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My Supro Black Magick Reverb Head + 2×12 Cab Review – A Trip to the 70’s Rock n’ Roll Spirit

My Supro Black Magick Reverb Head + 2×12 Cab Review – A Trip to the 70’s Rock n’ Roll Spirit

Seeing a brand resurface after spending decades in the dark usually gives off mixed feelings. It is exciting and interesting to see what they have come up with, but I always wonder what caused the brand to decline and stop their activity for so long.

Supro is an American brand founded in the 1930s. They focused on guitar amplifiers that found their way into the rigs of celebrated artists such as Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) and Link Wray. Once I saw that they were releasing new models, I was over the top with excitement and I wanted to try them as soon as possible, but the part of me that likes to play it safe was still drawn to tried and tested classics such as Marshall, Fender, and VOX amplifiers.

In this Supro Black Magick Reverb Head Review, I will walk you through everything that this gorgeous amplifier has to offer while focusing on pairing it with its matching 2×12 cab with Supro BD12 speakers. Supro also makes a 1×12 cabinet, as well as a combo version.

My Initial Thoughts on The Supro Black Magick Reverb Head

Classic rock fans will rejoice knowing that the Black Magick Reverb is inspired by the amplifier that Jimmy Page himself used during the recording sessions of the first and second Led Zeppelin records. It was developed in collaboration with Lenny Kravitz, who uses it regularly, as well as Richard Fortus from Guns n’ Roses. It isn’t the cleanest of amps, but it can do cleans if you use it properly and adjust your guitar’s volume. It doesn’t have as much drive as a hot-rodded Marshall, but it can do glorious overdrives and even more if you push it with the right pedals (it works amazingly well with stompboxes in front of it). It never sounds harsh or brittle due to its inherent dark character.

Ultimately, this amplifier is for die-hard rock n’ roll fans who are looking for unique looks and a sound that pays tribute to the records every rocker loves, without buying a Marshall, Fender, or VOX amplifier. Supro has its own thing going on, and I’m in love with it!

Supro Black Magick Reverb Head Pros and Cons at a Glance

Supro Black Magick Reverb Head

The Black Magick Reverb is undoubtedly one of my all-time favorite amplifiers, but that does not mean that it doesn’t have a few disadvantages that I do not find on other amps that I own or have owned in the past.

Find a short list of the pros and cons of this amp below.

Pros

  • Overdrive and Edge of Breakup Tones: Overdriven sounds to die for, even at lower volumes. If you enjoy clean tones with a little grit, this amplifier will have you smiling all the time while playing. It can do cleans, but you have to run the preamp volumes low while increasing the master volume.
  • Aesthetics: Amazing looks that are guaranteed to turn some heads wherever you take it. The custom Black Rhino Hide tolex that decorates the head and matching cabs is gorgeous and gives it a unique look. The silver/black grill cloth, white welting, and the custom Supro Arrow design give it a premium feel. Pair the head with one of the matching cabs (1×12 or 2×12) and get ready to drool!
  • More Options: Increased versatility when compared to the regular version, with the addition of a master volume, an effects loop, Bass and Treble knobs instead of a single Tone knob, and real analog spring reverb.
  • 1+2 and 2 Channel Inputs: Having a 1+2 input is useful when you want to combine both of the amp’s channels without having to jump them. Since their tonal character is slightly distinct, it also allows you to obtain a more tailored sound by combining them differently. 1+2 has more gain and sounds beefier, while 2 has less gain and less bass.
  • Reactive to Pedals: I’ve tested just about every type of pedal placed in front of the amp, and the results were always stellar. Low-gain overdrives, distortion, fuzz, you name it. The Black Magick is an excellent pedal platform amp. This version also has the effects loop for those who prefer running their modulation and time-based effects through one.
  • Tube-Based Tremolo Circuit: Tremolo sounds are lush, not noisy, and the range of depth and speed are worth highlighting. I prefer it to my Fender ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb’s tremolo circuit. It is also wired after the reverb, meaning that you can get some interesting sounds of “oscillating reverb”. In comparison to the non-reverb version, the tremolo is also improved with a wider range of speed.

