After I got my hands on a Supro Coronado, I was hooked and fell in love with the vintage-inspired Supro tone.
But there was one thing missing – true tube-driven spring reverb.
So, for a while now, I’ve been on the lookout for another Supro amp with built-in reverb. That’s when I found the 1605RH.
Note: The Reverb Special looks to be going end of line. Some retailers may still have them or you may be able to pick one up second-hand but they’re very hard to find. Alternatively, click here to view their current range on Amazon.
There’s more to this amp than meets the eye…
When first looking at this amp, you may ask yourself “what’s so special about it?”
The front panel doesn’t look too out of the ordinary. We’ve got gain, treble, bass, reverb, and a master volume. And it’s only 6-watts.
Here’s what makes it special:
This isn’t just a normal head amplifier. It doubles as a piece of outboard gear, or as an alternative to overdrive/reverb pedals.
With the master volume turned fully anti-clockwise (the off position), you can run the amp without connecting a speaker cab.
And you’ve then got a bunch of outputs that let you get creative.
So, what can you actually do with the Supro 1605TH Reverb Special?
I’m still scratching the surface of what can be done with this amp, but here are a few of the best uses I’ve found:
Example 1: The ideal home recording solution
When recording tube amps at home, normally, you’d either got to annoy the neighbours, or spend money on a load box so you don’t obliterate your amp.
With the Supro 1605RH, you can record directly into your audio interface with tube-driven overdrive & real spring reverb.
There are a few different configurations you can use. You could potentially send the dry out and reverb outs to separate channels, or just use the mix out for both dry/wet signals.
But, there is another way to use this.
Let’s say you’re using a DI box (such as a Radial J48) to record guitar. Normally, you’d connect your guitar to the input of the DI box, connect the XLR output to your recording interface, then the “THRU” output would go to your amp which you’d mic up.
This setup means you’ll get a clean DI signal of the recording, so you can re-amp later. But, this does mean you’d still need to mic up an amp.
So, with this amp, instead of setting up a microphone, you could turn the master fully anti-clockwise (so you don’t need to connect a cab), then take the mix out back into your interface on a different channel. Et voila – super quiet recording!
Example 2: Tube-driven overdrive and reverb instead of pedals
With the master volume turned fully anti-clockwise (off), you’ll be able to connect your guitar to the input, and then the mix output to another guitar amp.
You’ve instantly got tube overdrive to push your amp harder. And real spring reverb.
This is one of my favourite things about this amp – I’ve got a bunch of amps without reverb and I much prefer real spring reverb compared to a digital algorithm.
Example 3: Reverb and overdrive for your mixing console
Just connect an aux-send from your console to the input of the amp, then connect the reverb out (which just sends the wet signal) back to your console.
You could also add some tube overdrive by using the dry output instead.
Example 4: The perfect starting point for a wet/dry rig
Let’s say you’ll be using this amp for it’s built-in spring reverb. You connect it up to a speaker cab as normal. Then connect the dry output to another guitar amp.
The additional guitar amp will be powering the “dry” side of your rig.
Example 5: Get more tone-shaping options from your wet/dry rig
Taking the previous example further, you can turn the master volume fully anti-clockwise to disable the speaker outputs, then send the dry out and reverb out to two different amplifiers.
This will give you even more tone-shaping options, for both sides of your wet/dry rig.
A quick review of the Supro 1605RH Reverb Special
In terms of looks, this amp is definitely a winner. It’s a bit bigger than lunchbox style heads, but not by much. Build quality for this USA-built amp is top-notch.
One thing that gets me about a lot of amps is the height of the feet. Sometimes I want to stack amps and it’s a pain having to order larger feet. Fortunately, there’s good clearance below this amp, so I can stack it on my other amps without any issues.
Across the front panel, we have input, gain, treble, reverb, reverb bypass (more on that in a moment), master, and the usual standby/power switches.
The reverb bypass allows you to connect any latching foot pedal with a ¼” TRS jack, so you can kill the reverb as and when you need. Since this amp is also a studio tool, it’s useful to have this connection on the front.
On the back we’ve got a few speaker outputs. 4 and 8 Ohms are only available. 16 Ohms would have been nice, but I’m only saying that because most of my cabs are 16 Ohms.
There’s a dry signal output which can be sent to a different amplifier, or a mixing console. This connection effectively removes the dry signal from the signal sent to the power amp, and the mix out.
There’s a reverb out which is 100% wet, and when using this connection, the reverb signal is taken out of the mix out, and not sent to the power amp.
Want the dry and wet signal in one output? That happens via the mix output. There’s also a mix level control.
Since this is a studio tool as well, you can use the amp without connecting a speaker. WARNING: you’ll need to ensure the master volume is turned fully counter-clockwise (otherwise you’ll have a bad day).
This 6-watt amp is capable of a variety of tones – anything from bluesy breakup to more driven rock tones, and excels at 70s classic rock. There’s not a huge amount of gain, but just enough. It doesn’t sound like other vintage-inspired amps I’ve tried – it’s definitely got its own flavour. And differs to other Supro amps I’ve played.
And the fact it can be used to drive & add reverb to any other amp, or just used as a piece of outboard gear, just makes it so much more useful.
Who is the Supro 1605RH Reverb Special a good fit for?
I’ve been able to get some really nice rock tones, and blues tones out of this amp. I especially love the 70s classic rock tones.
Due to the fact this amp can behave like outboard gear, I can see this amp being a great studio tool for engineers that want to offer artists the option to use real spring reverb on their music.
And, for those guitarists that want to bring a real spring reverb to any studio they visit.
Or, if you’re anything like me and find that you have great sounding amps that could do with a bit of real spring reverb. This is perfect.
What about those of you using (or wanting to try) a wet/dry rig? The 1605RH is well worth checking out.
Other than that, I see this being a great little head amp for home use, when combined with a matching speaker cab. Since it’s 6-watts, you’ll be able to get some great breakup tones without disturbing your neighbours too much.
What if you’re looking for a decent pedal platform or an amp capable of lush clean tones? This isn’t the amp you’re looking for. There isn’t enough headroom.
That said, Supro’s larger amps are capable of great cleans and are well suited to pedals. Be sure to check out my article on tube amps for playing blues – most of those will be ideal for great cleans and make for useable pedal platforms.
Wrapping it up
The 1605RH is one of the most flexible amps in my collection.
It may only be 6-watts, but the routing options make for a powerful studio recording tool. And provide more tonal options for my other amps.
And, there’s also a combo version of this amp, with an 8” speaker. The model number of the combo is 1605R.
If you have the opportunity to check this amp out at a store, it’s well worth doing.
Otherwise, there are a bunch of demos floating around on YouTube, like this one:
I wasn’t paid to write this and I wasn’t sent a free amp (or any sort of compensation to write this). Opinions are my own.
Related reading: Supro 1812R Blues King 12 Review: Making Great Tone Affordable