5F1 'Champ' variations - a 'better' version..... or not?

Wharfcreek

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I don't know that I buy the classification of saying 'it's ok to use a SS rectifier, but it's still gotta have a 6V6 if it's going to be a Champ'. From a 'control' standpoint, I think Fender distinguished between a Tweed Champ and a Tweed Princeton by simply adding a Tone Control. So, from where I sit, if you put a tone control in it, you made it a Princeton...... NOT a 'Champ'. BUT, I also think that if you're going to swap tube rectification for silicon, then you MUST also allow for a simple direct replacement of one tube type for another, particularly since the 6BQ5 was developed specifically to replace the 6V6 in a smaller glass bottle and with a 9-pin base. All the specs are essentially the same, which when comparing a 5Y3 to a pair of diode.....they're not. But, owing to the fact that 'rectification is rectification', and whether or not you do it with diodes or a tube, as long as you provide the needed current, either is 'about' the same. So, from an 'electrical' standpoint, I'll give in to that one, as long as you're willing to allow the same 'electrical' latitude to be used to equate a 6V6 to a 6BQ5!!!

Peegoo: VERY nice work!! I envy the skills to do the covering, and I LOVE the badges!! To me, this is what 'creativity' is all about.......and use of the 'Champ' verbiage to describe the thing..... I think Leo would be proud and 'honored'!!

Tom
 

printer2

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I don't know that I buy the classification of saying 'it's ok to use a SS rectifier, but it's still gotta have a 6V6 if it's going to be a Champ'. From a 'control' standpoint, I think Fender distinguished between a Tweed Champ and a Tweed Princeton by simply adding a Tone Control. So, from where I sit, if you put a tone control in it, you made it a Princeton...... NOT a 'Champ'. BUT, I also think that if you're going to swap tube rectification for silicon, then you MUST also allow for a simple direct replacement of one tube type for another, particularly since the 6BQ5 was developed specifically to replace the 6V6 in a smaller glass bottle and with a 9-pin base. All the specs are essentially the same, which when comparing a 5Y3 to a pair of diode.....they're not. But, owing to the fact that 'rectification is rectification', and whether or not you do it with diodes or a tube, as long as you provide the needed current, either is 'about' the same. So, from an 'electrical' standpoint, I'll give in to that one, as long as you're willing to allow the same 'electrical' latitude to be used to equate a 6V6 to a 6BQ5!!!

Peegoo: VERY nice work!! I envy the skills to do the covering, and I LOVE the badges!! To me, this is what 'creativity' is all about.......and use of the 'Champ' verbiage to describe the thing..... I think Leo would be proud and 'honored'!!

Tom
In a Class A amp how much difference is there if the power is supplied by a tube or a pair of SS diodes given the same voltage? A Champ with tone controls? Don't tell Fender it is not a Champ. I think a SS diode Champ will sound much more like a "Real" Champ than a tube rectified EL84 "Champ". A EL84 is not just a replacement for a 6V6, that would be a 6AQ5. It has the same characteristics as the 6V6. An EL84 does not have the same characteristics. For a start is the doubling of heater current. The EL84 was designed so that it could driven with one less gain stages than the older designs like the 6V6. The 6AQ5 can be dropped in a 6V6 circuit without changes to the circuit, the EL84 would not be biased properly in a circuit designed for a 6V6. The 250 ohm resistor swapped for a 125 ohm one. The EL84 needs to be biased at -7.3V at 250V where the 6V6 needs to be biased at -12.5V.

Using a power supply with a tube rectifier or one using a SS rectifier does not matter if they both supply 250V. But driving the output tube with the 12AX7 means that the signal voltage needed to drive the 6V6 needs to be almost twice as much. The transconductane and plate resistance of the EL84 is 11,300 and 40,000 ohms while the 6V6 is 4,100 and 50,000 ohms. And then there is the EL84 fizz when overdriven. Yes the two tubes can sound relatively equal when played clean. When dimed they do sound different, at least to my ears.

A Champ with tone controls not a Champ? Better not tell Fender that. Almost like saying a Ford Mustang is not a Ford Mustang. One having a carburator and the other fuel injection. Or a V8 rather than a four. Mind you the Mustang did come with a four. So maybe a Champ can come with a EL84. But with thoughts like that I would think a Champ with tone controls are not a sacrilege. Tremolo anyone?
 

