Is An Old Fender Champ Good Sounding?
Old 22nd June 2008
  #1
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Thread Starter
Is An Old Fender Champ Good Sounding?

My dad gave me a broken one and I don't know if I want to spend the money to repair it or not. It's from the 70's or so. Are they good little versitle amps? I was going to go get an a very versitile amp... but I don't know too much about this other than the fact that he said its a cheap little practice amp he had and that its not top notch.
Old 22nd June 2008
  #2
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Kronos147's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by rackdude View Post
My dad gave me a broken one and I don't know if I want to spend the money to repair it or not. It's from the 70's or so. Are they good little versitle amps?
I read somewhere that Clapton recorded a record only using a Champ and a Princeton. I have a '72 champ, and a '67 Princeton.

I like my Champ for certain things, but the speaker is kind of small. I am always hesitant to disconnect it and use the RCA speaker out on something else. I like it a lot for Wurlitzer though. There are good guitar sounds on it too, just I usually hit the Princeton.

I would get that Champ fixed though. It will really train your ear of what to expect from a bigger amp.
Old 22nd June 2008
  #3
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They are very good amps, almost certainly worth repairing (unless the damage is too extensive).

Although they were built for practice, many big name guitar players use them in the studio.

In terms of versatility, the small speaker and wattage may not be great for heavy metal but should be good for most other styles. If you do not like it you can probably sell it for ok money (well, in the US they are cheaper, but here in Europe they are quite expensive)

If you crank it up the tube overdrive should be great.

I'm not fortunate enough to have a Champ myself, but I have a (british made) 70s five watt amp with a similar tube line-up and I absolutely love it. These small tube amps record very well and are small and portable.

Hope that helps!

Santiago
Old 22nd June 2008
  #4
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Frankly, the overdrive sound on the Champ is just buzzy and cheap sounding. That's just not what the Champ was made for. The 8" speaker in them is real crap. That said, the clean sound has a very detailed attack to it, as well as when you lightly push it.

There are some sounds that only a Champ can make. It is the furthest thing from being a versatile amp. It's kind of a one trick pony, but it's a really good trick.

Clapton recorded Layla with a tweed Champ amp. They're a slightly different animal, and do sound better than the Silverface and Blackface Champs. BTW, unlike other Fenders, the Silverface Champ could probably be considered a very slight improvement on the Blackface.

Get it fixed up. It's worth the money, as you'll be able to sell it if you don't like it. And the world can use another Champ.
Old 23rd June 2008
  #5
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casadios's Avatar
 

i'm using a 70s Champ with my Rhodes... reat funky overdriven sound!
changed the stock speaker for a Weber, though
Old 23rd June 2008
  #6
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Lee Knight's Avatar
 

Just force a 10" in there and they sound GREAT! You don't even need to cut the baffle bigger but you can. Seriously, put a Celestion or a Weber 10" and they're great. Spend the money and fix it.
Old 23rd June 2008
  #7
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PKatis's Avatar
 

Fix it!!! I own two. They're great little amps.
Old 23rd June 2008
  #8
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i got one at my studio right now (used to belong to rod price, i believe!). i think it has a great sound when driven hard with a guitar (which isn't very loud, by the way...which is convenient in the studio). the low end can get a little farty on mine, but for a bright and gritty sound, it's great. just watch the low end...best to stay in the bridge pickup.
Old 23rd June 2008
  #9
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drmmrboy's Avatar
 

Got an old blackface vibro champ. Kicks ass, but the small speaker can be restricting. Just use it for what it does. It does it real good!

Old 23rd June 2008
  #10
Gear interested
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
Frankly, the overdrive sound on the Champ is just buzzy and cheap sounding. That's just not what the Champ was made for. The 8" speaker in them is real crap. That said, the clean sound has a very detailed attack to it, as well as when you lightly push it.

There are some sounds that only a Champ can make. It is the furthest thing from being a versatile amp. It's kind of a one trick pony, but it's a really good trick.

Clapton recorded Layla with a tweed Champ amp. They're a slightly different animal, and do sound better than the Silverface and Blackface Champs. BTW, unlike other Fenders, the Silverface Champ could probably be considered a very slight improvement on the Blackface.

Get it fixed up. It's worth the money, as you'll be able to sell it if you don't like it. And the world can use another Champ.
I just want to preface this by saying people are very particular about their guitar sounds so I'm not arguing with what you said but I personally could not disagree with you more. The stock speaker on many of the amps is fine, if you want a better one get a Weber.

With that said, the blackface and early silverface champs are great amps for clean and dirty sounds. In fact, I feel one of there strengths is the overdriven sound they produce. I have a silverface vibro champ (almost identical amp with vibrato) that I have used on almost every record I have done for the past couple of years and turned up to 8 or 9, it always sounds huge. And they are so much more convenient that lugging around a big old half stack or some giant combo amp.

As someone else mentioned definitely not great for metal but very useful for just about anything else. I say fix it (unless it is something serious and then it might cost more than to just pick one up on ebay).
Old 23rd June 2008
  #11
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Kenny Gioia's Avatar
 

Versatile Guitar Amp?

Does not exist!!!!!!
Old 23rd June 2008
  #12
TML
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Kenny's right. Not versatile. There good for the light crunchy thing or just plain pinned. Turn up the treble and keep the bass at 0. Put the amp on its back on a sheet of plywood and mic it from above.
Tim
Old 23rd June 2008
  #13
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King Of Spain's Avatar
i remember walking into monkey studios in palm springs a long time ago with a big marshall & boogie rig, and I ended up tracking all the distorted heavy gits with the house champ...

here's a champ on all the distorted power chord stuff:
http://www.anonymousbosch.com/methadone.mp3

frenzel makes nice cheap hand-made champ knockoffs:

Low Power Amps
Old 23rd June 2008
  #14
Old 23rd June 2008
  #15
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dlmorley's Avatar
They sound great. I put a new jensen in my Vibro Champ ($40) as the original farts out at high volume (well high for the champ!) and it's excellent.

They take pedals well and as long as you plug the right guitar in, you can get some great crunchy OD.

Fix it and use it.
Old 23rd June 2008
  #16
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inlindsey's Avatar
 

hello, my first post here!
i hung around here very much, though...

as a studio guitarist, i use my silverface vibro champ very often, mostly combined with an alnico tone tubby 12" tweed cabinet.
i think it´s a real tone-monster, especially when recorded. the overdriven sound is a matter of taste (i like it sometimes, tho), but the clean sound is to die for. i often choose the champ over other bigger boutique amps. it works exceptionally well with a little clean boost for sweet cleansounds. if you stick with the small speaker, think about adding hi and low end with external eq. the amp seems to take that better than eqing with its own knobs and gets less farty.

if you give the amp to a tech, think about these 2 small mods:

-changing the speaker jack (if it isn´t already 1/4").
i found the 8" speaker not very useful unless you record on low levels (and yes, i changed the original speaker for a weber). when i switch to external cabinets with 12" speakers, the amp somehow starts to breathe more. although you should watch for the impedance mine can take the 8 ohm tone tubby with no problems at all.
-including a possibility for switching off the negative feedback loop.
this is a very small and reversible mod which doesn´t cost an arm and a leg and makes your amp lots more versatile. with that switch engaged it will take overdrive/distortion pedals much better and will sound hotter, therefore less stable.

the layout of a fender champ is probably as easy as it can get. work on that amp therefor shouldn´t be very expensive.

have fun with that great little amp!thumbsup
cheers, johannes
Old 23rd June 2008
  #17
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We've got a '64 Champ (famous for having a black tolex but these have a tweed model circuitry and chassis) It sounds great as a guitar amp (particulary with a Danelectro) but as it has been said before it's a perfect match for rhodes and wurlitzer. it has a "woody" sound and has a naturally darker voice than most fender amps which suits single coil pickups really well.
Blackface and Silverface have a tone control not the original "narrow panel" tweed and the black tolex '64.(5F1 circuitry)
Old 23rd June 2008
  #18
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Thread Starter
He played it with a Gibson SG Custom Student back in his day... not a single coil. That might be why he didn't like it. He was more of a Sabboth/Skynerd rocker... so I think it just might have not been his sound. So, I'm thinking of taking this to get fixed and then buying one of those epiphone amps too, I already have a good setup for amp modeling too *atleast the sounds I like, they don't sound real but they are damn good signature sounds*. Do you think that would cover all my bases? Electronic, Marshallish, and Fender Clean?
Old 23rd June 2008
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rackdude View Post
He played it with a Gibson SG Custom Student back in his day... not a single coil. That might be why he didn't like it. He was more of a Sabboth/Skynerd rocker... so I think it just might have not been his sound. So, I'm thinking of taking this to get fixed and then buying one of those epiphone amps too, I already have a good setup for amp modeling too *atleast the sounds I like, they don't sound real but they are damn good signature sounds*. Do you think that would cover all my bases? Electronic, Marshallish, and Fender Clean?
Without an OD or distortion pedal in front it will not give enough crunch to get a marshallish sound. It can get clean but not like a Fender twin. Basically the one we have goes from clean but syrupy/thick clean sound to a nice vintage breakup distortion... It doesn't get as crunchy as an Orange tiny terror. (maybe you should try one, it's a great amp and quite cheap.)
Old 23rd June 2008
  #20
I have a '72 Vibro Champ (same circuit design as the 60's models). It came with a Jensen speaker, very thin and tinny sounding, so I replaced it with a Eminence, a very smooth speaker. I yanked out the vibrato and rebuilt the preamp with some gain, 3 band EQ and a master volume. I use a EL34 power tube, it puts out around 12 watts now. It's just the best blues harp amp made, great for many chores as it has so much range of tone. If I run it into the 480 watt Basson Sound 4X12, it's loud enough to play with a band.

