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Review

Supro Huntington 1

Issue #53

Today the Supro models bring back those vintage looks and tones (but not smells) without the vintage price tags in a range of instruments featuring retro stylings created with the help of modern tooling.
Dan Veall

PROs

Oozes vintage looks and tones

30” scale suits the smaller body player

CONS

Control configuration may be frustrating live?

Guitar Interactive star rating:  Four and a half stars

Supro Huntington 1

MSRP £899 (UK)  $1340 (US)


Combining the classic body shape of the early '60s Ozark model with vintage-correct passive electronics and additional sonic inspiration from the Supro Pocket Bass of the same era, Dan Veall test drives one of Supro’s exciting new, Huntington range.

Next up, Supro makes their debut in my bass section, and I see that they have scooped up an award at Summer NAMM 2017, not to mention having the rather cool bassist Chris Chaney offering up a demo’ video on their website!

Ahhh, I love guitars. I still get excited trawling the internet, sponging up the sights and sounds of new technology and vintage instruments alike with my insatiable teenage obsession often causing my empty wallet to weep a little more. Ha! Of course, when I get the call to say that something new, or a bit ‘off the beaten track’ comes my way for a closer look in the magazine bass section, no doubt it warms the old cockles.

Supro certainly isn't a young brand - indeed, if I have my details correct, Supro was a Valco brand. Valco also manufactured National and Airline brands amongst other guitars in the 50’s and 60’s. Having a look around for examples of Supro’s used out in the wild, I understand that Jimi Hendrix’s first guitar was a Supro. An Ozark 1560S.  David Bowie, Link Wray, and many other artists picked up on the sound and eye-catching look of these instruments as part of their own style.

Today the Supro models bring back those vintage looks and tones (but not smells) without the vintage price tags in a range of instruments featuring retro stylings created with the help of modern tooling.

The Supro Huntington I is one of three different models - imaginatively entitled Huntington I, II & III. Now you may think that was a jibe, but I have to say that it’s a great way of identifying the three models. The I model has one magnetic pickup, the II, two and well, you’ve guessed it three on the III model. Unusual to see three pickups on a bass, but I like that idea a lot.

The 30” scale bass feels ‘fun.' It sits on my lap and being a reasonable tall guy at 6’3” it feels actually somewhat compact, but not to impede playability too much. The maple neck’s profile certainly isn't a handful and will be comfortable in most hands; I would say right down to the very small - unless maybe you have great big bear paws, then I suppose it could feel squat. It’s a set neck design, thus glued to the body. Depending on the model you are looking at, you have the choice of either Ash, Alder or Mahogany for body tonewood. Pretty nice actually as the grains for the Mahogany and Ash are not hidden by having a good translucent finish. I’m going to make the assumption that in this case, the solid black finish houses the Alder body. Alder doesn’t always have the most eye-catching of grains - it can do, but Ash usually wins out there! Both, unfortunately, lose out to the Tobacco Burst model offering with its flame top!

Let's get on with the sounds on board. Huntington I is all passive but offers up a remarkable breadth of tones with a few tricks up its sleeve. Slap bang in the middle of the body, a recreation of the vintage gold foil pickup. It has a big rounded tone that I didn’t notice having that ‘hollow’ character of some single coils. Lots of low midrange beef. I used my Bergantino B||Amp for the review and set all of the eq controls flat-ish, I really didn’t need to do anything else for this bass! What a joy. The tone control has a useable sweep - and rather than me try to explain it’s tonal palette, it’s better to get a decent set of cans around your ears to hear it in the HD video.

While we’re on the body, oh look! A ‘quick release’ heavy duty bass bridge. There is a tendency for some to look out of place on a vintage styled instrument but this one seems to fit the curves nicely! I think this is due to the chrome cover of the pickup balancing the look.

So, tricks up it’s sleeve then: The bridge houses an optional passive piezo pickup (pronounced pee-zoh or pee-Ay-zoh, unfortunately not Pie-zoh! Mmmm Pie!) - Often piezo elements are working in tandem with an active preamplifier of some sort to make up for an impedance mismatch commonly experienced when mixing with electronic pickups, though interestingly with my Bergantino B|Amp, I guess the input impedance is high enough as, to my ear, the bass didn’t suffer from having this passive configuration. In fact, when mixing in the bridge pickup, it was apparent how bright the piezo element was. On its own, certainly, I had to use the tone control to smooth out the sound, though I suppose I’d rather have too much to begin with that I can reign in rather than a pickup with no character I struggle to tease richness out of. In tandem and using the tone control, I found a nice balance of sound - A sweet spot if you will. Do watch my video as I explain how the volume control does not affect the piezo element on this bass. Curious and may be a problem when performing at high volume.

Wrapping up this review, despite the oddities of the volume controls that are a bit unusual, overall I found the tone from the bass full in body with a smooth top end that could easily be brightened up by bringing in the piezo element in to play. A nice touch. I guess what I may have liked was a separate tone control for the piezo unit so that I could use it in solo without having to do a finger dance to match things back up when I went back to the magnetic pickup or switched between the two.

Overall, a nice set up on this bass, but thanks to the modern bridge, adjustments would be easy anyway.

SPECS

Vintage Supro body design

Set neck with black satin finish

Vintage Gold Foil pickup

50’s-wiring volume and tone controls

For more information, please visit:

suprousa.com

 

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Issue #53

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