1999 Reverend Rumblefish R5L Bass Guitar

The first time I saw a Reverend Rumblefish was back in the late nineties. Before I had access to the internet, I used to buy these annual guitar company catalogs to learn about all the new gear that the world had to offer. I remember seeing these things and thinking they must be great rockabilly guitars, with their retro looks, almost like a Danelectro meets a Cadillac. I would have loved to try one but my Bass Place didn’t have any. Fast forward 20 years later and I finally found one for the right price that I could use it to review on my website.

Reverend Musical Instruments

Reverent Rumblefish
Reverend circa 1999

The Reverend Musical Instruments was started in Detroit by Joe Naylor in 1997 and continued to make guitars and basses in the United States until 2006. After 2006 the company would continue on as an American designed, high quality South Korean built guitar company.

Joe is a contributing founder of Naylor Amps & Speakers, Armor Gold Cables, StringDog Products, the Heads Up Strap, All-Tone Speakers and Railhammer Pickups. Joe continues to work on design with Reverend today.

Fun fact: Joe Naylor went to luthier school at the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery here in Phoenix, Arizona. I have some friends who attended the same school.

Danelectro meets a Cadillac

From Reverend’s Website circa 2000

What you get with a Reverend is a high resonance body, Reverend tone from Joe Naylor designed pickups, retro/vintage vibey designs, and an enhanced Danelectro/Silvertone experience all at an affordable price when compared to other guitars of this caliber.

Joe Naylor says his original inspiration was from the masonite construction of a Silvertone (March 1999 Vintage Guitar Magazine). Thinking of all of the players who have been playing Danelectro guitars and basses for over 70 years now, it makes sense to launch a company that specializes in taking these old guitar ideas to the next level with all new designs and high quality builds.

When I took a ride in the Wayback Machine to see what Reverend was doing back in the early 2000’s, I wasn’t too surprised to see them compare their self to Danelectro, pointing out all of their advantages.

Reverend guitars and basses have become the go to instrument for artists such as; Billy Corgan, Dan Auerbach, Kid Rock, Mike Watt, The Stooges, The Cure, Kyle Shutt, Fleetwood Mac, Meshell Ndegeocello, Fu Manchu, Wye Oak, Nine Inch Nails, Sponge, Black Crowes, Sheryl Crow, Decemberists, Hot Water Music, Meat Puppets, Bear vs Shark, Pedro the Lion, Down By Law, The Bangles, Hall & Oates, The Cars, Dire Straits, Joy, Suicide Machines, Hawthorne Heights, Sleeping with Sirens, Against Me!, Smashing Pumpkins, Tito Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Fallout Boy, Mitski, Samiam…and so many more.

Reverend Rumblefish R5L

The Reverend Rumblefish R5L is most most like a 5 string version of the Rumblefish XL. It has 2 JJ pickups, one volume, one tone control, and a 3 position voicing switch. There are not independent volume controls for the pickups. The back of the headstock may include a serial number along with bass number and inspector initials. I have seen some newer versions that don’t have this so I’m not sure if it was erased or was never written on the headstock.

  • Reverend serial number #00799 Joe Naylor inspected (JFN signed)
  • R5L #43 of 289 total R5L basses
  • Made from January 1999 through April 2006

Reverend Rumblefish R5L Specifications

  • Neck : Satin-finished vintage tinted 35 inch scale, medium oval, maple neck
  • Fretboard : 21 fret rosewood fretboard
  • Body : Phenolic laminate top and back, 6 inch wide white mahogany center block, steel sustain bar, molded polymer rim
  • Pickups : Two Reverend J-style pickups
  • Electronics : Volume, Tone, and 3 position voicing switch (parallel, single coil, series)
  • Bridge : String through body design
  • Strap buttons : Standard metal
  • Weight : 9 lbs, 10.4 ounces
  • USA made

Reverend Guitar and Bass Owner’s Manual

General Care and Maintenance

Cleaning – Instrument can be cleaned with any high quality guitar polish, or if necessary a cloth dampened with slightly soapy water followed by guitar polish. Do not use chemical solvents on white sides or neck paint. IMPORTANT: To prevent corrosion, metal finishes should be wiped free of sweat immediately following every performance. This is especially important before storing instrument in case or gig bag.

Fretboard Care – Rosewood fretboards should be treated with lemon oil every 6 months. Apply sparingly, wipe off excess, allow to dry overnight before re-stringing.

String Tree Lube – For increased tuning stability, string trees should be lubricated with a light machine oil whenever strings are changed. Using a toothpick or Q-tip, apply oil sparingly to the area of string which makes contact with the string tree.

Tuning Keys – Periodically tighten the barrel nuts on the top of the tuning keys. DO NOT over tighten, only turn until snug.

Nut Lube – For increased tuning stability, the nut slots and strings should be lubricated with pencil lead dust (graphite) whenever strings are changed. Using a sharp pencil tip, rub graphite onto the bottom and sides of the string, on the area which makes contact with the nut. Also rub graphite onto the bottom and sides of the nuts slots. A 5mm drafting pencil works well for this procedure.

Climate – Do not expose your instrument to extreme hot/cold or dry/humid conditions. As a general rule, keep your instrument in an environment you would feel comfortable in.