Wharfcreek

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Printer....... not going to argue your points. I 'get' where you're coming from, and won't deny any of your distinctions, with the possible exception of the 'fizz' thing which perhaps my ears just aren't tuned in to.

As to the 'Champ' vs 'Princeton' thing, I'm rather limiting my commentary to the 5F1 design Champ vs others. Truth be told here, again, you're absolutely right that Fender DID produce the whole line up of black and silver face Champs, all with tone controls. One might ask at this time, just how much 'influence' did Leo have on the design of these amps vs that of the early 'tweed' line up. As to me comment, I'm attaching a link to the 5E2 Princeton amp. I think it will open, but if not, you can most likely just do a Google search on that schematic and find it. If I'm not mistaken, there are only 2 significant distinctions between the 5F1 'Champ' and the 5E2 Princeton; one being the addition of the tone control, and the other being that they dropped the first stage filter from 16uf to 8 and added the choke. I think there are other 'Champ' circuits that also have the PS set-up, so..... it is what it is. But, my point there is that this was back when Leo WAS calling the shots, and it was HE who distinguished between the 'Champ' and the 'Princeton' by what is essentially just the tone control.

THAT SAID...... I also have to say that I've never owned an 'original' version of either of these amps. I've seen them and played through them in other people's homes, studios, and even in some vintage music stores. But, I'm not sure if the 5E2 Princeton also had an 8" speaker, or if it had a 10" in it's cabinet. That would be yet another and VERY significant distinction as well, since it might indicate that even Leo was realizing the need for a bit more 'output' from his lower line amps to satisfy the growing market of 'Rock & Roll'rs.

Anyway.....how 'bout we agree that with, what, 5 or 6 or 7 or more 'Champs' from Fender over the years, and I think nearly as many Princetons...... maybe if it was OK for Fender to change it up and still call it a Champ...... maybe it's OK for 'us' to do it too? Can we agree on that? I hope!!!!

By the way, how many 'Mustangs' were there? I actually owned a '65, back in 1968, with First Year being '64 if I'm not mistaken. I had a light yellow version with a black vinyl top, black bucket seats, a 3-speed on the floor, and I think it was a 250CID in-line 6-cylinder. Growing up in the Detroit area in the hey-day of Muscle Cars, I followed this stuff pretty closely, although with it now being over 50 years since I owned that particular car, it's pretty much just a distent memory. I had a nice '70 Nova with a 4-speed muncie and a 396/375hp, and got myself tossed in Jail for Dragracing on Woodward Ave in Detroit. 145mph in a 35 zone. $500 for Dragracing, $3 for every mph over the posted limit, and 10 days of 'community service'. Went to work for Chrysler after college, and left Ford and Chevy behind for good. I will not 'acknowledge' NASCAR anymore due to the involvement of 'other' brands.

OK....so much for that!!
 

printer2

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Basically making the case that if you do not like a SS Champ being called a Champ then you should not call an EL84 Champ a Champ. Just seems silly you are the arbitrator of what is a Champ and yet your version uses a tube not used in the Champ. I have read some of Fender's history at one time and as far as I can remember Leo was involved in the tone chasing. After all, the 5F6 tone stack was from way back when and he must of had a hand in it. The Blackface response is just it tweaked a bit. Anyway, what you think of a Champ does not bother me as I will just pull up a BF Champ picture to console myself. When I get around to it I have an EL84 Princeton Reverb to build, punched holes in the chassis for 9 pin sockets as this is for my niece's husband and he has a Peavey Classic 30 and he would only need one set of spares. But since then he bought a Traynor (Bassmaster I think) and got rid of the Peavey.
 

Wharfcreek

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Printer, I think you misunderstand me. I am, by no means, the 'arbitrator' of what 'is' or 'is not' a Champ. And, I'm in complete agreement that a SS rectified 'Champ' is just as legitimate as a 'tube' rectified Champ......as are Tone Controls, etc. Actually, I'm prepared to accept just about anything being called a 'Champ'..... or 'Princeton' or 'Harvard', or what-ever. I was really just curious about what the 'masses' think...... Fortunately, there are a lot of places to get those opinions, including this venue.

