1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

Fender Champ Reissue Review - I Hate It

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by overlook1977, Jan 13, 2021 at 2:01 PM.

  1. overlook1977

    overlook1977 Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    139
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Location:
    Raleigh NC
    So I finally bought into the hype and ordered a Fender '57 Custom Champ from Sweetwater for about $1,000 dollars. Was pretty familiar with tweed amps and what these Champs do and don't do, so I wasn't buying it expecting to hear a blackface deluxe reverb or anything. I have to say, I spent about ten minutes with it and hated every one of them.

    Guitars I used: Gibson ES335 with 57 classics, Amercian Standard Strat, Custom shop telecaster, Gibson Les Paul, full hollowbody Ibanez Artcore with upgraded seymour duncan '59s. A pretty wide range of all basic blues and rock guitar types.

    Verdict: The low volume cleans sound very unremarkable, like pretty much any other amp. Gets very dirty and tweedy quick, but the lack of any tone controls on the amp made it sound a lot duller and muddier than I prefer on every guitar, even on the bridge pickups. The overdrive gets pretty thick, but theres barely any clarity with your notes.

    I plugged in my blackface Pro Junior next to it, an amp I haven't really ever been in love with, and it smoked it. I know its a little bigger of an amp (15 watts and 10" speaker). With the tone control, I could get some better sounding overdrive with much more string clarity and chime.

    I have a Pignose and honestly I like the breakup on that thing more than the Champ and it costs 1/10th of the price. Of course that little thing has a fraction of the volume so it has more limited uses, but for the tiny small wattage amp overdrives, I actually prefer even the pignose.

    The Champ is also surprisingly louder than I expected. It wasn't a deal breaker for me, but for a recording/bedroom amp, its a little louder than I would prefer and given the 8" speaker, its kind of one of those uselessly loud amps (as is the Pro Junior) where its a little too loud for solo/bedroom, but doesnt have the balls to cut through a mix with other people.

    I thought I would love the tweed overdrive but honestly it was just muddy and I got the impression that this would have been great way to get overdrive back before stompboxes and you just need any amp you can crank up without blowing out your house windows. I think this amp, while once great, is pretty obsolete now with all the better options. Plus, used Champs run well over $700 and you can pick up a used Pro Jr. for $350-ish all day long. This amp is grossly overpriced; I do love the old school turret board components for serviceability but its not worth the price.

    I know the speakers are supposed to have a break-in period, but having owned many amps, there's never been one where I bought it and hated it before the speakers got broken in. It could improve the sound some but I am still returning it.

    Anyway, was disappointed and wanted to offer a viewpoint other than the typical 'Champs are amazing' line.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021 at 7:42 PM
  2. posttoastie

    posttoastie Tele-Holic

    Age:
    66
    Posts:
    943
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2020
    Location:
    orange county,ca
    [​IMG]
     
    oldfish and That Cal Webway like this.
  3. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    4,236
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2016
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    What works and doesn't work for you is all that matters for you. My Champ-a-like gets run through multiples of 10" speakers. I did try an 8" as a cab ( Champ sized cab ) but didn't like it. It did sound pretty good close mic'd, but the room sound is so much better through a 10", a 2x10" or 2x 10" as a mini-stack.
    A grand for a Champ is taking the biscuit though.
     
    Festofish and IMadeYouReadThis like this.
  4. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Posts:
    13,802
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Location:
    Vermont
    I will never understand the appeal of scratchy little amps. They just sound like crappy little squawk boxes to me. And the price of admission is just obscene! A Princeton through a 12" speaker is about as low as I go. The 10" speaker in a Princeton is dismal.
     
  5. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,587
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2007
    Location:
    Manassas Park, VA
    Question, but it's about the Pignose ( sorry!)?
    I have not played a Pignose since the the late '70's - (a buddy in College had one)
    Does the Pignose have ANY appreciable Clean volume before distorting? Will it clean up when backing off guitar Volume knob.
    * I've come close to buying one for years mainly because I know they can sound nasty ( good), and like the way they look.

    But actually I bought Roland Micro Cube for the models/ control/ effects, all at quiet ( or louder ) volume

    But still like the Pignose!
     
  6. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,510
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Location:
    Boggo Road
    Pretty sure he is using Pro Jrs - not Champs.
     
  7. Addnine

    Addnine Tele-Meister

    Age:
    72
    Posts:
    341
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2019
    Location:
    New England
    This is why I buy "cheap Chinese junk,": my Monoprice and Wangs stuff. Aside from a few really high-end, point-to-point models, I do not believe current Fender amps are in any way better. In the 2xEL84 camp, they're clearly not as good. I like my 12" Princeton RI, but I'm pretty sure I could replace it with something Chinese at around half the cost.

    Ditto for many guitars. I have a $160 Grote jazzbox that is four times the guitar my Squier Dot (soon to be available) with SD pickups is and nearly as good as my similar Ibanez at eight times the cost.
     
    Rocky058 and Chiogtr4x like this.
  8. Bryan A

    Bryan A Tele-Meister

    Age:
    44
    Posts:
    194
    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2020
    Location:
    USA
    To each their own. I would say that if you expected “fender cleans” out of any 5 watt amp, you probably had unreasonable expectations. The whole reputation of these amps (aside from the original purpose of being practice amps) is to achieve true tube breakup at non-earth shattering volumes. I find it very usable from 3 all the way to 12 and use the guitar’s volume as the master volume. If you jack the amp volume and guitar volume all the way up, sure, 5 watts is loud.
     
