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Supro 1610RT Comet

Does this vintage-inspired all-tube 1x10 combo amp live up to the Supro reputation?

 


by Phil O'Keefe



While the name may be relatively unfamiliar to many younger players, Supro's history goes way back - you've probably heard their amazing-sounding amps on some pretty iconic records without realizing it. But we need to start this story with Valco, which was formed when the Dobro and National guitar companies merged in the early 1940s, and was one of the world's largest amp manufacturers by the 1960s. Valco made many amps as an OEM supplier for the likes of Airline, Oahu, Harmony, and Gretsch, and they used the Supro brand for their own product releases. Unfortunately a merger with Kay in the late sixties resulted in the company going out of business. It was revived by former Fender amp designer Bruce Zinky in 2005, and today's Supro amps are made in the USA by Absara Audio. While some are reissues of classic models, others are modern designs that are influenced and inspired by those vintage Supro classics. Today we'll check out one of Supro's Classic series amps - the Supro 1610RT Comet - and see if it lives up to the Supro name, and if it sounds as good as it looks.





What You Need To Know

  • The Supro 1610RT Comet is a high-gain, low-wattage all tube 1x10 combo amp with a ton of vintage flavored flair. While Valco / Supro made an amp called the Comet in the 40s and 50s, this isn't a reissue or recreation, but an all-new amp with vintage-inspired circuitry. It's hand-assembled by Absara Audio in Port Jefferson Station, New York, using quality full-sized, through-hole components mounted on beefy circuit boards.




  • The styling is based on the cosmetics of Supro's 1959 models. The Comet is very sharp looking, with a cool two-tone cabinet covering of "Black Rhino Hide" Tolex with white welting (the "stripe") and black pipping. The grille is silver sparkle and sports a plastic Supro logo, complete with lightning bolt.

  • The construction is very similar to Supro's other Classic series amp models, including the Black Magick and Supreme. The Comet measures 17 5/8" W x 15 1/2" H x 7 1/2" D and is fairly lightweight for a tube amp, weighing in at 33.6 pounds. The light weight and small size make this a very easy amp to take with you.

  • The amp's control faceplate is gold. The cool-looking control knobs are black with shiny silver inserts and mount into a top-facing panel, making them easy to access while you're playing.




  • The controls are relatively simple, but effective enough to provide a decent level of adjustment and variety of tones. A 1/4" input is at the control panel's far left, followed by the Vol (volume) control. This single knob not only controls level, it also grit and gain, with sweet clean tones below noon and ever-increasing amounts of harmonically rich and complex overdrive as you go higher.

  • A single tone control is all you get but it's really all you need, and the Comet can easily go from dark, warm and creamy to bright jangle.

  • The 12AX7 tube bias tremolo is based on the one in the vintage Supro Model 24 and occurs in the preamp section, not the power amp. It's certainly a fine-sounding tremolo. Placing it in the preamp gives it a bit more depth than you'll find on some of Supro's other models, which feature power amp-based tremolo circuits. The controls consist of a speed and depth knob, with a wide speed range that goes from fairly glacial to downright hyperactive.

  • The all-tube reverb in the Supro Comet is so deep, luscious and surf-drenched that you'll be tempted to grab your board shorts, sunglasses, and sunblock. The decay time is fairly long (5-6 seconds), but your notes remain clear, even with fairly heavy amounts of reverb applied. Cowabunga!

  • There are three switches on the control panel. The standard power and standby switches and red pilot lamp are expected, but there's also a 6W/14W switch that adjusts the amp's power. The actual power level is adjusted with a change to the power tube's plate voltage. It doesn't make a gigantic difference, but a noticeable one that allows the amp to be useful in a wider range of situations.

  • The Supro 1610RT Comet's power amp section runs in Class A and it uses a single Sovtek 5881 / 6L6WGC power tube, along with a trio of JJ 12AX7 preamp tubes and a single JJ 12AT7. There are no ICs or transistors anywhere in the audio path.

  • There are also a few features to be aware of on the rear of the amp's open-back cabinet. Tucked up on the underside of the chassis are the IEC power receptacle and multiple 1/4" jacks, with one for use when running only the internal 8 ohm speaker, along with a pair of 4 ohm outputs for running the internal speaker along with an external 8 ohm extension cabinet. There's also a 1/4" TRS jack for connecting an optional dual footswitch for controlling the reverb and tremolo. 





  • The onboard 10" speaker is a 8 ohm Supro-branded CR10. A cosmetically matching Supro 1700 BD12-loaded 1x12" extension cabinet is also available, although I didn't have the opportunity to try one out.







Limitations

  • The knobs look really cool, but it can be difficult to see their settings - the white pointer indicators are pretty small.

  • Tube access is often tricky on amps with top-mounted controls and it's no different here, requiring either unscrewing multiple screws to remove the rear panel and chassis for easier access, or contorting your hand and reaching in "blind" behind the mounted chassis to get to the tubes.

  • While the Comet has a 1/4" TRS jack for use with a dual footswitch to turn the reverb and tremolo on and off remotely, no footswitch is included with the amp.



Conclusions

This is a very well-made amp. The enclosure itself deserves special mention. Not only does it look rad, it's solid as a rock, with no rattles or other weirdnesses that sometimes accompany vintage (and vintage-inspired) amps. It's also fairly compact - not so much in height or width (it's a couple of inches narrower but about the same height as a Princeton Reverb) but in terms of depth - it's noticeably shallower than a lot of 1x10 combos, making it a perfect fit for smaller, shallow stages.  

While it's true that the knobs are a bit hard to read and the tubes are a pain in the posterior to access, those are really the only things I could nitpick. The tremolo and reverb are absolutely superb. I could see surf guitarists gravitating toward this amp just to wade in their goodness. But as great as they sound, they're not the main attraction that the Supro Comet offers.

The Comet is dynamite, with explosive tone and really attractive breakup when you get the volume knob past noon. No, I wasn't kidding when I said this is a "high-gain" amp. You'll be surprised by how much grind you can get from this vintage-looking combo amp. While you can get very sweet-sounding clean tones with ease, this dynamic little amp LOVES to rock, and cranking the volume knob delivers the unique classic Supro-approved overdrive. Pop that volume knob up to 3 o'clock (or just go all-out and dime it) and use your guitar's volume knob to control the gain.

The tone is all-tube, rich in even-order harmonics and fat fat fat. Rockers of all sorts will love it. The tone is as thick and swampy as the Mississippi delta - Blues and Country players be warned - you will utterly destroy small clubs with this amp. Due to the switchable wattage it hits two sweet spots in terms of power, with 14 watts providing enough juice for club gigs and 6 watts so you can still get those overdriven tones when you're practicing at home, warming up backstage, or working a studio recording session. No matter where you're planning on using yours, you're bound to love the cosmetics and the sound of this hot-looking, surprisingly versatile and sweet-sounding all-tube 1x10 combo. -HC-



Resources

Supro 1610RT Comet 1x10" tube combo amplifier ($1,800 MSRP, $1,349 "street")

Supro's product web page     


You can purchase the Supro 1610RT Comet 1x10" tube combo amplifier from:

Sweetwater  

Guitar Center    

Musician's Friend    











__________________________________________________

 




Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

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gstoner  |  February 26, 2017 at 2:14 pm
Best way to the Tube/Valves is remove the  six stainless steal screws on the front of the amp, unplug the speak from the amp.  Then slide the  the front panel with speaker out.  From here you full access to the tubes with our removing the amp from the Box.   It top access to the Tube/Valves.  

 Looking at front panel,  It would be easy to update the speaker. Also  you could even have alternative panels easily built, and pre-wire them with your  favorite  CELESTION, EMINENCE, or Jensen speakers.  If you are into alternative voicing.
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Davo-tpL_q  |  January 16, 2017 at 9:58 pm
Do want
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