Body Durability – Reverend instruments are designed to withstand heavy professional use, but as with any semi-hollow instruments extra precautions must be taken. The Reverend body has hollow chambers on either side, making it more susceptible to damage than a standard solid-body. To prevent damage do not subject the body to dropping, crushing, stacking, hard impact or excessive pressure.

Re-stringing – Guitar strings should be wrapped at least 3 full winds around the tuning key string posts. Bass strings should be wrapped to the bottom of the string posts, string length permitting – this will prevent strings from rattling in the nut slots. We factory install S.I.T. Powerwounds:

  • Guitar: set S942 (9-42).
  • 4-string Bass: set NR45100L Long Scale (45-100).
  • 5-string Bass: set NR45 125 Extra Long Scale (45-125).


Guitars – Volume, tone, pickup selector. Humbucker pickups feature a mini-switch (coil tap) which operates as follows: UP = single-coil, DOWN = humbucker. There is one mini-switch for each humbucker.

Phase Switch Wiring (guitar option) – Mini switch located between volume and tone control (on Rocco, switch closest to tone control). UP = pickups out-of-phase when both pickups are on (with 3 pickup guitars: when neck and middle are on).

Studio Switch Wiring (guitar option, 3 pickup guitars only) – Mini switch located between tone control and jack. UP turns neck and bridge pickup on together, no matter what position the 5-way pickup selector is in – if pickup selector is in middle 3 positions, then all three pickups will be on together.

Rumblefish Bass – Starting with knob closest to neck: volume neck pickup, volume bridge pickup, master tone.

Rumblefish XL Bass & Rumblefish 5L Bass – Volume, tone, and voicing switch which operates as follows: UP = both pickups in parallel, MIDDLE = neck pickup alone (true single-coil with noise), DOWN = both pickups in series (as one large humbucker).

Brad Houser 5 Bass – Volume for each pickup, master tone, and voicing switch (as above) for each pickup.

Set-up to Factory Specifications

  • If you do not feel confident adjusting your instrument, have it done by a professional technician.
  • Your instrument may require set-up for any of the following reasons:
    • Change in climate (see Truss Rod below).
    • Change of string gauge.
    • Break-in period – most new instruments have a break-in period of about 2 months of use. During this time adjustments may move slightly as the components and hardware “settle-in”.
  • The following specifications are for medium-low action. Lower action may require extra fret work, and may result in poorer tone quality. Higher action (more neck relief and increased string height – see below) may be required by those who play hard with their picking hand, or those who prefer a clearer tone with minimal string-on-fret buzz.
  • Important note! Set-up adjustments must be performed in the order listed:

Truss Rod (neck relief)

  • Tune guitar to pitch. While holding instrument in playing position, fret the G string at the 1st fret with your left hand, and between the 12th and 13th frets with your right hand. Observe the distance between the top of the 5th fret and the bottom of the string. This gap indicates the amount of relief (forward neck bow).
  • Using a 5mm allen wrench, adjust the truss rod and then check the relief until you have a gap approximately equal to an index card. Tightening the truss rod will reduce relief, loosening will increase relief. Relief is required to prevent string-on-fret buzz from the 1st to 10th frets.
  • Relief can be affected by changes in climate. High humidity will reduce or eliminate relief, low humidity will increase relief. The truss rod may require adjustment during seasonal changes (fall, spring), or any substantial change in climate.

String Heights

Numbers represent 64ths of an inch, measured from bottom of open string to top of 12th fret, with instrument tuned to pitch and held in playing position.

ModelLow BLow EADGBHigh E
5-String Bass6.

Pickup Heights

Numbers represent 32nds of an inch, measured from bottom of open E strings to top of pickup polepiece. Pickup height can radically change tone and volume. Be sure to experiment to suit your personal tastes.

ModelNeck PickupMiddle PickupBridge Pickup
High ELow EHigh ELow EHigh ELow E
Avenger TL4.
Avenger GT4.
Slingshot Custom5.
Commando GT4.
Rumblefish Bass5.
Rumblefish XL Bass5.
Rumblefish SL Bass5.
Brad Houser Bass5.


  • Tune the instrument to pitch using a high quality electronic tuner. While holding the instrument in playing position, strike an open string and check the tuning. Fret the same string at the 12th fret and check the tuning. If the note at the 12th fret is sharp move the bridge saddle back (away from the neck) by tightening the saddle screw a few turns. If the note at the 12th fret is flat move the saddle forward towards the neck. Repeat the process until the 12th fret note matches the open string note. Repeat for each string.
  • Tuner readings are more stable when pickup selector is set for two pickups on.
  • Weak tuner battery and old or damaged strings may cause inaccurate tuner readings.

Reverend Guitar and Bass Warranty
Reverend Guitars and Basses are covered by a one year limited warranty from date of purchase. Warranty covers defective workmanship or materials only. Warranty does not cover normal wear, or damage caused by misuse, abuse, modification, or acts of nature. Modification to instrument may void warranty. Warranty does not cover routine maintenance or adjustment. Warranty service must be preauthorized by Reverend, and performed by Reverend or an authorized Reverend service facility. If you have any questions concerning your Reverend instrument contact your local Reverend dealer, or contact us directly at 586-775-1025.


http://www.revfan.com/reverend-bass.html (Shout out to these guys, best Reverend resource on the web!)