In this Reverend Greg Koch Gristle 90 review, I’ll tell you all the things that make this P90-equipped Tele-type guitar special and some things you might not like about it. If you like the sound of P90 pickups in a Tele but want higher output without the noise, this could be the guitar for you.
Keep on reading to learn more, and be sure to check out my review of the Reverend Gristlemaster and how these two guitars differ, which is all available in the text below!
You can use the table of contents below to take you to the area that interests you. Click on the little box to open it, and then click on the section of the article you want to read, or you can read from start to finish if you want the full Gristle 90 experience!
What Is The Reverend Greg Koch Gristle 90?
The Greg Koch Gristle 90 is Reverend’s second attempt at building a Tele-type guitar for Greg Koch, this time with Fishman Fluence Noiseless P90 pickups and a Bigsby tremolo.
Greg was closely involved in the design and perfection of the instrument every step of the way. No nuance escaped his attention, including the addition of a push-pull switch on the tone control to put the pickups subtly out of phase and a “soft touch” spring to make the Bigsby tremolo smooth and responsive to the touch.
It all began with the Reverend Greg Koch Gristlemaster, an axe with more familiar-looking T-style pickups (also Fishman noiseless) to give you that classic Tele sound on steroids. Please read my review of that guitar if you haven’t already (see below).
One of my favorite guitar masters, Greg Koch has a fascination with the word “gristle” and a personality that tends to run a bit on the diabolic side. If you haven’t heard him play, you are missing out on an amazing experience!
Gristle 90 – Cheat Sheet
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ☆ 9.6 Out Of 10
Price $2,279 ($1,900 Street)
The Gristle 90 is a T-type guitar that has specially-voiced P90 pickups, which put it somewhere between humbucker and single-coil Teles.
The Bigsby tremolo is easy to use and makes the guitar fun to play.
If you want to go directly to the guitar’s specs then click here.
✅ Active Noiseless Pickups
✅ Midrange Boost
✅ Out-Of-Phase Switch
❌ Hardshell Case Not Included
❌ Pickups Need To Be Charged (can be a “Pro,” depending on your preference)
❌ Not Available Without The Bigsby Tremolo At This Time
9.9 Out Of 10
9.7 Out Of 10
9.8 Out Of 10
9.0 Out Of 10
Reverend Company Profile
Reverend Musical Instruments, commonly known as Reverend Guitars, was started by Joe Naylor in a garage in East Detroit in 1977, where he created the first Guitar.
Joe is an outstanding designer, builder, and graduate of the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery.
Reverend has been run by Chief Executive Officer Ken Hass & Chief Operating Officer Penny Haas since 2010, while Joe continues to oversee things in the R&D department. The company has produced over 30 models of guitars and bass guitars, including ten signature models.
The guitars are manufactured at Mirr Music in South Korea and then set up and inspected in Toledo, Ohio. They feature Reverend’s custom pickups and “Bass Contour Control (BCC),” which works in conjunction with the guitar’s traditional bass and treble control to add or remove additional low frequencies.
Who Is The Gristle 90 For?
The Gristle 90 is for the guitar player who wants a T-type guitar with the sound of P90 pickups, which are not quite as trebly as Fender single-coil Tele pickups but brighter than humbuckers.
Make no mistake about it, the Gristle 90 is not a low-priced beginner’s guitar.
It’s a match made in heaven for the guitar enthusiast and pro player that wants a super versatile Tele with noiseless pickups and the cool vibe of a Bigsby!
