Reverend Billy Corgan Signature Z-One review

Featuring a chambered alder body and the Smashing Pumpkins frontman's signature Railhammer humbuckers, the Z-One is a versatile platform for high-voltage rock

Reverend Billy Corgan Signature Z-One
(Image: © Reverend Guitars)

Guitar World Verdict

The Reverend Billy Corgan Signature Z-One may be designed to rock harder than Corgan’s previous signature models, but its versatile range of tones expands its appeal beyond its aggressive midrange bridge pickup voice.

Pros

  • +

    Playability and construction are top notch.

  • +

    Resonant and lightweight.

  • +

    Pickups provide a distinctive, attractive midrange voice.

  • +

    Versatile.

Cons

  • -

    Only two finish options.

  • -

    No left-handed models.

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Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan started collaborating with Joe Naylor on his first Reverend signature guitar more than six years ago. The new Reverend Billy Corgan Signature Z-One is now his third signature model, preceded by the short-scale Billy Corgan Terz and original Billy Corgan Signature. 

At first glance, the Z-One looks similar to the original with its dual humbucking pickups, roasted maple neck with maple fingerboard and string-thru-body hardtail bridge, with the main differences appearing to be cosmetic. However, the Z-One is significantly different in ways that we’ll explain below.

In the flesh, the Z-One is even more stunning than it looks on the Reverend website. The contrast of the brushed aluminum single-piece pickguard, graphic etched chrome pickup covers and chrome hardware against the Midnight Black or Metallic Silver Freeze finish looks high-tech, classy and overall more classic than its predecessors’ segmented pickguard designs. 

Reverend Billy Corgan Signature Z-One

(Image credit: Reverend Guitars)

Both cutaway horns have a concave sculpt (instead of the previous relatively straight lines) that provides more access to the upper frets, and that complements the angular offset body shape and contours. Most notably, the body is made of alder instead of korina, but is still chambered to enhance resonance and decrease weight. Our example weighed a comfortable 7.3 pounds.

The neck is almost identical to the first Corgan model’s, featuring a 25.5" scale, 22 jumbo frets, 12" radius, medium oval profile and dual-action truss rod accessed at the headstock. However, the nut width is slightly narrower, measuring 41mm instead of 43mm. 

Controls are the same as well, consisting of master volume with treble bleed circuit, tone and passive bass contour controls with low-profile “top hat”-style chrome knobs. A high-quality Pure Tone output jack is mounted to the side. The three-position blade switch accesses bridge/both/neck settings.

Reverend Billy Corgan Signature Z-One

(Image credit: Reverend Guitars)

The biggest difference beyond the alder body, and the item of most intrigue, is the pair of specially voiced Railhammer humbucking pickups. These pickups feature Railhammer’s distinctive combination bar (low E, A and D strings) and three slug (G, B and high E strings) design, as well as unique etched spiral and star graphics. 

The resistances of the humbuckers on our example measured 13.6k ohms (bridge) and 7.8k ohms (neck). One final crowning cosmetic touch is the circle-enclosed Z on the headstock that replaces the usual Reverend “R” logo.

Reverend Billy Corgan Z-One signature guitar

(Image credit: Reverend Guitars)

Performance

Reverend says the Z-One is “inspired by the heavier songs in the Smashing Pumpkins catalog,” citing its tones that work better for songs like Geek U.S.A., Zero and Jellybelly

This is certainly the case with the high-output bridge pickup, which delivers a distinctive, outstandingly musical midrange voice, along with mellower treble and slightly rolled-back, tighter bass. 

Played through a raging Marshall, the bridge pickup’s roar reminded me of a cross between Rick Nielsen’s rhythm tones on the first Cheap Trick album and Billy Duffy’s lead tone on The Cult's Wild Flower.

The neck pickup is also aggressive, but instead of the usual somewhat-flabby humbucker tones, it has a throaty growl like a hot-rodded Strat neck pickup (but without the nasty hum). It’s round and bouncy, with a nice percussive snap. 

The middle setting was the biggest surprise of all, providing a honking midrange bark like a Gretsch with tone ideal for supercharged rockabilly. Backing down the tone knob summons throaty mids, and the bass contour focuses and slightly thins the tone to help the guitar cut through a dense mix.

Playability and construction are top notch, particularly the neck, which features a profile that maintains Reverend’s reputation for speed and comfort. Thanks to the versatility of the newly voiced Railhammer pickups, suffice to say the third time’s the charm.

Specs

Reverend Billy Corgan Z-One signature guitar

(Image credit: Reverend Guitars)
  • PRICE: $1,499 / £1,299 street
  • ORIGIN: South Korea
  • TYPE: Single-cutaway, chambered electric
  • BODY: Chambered alder
  • NECK: Roasted maple, with six-bolt joint, Medium Oval profile
  • SCALE LENGTH: 647.7mm (25.5”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Boneite/41mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Roasted maple
  • FRETS: 22
  • HARDWARE: String-Through Hardtail, Reverend Pin-Lock tuners
  • ELECTRICS: 2x Billy Corgan Z-One 'Railhammer' humbuckers, 3-way toggle pickup selector switch, volume, tone, bass contour, with treble-bleed circuit
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 7.3
  • LEFT-HANDERS: No
  • FINISH: Metallic Silver Freeze, Midnight Black
  • CONTACT: Reverend Guitars (opens in new tab)

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Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.