These are easy to fix, nothing really in there but a couple of tubes, a transformer and some caps. I replaced my multisection electrolytic filter cap with a couple of JJ dual 100 uf/500 volt jobs, I also added a choke on the power supply to remove the residual hum, it's now very quiet and great for recording.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 23rd June 2008
  #21
6293
Guest
hey sorry for the hijack, but what do you all know about Fender Bronco silverface amps? built in vibrato, think around 10-15 watts. thanks!
Old 23rd June 2008
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackfish View Post
hey sorry for the hijack, but what do you all know about Fender Bronco silverface amps? built in vibrato, think around 10-15 watts. thanks!
The bronco is based on the '67 silverface vibrochamp model

Fender Champ - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Old 23rd June 2008
  #23
6293
Guest
thanks!
Old 23rd June 2008
  #24
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pootkao's Avatar
 

If you don't wanna fix it, you can just ship it to me. I'll give it happy home.

Old 24th June 2008
  #25
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Pohaku's Avatar
 

Definitely fix it. I have a 64 black tolex champ (tweed circuit) with a Weber speaker in it that is just great (see my avatar). And the volume goes to 12. I have an 80s Super Champ as well, but that's a completely different animal. Lovely little amps. I'd like to get a black face or silver face as well.
Old 24th June 2008
  #26
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amanitas's Avatar
Definitely fix it. A friend of mine hooked me up with a broken silverface champ that someone gave him for free. After 60 bucks and a week at the shop, the amp is ****in' rad! I use it for electric guitars, rhodes and wurly, but it's also great on vocals to give that little bit of tube overdrive. I often run synths through them as well. Throw a ribbon in front of it, wrap the whole thing in a towel, and enjoy.

Old 24th June 2008
  #27
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kafka's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
I have a '72 Vibro Champ (same circuit design as the 60's models). It came with a Jensen speaker, very thin and tinny sounding, so I replaced it with a Eminence, a very smooth speaker. I yanked out the vibrato and rebuilt the preamp with some gain, 3 band EQ and a master volume. I use a EL34 power tube, it puts out around 12 watts now. It's just the best blues harp amp made, great for many chores as it has so much range of tone. If I run it into the 480 watt Basson Sound 4X12, it's loud enough to play with a band.

These are easy to fix, nothing really in there but a couple of tubes, a transformer and some caps. I replaced my multisection electrolytic filter cap with a couple of JJ dual 100 uf/500 volt jobs, I also added a choke on the power supply to remove the residual hum, it's now very quiet and great for recording.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Did you have to change the power transformer due to the additional current needed for the EL34 heater? I'm doing a raw build of a similar amp on a Champ size chassis. I was thinking I might need more power than the stock Champ transformer can supply, but fits in a similar footprint.
Old 24th June 2008
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pohaku View Post
Definitely fix it. I have a 64 black tolex champ (tweed circuit) with a Weber speaker in it that is just great (see my avatar). And the volume goes to 12. I have an 80s Super Champ as well, but that's a completely different animal. Lovely little amps. I'd like to get a black face or silver face as well.
You have the same amp as mine! Did you ever change the tubes on it?

I bought mine a few months ago and it's mint..Came with the original RCA tubes...It sounds great but I was wondering if i should buy some new tubes just to see...
Old 24th June 2008
  #29
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greatgreatriver's Avatar
 

The tremolo is super cool on vibro champ - one of the best I've heard!
Old 24th June 2008
  #30
Gear maniac
 

Champs are my favorite amps for recording. I can get it to do folk rock jangle, Kinks-y crunch, and with a Big Muff and a 57 stuffed right in the grill Sabbathy power chord rock. The only thing I've tried to do with it that it can't do is big, super open clean sound of the larger Fenders. Might not be suitable for newer metal tones though, but I have no intention of trying to achieve that.

Craig
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