Cons

  • Cost: The price is somewhat steep, especially if you’re going for the head and 2×12 cab, which might stop budget-conscious players from pulling the trigger. In any case, amplifiers built in the USA are always going to be more expensive than the average.
  • Versatility: Not the most versatile amplifier in this price range, although it can do a lot of sounds exceptionally well when paired with the right guitars and effect pedals. If you exclusively use clean tones, I’d suggest looking into something more like a Fender Super Reverb, which has a lot more clean headroom. Also, if you prefer an overall bright amplifier, this may not be your cup of tea, as Supros tend to sound darker than average (easily solvable with a good EQ or the right overdrive pedal).
  • Control Knobs: The knob choice is far from being optimal, as it is difficult to see where they are set. This can be a nuisance if you need to adjust any of the amp’s parameters during a live performance. It has zero effect on the tone, but I feel like gigging players should be aware of this before purchasing a Supro amplifier. If it bothers you a lot, at least replacing the knobs is inexpensive.
  • General EQ: Don’t get me wrong, this amplifier sounds beautiful, but it tends to be more on the bassy side, and most of the time I have the bass knob set very low (around 2) and the treble fairly high. I like the added body from the lower frequencies, but I would appreciate more wiggle room. It is also worth mentioning that it opens up slightly as you increase the master volume.
  • Analog Spring Reverb: I can’t say that I am a huge fan of this amp’s reverb, and I frequently have it off and use the Strymon Flint on the Spring/Plate settings instead. I have been using Fender amps for a long time, such as the Deluxe Reverb, and they’re significantly different. Also, the reverb on the Black Magick doesn’t seem to kick in until it is at about 4/5 but gets way too intense and surfy for me past noon. I have found that increasing the volume on the amp also makes the reverb more present at low levels.
  • Footswitch Not Included: If you’re buying a head and cab worth around $2000, I think the footswitch to control the reverb and the tremolo circuits should be included, and unfortunately, it isn’t in this case.

Supro Black Magick Reverb Head — What I Like the Most (and Least) About this Amplifier

Supro Black Magick Reverb Head

The Looks – Vintage but Somewhat Futuristic

The Supro Black Magick is A-Grade eye candy, especially if you get the head and one of the matching cabs (there are 1×12 and 2×12 matching cabinets) with Supro-designed BD12 speakers. A combination of a custom Black Rhino Hide tolex, a silver and black grill cloth, white welting, and a Supro Arrow design on the head and cab guarantee that this amp will stand out on any stage and studio room. It is built in the USA, meaning that the finish quality is exceptional.

Fortunately, amazing looks are just one of the things this amp brings to the table. After playing it for a couple of hours, I was already 100% positive that it sounds even better than it looks.

The Sounds – King of Edge-of-Breakup and Classic Rock Overdrive

A few minutes plugged into the Black Magick Reverb are all it takes to realize it is a serious rocking machine. If your guitar has humbuckers, you’ll quickly notice that most of its clean tones are somewhat “hairy”, contrary to what you’ll find on amps like the Fender Twin Reverb, which remains crystal clean without much effort. First, we have to understand that we have two channel options. Channel 1+2 combines both channels, opening the doors to a little more gain, albeit with an overall darker character. If you plug into Input 2, you get a little less bass, making it the obvious choice for pairing it with darker pickups.

The only way to toggle between these two channel options would be to use an ABY switch, an interesting option to make the most out of the tonal possibilities at hand. If you need to be as clean as possible, you’ll have to back down on the channel volume(s), increase the master volume, and maybe decrease the volume knob on your guitar a little.

