The original Reverend models were known for their distinctive body shape as well as their use of non-traditional materials. Inspired by semi-hollow designs produced by Silvertone as well as the venerable Gibson ES-335, the original Reverend models were constructed using a core of solid mahogany surrounded by acoustic chambers. A strip of molded plastic provided the frame while the front and back of the guitar was constructed of phenolic laminate sheets in a variety of colors and finishes. All American-built Reverends were identical in body shape, with various models set apart by their pickup choices and tremolos. Because of its plastic-like texture and non-traditional appearance, the use of phenolic laminate would prove to be a polarizing design feature among players. Some guitarists were wildly enthusiastic about the distinctive style and lively tonal response, while others derided it as being too similar across the line and too plastic for their tastes.
Although Reverend guitars were initially sold in large guitar stores around the country, Joe Naylor eventually made the decision to sell all of his guitars direct through his website as a way of making the company more cost-efficient. This move was one of many major changes instituted by Naylor over the years, as he tried to adapt to the changing market. New USA Reverend models were frequently introduced and, if they failed to sell, soon discontinued with only a few stalwarts (such as the Slingshot) being offered consistently. A short-lived line of bass-guitars, called the Rumblefish, received excellent reviews from critics but were eventually discontinued along with various amplifier models such as the Hellhound, Kingsnake, and Goblin. For a relatively brief period of time, a budget line of American-made Reverends—the Workhorse series—were available. Despite all of these changes, Reverend guitars were not able to translate their small, fanatically loyal owner-base into mainstream acceptance.
Naylor surprised many of the company's devoted customers when he announced that all USA Reverends were to be discontinued in favor of an imported line constructed in Korea. These guitars, known initially as the Stage King series and now known as either the Set Neck (set-in neck construction) or Bolt-On Series (bolt-on neck construction), featured solid wood bodies and a slightly more traditional shape than the American models. Despite the shift to overseas construction, the new Reverend models have been highly regarded by players for their overall quality, affordable price and distinctive appearance.