The evaluation of adhesively bonded structures has been a challenge over the several decades that these structures have been used. Applications within the aerospace industry often call for particularly high performance adhesive bonds. Several techniques have been proposed for the detection of disbonds and cohesive weakness but a reliable NDE method for detecting interfacial weakness (also sometimes called a kissing bond) has been elusive. Different techniques, including ultrasonic, thermal imaging and shearographic methods, have been proposed; all have had some degree of success. In particular, ultrasonic methods, including those based upon shear and guided waves, have been explored for the assessment of interfacial bond quality. Since 3-D guided shear horizontal (SH) waves in plates have predominantly shear displacement at the plate surfaces, we conjectured that SH guided waves should be influenced by interfacial conditions when they propagate between adhesively bonded plates of comparable thickness. This paper describes a new technique based on SH guided waves that propagate within and through a lap joint. Through mechanisms we have yet to fully understand, the propagation of an SH wave through a lap joint gives rise to a reverberation signal that is due to one or more reflections of an SH guided wave mode within that lap joint. Based upon a combination of numerical simulations and measurements, this method shows promise for detecting and classifying interfacial bonds. It is also apparent from our measurements that the SH wave modes can discriminate between adhesive and cohesive bond weakness in both Aluminum-Epoxy-Aluminum and Composite-Epoxy-Composite lap joints. All measurements reported here used periodic permanent magnet (PPM) Electro-Magnetic Acoustic Transducers (EMATs) to generate either or both of the two lowest order SH modes in the plates that comprise the lap joint. This exact configuration has been simulated using finite element (FE) models to describe the SH mode generation, propagation and reception. Of particular interest is that one SH guided wave mode (probably SH0) reverberates within the lap joint. Moreover, in both simulations and measurements, features of this so-called reverberation signal appear to be related to interfacial weakness between the plate (substrate) and the epoxy bond. The results of a hybrid numerical (FE) approach based on using COMSOL to calculate the driving forces within an elastic solid and ABAQUS to propagate the resulting elastic disturbances (waves) within the plates and lap joint are compared with measurements of SH wave generation and reception in lap joint specimens having different interfacial and cohesive bonding conditions. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.