Gristle 90 Specifications
Specifications For The Reverend Greg Koch Gristle 90
|Item||Gristle 90 Specification|
|Body||Korina Solidbody with Gloss Polyurethane finish|
|Shape||Tele-Type with raised center ridge, and a chamber under the pickguard|
|Colors||Venetian Gold, Tosa Turquoise, and Midnight Black|
|Neck||3-Piece Korina, Medium Oval, Set Neck|
|Branding||Reverend decal with logo on the headstock, Signed in the back by Greg|
|Fingerboard Specs||12 Inch fingerboard radius with 24 3/4″-inch scale length & dot inlays|
|Nut||43mm Width – Boneite|
|Frets||22 – 0.118″W x 0.057″H|
|Transport||Two-Toned Teardrop Hardshell Case (Available Separately)|
|Bridge/Tailpiece||Bigsby B-50 with “Soft Touch” spring and Roller Bridge|
|Tuners||Reverend Pin-Lock (locking tuners)|
|Neck Plate||None (Set Neck)|
|Neck Pickup||Fishman Greg Koch Signature Gristle P90 (noiseless/rechargeable)|
|Bridge Pickup||Fishman Greg Koch Signature Gristle P90 (noiseless/rechargeable)|
|Controls||Volume, Tone, Midrange Boost (button between volume and tone control), Push-Pull Switch on Tone Control for Out-of-Phase (pull up)|
|Switching||3-way blade pickup switch|
|Miscellaneous||Weight: Approximately 7.75 to 8 pounds|
Two-Toned Teardrop Hardshell Case (Available Separately)
D’Addario Round Wound Strings: 10-46
Warranty: Limited one year
|Cost||$2,279 ($1,900 Street)|
Comparison Of The Gristle 90 To The Gristlemaster
|Neck & Fingerboard|
|Neck Material||Roasted Maple||3-Piece Korina|
|Neck attachment||6-Screw Bolt-on||Set Neck|
|Fingerboard Material||Roasted Maple||Ebony|
|Fingerboard Radius||10-14″ Compound Radius||12″ Radius|
|Fingerboard Scale Length||25.5 inch||24 3/4 inch|
|Fret Number And Size||22 – 0.110″W x 0.050″H||22 – 0.118″W x 0.057″H|
|Triple-tree string tree||Yes||No|
|Neck Plate||6-Hole, not embossed||None (Set Neck)|
|Bridge/Tailpiece||Wilkinson Classic 3-Brass-Saddle Bridge (string-through-body)||Bigsby B-50 with Roller Bridge|
|Neck Pickup||Signature Gristletone||Signature Gristle P90|
|Bridge Pickup||Signature Gristletone||Signature Gristle P90|
|Out Of Phase Control||None||Push-Pull Switch On Tone Control|
|Pickup Battery Life||Up To 250 Hours||Up To 60 Hours|
|Weight||About 7 to 7.5 pounds||About 7.75 to 8 pounds|
|Cost||$2039, ($1,700 street)||$2,279 ($1,900 Street)|
Features And Benefits
Check Out These Great Gristle 90 Features
Three-Piece Korina Neck
The 3-piece Korina neck looks great and gives the guitar a lot of tuning and intonation stability. It is a set neck, in contrast to the 6-screw bolt-on neck of the Gristlemaster guitar.
The Gristle 90 has pin locking tuners to make changing strings a breeze and help keep the guitar in tune. The triple-tree-string on the Gristlemaster model is noticeably absent, probably because of the difference in headstock angle.
Also known as White Limba, Korina is a light to medium weight and highly resonant wood used in many vintage and boutique guitars. It makes the Gristle 90 toneful and helps bring out the harmonics. Korina tends to be brighter than alder but not as bright as ash.
The body under the pickguard is chambered for enhanced dynamic response and harmonics.
The Tele Body Is 2 to 3% Larger because it was made to fit a big guy like Greg, but it still fits inside a regular guitar case. It’s also a little thinner on both sides of the mid-body elevation to give it a bit of weight relief and a look reminiscent of the Gibson Firebird, which adds to the “cool factor.”
The Fishman Fluence Greg Koch Gristle 90 Pickups are hum-free and have excellent clarity and “P90 character.” The pickup system features a push-button switch on the control plate that adds a “midrange gristle.” This gives the pickups a mildly overdriven sound.
The pickups are active and recharge via a USB port near the input jack. Fishman claims that the pickups can adequately function for 60 hours on a single charge!
Bigsby B-50 with “Soft Touch” spring and Roller Bridge
The Gristle 90 comes equipped with a Bigsby B-50 tremolo unit. It gives the guitar a fantastic visual vibe in each available body color. Greg had the tremolo modified with a “Soft Touch” spring, which allows it to pull off subtle pitch bends accurately in both directions.
What I Like About The Gristle 90
While most guitars with active pickups have a battery compartment, these pickups are rechargeable via a USB connection near the 1/4 inch input jack. Greg claims that a single charge can last for 60 hours of playtime, although I wouldn’t suggest pushing it that far to find out.
Although I don’t typically favor rechargeable batteries because if you run out of power, you can’t use the instrument by simply changing the battery, this system seems very practical. You can avoid a precarious situation by plugging it in every once in a while.
Having to recharge the pickup battery can be more of a hassle than an advantage, depending on the player, which is why I also listed it in the next section.
Midrange Boost Button
The “Boost” control between the volume and tone control gives a “midrange” boost for all three pickup positions. The “Fluence Core” that powers the active pickups delivers just the right amount of P90 overdrive with the push of a button.
Out-Of-Phase Push-Pull Switch
The Gristle 90 has a push-pull switch built into the guitar’s tone control that puts the two pickups out of phase when the pickup selector switch is in the middle position. Greg had the switch adjusted to give a subtle out-of-phase sound that doesn’t add an overabundance of “quack” and makes the P90s sound great with a musical and very usable quality.
The ebony fingerboard makes the guitar look elegant, especially with the Midnight Black body color! It works very well with the sound of the P90 pickups and makes the neck a joy to play, especially with string bends.
Takes Stomp Boxes Well
The Gristle 90 sounds great with stomp boxes between the guitar and amp and in your effects loop. The active pickups really push overdrive, distortion, and fuzz effects well and make time-based effects shimmer with all the dimension you can imagine.
