Description: Solidbody guitar. Made in China
Contact: Sutherland Trading – 02920 887333 – revelationguitars.co.uk
Revelation may be an unfamiliar brand name for many players, but the back-room presence of designer Alan Entwistle always bodes well. True to past form, his latest designs offer a blend of familiar features and finger-clicking good ideas: just why did no one think of that before?
While TTX-64’s body shape brings to mind a Maton guitar, essentially this instrument riffs on the Tele concept: bolt-on maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard, ashtray bridge with through-body stringing, a control layout featuring a master tone, volume control and a three-way pickup selector. However, when it comes to pickups, the TTX-64 sets off in a very different and interesting direction, for rather than offering the familiar cocktail of single-coil sounds, it has a hotrails-style humbucker situated at the bridge and a mini-humbucker at the neck.
With its narrow-coil design the bridge pickup is voiced to offer the bright, top-end clarity associated with a single coil but with the enhanced output and noise-cancelling characteristics of a humbucker. Mini humbuckers have quite a complex history; often associated with jazz guitars, they also featured on a number of Gibson Les Paul and Epiphone models. Broadly speaking they have a cleaner and brighter tone than a PAF, but with a fuller, richer and more neutral voice.
Out of the box the TTX-64 feels like a solid, practical guitar. It balances well on the strap, but it’s a little awkward on the knee when sitting; the lower body cutaway is positioned quite far forward and the instrument is a little tail-heavy as a result. The slab-style alder body, without ribcage chamfer or droptop curve, has a vintage angularity that is familiar, charming and slightly uncomfortable, all at the same time.
The neck is made from a surprisingly nice-looking piece of maple and appears to have been cut from a single piece of timber, as there are no apparent joints. Finished in a slick gloss finish, its slim profile feels quite ’70s to the touch. The fretboard wood looks to be of an equally high standard, but there is some scalloping around frets 17-19, which suggests some slightly rough or inexperienced finishing. The fret job is nice and even, though, and the presence of an edge binding and block markers adds a further touch of class. The tuners are Kluson-style repros.
The Entwistle TLHX Hotrail is a very nice pickup with a distinctive sound all its own. Unlike some standard humbuckers the sound is much more focussed in the upper mids, and there’s plenty of top end clarity too. It’s a pickup that can easily handle clean melodic playing, and the simple chords sound promisingly full and well-articulated.
On its own, the bridge pickup has an unusually potent twanginess, so country-style riffs sound fantastic. The guitar is very solidly constructed and vibrates well, so there is plenty of natural sustain and a real sense of wood in the clean sound.
Switching to the neck pickup offers a remarkable shift of character. Here, it’s the lower mids that seem to get the gloss, and as a result the overall fullness and warmth of the pickup’s voice is what stands out. It’s a big, jazzy, almost Gretsch-like sound – quite an eye-opener, and not at all what one might anticipate from a guitar like this.
As both pickups have quite strongly individual characteristics, the fact that the combination is equally distinct will come as no surprise. The result is not so much a smooth blend (the sort of sound you get when pickups of similar specification get mixed), it’s more of a merge where the individual characteristics are still clearly apparent. Hence we have a warm but perhaps slightly indistinct jazzy bass character with lively mids and a bright top end that isn’t piercing. It would be a very original tone for a guitar at any price, so the fact that a low-cost model can deliver a distinct signature sound like this is very good news for any player on a budget who doesn’t want to follow the usual style trends.
The individual pickups and the twin pickup sound work equally well with overdrive, but under these conditions thesounds become a little less nuanced and slightly more conventional. This isn’t a criticism; most people will want certain sorts of performance characteristics, and the TTX-64 really delivers.
At medium drive levels the bridge pickup delivers punky, choppy chords with plenty of clout and a great sense of definition, and you can wind the gain a little further for killer rock solo voices that really wail, or else back off the guitar’s volume control for well-defined electric blues. The tone control works very evenly throughout its entire range, adding another very useful level of manipulation.
Used in anger, the neck pickup has more of a Gibson-like brogue, and classic heavy rock riffs sound just dandy. Overdrive evens out the twin pickup voice, creating a wide-spectrum sound that fills the soundstage beautifully, giving an impression of largeness and an airiness that’s truly impressive… especially for the price.
Alan Entwistle is seemingly a man on a mission: to deliver excellent guitars that offer something a bit different, all at a price that makes people smile. The amount of time he spends supervising production at the factory in China seems to be paying off; each Revelation we see seems to push the envelope just that little bit harder.
The TTX-64 is heaps of fun to play, and sounds great. While a kind of cross between an obscure guitar shape and the workings of one of the most time-honoured designs, the innovative choice of pickups means this is anything but a clone. It’s a solid performer that can cope with any style of music that doesn’t require a whammy bar. This is an instrument a beginner won’t outgrow in a hurry, while more experienced players will love the easy-playing vibe – and the price is less than that of many boutique pedals.