Supro 1305 Drive Review
Supro mimics its amp transformers’ properties to create a more organic and dynamic drive.
Many casual guitarists and music fans can identify the sound of a Marshall or Fender amp—or at least they think they can. Fewer would dare try to pinpoint the sound of a Supro. But as Jimmy Page can famously attest, Supros can deliver tones every bit as heavy and evocative as those other iconic amps.
Old Supro amps sound distinctly American—you might even say Southern, with a deep, warm mid-forward tone complemented by crisp, edgy highs, and an almost swampy low end. The Supro 1305 Drive is an attempt at capturing a Supro amp’s alternative American amp sound in a pedal, without the help (or hassle, depending on how you look at it) of vacuum tubes.
While many overdrives effectively take the place of a hot preamp in an amplifier, the Supro Drive is designed to replicate the performance of an amp’s entire topology—from preamp to phase inverter to output transformer. While this is far from a new idea, Supro claims the Supro Drive delivers its intrinsic “Supro-ness” via emphasis on mimicking the performance of a Supro amp’s output transformer.
When you stomp on the Supro Drive, you certainly hear the glassiness and the big, warm wash of low-mids that you might associate with a hefty transformer. And the transformer voicing switch on the front, which toggles between bold and rich, is designed to simulate different transformer windings. A wider midrange emphasis comes via the bold setting. Coupled with aggressive gain control settings, it generates tones that are hairy and primitive in the very best way. Switching to the rich setting generated highs that were a little more piercing and prominent, and de-emphasized the midrange. To my ears, the difference between the two tones is not unlike the difference between a 2x12 and a 1x12. A 2x12 will typically sound bigger and wider, and a 1x12 can sound both more ragged and more focused in a given frequency. In rich mode, I found myself reaching for the tone knob to roll off some of those more ragged highs, but it’s a subtle control—particularly in rich mode.
If you’re chasing deep Americana tones swampier than a midsummer’s night in the Delta, look no further than the Supro Drive. The pedal’s inventive mimicry of power tube distortion and output transformer characteristics delivers much of the midrangey grunt that makes vintage Valco and Supro amps so desirable. The tone control is a little too subtle to dial out some of the most pronounced highs in rich mode, but that shouldn’t dissuade a player who’s comfortable with using guitar tone control attenuation or likes leads that cut.
Watch the Review Demo: