Supro Amplifiers: the Lore, the Legend, the Tone
by Dave Hunter
The legendary Supro logo with signature lightning bolt stirs several images simultaneously for most guitarists. Sum these up as unique looks, individual tone, and a near-mythic cool factor that is unmatched in the world of vintage tube guitar amplifiers; but the most common reactions to all of these sensations are best rendered simply as, “I want one!” Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Albert Lee and countless other stars wanted one too—and got ’em, using Supro amps to lay down the foundations of blues and rock. But the roots of the Supro brand go way back to a time well before the period for which we best know them now, to the very birth of the electric guitar.
Supro’s origins date to the pre-electric guitar days and the formation of the National Resophonic guitar company around 1926, with roots in the resonator guitars that became a blues tone standard prior to amplification. National and Dobro merged in the early ’30s to form Valco, and Supro. Soon, Valco-made Supro amps were tearing it up on Chicago’s south-side scene, establishing a tone that has been synonymous with gritty blues ever since. By the mid 60’s, Jimi Hendrix was playing a Supro Thunderbolt amp on tour with Little Richard and the Isley Brothers. A few years later, Jimmy Page, inspired by the raw tones of the Chicago blues scene, cut seminal Led Zeppelin tracks on a Supro Model 24… and so the chain of influence goes, full circle from Chicago blues, to London blues-rock, with Supro the hip tone to beat.
Player upon player has since discovered the sonic splendor of Supro’s extremely original circuits and unique build style, as well as the surprising versatility hidden within the appealing simplicity of these amps. Plug into one of these beauties, and you know you are striding out onto original and inspiring sonic ground. There’s a girth, depth, and dimension to the tone of these old circuits that is simply unattainable from the other brands, and a dynamic playing feel that definitely puts a smile on my face every time. Keep them clean, and they are sweet and rich; crank them up, and even the smaller Supro models issue a bold, furious roar that retains its edge and cutting power amid heavy overdrive.
From authentic Chicago blues to all-out rock’n’roll, the Supro brand has distinguished itself as a sound for players who want to make their own mark on music, rather than merely chasing some tired standard that has gone before. Players who know Supro amps and understand what they can do have always appreciated them for their ability to help you sound like you. Supro has always presented a great alternative way to get your music made, and to get it noticed. For years, the only way to achieve that legendary Supro tone was to track down an original amp, get it running well, and hope it stayed that way. Not any more. Supro is back—and the lore, the legend, the tone, and the total attitude is back with it. Check out Supro’s growing lineup of American-made amplifiers that honor the original circuits, while presenting value and performance unparalleled in today’s market, and a tone that is truly all your own.