Too bad your niece's husband got rid of that Peavey. Those Classis 30s also have a place in the world!

CIAO! I'm gone...........
 

Wound_Up

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So I've been working on amps for decades now, and if there's any one thing I've learned, it's that some times the 'original' is as good as anything else!! Truth be told, some of those old amp designers of yester-year were pretty smart! But, the unfortunate reality of today's world is that a lot of what was easy to accomplish back in the day.....ain't so easy now! One big factor is 'tubes' alone......as we're all experiencing now with the sad things going on in the Ukraine!! But, there's more than just tubes involved in this. In looking at the 'pricing' of the subject amp, to build a 'replica' of a 5F1 Tweed Champ, complete with tubes, speaker, and cabinet, a guy's looking at a price tag of well over $500, if not closer to $600 or even $700, depending on how it's done! Buying the best of everything, including a tweed covered and 'aged' vintage clone cabinet which alone can be upwards of $300..... I don't think a $700 figure is an exaggeration!!

So, I've set out to try to figure out a way to make this a more affordable proposition for someone. In so doing, I think I might have 'strayed' perhaps a bit to far from the 'original' 5F1. That's my dilemma, and the real reason for this posting. The basic question here is: How far away from the 'original' amp design can one go, and still call it a 'Champ'?

Just to clarify, I believe one can build a legitimate 5F1 Champ on just about any kind of platform or 'chassis'. The schematic is out there for the masses to follow, and 'clone' parts are all over the place. So, a guy can grab a box, a couple of transformers, some sockets and passive parts, and within a day or so you can construct a 'clone' 5F1 that is pretty much spot-on as far as all the specs go for a 5F1 amp. BUT....what if you deviate in several areas? For example, in one of my early clone amps I migrated from a 5Y3 rectifier to a 6CA4 rectifier. I did this mostly because the power transformer I was using simply didn't have a 5 volt winding. I also used a 6BQ5 for an output tube, vs the 6V6. Again, it was because the amp chassis I was using already had a 9-pin socket available and I have a bunch of those tubes. But, it didn't stop there. I also had an 'extra' HiFi SE output transformer here that had both 4 and 8 ohm output taps. So, as this was just an 'experiment'.....why not use all this stuff to see what kind of amp I could make? I'd already made a couple of 'replica' amps, one from the complete MoJoTone kit (including their 'slightly larger than the original' cabinet), and one that I sourced all the parts for individually....that would be a 'best of' amp....and yea, it was well over $600 to build that thing!! Anyway, in the end, I had this nice little 'chassis' amp, built pretty much to the specs of a 5F1 Champ circuit, but with the addition of a choke in the power supply. And.....through some of the speaker cabinets I have around here..... it sounded GREAT!!!

So, I got 'hooked' on these little things, and started building another...then another, and another, and another. After about 6 more of the 'chassis' versions, I decided it was time to find some decent cabinets and see just where these amps I was building actually 'stacked up' against an 'original'. I found an amazing guy who built me 3 'test' cabinets......and they're great examples of what can be done with a project like this!! Beautiful workmanship, and great materials being used. The first was a 10" version of the 'stock' cabinet, made to fit a 'stock' chassis'. The second was another 10" version, but with a slightly larger back panel so as to cover the Hammond chassis I used for my 'altered' design build. The 3rd, and thus far 'last' one is a 12" version, again with my build changes, and on a Hammond chassis that's back to the 5" width.

So, this is my question to the masses here: Have I gone too far? Am I now just WAY beyond the 'original' Champ amp and should no longer even consider representing the thing as a 'Champ Clone', or, it that still just what it is?....a 'clone'?

Attached are a few pics which rather show some of my work here. The first shows 5 of the early 'piggy-back' builds, including the original 'clone' at the forefront on the right side. The second pic shows the inside of my build, also the use of the 6BQ5 and 6CA4 rectifier. The 3rd shows this amp 'mounted' in the 10" finger-jointed pine cabinet, and the 4th shows both my early 'replica' amps, including the high-dollar 'original as well as the MoJoTone Kit, larger box on the right. The last is just a pic of the inside of the amp 'mounted' in the pine box!!