See What Is A Guitar Stomp Box – Attractive, Little, Tantalizing for more info.
What You Might Not Like About The Gristle 90
Out Of The Price Range For Most Beginners
If you are just beginning your guitar journey, this may not be the instrument for you. It is priced for more advanced players and pros. On the other hand, if you can afford it, this guitar will never disappoint you, no matter how good you get or what music you play.
So, if you really love how the guitar looks, sounds, and plays, it’s worth the investment. If you decide playing the guitar is ultimately not for you, the resale value should be pretty good.
Hardshell Case Is Not Included
At a list price of over $2,000, the guitar should come with a hardshell case, at least in my opinion! You can read more about the optional hardshell case available through Reverend in the next section.
Pickups Need To Be Charged
Some players may not be comfortable with the idea of rechargeable pickups. At a performance duration of “60 hours,” they are made to give you maximal quality and output, no matter how long your gig is.
It’s just something to be aware of, even if it isn’t an issue for you. It makes me wonder what will happen if someday you need a battery replacement and the guitar is no longer available.
Not Available Without The Bigsby Tremolo
The Gristle 90 is not available without a Bigsby tremolo at this time. According to Greg, there are no immediate plans to make a model with a fixed Tele bridge, but that is something that could happen at some point down the road.
If you don’t want the tremolo unit, keep your eye on Reverend’s website for possible upcoming announcements.
Beware Of The Hardshell Case Issue!
Reverend says the hardshell case is “optional,” which means you’re on your own to make guitar transport arrangements!
They sell a TKL Premium Teardrop Guitar Case, which features a multi-ply, hand-laminated wood shell with forge steel-plated hardware.
This case will set you back about $220, but it’s very high quality. You can use any hardshell case that holds a Fender guitar and save yourself some money.
If you buy this guitar without a hardshell case, be sure to bargain for a free gig bag to store and carry it in. It really deserves something more substantial for players who will use the guitar professionally!
Is The Gristle 90 Legit?
Absolutely! If you like the sound of a Tele modded with P90 pickups but don’t care for the low output or the noise, the Gristle 90 is definitely worth a look.
Both pickups sound great, alone or in combination.
The out-of-phase switch on the tone control gives you a subtle voicing option.
I think the Bigsby tremolo really added something that takes this Tele a little into Strat territory but gives it a sound all its own!
The combination of the Bigsby with the P90s gives the guitar some much visual mojo that you will be sure to get noticed on the stage!
And let’s not forget, it’s “Greg Koch approved,” which is really saying something in my book!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the questions I get asked about the Reverend Gristle 90 guitar.
If your question does not appear here, please put it in the comments, and I will get right back to you with an answer.
Where Are Reverend Guitars Made?
The guitars are manufactured at Mirr Music in South Korea and then set up and inspected in Toledo, Ohio. Mirr Music is owned by Hank Cho, a third-generation high-quality guitar builder.
Do Reverend Guitars Come With Cases?
A hardshell case is optional with Reverend guitars. Reverend sells a TKL Premium Teardrop Guitar Case, which features a multi-ply, hand-laminated wood shell with forge steel-plated hardware.
What Strings Do Reverend Guitars Use?
Reverend uses D’Addario Round wound nickel-plated strings. The Gristle 90 comes with string gauge 10-46.
How Does Reverend Set Its Guitar String Height?
4.5/64 inch for the E, A, D, & G strings and 4/64 inch for the B & E strings. Measurements are made from the bottom of each open string to the top of the 12th fret with the guitar tuned to standard pitch and held in the playing position.
How Does Reverend Set The Gristle 90 Pickup Height?
Reverend sets both pickups at a height of 5/32 inch to 6/32 inch on the neck pickup and 4/32 inch to 5/32 inch on the bridge pickup. Measurements are made from the bottom of the two outside open strings to the top of the pickup pole piece.
The Reverend Greg Koch Gristle 90 is a guitar in a class of its own! It has specially voiced Fishman Fluence P90 active pickups that have a significantly higher output than standard P90s with none of the noise.
The midrange boost and the out-of-phase switch give this guitar the versatility to cover any genre of modern music, and the available body colors are as dazzling as the guy who named them.
This guitar will definitely take your playing to the next level and quickly become one of your “daily players!”
It remains to be seen if Greg Koch will partner with Reverend to design a signature Stratocaster, but let’s hope that’s in the works! If you’re not familiar with Greg’s playing, you owe it to yourself to check out his music for an incredibly eye-opening experience!
Tell Me What You Think
Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this Reverend Gristle 90 review, have any questions about this product, or want to leave your review. I will be happy to help you.
- Have you played or owned a Reverend Gristle 90? What do you think of it?
- What is your favorite body color?
- How do you think the Gristle 90’s sound compares to a Fender Telecaster?
- Do you like the Gristle 90’s pickup system?
- After reading this review, are you interested in checking out the guitar?