It definitely sounds darker than most amps I’ve played. I have the bass almost rolled off and the treble at around 3 o’clock, and if I use any overdrive pedals, I’ll EQ them to bring some brightness into my tone. The non-reverb version of this amp only has a single “Tone” knob, which might make it trickier to adjust to your liking. Dynamic-wise, it is a wonderful experience to play the Black Magick Reverb. It responds to your picking as you’d expect a high-quality tube amp to respond, yielding clean-ish tones and overdrive reminiscent of the 70s at will.

It compresses beautifully as you increase the preamp and master volumes, but it also sounds exceptionally well at low volumes, something I wasn’t expecting. For instance, the Fender Blues Jr sounds awful when you crank the preamp at low volumes, which is why I always use its clean channel paired with pedals.

With the Black Magick Reverb, I can crank both channels, keep the master volume at a modest setting, and still get an overdrive tone that blows 99% of the pedals out of the water. One thing to take into consideration is that the reverb is much quieter when you try to run the master volume as low as possible. As you start to increase it, you’ll notice the reverb becoming more present. It also introduces more high frequencies, which are generally appreciated in this amp.

Put simply, this amplifier is for you if:

  • You prioritize an amp that reacts to your playing dynamics and your guitar’s volume knob;
  • You don’t want an amplifier that can only do cleans or mainly high-gain sounds. It sits somewhere in the middle, excelling at edge-of-breakup tones and moderate overdrive (think classic rock records like Led Zeppelin I and II);
  • You’re looking for something that can sound great at low and high volumes when using preamp distortion;
  • You value good reverb/tremolo circuits on the amplifier (the tremolo is to die for)
  • You like using pedals to craft your tones. It reacts notoriously well to overdrive, distortion, boost, and fuzz pedals.

If you are wondering whether you should get the head with one of the Supro matching cabinets with BD12 speakers (1×12 and 2×12 options available), or the combo version, here are some things that you should take into account:

  • The combo version is the smallest, most compact, and portable out of the 3;
  • Pairing the head with the 1×12 cabinet is going to yield very similar results in comparison to the combo;
  • When using the Black Magick Reverb head with the 2×12, you’re going to get a less boxy sound, more projection, and the perception that it is louder, as your signal is being fed through two speakers;
  • You will get a bassier sound with a more pronounced body when using the 2×12 cab, especially if you have it close to a wall.

Pedal Friendly – Even More Magick When Pedals Are Around

Supro Black Magick Reverb Head

Generally speaking, there are two types of guitarists, the ones who prefer their guitar plugged straight into the amplifier, and others who enjoy designing and creating a pedalboard that suits their needs. Since I am of the latter kind, I was looking forward to seeing how the Black Magick Reverb would react to my pedal collection.

I am more used to Fender amps such as the Deluxe Reverb, the Blues Junior, and the Super Reverb, which all take pedals extremely well. I set the amp either clean or on the edge-of-breakup, and that’s when it is ready to be pushed by my drive pedals.

Keep in mind that unless you back down on your guitar’s volume, it is easy to get a bit of grit with the Black Magick. If you’re looking for a crystal-clear pedal platform, this might not  be your best bet. However, if you enjoy hairy clean tones, you’ll love this amp.

When testing the Supro, I used a bunch of pedals such as the Ibanez TS-9, Analogman King of Tone, Hermida Audio Dover Drive, JHS The @, JHS Morning Glory, Pro Co RAT, King Tone Mini Fuzz Si, Digitech Bad Monkey, Xotic EP Booster, and quite a few more. It took them all brilliantly, displaying the strengths and tonal character of each pedal musically.

Since the amp by itself doesn’t have a dramatic amount of gain, I’m always going to rely on a couple of drive and boost pedals to obtain the silky smooth lead tones that I need to use now and then. Luckily, I know that the Black Magick Reverb will deliver flawlessly.

The Fender Blues Junior has a Drive channel, but I couldn’t get a satisfying result whenever I tried to dial an edge-of-breakup tone to play with pedals in front of it. This is not the case with the Black Magick Reverb. If I didn’t need to push it harder with pedals, I would be perfectly comfortable and happy playing it with both preamp volumes dimed and the master volume at a relatively low value – it sounds absolutely killer!

