Low-wattage amps are becoming more and more popular every year, thanks to their ease of portability and developments in sound. But can small amps really encompass the width, depth and versatility of their larger siblings? The Supro 1605R aims to answer that question, and does a mighty fine job of it too. In fact, this may just be one of the best low-watt amplifiers on the market today. Supro amps were iconic in the early ‘60s, and are now enjoying something of a renaissance.
Renowned for their scorching tones and chiming, crunchy overdrives – anyone familiar with early Zeppelin has no doubt come into contact with their tone. Luckily for us, the modern day reissues make the best of that vintage magic while adding a few modern additions that make them invaluable in 2017.
Weighing in at five watts, this amp is designed to be cranked. If you're looking for clean headroom, there's plenty of other amps in Supro's range that'll fit that bill. But the best thing about an amp this size is the ability to get those crunchy, raw tones that Supro is known and loved for at a reasonable volume. Plus, if you want to play a small to medium-sized gig – just mic this bad boy up and you'll be good to go. As far as contemporary additions go, a master-volume knob works in tandem with the gain control so you can get cranked tones at neighbour-friendly volumes. Unlike many smaller amps, the master volume doesn't seem to alter the natural compression of the amp too immensely – and it actually sounds quite full, even at midnight-hour-can't-play-too-loudly-because-my-housemate-will-kill-me levels.
As for the tone, this thing really shines with humbucking guitars on a bridge pickup setting. The extra drive you'll get from some high-output pickups will push the amp that little bit harder, resulting in the type of classic rock tones that Supro is renowned for. As for the EQ, even though this is a small amp – the tone is surprisingly full and balanced. There's hearty bass response throughout, and the high-end is far from shrill. Between the treble and bass controls on the amp, you'll be able to tweak to taste. Think of these controls more as a way to suit the amp’s overall tone to whatever guitar you're already playing, however, as opposed to completely revoicing the amp. In other words, this is an amp that does one thing exceptionally well – and all you've got to do is embrace that.
While the reverb circuit may add a little more to the price tag, I'd argue that it's more than worth the investment. It's hard to think of another inbuilt reverb that is so essential to the overall tone of an amp than in this instance. For one of the best thrills you'll get all year, crank this amp's gain, master volume, and reverb to ten and shred away. It's vintage-inspired bliss, without the headache of managing old gear or using a stepdown transformer if you're purchasing from overseas.
Supro have managed to do the unthinkable with this model. They've crafted a portable, workhorse amp that nails the tones of yesterday. If you're after instant old school crunch without relying on anything besides your guitar, an amp and some scorching licks – this is the amp for you.
Hits and Misses
Beautiful sounding reverb
Such low wattage isn’t going to cut it for bigger shows