- Cool alternative semi-hollow style.
- It looks and sounds unique.
- Excellent pickup choice.
- Soft-spring Bigsby makes for lots of fun.
Supro teased us at NAMM 2019 with a new style of guitar called the Clermont, which maintained the brand’s cool, retro-future body shape while expanding it to more of an ES-335 size.
In 2020, the Clermont was released to the market, joined by another semihollow: the similarly sized and shaped, but more deluxe, Conquistador. Designed in conjunction with Nashville guitarist Ford Thurston, the Conquistador is as stylish as it gets.
Its offset Supro shape, striking racing-green color, personalized f-hole on the upper bout, classic Kluson-style tuners, beveled mahogany top and Hofner teacup-style knobs evoke a high-end pawnshop prize. At the same time, the instrument’s 12-inch fingerboard radius and satin-finished, shallow C neck scream shred machine.
Out of the box, the Conquistador was easy to play, with no fretting out despite extremely low action. Chords rang nicely, but to get a little more sustain from single notes and less fretboard slap when I played hard, I loosened the truss rod with the included wrench and raised the action a bit. Done!
A soft spring lets the Bigsby B7 system rock more easily than your average vibrato of this type, and the arm came factory-set to a comfortable position, parallel to the body. It also stayed in tune better than most, helped by a well-cut nut and nylon saddles on the Tune-o-matic-style bridge.
Intonation was excellent as well. The Conquistador has a gold-foil pickup in the neck and an Alnico 3 PAF-style humbucker in the bridge, selectable through a Fender-like three-way switch with individual volume controls and a master tone.
Plugged into a Fender Blues Junior or Wang Pulsar Reverb combo (think Fender Princeton with a 12), the gold-foil pickup was considerably louder and put out more low-end than the bridge humbucker.
A quick screwdriver adjustment to lower it and raise the bridge pickup evened the balance. You can also adjust their relative levels via the volume knobs, which maintain most of the highs when turned down.
The neck pickup gave me vintage Supro woof for that Howlin’ Wolf tone when set nearer the strings, and classic transparent gold-foil clarity when I backed it down. The bridge pickup has the midrange honk I associate with Supro, but the low output keeps it from getting muddy, and both pickups were perfect for slide or smooth soloing.
Despite their disparate sounds, they work well together and deliver a wealth of tones in conjunction with the volume and tone controls.
The Conquistador lives in that special place between pawnshop personality and professional polish. It doesn’t sound like a Les Paul, Telecaster, Stratocaster or 335 - it sounds like itself. Give it a listen and see if it doesn’t conquer your heart.
- PRICE: $999 street
- NUT WIDTH: 1.64”
- NECK: Mahogany
- FRETBOARD: Pau Ferro, 24.75” scale, 12” radius
- FRETS: Medium-jumbo 6150
- TUNERS: 3-per-side Kluson-style
- BODY: Mahogany semi-hollow with center block
- BRIDGE: Tune-o-matic style with nylon saddles, Bigsby B7 vibrato tailpiece
- PICKUPS: Mini-humbucker-sized gold-foil (neck), Alnico 3 PAF-style humbucker (bridge)
- CONTROLS: Neck and bridge volumes, master tone
- FACTORY STRINGS: D’Addario XL .010–.046
- WEIGHT: 10 lbs
- BUILT: Indonesia
- CONTACT: Supro
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