Jimmy Page’s early Zeppelin album tone is arguably one of the most sought after in history; a combination of the 1950s “Dragon” Telecaster, and his beloved 1959 Supro combo, this tone literally defined a genre.
One of the main reasons that the tone has remained so elusive to those looking to replicate it, however, is that no one is quite sure whether Page used a Supro Coronado, or a Supro Tornado. He’s never confirmed either, and as such, the world has been left wondering. Thankfully, Supro have handed us all a lifeline in the form of the Supro 1695TJ Black Magick, their 1×12” combo amp modeled after Page’s amp, both in circuitry but also build and cosmetics.
Not to be confused with the slightly more expensive 1696RT version that Supro built with Lenny Kravitz, the 1695TJ gives you the sound heard on Communication Breakdown, Good Times Bad Times, and even the legendary solo section of Stairway To Heaven.
Our good friends at Sweetwater were kind enough to provide us with a demo model of the Black Magick, though as ever, they asked for no editorial input and our opinions in this review are entirely our own.
So does the amp live up to the name? Let’s find out.
Who is This For?
Of course, Led Zep fans are definitely going to dig the Black Magick, but it really offers tons more for anybody looking for those early metal and hard rock tones. On top of that, it offers the typical high quality cleans and edge of breakup tones Supro amps have become so well known for.
It’s really priced to suit working and recording musicians, as well as intermediate players looking for that classic ‘50s and ‘60s mojo that many say can’t be replicated by modelers.
Aesthetically speaking, the Black Magick is a dead ringer for the original ‘59 Coronado that so many claim was the Led Zeppelin 1 amp, so needless to say, it looks fantastic. It’s wrapped in black “rhino hide” tolex, and really looks like nothing else on the market. It’s a really unique amp, and as we’ve found with so many Supro amps, would look as good as a talking piece in a living room as it would anywhere else.
This particular iteration of the Black Magick is a 1 x 12” combo, just as Page’s was. It’s loaded with a Jensen PQ12 speaker for an incredibly balanced sound that really lends itself well to a wide variety of styles.
It’s driven by 4 x 12AX7 preamp tubes, and 2 x 6973 power tubes, combining for a really rich, beefy tone across the entire frequency range. There are 2 channels with individual inputs, and a pretty cool feature in that it can run the channels separately or in parallel for increased gain and improved EQ.
The cool part about having separate inputs for each channel, though, is the fact that we were able to run 2 guitars simultaneously – although in reality this isn’t the best idea if you want great tone!
It does have the ability to take an A/B footswitch, but unfortunately this wasn’t included in the box. At this price it’s something we think we’d have liked to have seen, but of course, it didn’t actually impact the performance of the amp itself.
On the control panel we found individual volume controls for each channel, a single tone control, and speed and depth knobs for the tremolo. The tremolo can be adjusted via a foot switch, but once again, this is sold separately.
We’re so rarely disappointed by Supro amps, and there was no change here. Everything about this amp was so unique that we didn’t ever think that we could have just used something a little more mainstream instead.
Of the 2 channels, we definitely had the most fun in channel 1. This input is the parallel amalgamation of channels 1 and 2, and was where we found the best of the tone that this Supro had to offer. Letting rip with a Les Paul in with both volumes cranked was pretty “magickal” (see what we did there?), and immediately left us wondering why more people aren’t raving about this amp.
Of course, it handled single coils beautifully, too. Naturally we played through with a Telecaster, and found that it still retained the signature twang, but never made it sound thin. This isn’t an easy task for any amp, so it’s pretty easy to see why Page loved his Supro.
In channel 2 with the volume under 12 o clock it was still plenty loud, but remained sparkly and clean. If you’re a pedal user you’ll definitely love the headroom afforded by the 25 watts of class A power.
When this amp was dimed, there’s no denying that it was loud. As in, complaints from the neighbors, loud! With no attenuator, this made it a little difficult to get the crunch we wanted at home, but in a gig setting, it was fantastic.
The tremolo circuit was another treat from this amp. It felt super organic, and never felt overpowering. The sweep from the pots was perfect, so dialing in just the right amount came very easily.
Having just a single tone knob on an amp this powerful was a little limiting, but it did help with the vintage feel. Regardless, the Jensen speaker performed admirably – it didn’t get bogged down at any volume, and we didn’t experience any muddiness. It was particularly prominent in the mids, which is why it works so well for ‘60s rock and roll.
Final Thoughts on the Supro 1695TJ Black Magick
This is another gem in the Supro lineup. The Supro 1695TJ Black Magick is a truly underrated amp when it comes to vintage style rigs. It’s about as close as you’re going to get to a Jimmy Page signature model, but even if you’re not a Led Zeppelin fan, this amp still has tons to offer.
It delivers fantastic crunch, great cleans, and there’s no denying that it’s a brilliant looking piece of kit. If you’re into the all tube vintage amp sound, this is a genuine alternative to the likes of the Marshall Origin.