    Cali Dude likes this.
  9. musicalmartin

    musicalmartin Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,533
    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    My only experience of a Champ is the Champion 600 modded and Webered .It was OK ish at bedroom levels even at window rattling levels but in a studio flat out it was fantastic destroying Marshall SS combos .I guess for me thats how Champs got "that " reputation .Thats what they are good at .
     
    Cali Dude likes this.
  10. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,986
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    Location:
    Somewhere Over The Rainbow
    Champs are overhyped. I would never have another.
     
    TIM5150 and uriah1 like this.
  11. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,587
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2007
    Location:
    Manassas Park, VA
    There's a Squier Dot? What's that?
    Did you mean Epiphone?
     
  12. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,598
    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Location:
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Little known "fact" is that the power cable takes some burn-in time too.
    This might be little-known because it's not true. Who can tell any more?
     
    Mission6_OG likes this.
  13. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    19,912
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    The North Coast

    Welcome to the club. I can’t stand ANY champ. Tweed, Black, Silver, Vibro, whatever. They could all simply vanish and I wouldn’t mind a bit.
     
  14. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    921
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2017
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    People seem to love ratcheting the knob on a Champ up to the max, but I think they sound awful that way. They get unpleasant to my ears above the halfway mark. Somewhere around 40 percent is what I'd call their sweet spot. But they always have that nasal quality, there's just no getting away from it.

    When it comes to low volume playing, solid state and digital are as good as tubes. If only tubes will scratch your itch, I'm a big fan of the Harmony 8418 amp paired with a Joyo American Sound pedal. That duo is half the price of a Fender Champ and way more versatile. Possibly not as loud, but if you want loud, this is the wrong aisle to look.
     
    uriah1, acmotors and Chiogtr4x like this.
  15. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,102
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Location:
    Godzone
    I gigged one - with a Sennheiser E609 in front. But if you come thinking it'll make you Clapton well, you'll be disappointed.

    I was disappointed in the build quality of the EC version I had. But it sounded like a Tweed Champ. Doesn't mean you have to like it - just means you're probably not a Tweed sort of person.

    It is what it is. If you don't like it, that's OK too.
     
    overlook1977 and Cali Dude like this.
  16. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,587
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2007
    Location:
    Manassas Park, VA
    Derail- sorry:

    I just ( now on YouTube) heard this Harmony amp 8418 ( after reading your post) and I thought it sounded great!

    But my question is more about this amp ( or maybe any real tube amp with it's own good sound like this) in combination with your Joyo American Sound.

    I own this Joyo and think it's great for ' 'Fender-ing up' a flat EQ or clean SS amp, or to use as an amp emulator into a PA ( I've used mine in this manner to good purpose)

    So what does it do going into your Harmony amp? ( and how do you set AS Controls) More clean volume? - different Tone/EQ?

    Just curious! Thanks
     
    oldfish likes this.
  17. overlook1977

    overlook1977 Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    139
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Location:
    Raleigh NC
    It absolutely does. The trick is to dime the Pignose and use the volume on your guitar to clean it up. I actually dont like full tilt distorted pignoses, I prefer to have that top end chimey breakup when its mostly clean. Such a great little amp and worth every penny...especially in a COVID environment where you can jam anywhere with the batteries!
     
    Nelg and Chiogtr4x like this.
  18. overlook1977

    overlook1977 Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    139
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Location:
    Raleigh NC
    I definitely did not expect the Champ to be clean; I know tweeds get nasty and the champ in particular is well known to have very little headroom. What I expected was to have an amazing overdrive tone, and it clearly just wasnt for me. I really just wanted to have a tone knob to put some more highs in the mix so I could hear my strings. I couldn't really find a volume level that I liked. I definitely do not like it dimed, but I was expecting around noon it would give a nice breakup but just wasnt that impressed. Once again, the Pro Jrs breakup sounded better to me. The $1000 pricetag for it really rubbed salt in the wound, and I have yet to find a local shop that carries these so I could have demoed beforehand.

    I actually have a '68 custom deluxe reverb and a '65 reissue twin reverb, so clean tones are covered; this was bought for straight into the amp breakup and overdrive.
     
  19. sloppychops

    sloppychops Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    286
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2010
    Location:
    wisconsin
    Well, I've had a 57 Custom Champ for about 4 weeks now and absolutely love it. The first day I had it, though, I wasn't impressed. It sounded harsh and boxy. The next day, after playing it a couple more hours, it sounded better. Now it sounds fantastic. You gave it all of 10 minutes before deciding you hate it. I think you just haven't played it enough for the speaker to break in.

    I can't turn mine up past 4 where I live, so I use an overdrive pedal for extra grit. It doesn't sound "muddy" to me at all. I do kind of miss having a tone control, though. I just use the tone control on my OD pedal when I want more treble.

    There are many, many glowing reviews of this amp, and the only negative ones I found centered around complaints about noise. I don't think it's noisy at all. Nothing like my Pro Jr.

    Give it a few hours of play time before your final verdict.
     
    El Tele Lobo, Bryan A and Cali Dude like this.
  20. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,587
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2007
    Location:
    Manassas Park, VA
    Thanks!
    It takes AA batteries now right?

    I've become a bit of a small amp nut and it seems criminal to NOT have a Pignose in the mix! ( especially being a 62 year old R&R/ blues guy)
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.