Reverb and Tremolo – From Subtle to Surfy Mayhem

Having real analog spring reverb and tube-driven tremolo is a luxury feature. It may save you some money on pedals, or it might help you avoid bringing a heavy pedalboard to the rehearsal or the gig.

However, I have to highlight the fact that the footswitch that engages these two effects isn’t sold with the amp, so you have to buy it separately. Including it would be a winning move for Supro – I understand they have to make a profit, but the footswitch alone is around $50 and it wouldn’t hurt to include it with the purchase of a $1400+ amp.

Out of these two, I must say that the tremolo has got me completely in love with it. I am used to playing Fender tube amps which are known for having lush reverb and tremolo circuits, but I highly prefer the one on the Supro. The Depth and Speed controls are much more useful, less noisy, and they can take you anywhere from a barely noticeable oscillation to a crazy fast and intense movement.

On the other hand, even though the reverb does not sound bad, I don’t think it is its strong suit. In that department, my Fender amps take the prize home. Still, I wouldn’t mind using it if I didn’t want to bring one of my reverb pedals. At home, I frequently use the Strymon Flint on the Spring or Plate settings.

Control Knobs – Get Ready to Put on Your Reading Glasses

Supro Black Magick Reverb Head

Although this does not affect the sound, I couldn’t write a review about the Black Magick Reverb without mentioning the knob choice, which is awful. It is very difficult to understand where the knobs are set because they are completely round with just a small white strip that indicates where you’ve set them.

On a stage with dim lights, it is a real challenge to adjust these if needed. This would be easily solved by using something like chicken head knobs that point towards where it is set or having a more noticeable white strip. I am more of a “set it and forget it” player with my amps, but I would still appreciate it if making adjustments didn’t force me to get extremely close to inspect the knobs.

Other Amplifiers to Take into Account as a Potential Alternative to the Supro Black Magick Reverb

If you feel like the Supro Black Magick Reverb isn’t for you, there are still a lot of amazing options in the same price range. If you think it might be too big or heavy to carry, keep in mind that you can get the head with the 1×12 cab, or even the combo version. They are all 25W and have the same features in a smaller package.

Here are a few other suggestions that might grab your attention.

Peavey Classic 20 Mini Stack

Peavey Classic 20 Mini Stack

I remember when I finally bought my first tube amp, a Peavey Classic 30 combo. I also regret having sold it now and then, as it was a killer amp that didn’t weigh a ton and never let me down.

The Classic 20 Mini Stack follows its footsteps, with a killer clean sound and reverb. Fans of this amplifier will love knowing that this version is severely improved with onboard power attenuation, cabinet-emulated mic and USB outputs, and even tube indicator lights to let you know when it is time for a tube change.

It is worth highlighting that you can get the head,  matching 2×12 cabinet, and Peavey’s footswitch for channel switching and toggling reverb on/off for a great price, cheaper than just the Black Magick Reverb head.

Sweetwater Music – Peavey Classic 20 Mini Stack 20-watt Tube Head with 2×12″ Cabinet

PRS Archon 50 Head

PRS Archon 50 Head

The Archon 50 found its way to this list to appease players who might feel like they need more gain available on their amplifier, rather than resorting to overdrive pedals and other external gain stages.

At 50W of power, it can also produce clean tones at higher volumes when compared to the Black Magick Reverb. A 3-band EQ lets you adjust your tone carefully, and a bright switch on each channel makes this amp work wonderfully with darker-sounding pickups.

Metal players will take full advantage of the amount of gain, compression, and saturation of the Archon 50, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t do overdrive and light crunch easily as well.

Sweetwater Music – PRS Archon 50 Tube Head

Supro 1932RH Royale Head

Supro 1932RH Royale Head

The Supro 1932RH ticks a lot of boxes that the Black Magick Reverb might not. For example, it is rated at 50W, double the BMR. While this does not mean that it has double the volume, this certainly translates into much more clean headroom, allowing you to dial clean tones more comfortably.

