Review: Supro 1296 Silverwood

This is a tasty new creation from a company that’s firing on all cylinders, and a worthy consideration for any guitarist looking for some high style circa ’59–’61.
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Although many vintage Supro guitars are known for having bodies made from alternative materials such as Res-o-Glas, the original Silverwood was billed as the company’s “finest electric” and was one of a handful to receive a solid-wood body to prove the point. This new Silverwood offering follows suit and includes several notable upgrades on the features of its 1960s predecessors, all without losing that distinctive body shape and Valco-grade vibe.

Unlike the original, the 1296 Silverwood boasts a glued-in neck made from maple, although the back is finished in a nifty matte black for a toothsome feel, yielding to gloss behind the headstock and just short of the easy-access heel joint. The pau ferro fingerboard features block inlays and is tastefully bound, while the austere semi-Gumby headstock sports only the simple metal Supro badge, with a lightning-bolt graphic. 

Further change-ups occur on the body, which is available in solid ash or solid African mahogany and features a shallow German carve. Our test guitar had a mahogany body, with a translucent British Racing Green finish on top and dark-mahogany stain on the back and sides, set off with a wide single-ply cream binding. (Other finishes include Ash Natural, Daphne Blue and Transparent Red.) The Silverwood is a looker, for sure, and a little more “together” stylistically than some of the vintage Supros that sport this silhouette.

The trapeze bridge with its lightning-bolt S cutout is another big part of this guitar’s visual appeal. It sends the strings across a Tune-o-matic bridge with Nashville-style inset posts on their way to a synthetic nut. The pickups are in-house Gold Foils, which are re-creations of a lesser-seen breed of vintage pickup that has become more and more popular in recent years. 

Despite their wide and generally humbucker-like dimensions, they are single-coil units, as any gnarly garage rocker would demand, and measure 9.43k ohms in the bridge position and 8.54k ohms in the neck, with a hum-canceling middle position. Supro’s David Koltai tells us they were designed in collaboration with vintage-Valco pickup expert Ken Calvet of Roadhouse Pickups, who further explains that they are wound with 43 AWG coil wire and carry Alinico V magnets. 

“The metals are of the correct composition,” Calvet adds, “and the coils are exactly the same size and shape as the originals.” Controls consist of a simple shared volume and tone, with a three-way blade switch on the upper horn within a metal plate engraved with the words "Tone Switch," adding another iconic vintage-Supro touch.

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The 1296GB Silverwood is a good-feeling guitar on the whole, with an easy playability and evidence of a solid and conscientious build, particularly for an instrument in this price range. For me, it’s just a tad on the heavy side for a relatively slim-bodied guitar, but not alarmingly so, and of course it won’t feel remotely anchor-like to the average Les Paul player. 

The neck profile is a fairly slim C, but it fills the hand comfortably, and the action arrived low and easy right out of the case. The wound strings exhibited a hint of buzz between the 9th and 15th frets, but that was easily rectified by raising the string height a hair. Played unplugged, the Silverwood rings out sweetly with impressive sustain and a lively, balanced tone.

Plugged alternately into a Fender Princeton Reverb combo and a Friedman Small Box head with a 2x12 cab, the 1296 Silverwood quickly proved to be a bundle of fun and a characterful new offering with very much its own voice and feel. A significant amount of credit for that is due to the Gold Foil pickups, although it helps that the chassis propelling them is solidly put together, from its woods to its hardware. As with many classic gold-foil types, these pickups have an appealing blend of clarity and bite, with a personality that, rather contradictorily, is simultaneously a little raw and gnarly, and a little sweet and refined.

The formula works beautifully into clean and semi-clean tones from the Princeton Reverb and the Small Box clean channel, where there’s just enough edge and sting to help rootsy riffs jump out. With a Bogner Wessex overdrive pedal into the Fender, or the Friedman’s lead channel, these pickups translate to chewy, textured, saturated lead tones that blend snarl and sophistication with good depth, decent articulation and appealing harmonic overtones. 

As such, while the 1296 Silverwood excels at punk, Black Keys–style indie-blues and garage rock, it also takes surprisingly well to classic- and alt-rock excursions and reveals itself to be more of an all-rounder than its retro looks might first imply.

It’s worth adding that these pickups are admirably quiet for single-coils, and sure, there will be a little hum with the amp’s gain up high, but they’re far quieter than most P-90s, and the middle position is there when you need total hum-free performance. Overall, it’s a tasty new creation from a company that’s firing on all cylinders, and a worthy consideration for any guitarist looking for some high style circa ’59–’61. And at this modest price, the Silverwood earns an Editors’ Pick award.

SPECIFICATIONS

1296 Silverwood

CONTACT suprousa.com
PRICE $849 street

NUT Synthetic, 1 11/16" wide
NECK Maple, 24.75" scale length, slim C profile
FRETBOARD Pau ferro, 12" radius
FRETS 22 medium-jumbo
TUNERS Kluson-style three-per-strip
BODY Solid mahogany
BRIDGE Tune-o-matic-style bridge with Supro trapeze tailpiece
PICKUPS Supro Gold Foil single-coil pickups
CONTROLS Master volume and tone controls, three-way selector switch
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario .010–.049
WEIGHT 8.35 lbs
BUILT Indonesia

KUDOS Appealing retro looks, solid construction, impressively re-created Gold Foil pickups, and admirably alternative tones that are surprisingly versatile
CONCERNS A tad heavier than I’d prefer for this style of guitar

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