If you follow the history of Supro guitars and amplifiers to its spiritual roots in the National Resophonic guitar company then you find its origins date all the way back to 1926. After a few changes in ownership and name to eventually the classic Supro we know, the company went out of business in 1968. That is 42 years of helping to give the emergence rock n’ roll and popular music an electric voice. Think of all the influential hands that have played their guitars and made their amplifiers scream like hell. Not even just in the classic era, but even today. Quite a history, isn’t it?
There are a lot of expectations on a company with such a history when they make a return, especially after being away for so long. There are a few examples in music gear history of unsuccessful return attempts that left a bad taste in the mouth of players, and it seems that the new Supro were aware of others’ failures in that regard. The re-introduction of the newly reissued Supro amps at 2014 were a great success, and laid the groundwork for the introduction of effects in 2016 and the guitars in 2017. That debut at Winter NAMM 2014 solidly set the bar right back where it should be, wowing attendees with the sound and quality. Now any player can now enjoy the Supro sound at an affordable cost with modern construction and improvements in design.
On yesterday’s Sharpen the Axe we checked out a few different Supro products: the Island Series Westbury, the Americana Series Coronado II Vibrato, the fuzz and boost pedals, and the 1964 Reissue Series 1622RT Tremo-Verb. The Westbury, Coronado II Vibrato, and Tremo-Verb are all recreations (with some modern tweaks) of vintage designs from Supro’s history, while the two pedals are new additions to the Supro family.
The Westbury, an updated variation of the ’62 Ozark model, provides solid playability with a not-too-fat 25.5” scale satin finished neck on a classic alder body, and features modern versions of the classic “Clear-tone” gold foil pickups. The low-noise pickups have wide bar magnets to provide a three dimensional single coil tone that can croon or snarl with the best of them.
The Coronado II Vibrato brings the highly collectable Reso-glass models of yesteryear to today’s standards with the new “Acousti-glass” top mounted on a mahogany body. Fear not about any quirks that may rise with a composite top, it is a surprisingly flexible tone machine that has the classic semi-hollow resonance the originals were renowned for. This body design coupled with the single-coil “Vistatone” pickups (just like Valco used to make!) makes for some full-throated voice that will cut through the mix. A modern touch is the new floating vibrato system, which remains in tune surprisingly well, and is a whole lot of fun to use and abuse.
The Supro Fuzz has two stages to create its sound, the first being N.O.S. Germanium transistor going into the second stage silicon transistor. I was able to find both vintage and modern types of fuzz tones in this little black box, and was rather surprised with the low noise floor and flexibility of the EQ section. The amount of bass response available would make this a great choice for bassists or baritone players, an option they may not have thought of initially. Adding an expression control for the Treble pot was a curious choice, but being able to tame or boost the high end of the fuzz could provide for great utility for some players.
The Supro Boost has a surprising amount of versatility than one would initially guess at. Aside from offering 20dB of J-FET based clean boost, you can choose to boost highs or lows with the provided toggle switch (actually activating high-pass or low-pass filters), or leave it in the middle for full-range goodness. It is a wonderfully clean and noise-free boost that will push an amp right into that sweet spot you were looking for. To kick it up a notch, Supro has added an expression jack, whereby adding an expression pedal turns the Supro Boost into an active volume pedal.
Lastly, the 1622RT Tremo-Verb is a 25-watt, 1×10” powerhouse that is a take on the late 60’s 1×10” combo designs from Supro’s history. Like any of their amps, the Tremo-Verb has plenty of clean headroom, making it a fantastic choice for players looking for a platform to run their pedalboards into. When cranked though the Tremo-Verb has a great growl that oozes old school rock n’ roll cool. The 25-watts of Class-A power will be plenty loud for most small to medium rooms, and is still manageable for recording purposes. The on-board reverb is tube-driven, and gives that California surf guitar sparkle to your riffs, while the power-tube-driven tremolo circuit adds the throbbing shake you always desired from tremolo circuits in vintage amps.
Supro has proven themselves in terms of quality and cool with their return and expanding line of products. It could be the sound you have been looking for, and you can now come on in to Pitbull Audio and see (more importantly, hear) for yourself what the fuss has been all about!