You can also control the Level and Dwell of the Reverb instead of having a single knob, there is a Middle control instead of having only Bass and Treble, among other very interesting features.

Like the Black Magick Reverb, it has an effects loop, but this one also has a foot-switchable boost and a Class A/Class AB toggle switch. This switch lets you jump from 35W with a more pronounced midrange to 50W with a faster attack and thumpier bass frequencies.

Sweetwater Music – Supro 1932RH Royale 50-watt Tube Amplifier Head

Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb Combo

Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb Combo

The Tone Master Deluxe Reverb combo is included in this list as a suggestion for those who prefer combos and the bonus of not having to worry as much about the amp breaking down or needing maintenance. Since it is a solid-state model, it won’t go through many issues that are exclusive to tube amps.

With this Fender combo, you get the pristine clean tones that the brand is known for, an excellent pedal platform, and many modern features that are extremely valuable to guitarists today. This includes a 5-way power attenuator and an XLR output designed to help you record comfortably and silently at home.

Sweetwater Music – Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb 1×12″ 100-watt Combo Amp

Mesa Boogie Rectifier Badlander Combo

Mesa Boogie Rectifier Badlander Combo

Mesa Boogie amps have been around for decades and they’ve always been known for their high-quality standards. The Rectifier Badlander combo is no exception!

Don’t let its small size fool you, as this 25W combo packs a serious punch. As a younger cousin of the Boogie amps that were famous in their earlier decades, the Badlander has various useful features with the modern guitarist in mind.

Apart from spitting out anything from clean to crunch and distortion flawlessly through its 12″ Celestion Creamback 65 speaker, the Badlander 25 comes equipped with a 2-way power reduction switch, a built-in CabClone IR, an effects loop, a headphone output, and a footswitch for channel switching.

Sweetwater Music – Mesa/Boogie Rectifier Badlander 25-watt 1 x 12-inch Tube Combo

Frequently Asked Questions About the Supro Black Magick Reverb Head

Question: Is the Supro Black Magick Reverb good for clean tones and jazz?

Answer: The Supro Black Magick Reverb can do clean tones that sound warm and full. However, this amp shines on the edge-of-breakup tones, and you must keep the preamp volumes pretty low to avoid having a bit of grit. Amplifiers like the Twin Reverb are known for having a more solid clean tone at most volumes.

Question: Is it worth buying the Supro Black Magick Reverb because of the added reverb and the master volume?

Answer: The Master Volume is by far the most valuable addition to the Black Magick series. It makes this amplifier much more useable in every context. Having reverb built-in is always a good plus, as well as other features like the effects loop, but the most valuable advantage is the master volume.

Question: Does the Supro Black Magick Reverb have a lot of gain?

Answer: The Black Magick is Supro’s flagship amplifier, and it is the one that has the most gain. This 25W Class A all-tube amp is a true rock n’ roll machine that nails the 70’s tones we all love. However, if you’re looking to play something more saturated, you’ll appreciate having an overdrive pedal in front of the amp to push it a bit harder and get more singing sustain.

The Final Verdict – Magickally Under Supro’s Spell?

Overall, I’d grade the Supro Black Magick Reverb Head and 2×12 Cab combination a 9/10.

I can’t get tired of the overdriven sounds I can get without any pedals, and I love it even more once I start pushing its front end with my favorite overdrives. Touch sensitivity and dynamics are on point, the looks are out of this world, and it has my favorite tremolo circuit ever. There is not a lot I’d change on this amplifier to make it perfect for me. I would enjoy an onboard attenuation option, which is present on many modern tube amps. I would also change the knobs because it is a pain to understand where they’re set on a stage.

I would like to have some kind of Mids control (this is a fixed Mids amp), and including the footswitch to control the reverb and tremolo circuits would be a nice plus. Other than that, I am completely in love with the Black Magick Reverb. It is a rocker’s amp and anyone fond of the records from the 70s will have a special place in their heart for this magical piece of gear.