So any opinions here are welcome. My gut says that as long as it's represented as a 'clone' and not a 'replica' or 'duplicate' version, then calling it a 'Champ Clone' isn't a misrepresentation. Honestly, I think it might actually be a bit more of a 'guitar player friendly' amp, as the 10" speaker gives it a bit more punch, the improved power supply makes it both quieter and takes some of the 'flab' out of the bottom end, and I think the 'drive' factor of the 6BQ5 is also a bit 'tighter'....which to me makes me feel as if the amp is just more responsive overall. And.....it's 'louder'!! Hey, what guitar player won't like that, eh?........lol And finally, I think it may be that something like this could be offered on the market for just under the $500 mark.....as you see it in the pics, but 'playable' and ready for it's final owner to 'finish' as they so desire. Anyway, thanks for reading this, and constructive comments are welcome and appreciated. Tom

Just call it exactly what it is: a modified Champ circuit.

Bam. Done. 😉
 

archetype

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The 1961 Blonde 6G1 Tremolux ran a pair of 6BQ5s and it still sounded like a Fender.

Yep. 6G9, though.

Those things ate output tubes and transformers until Fender realized those tubes wouldn't take over-spec voltage abuse like a 6L6GC.
 

Wharfcreek

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the 7189 was a 'high voltage' version of the 6BQ5. I believe the Russian equivalent is now being sold as an EL84M, OR..... 6P14PEB. But, NONE of those will stand up to a design intended for a 6L6 level of tube. Maybe a 'pushed' 6V6, but if I'm not mistaken, there was even a HV version of the 6V6, another 'number' tube, like a 7408 or something like that. I know Bogen, Harman Kardon, and a few other manufacturers used that tube, just like Scott and Fisher used the 7189 vs the 6BQ5. And, today, many people have old 'stereo' amps that are designed for those tubes, but they use a standard 6BQ5 from Sovtek or even some NOS US or Euro stuff.........and they seem to hold up OK. Maybe the difference is that people now turn their gear 'off' after using it, unlike how that aspect of operation was neglected pretty regularly back in 1950!!
 

Wharfcreek

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Printer, just to add to the 6V6 / 6BQ5 discussion, if you look at the data sheets on these two tubes, the 'bias' point for a Class A SE amp with either 250 plate/screen volts or 300 plate/screen volts is basically the same for either tube in terms of current draw. My understanding is that both will drive to saturation with essentially the same input grid voltage. While this may not make the tubes 'identical' to each other, it makes them interchangeable enough that I dare say no human ear would be able to distinguish the difference any more so than exchanging one 6V6 for another. This 'tube rolling' thing is another discussion altogether, and again, I'm not saying that there aren't differences between the 6V6 and the 6BQ5. I'm only saying that 'IN THIS CIRCUIT', they're essentially interchangeable other than the distinction between the pin wiring and socket type.

I have a friend up in the Canada side of Niagara Falls, and he and I participated in some 'blind' testing at a music event up in Buffalo, NY about a decade ago. The purpose of this event was to provide an opportunity for people to actually 'test' their ability to perceive an audible difference between different tube types. The main subject was 'rectifiers', and of course, this was a 'hi-fi' event..... so I'm not going to say there's an exact correlation between this and the musical instrument amp world. But, I think the principals still apply. Anyway, the promotors of this event had some pretty sophisticated equipment designed and built specifically for this testing. The upshot was that while some people were able to distinguish a difference in rectifier types (5AR4 vs 5U4 or 5Y3, etc), these same people heard the same distinction when the same rectifier tube just had it's B+ voltage dialed down via regulator devices. So, it wasn't really the rectifier itself that the people were hearing as being 'different', it was the reduction of 40 volts in B+ that was coloring the performance of the amp. They also did some tests using different 6L6 tubes, 5881s, and KT88s. Essentially no one was able to make any consistent judgements of which of these were which when the blind testing was over. It was an 'interesting' day. But, it also solidified my opinion that 'voltage is voltage', and if you change it, you change 'sound'. All this said, I also am a firm believer that manufacturing processes affect the way a tube will operate in a mucical instrument amplifier. My own test of this was to simply replace the 'good' Philips Gray Plate 6L6 tubes in my Super Reverb amp with a set of GE Black Plates. The difference in harmonic response was startling, with the GE tubes being infinitely superior. I then tried a set of Sovtek 5881s in that amp, and was suprised at just how 'dead' those sounded. In retrospect, I did NOT re-bias the amp each time.......so, perhaps I failed to make an adjustment that might have altered the results of my test (and certainly did!!). BUT, my point is..... this stuff can be 'argued' either way......which is what puts the fun in it!!!
 

TwoBear

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So I've been working on amps for decades now, and if there's any one thing I've learned, it's that some times the 'original' is as good as anything else!! Truth be told, some of those old amp designers of yester-year were pretty smart! But, the unfortunate reality of today's world is that a lot of what was easy to accomplish back in the day.....ain't so easy now! One big factor is 'tubes' alone......as we're all experiencing now with the sad things going on in the Ukraine!! But, there's more than just tubes involved in this. In looking at the 'pricing' of the subject amp, to build a 'replica' of a 5F1 Tweed Champ, complete with tubes, speaker, and cabinet, a guy's looking at a price tag of well over $500, if not closer to $600 or even $700, depending on how it's done! Buying the best of everything, including a tweed covered and 'aged' vintage clone cabinet which alone can be upwards of $300..... I don't think a $700 figure is an exaggeration!!

So, I've set out to try to figure out a way to make this a more affordable proposition for someone. In so doing, I think I might have 'strayed' perhaps a bit to far from the 'original' 5F1. That's my dilemma, and the real reason for this posting. The basic question here is: How far away from the 'original' amp design can one go, and still call it a 'Champ'?

Just to clarify, I believe one can build a legitimate 5F1 Champ on just about any kind of platform or 'chassis'. The schematic is out there for the masses to follow, and 'clone' parts are all over the place. So, a guy can grab a box, a couple of transformers, some sockets and passive parts, and within a day or so you can construct a 'clone' 5F1 that is pretty much spot-on as far as all the specs go for a 5F1 amp. BUT....what if you deviate in several areas? For example, in one of my early clone amps I migrated from a 5Y3 rectifier to a 6CA4 rectifier. I did this mostly because the power transformer I was using simply didn't have a 5 volt winding. I also used a 6BQ5 for an output tube, vs the 6V6. Again, it was because the amp chassis I was using already had a 9-pin socket available and I have a bunch of those tubes. But, it didn't stop there. I also had an 'extra' HiFi SE output transformer here that had both 4 and 8 ohm output taps. So, as this was just an 'experiment'.....why not use all this stuff to see what kind of amp I could make? I'd already made a couple of 'replica' amps, one from the complete MoJoTone kit (including their 'slightly larger than the original' cabinet), and one that I sourced all the parts for individually....that would be a 'best of' amp....and yea, it was well over $600 to build that thing!! Anyway, in the end, I had this nice little 'chassis' amp, built pretty much to the specs of a 5F1 Champ circuit, but with the addition of a choke in the power supply. And.....through some of the speaker cabinets I have around here..... it sounded GREAT!!!

So, I got 'hooked' on these little things, and started building another...then another, and another, and another. After about 6 more of the 'chassis' versions, I decided it was time to find some decent cabinets and see just where these amps I was building actually 'stacked up' against an 'original'. I found an amazing guy who built me 3 'test' cabinets......and they're great examples of what can be done with a project like this!! Beautiful workmanship, and great materials being used. The first was a 10" version of the 'stock' cabinet, made to fit a 'stock' chassis'. The second was another 10" version, but with a slightly larger back panel so as to cover the Hammond chassis I used for my 'altered' design build. The 3rd, and thus far 'last' one is a 12" version, again with my build changes, and on a Hammond chassis that's back to the 5" width.

So, this is my question to the masses here: Have I gone too far? Am I now just WAY beyond the 'original' Champ amp and should no longer even consider representing the thing as a 'Champ Clone', or, it that still just what it is?....a 'clone'?

Attached are a few pics which rather show some of my work here. The first shows 5 of the early 'piggy-back' builds, including the original 'clone' at the forefront on the right side. The second pic shows the inside of my build, also the use of the 6BQ5 and 6CA4 rectifier. The 3rd shows this amp 'mounted' in the 10" finger-jointed pine cabinet, and the 4th shows both my early 'replica' amps, including the high-dollar 'original as well as the MoJoTone Kit, larger box on the right. The last is just a pic of the inside of the amp 'mounted' in the pine box!!

So any opinions here are welcome. My gut says that as long as it's represented as a 'clone' and not a 'replica' or 'duplicate' version, then calling it a 'Champ Clone' isn't a misrepresentation. Honestly, I think it might actually be a bit more of a 'guitar player friendly' amp, as the 10" speaker gives it a bit more punch, the improved power supply makes it both quieter and takes some of the 'flab' out of the bottom end, and I think the 'drive' factor of the 6BQ5 is also a bit 'tighter'....which to me makes me feel as if the amp is just more responsive overall. And.....it's 'louder'!! Hey, what guitar player won't like that, eh?........lol And finally, I think it may be that something like this could be offered on the market for just under the $500 mark.....as you see it in the pics, but 'playable' and ready for it's final owner to 'finish' as they so desire. Anyway, thanks for reading this, and constructive comments are welcome and appreciated. Tom
When I used to deal with eBay I Had someone complain about a 5E3 clone I was selling, even though I clearly mentioned a couple times that it was a handbuilt copy they found a problem with me referring to the fender deluxe amplifier that I had cloned.

Maybe whoever complained was a amp builder who was jealous because I have to say the amp came out beautiful.

I also had a tweed champ at that same time that I had added larger filter caps. Otherwise it was as stock.

When I bypassed the little speaker and played that into a larger Gibson cabinet I had with a 12 and 10 greenback and mojo tone respectively, I gained a larger respect for that little circuit.

You should be able to pick up one of those Epiphone V Jr amps for $100? They’re basically a Champ/Ga5 Gibson circuit, and if you wanted you could customize it with anything from transformers to a new board or whatever.
 

Wharfcreek

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I actually have 2 of those Epiphone Valve Jr amps; one 'combo' amp and the other being the separate head/cab unit. I bought them both as 'test' platforms, mostly as I just wanted to see how my amp sounded as compared to other manufacturers. I did this with several other amps from other manufacturers as well. Interesting to 'compare' and 'contrast' your own work against that of others. Anyway, I have seen the error of my ways in having 'titled' this thread as I did. The term 'better' implies a value judgement that is just plain too broad, and requires too much in the way of categorical 'acceptance' of what features or changes to the circuit might provide 'improvement', or just that; simply 'changes'. On the improvement side, again, this is subjective, and I believe the reality is that any time you 'change' something, that alteration being an 'improvement' is strictly a decision that has to be made by the person who did the changing. For example, the 'original' Tweed Champ came with an 8" speaker. There are now a multitude of builders our there who can provide a cabinet for the amp chassis that includes a 10" speaker or even a 12" speaker. So, with absolutely ZERO changes to the amp itself, one can change speaker and cabinet size and CLEARLY get an amp that sounds 'different'. But, 'better' is again subjective. For someone wanting to record the sound that the original 8" speaker Champ puts out, or 'mic' that amp for a stage performance, the use of the 10" or 12" speaker unit might NOT provide what they're looking for 'sonically' speaking. So, to them, the 10" or 12" is NOT 'better'..... it's worse!! But, to others, that change might be vastly more desirable in producing a bigger, fuller, and 'punchier' sound. I know I REALLY LIKE my 12" version using a Warehouse 12" speaker. And, I've compared both the 'stock' circuit with the 5Y3 rectifier, the 6V6 output tube, and the stock values on the filter section (NO 'choke' either), to my version using the 6BQ5 output tube, the 6CA4 rectifier, a choke, and larger filter caps. Honestly, I like mine better! Mine is just 'tighter', with a little more head-room for some 'clean' play, but breaks up wonderfully well if pushed hard! So, IMHO, what's 'not' to like???? But, is it now a 'champ', or even a 'clone' of a champ? Well, I still tend to think so, but that's using my definition of terms. I'm prepared to 'argue it out' with anyone any time. In the end, I don't think it really matters. It is what it is, and anyone even looking at an amp like this should know what they're looking at and made their own decisions based on the information at hand. At that point, it becomes a 'question/answer' process between builder and buyer. The builder should provide as much info as is reasonably pertinent, and the buyer should be able to ask any question that might be a 'deal-breaker' for him/her depending on the response. Failure of a buyer to ask about anything is really on them as far as I'm concerned. But, again, that's just me.
 




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