[interview] Reverend: Joe Naylor

Here's FXDB's interview with Joe Naylor of Reverend:

How did Reverend start making pedals?

That was my crazy idea. We were already making amps, and everyone was bitching about it being a single channel design, so I figured we'd come out with an overdrive pedal to shut 'em up. It worked, the pedal went over great.

Bob Weil from Visual Sound did the circuit design. I played his stuff at a NAMM show, really liked it, and hired him for the project. I came up with the basic layout, graphics, and was the ear guy.

Where do the name and logo come from?

I saw the name in a Blues magazine at a book store, there was an article about guitarist Reverend Gary Davis. The second I saw it, I knew that was it. It has a blues guitar reference, it's something that is held in reverence, and it's easy to remember.

The logo is influenced by several things. Art deco, vintage car company logos, and military insignia. Some of my favorite things.

What sets Reverend apart from other builders?

Probably one of the earliest overdrives with an independent adjustable bass control.

How do you start on a new pedal?

We only made the one. We did make two versions, the II has less gain and more clean boost on tap.

How do you name your pedals?

Drivetrain... we're from the Detroit area!

Can you tell us something about the production process?

We had them made in Taiwan, QC'd here in our facility.

PCB with handwired jacks and pots, custom spec bent sheet metal enclosure, powder coated finish, silkscreened graphics.

How important is the look of your pedals?

Funny thing is, I wanted it sorta big so it would look important. Now, everyone is going smaller, which actually makes more sense.

Is parts selection important?

Not really. Component consistency is important, but otherwise the most important thing is the ears on the guy designing it, not whether or not there's some magic part in it.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

The Drivetrain is a good sounding pedal, and had a cool natural compression thing that overdrives didn't have back then... kind of an AC30 meets Tubescreamer sound.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

Both versions sold well.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

It was intended to be like a Tubescreamer, but with less midrange, more treble chime, more compression, and a bass control.

Lots of artists used the Drivetrain... Ron Asheton (RIP), Kenny Olsen, Carl Verheyen, Rick Vito, the Drive By Truckers, and many more I can't think of right now. Ron Asheton used to bring two Drivetrains (one for backup) everywhere he played, he said the amps didn't matter much, he could get his sound as long as he had a Drivetrain.

What does the future of Reverend look like?

Big changes are coming for 2012. It's our 15th Anniversary, and we're revamping our entire marketing approach, including products, website, advertising, etc. We just hired Penny Haas (Ken's wife) to run Public Relations/Marketing. We feel we offer something unique, that's the best value in its price range, and has an amazing track record. But a lot players still don't know about us, so we're gonna focus on getting the message out loud and clear for 2012.

At this point, we only offer guitars and basses. Pedal production ended in 2005. Besides the onslaught of competition, we felt we were losing focus as a company, and decided to return to what we originally started with, and what we do best, which is instruments.

Are you working on any new products?

Nope.

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