Supro 1812R Blues King 12 Review: Making Great Tone Affordable
Supro is a brand that could have easily been relegated to the pages of history.
Only to surface once in a blue moon on the pre-owned market to be sold for a sum that very few could afford.
Fortunately, Absara Audio purchased the brand in 2013 and began the painstaking process of giving this legendary amp brand a new lease of life. Using custom designed components to replicate that of the originals as closely as possible.
In this review, I’ll be looking at one of the more recent additions to the Supro combo amp line up – the Blues King.
First impressions of the Supro Blues King
The Blues King comes is somewhat of a departure from the usual design aesthetic used in their other lines. This amp is inspired by the Supro Comet of the 1950s. And it comes in three varieties.
A 1 watt combo with 8″ speaker, a 5 watt combo with 10″ speaker and a 15 watt with 12″ speaker.
The 15 watt version comes with a custom-made analogue spring reverb so that was the natural choice for me.
The very first thing I noticed about the Blues King is the weight – for a 15 watt tube amp, it’s incredibly lightweight.
Far lighter than my Fender Princeton and Vox AC15.
For a moment I thought it could just be an empty shell. Nope – everything is present and accounted for!
This will be down to the speakers used in the amp. According to the Supro website, they use a custom-made BK12 speaker based on old field-coil style speakers.
And it’s far smaller too. This is one very nice compact and lightweight tube amp!
The only gripe I have, and it’s a minor one, is that the power cable is not a detachable IEC cable. Or a “kettle lead” as we call it in the UK. In the grand scheme of things – it’s a bit of a non-issue.
Exploring the Supro Blues King
Across the top, we’ve got volume, boost & gain (both footswitchable), treble, mids, bass, reverb and a very usable master volume.
Under the hood, we’ve got that BK12 custom-made speaker, 1x 12AX7 preamp tube and 1x 6L6 power tube.
In an amp of this size, the effects loop and line out are a welcome addition – especially considering the affordable price point of this amp. Both of which make this amplifier suitable for direct recording and as a pedal platform.
The tubes are a little difficult to get at but this is common for other amps I’ve tested.
Setting everything at noon (with the reverb somewhat less) yields immediately enjoyable tones out of the box.
And with extra tweaking there are plenty more enjoyable tones to be found.
The ability to kick-in footswitchable clean boost and gain added extra versatility. The footswitch is sold separately but that’s extremely understandable given the price point of this amp.
One thing to note is that the boost/gain switches add a fair bit of extra volume. The added benefit is that you can push the amp harder at lower volumes.
For an amp geared more around blues players, there’s a surprisingly large amount of gain on tap via the footswitchable gain.
Want to get an idea of the tone for yourself? Here’s a demo:
This little Supro Blues King has some kick to it. The master volume means its ideal for home use or studio recording but it might be enough for small gigs as well – especially things to the boost + gain toggle switches.
Final thoughts on the Supro Blues King
I bought the 1812R Blues King mainly as a home practice amp that could give me overdriven tones without getting me into trouble with the neighbours.
That means a good master volume is essential.
An amp that would also give me an FX loop, boost and natural spring reverb.
It’s not easy to find an affordable amp that has all these features and offers great tone across the board.
And while there are some great alternatives to the 1812R Blues King – nothing else I have tried combines all these features with such great tone.
Lightweight and compact in size – the Supro Blues King 12 has it all.
Let’s get real for a moment about tone: it’s entirely subjective. Will you enjoy the tones from this amp? Maybe. Maybe not.
But I can tell you that I enjoyed the tone of this amp immensely. Whether using it clean, with/without reverb, with pedals, using the onboard boost/gain – it all sounded wonderful regardless of the guitar I put through it.
From functionality to build quality and tone – Supro have done something pretty special with the Blues King 12. And that’s why it’s now one of my favorite American tube amps.
Small format. Big sound. Great tone. Feature-packed and affordable. What’s not to like about this combo amplifier?
Image credits: Tone Island.