To the great delight of many guitarists, Supro has successfully revamped its popular vintage amp line. To make players even happier, the company has set about reimagining some of its original designs to incorporate features that better suit the needs of modern players. All the while Supro are ensuring these modern incarnations retain the essential elements of that irresistible lightning-bolt style and tone.
Among the latest models to receive a thoughtful revision are the 1695RTH Black Magick Reverb head and 1790 Black Magick 1x12 speaker cabinet. The Black Magick name derives from a favorite Supro combo of Jimmy Page’s, frequently used on Led Zeppelin studio dates and which is currently on loan to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The head reviewed here takes the corner-stone dual 6973 output tubes, that power the most revered original Supros, and wraps them in a package that affords more flexibility for the guitarist who works a range of stage and studio dates. Additions to the existing Black Magick layout include a two-knob EQ, a tube-driven reverb and a master-volume control, although the model’s bias-modulating Tremolo is retained. Another nifty upgrade from the original Valco-made Supro models is the 1+2 input, which internally jumpers the two channels to produce the popular boost and voicing traditionally achieved with a short jumper cable. I tested the head with the matching 1x12 cab, but other options include the Black Magick 1x15 and 2x12 extension cabs, or you can pair it with a cab of your choice.
Many players mistakenly think of 6973 tubes as being similar to EL84s because they use the same nine-pin sockets and are housed in similar-sized bottles. In fact, they sound very different and have a signature tone that can’t be achieved with another commonly available output tube. This is perhaps best heard in their meaty, muscular midrange drive, good balance throughout the audio spectrum and surprisingly punchy, bold performance for their total wattage rating. Inside, the Black Magick Reverb displays the rugged PCB construction that we’ve seen from other models in the rejuvenated line. The partially open-back cab is made from void-free poplar, measures 20.5 by 18.75 by 8.75 inches and is loaded with a 12-inch British-voiced Supro BD12 speaker at 8Ω and 75 watts power handling.
Tested with a Gibson Custom Shop 1958 Les Paul Reissue with humbuckers and a Novo Serus J with P-90s. This new Supro rig delivered a tone that was throaty, bold and commanding, with an appealingly raw edge to the breakup when cranked. But there’s a ton of headroom available too, which might surprise players unfamiliar with this Supro format. For those wanting more controllable grind, the master is a major bonus; otherwise, this thing is a loud 25 watts, for sure. Thick, thumping and somewhat warm leaning, it has enough sparkle when you need it to jangle and chime. It’s the essence of garage rock but makes a punchy contender, within the band mix, for just about any breed of rock and roll.
Thanks to these characteristics, the new Black Magick is a great platform to push over the top with your favorite drive pedals. It loved the TS9 Tube Screamer, Wampler Tumnus Deluxe and JHS Angry Charlie that I tested it with. The reverb sounds great and the trem is particularly sweet and evocative. All in all, the Black Magick Reverb proved an appealing and well-designed rig, and one that stands out onstage as a stunning piece of equipment.
1695RTH Black Magick Reverb
PRICE $1,129 street
CONTROLS Vol 1, vol 2, treb, bass, verb, speed, depth, master
POWER 25 watts
TUBES Four 12AX7s, one 12AT7, two 6973 output tubes
EXTRAS Footswitch for tremolo and reverb, dual outputs for 4 ohms and 8 ohms, and single output for 16 ohms
SPEAKER 1790 Black Magick 1x12 cabinet ($485 street)
WEIGHT Head, 28 lbs; cab, 32 lbs
KUDOS Captures the classic Supro punch and grind with several well-conceived updates for modern players
CONCERNS The tubes might be a touch tricky for some users to replace, due to the inset socket mounts