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This article was originally published in issue #48
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Supro's Westbury is a cool looking guitar, our sample finished in a lovely Turquoise Metallic, with the Wave tailpiece giving it a real retro look.
Vintage tones, with modern construction
Distinctive retro looks
May only appeal to retro fans
For many they were the stand-out stars of this year's NAMM Show - the Island and Americana guitar ranges from the newly revived Supro company. Lewis Turner checks out the first to hit the shops - Supro's Island models.
Supro's Westbury is a cool looking guitar, our sample finished in a lovely Turquoise Metallic, with the Wave tailpiece giving it a real retro look. Fit and finish throughout was excellent and it will certainly turn heads. The body is alder, making it a fairly light instrument. The weight factor is not only good for saving your shoulders and back, it’s also great for resonance and increased sustain, and this is true with the Westbury. Even unplugged the guitar resonates well you can feel every note that is played, which is great.
The traditional style headstock is quite a large affair making it slightly top heavy but the tuners were good and stable. The set neck is maple with black satin finish and a rosewood fingerboard, 25.5” scale with 22 frets. I found the fretboard and shape of the neck very comfortable to play as was the action and spacing between frets. There were no buzzing or tuning issues anywhere on the guitar, and thanks to the set neck, upper fret access was fairly easy.
The Island series feature Supro's unique Gold Foil pickups, which are apparently faithful reproductions of the original magnetics developed for Valco by Ralph Keller in the early 1950s. It's important to note that these are single-coil design pickups but in a humbucker size. The bridge pickup is slightly overwound, while the neck pickup is reverse-wound in order to provide fully hum-cancelling sound when the two pickups are combined in the middle position. These are high quality pickups that generate a fair amount of output whilst maintaining their vintage intention, offering warm mellow sounds in the neck position, with bright jangly tones from the bridge, all controlled by a three way selector switch making things nice, simple and obvious as well as a standard volume, and tone control configuration.
You really can tailor a variety of sounds from this guitar, not just the bell-like cleans but also biting crunch, and quacky out of phase. It's never going to be a full on Rock or Metal guitar, but it offers plenty to please most and will definitely appeal to the Indie crowd. The Wave tailpiece looks cool and goes with the whole vintage styling as well as offering stable tuning. I might add that this is no surprise when you learn that Trevor Wilkinson was involved in the design of this new series.
I've never had the chance to play an original Ozark, but I'm fairly confident having played all three of these that Supro has captured the essence and vibe of the original. They look vintage, sound pretty vintage, but have the bonus of modern construction and technology making them a dream to play and very versatile. Sure, they are probably not going to appeal to the shred metal fans out there, but there are plenty of pointy guitars on the market to satisfy those guys. I played all three and they were all set up perfectly and sounded great. If you are after something with a little bit of history without the maintenance hassle, and can't stand the thought of playing yet another Strat or Les Paul, then you should definitely check these out.