chocolate stripes. As a tonewood, it is comparable to Mahogany but with more mid-tones.

Rosewood Fretboard: Since the ban of Brazillian Rosewood, this has become a rare and expensive wood. It's not usually used for guitar bodies because of this, and also because it's heavy. Instead, it's used mainly for fretboards. Sometimes it's also used for necks because it's an extremely hard wood (even harder than maple). Its tonality tends to favor warm tones.

Pickups

This guitar comes with pickups from one of the top brands: Reverend. So you can expect well built pickups with great sound that shouldn't need an upgrade anytime soon.

These are passive pickups, so you can expect a rounder sound and a moderade level of output.

The Reverend Contender 290's configuration is P90P90. P90s are single-coil pickups (even though they look like Humbuckers), and they have a very particularly gritty sound that's used today to achieve a ''vintage'' tone. They produce a warmer tone than the typical single-coil, but they're not quite as warm as Humbuckers, and the same thing could be said about their output.

More with the same pickups

22 Frets
Fixed Bridge
9A5 Bridge Bridge Pickup
9A5 Neck Neck Pickup
22 Frets
Fixed Bridge
9A5 Bridge Bridge Pickup
9A5 Neck Neck Pickup
22 Frets
Bigsby Tremolo Bridge
9A5 Bridge Bridge Pickup
9A5 Neck Neck Pickup
22 Frets
Fixed Bridge
9A5 Bridge Bridge Pickup
Neck Pickup
22 Frets
Tremolo Bridge
HA5 Bridge Bridge Pickup
9A5 Neck Neck Pickup

Versatility

It comes with the popular 3-way switch that is present in most guitars. For more versatility, players tend to prefer a 5-way switch, although it all depends on what you want to use your guitar for.

Unfortunately, it doesn't come with more options for coil split or coil tapping. This makes it less versatile than some competitors.

Diagram

Reverend Contender 290 pickups switch and push knobs diagram
Reverend Contender 290's switch options

What music genre is it good for?

As a 6 strings, Solid Body guitar with P90P90 configuration and Passive pickups, we'd recommend it for genres like Hard Rock or similar. However, you can use almost any guitar for any genre. This is just the typical type of music for this particular one.

Sound Score

Pickups 100
Sustain 75
Versatility 51
Tuning Stability 80
Sound 77

Build Quality Analysis

Country of Origin

Knowing where the instrument is produced is a good way to know how well it's built. Some manufacturing countries are known for having higher quality standards. For example, most expensive instruments are made in the US or Japan, but there are some exceptionally great countries—like South Korea—that are building a good reputation.

The Reverend Contender 290 is made in South Korea. Guitars made here are well-built and tend to have good quality control, even though they focus on mass production. This used to be the most premium option just below Japan or the US, but other countries like Indonesia are becoming great competitors because of even cheaper labor without sacrificing quality.

Bridge

TOM with Stop Tail: The advantage of fixed bridges is that they don't require any kind of set-up. This makes it extremely easy when changing strings because you don't need to adjust anything besides tuning the guitar. Also, the fact that the bridge is directly attached to the body will help to increase sustain. The disadvantage is the lack of versatility since you can't create the same vibrato effects as with tremolo bridges.

More with the same type of bridge:

Tuners

The Reverend Contender 290 comes with locking tuners, which helps with tuning stability and makes changing strings a lot faster and easier. As long as they're high quality, these are the best tuning machines you can have. The only disadvantage is that they are a bit heavier than normal tuners.

Nut Material

Another important thing to analyze is the nut material, as it's one of the most important aspects that can affect the sound and playability of your guitar. A well-cut nut will make sure it stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the Reverend Contender 290 has a Boneite nut. This is a synthetic bone material made to look, feel and sound like bone. It's more consistent than bone since it's human-made, so many people prefer this type of nut to guarantee a good nut.

More with the same nut material:

Neck Joint

The neck joint is the part where the neck of the guitar meets the body. There are three main techniques to attach both parts together: Set-In, Bolt-On and Neck-Through. The latter two provide different advantages, although neck-throughs are the most expensive.

This guitar has a Set neck joint. This type of neck joint consists of using different pieces of wood for the neck and the body of the guitar. Both pieces are then glued together. This is more expensive to make than a bolt-on neck, but it's cheaper than a neck-through guitar. Some people believe that this gives more sustain than a bolt-on neck due to both pieces having a 'better connection' than with bolts. Still, it's something difficult to prove.

However, this type of neck joint does have the disadvantage of not allowing you to easily swap the neck for another. This makes this type of neck joint less mod-friendly.

More with the same build:

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 56
Features 60
Quality Control 75
Build Quality 64

All Specs

Reverend Contender 290
General
Brand: Reverend
Year: 2021
Configuration: P90P90
Strings: 6
Made in: South Korea
Series: Set-Neck
Colors: Black, Red, Natural
Left-Handed Version: No
Body
Type: Solid Body
Body Material: Korina
Bridge: TOM with Stop Tail
Neck
Neck Joint: Set
Tuners: Reverend Pin-Lock
Fretboard: Rosewood
Neck Material: Three-Piece Korina
Decoration: Pearloid Blocks
Scale Size: 24.75"
Shape: Medium Oval
Thickness: 1st Fret: 0.85'' (21.6mm) - 12th Fret: 0.9'' (22.9mm)
Frets: 22 Jumbo
Fretboard Radius: 12"
Nut: Boneite
Nut Width: 43mm (1.693'')
Electronics
Switch: 3 Way
Knobs: Dome
Volume Controls: 1
Tone Controls: 2
Bridge Pickup: 9A5 Bridge (Single Coil / Passive)
Neck Pickup: 9A5 Neck (Single Coil / Passive)

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