For most of the previous four or five decades, guitar amp designers have mostly focused on delivering increasingly higher amounts of gain, which is pretty much the exact opposite of the goals of electrical engineers during the ’50s and ’60s.
However, more recently an increasing number of amp companies are starting to focus on offering amps that offer as much clean headroom as possible.
This is great news for guitarists who specialize in most of the non-rock or metal genres, such as blues, country, funk, jazz, rockabilly and more as well as players who prefer to sculpt their sonic soundscapes predominantly with pedals.
Supro’s new Royale amps are designed to provide a “loud, clean slate,” which hints at a pedal platform focus, but the amp is packed with numerous features that make it simply a great-sounding and versatile amp on its own. We took a look at the Supro Royale 1x12 50-watt combo.
The Royale offers a true all-tube design. A pair of 5881 tubes in the power amp section provide switchable 50- (Class A/B) or 35-watts (Class A) of output, while three 12AX7s, a 12AT7 and a 12DW7 drive the preamp section, phase inverter, effects loop and reverb.
Although the Royale has a single-channel design, guitarists can switch from clean to overdrive tones via the Boost function, which can be engaged via either a switch on the front panel or an optional footswitch. Users can also patch an overdrive or distortion pedal into the effects loop and use an optional footswitch to engage the loop.
The controls are all top-mounted and consist of preamp volume, preamp boost, individual switches for boost, reverb and loop, treble, mid and bass EQ, reverb level, reverb dwell, master volume and a three-way switch for Class AB, Class A or standby.
The aforementioned ¼-inch jacks for Boost and Loop footswitches are on the bottom of the chassis inside the open-back cabinet along with an additional ¼-inch footswitch jack for reverb, ¼-inch mono effects loop send and return jacks and 1x16-ohm, 2x8-ohm and 2x4-ohm speaker outputs.
The 12-inch speaker is a custom Supro BD12 model with an oversized ceramic magnet and British-style cone. The amp chassis and speaker are housed in a sturdy poplar cabinet covered with early ’60s-style Black Scandia Tolex that nicely contrasts and complements the cream-colored hemp grill cloth. A black vintage Supro logo and single line of cream piping surrounding the cabinet add to the vintage vibe.
For players seeking a tube amp with ample clean headroom and loud volume ouput on stage, the Royale rules. With single-coil guitars like Strats, Teles and even P90-equipped variants, overdrive does not emerge until the Volume and Master controls are pushed to 8 and above.
Humbuckers reach the onset of overdrive a little earlier, but you still need to push the amp to a high output level before the grit and grind emerge. The boost function pushes things further into overdrive but always remains crisp and dynamic.
The Royale delivers an attractive tonal personality with fat, rich body and complex harmonics. The tone controls provide a good range of textures throughout the control knobs’ entire range without ever getting too radical. The reverb is lush and deep, transforming the tone to instant surf city when engaged. The Class A/B setting delivers a responsive percussive pick attack and slightly scooped mid EQ, while the Class A setting has a touch of sag and a little fuller body overall.
While some overdrive and distortion pedals can be finicky about which amps they sound good with, the Supro Royale paired nicely with every dirt box I plugged into it. The same goes for various phase shifters, delays, choruses, you name it.
- PRICE: $1,499 / £1,299
- TYPE: Tube combo
- POWER: 50 watts (Class A/B), 35-watts (Class A)
- CONTROLS: Volume, Boost, Treble, Mid, Bass, Level, Dwell, Master, Class A/B and A switch, Boost, Loop and Verb switches
- TUBES: 12AX7s,12AT7, 12DW (preamp); 2x 5881 (power amp)
- FEATURES: Footswitchable boost, footswitchable tube-driven spring reverb, footswitchable effects loop
- SPEAKER: Supro BD12, 12"
- WEIGHT: 49 lbs
- CONTACT: Supro (opens in new tab)