There’s something about a stripped down rock ‘n’ roll guitar, ya know? No flamed maple or complex tremolos or active electronics. None of that! Well folks, that’s what we have here with the Supro Normandy! The Normandy model line was on the lower end of the price point, and was a guitar that lacked certain features of the more expensive Supro guitars, but these buggers can still ROCK!
One feature these guitars lacked was the chrome pickup covers with the adjustable pole pieces. Valco only used two screws to attach the plastic pickup covers, and there really isn’t any room for height adjustment, so you’ll need to improvise! Underneath the plastic covers though, the pickups are the same as the famed Valco pups! I also like the simpler toggle switch and the simpler bar bridge on these Normandy models.
These models were part of the last “hurrah” for Valco, and within a few years the company would be gone. At least they went out with a proverbial BANG with the Lexington and Normandy series. Hey, I like most any Valco guitar I can get my hands on, but these Normandy guitars are interesting because they actually have a truss rod! I’m always talking about the lack of truss rods in most all Valco guitars, and how they can be hard to set up properly if you don’t know an really good tech like Dave D’Amelio. But these Normandy’s are probably a good choice for the inexperienced!
Valco was able to offer these for a lower price by changing components. Like the tuners. They used simpler strip tuners rather than Klusons. Also, there wasn’t any binding to be found on these guitars, and the pick guards were simple white plastic.
Initially these were only offered in cherry shade or red finishes, but the last of the bunch came in the sunburst finish that you see here. The bodies were multiple pieces of some wood and were solid. The scale is 24 3/4″ and the electronics were much simpler than other Supro guitars of the time. This model here cost $129.50 at the time, but Supro also offered a two pickup model (S602) without a vibrato for $89.50, and a single pickup model (S601) without a vibrato for $69.50. Hey, there was something for everyone!
There was also some kind of sticker placed on the plastic pickup covers, but with some aggressive strumming these are often lost to the times. This era of Supro also saw the use of some Japanese imported parts like tremolos and and this one is no exception. But overall I’d take one of these to a gig any day of the week. I just LOVE them, and they’re still affordable! Of course Mr. Valco himself, Dave D’Amelio sorted out all the weirdness of this Normandy. He gave it a re-fret, set-up, and cleaned out all the electronics. Mike Dugan gives it a test drive below!