Fender Champ Reissue Review - I Hate It

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by overlook1977, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. sloppychops

    sloppychops Tele-Holic

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    The only grab 'n go little amp I've come across that sounded good all by itself at tolerable volume was a little Vox that had a half-watt setting. Really nice overdrive sound. I forget which model it was/is. For me, though, an amp has to have reverb to sound right. A completely dry signal just doesn't work for me, especially in a little amp.
     
  2. Ess Eff

    Ess Eff Tele-Afflicted

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    Luv mine......
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  3. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Poster Extraordinaire

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    The same place you find $150 American Standard Strats...

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  4. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I had a Legend 1058 in a Tweed Vibrolux (5F11) clone built for me by the same guy who built my 12" Champ. It was a very nice speaker in that amp.
     
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  5. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Doctor of Teleocity

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    It seems like the 1058 ( just like I think the 12" 1258) is a good 'all-arounder'

    Which is cool for me as that's what I play!
    ( all older music, but a lot of variety.
    So a pretty clean amp and speaker, that I can dirty up with various OD pedals, is perfect)
     
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  6. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I can't emphasize enough how much difference a larger speaker and solid pine cabinet make for the Champ circuit. It gives it a larger, less boxy sound with more overall dynamics. And I think a ceramic speaker really makes a difference too (I have a Jupiter in mine).

    It's funny, because the first time I played a Champ circuit, I didn't like it either. It was back when I was playing blues clubs a lot. Back then I mainly used a Blues Jr. (an amp I HATE now), though I had tried some others (Vibroverb reissue, Super Reverb, Hot Rod Deluxe, Blackface Deluxe etc.). The Champ I tried was a silver face, I think. The guy in the shop was so excited for me to try it...like it was this epic thing...I hated it. The cleans seemed bland and the crunch didn't wow me...and I didn't think it would be loud enough for a gig.

    I should add, in fairness, that, although I can happily play my Champ straight in, I can't stress enough how much a good clean boost/overdrive (I use a Klon type) and some slapjack delay or reverb can help the tone. The Klon gives it a little added sparkle/clarity and the delay and verb, a little dimension. It sounds infinitely better through a few simple pedals. I think that's the thing for me with it. It's a great platform for pedals. But straight in is an acquired taste. Take some time with it, let the speaker break in and you'll find it has a range of natural dynamics and compression that's wonderful...it almost doesn't need reverb. But it does help...especially if you're not used to going without it.

    I like the Champ because it's simple and pure. I found over the years I had better luck crafting tone from the simple Champ circuit with a few good pedals than I ever did with a bigger amp with a bunch of knobs (especially having tried a wide variety of new and vintage Fenders. I guess some people like to get their tone from their amp...others from pedals. If you want it from your amp, try a Marshall. They have better EQ stacks than most Fenders and more knobs than you can count. I'll stick with my one-knob Champ.

    Many people will tell you the secret to getting the best sound out of a Champ is a good treble booster or an EQ. The Klon did it for me though...without being a one-trick pony or sucking tone.

    My one complaint is the On/Off volume control. Doing it again (or when I one day take it to be serviced), I think I'd have a power switch installed and a dedicated volume knob. I've heard they can be noisy in the On/Off/Volume format (I have no basis for comparison...except the 5F11 I used to have...which had a dedicated switch)...but more importantly, my volume doesn't really fully come "on" until about 3 or 3-1/2 on the dial. I would like to get a little more volume range out of it, if possible. A small thing really.
     
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  7. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I would add...mine could easily be the last...or one of the last amps I'll ever own. I would love to try a Tweed Deluxe...with the interactive volumes...or a Tweed Bandmaster. But honestly, both of those amps are WAY louder than I would ever need (I don't gig much with a loud band) or want (thanks tinnitus). I just think the circuits are cool and would like to check them out. But the 12" Champ meets all my needs and then some for every genre (and I like a variety of them).
     
  8. teleman1

    teleman1 Friend of Leo's

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    Next to my 57 champ ri, that sounds deplorable. Seriously!
     
  9. overlook1977

    overlook1977 Tele-Meister

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    Given its a battery powered amp with a 5" speaker, you can't really compare it to a real tube amp, but the style of breakup (bright, chimey etc) is what I really like. Champ sounds like mud to me, but beauty is in the ear of the beholder.
     
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  10. teleman1

    teleman1 Friend of Leo's

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    What tubes are in your 57? Stock?
     
  11. dankilling

    dankilling Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Champ amps are very sensitive to every part in the circuit that even small changes have a large impact to the overall tone and feel of the amp. 5f1 circuits are one of the few circuits that I actually ‘tube roll’ to find the best combination of tubes for my needs. With the right tubes, speaker, and cabinet they are magical little beasts. With the wrong combination, they are ‘meh’ at best and harsh and flubby at worst. They are definitely worth spending some time with before final judgement. When I build them for someone else, I first ask them what they play and how they intend to use it. For bedroom only players I’ll make a few subtle changes to get the nice grind a little lower on the dial. For folks who want more volume, again, a few subtle changes can really help. At the very least, they are definitely amps that force a player to examine their touch and techniques to get the most out of them.
     
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  12. teleman1

    teleman1 Friend of Leo's

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    SO I believe your amp was designed by my friend at Fender and I think I beta tested it years ago. Everything you are mentioning, I wonder if there is a tube issue. Honestly, mine sounds fantastic. Inf act, I have a Clapton VIbro, a SFVC, killer Supro Spectator. THe 57 slays all of them. DOesn't need a speaker mod. For starts, remove and replace each tube. Giot any good working 12ax7? Swap that. It is hard to believe you are not impressed with that amp. Unless you expect everything you hear to sound blackface. ALso, any 5f1's voice changes after operating for over 10 minutes,heat changes things. Remember, julian Lage has toured with this amp. Something is not adding up and I suggest you exhaust checking everything before returning it. If you were over my house and heard my 57 and you rolled your eyes, I'd have to assume your addicted to high power iron, making it diffiuclt to appreciate this groove.Wait till your hearing starts to tank form loud volume, you might come back to the Champ, or a Champ.
     
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  13. teleman1

    teleman1 Friend of Leo's

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    +1 on the tubes. I think he might have a tube issue and it could be any one of the three. New tubes or not.
     
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  14. teleman1

    teleman1 Friend of Leo's

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    For those who like/want to mod, that is OK,as long as you do it properly. If you have to buy an amp that needs altering, don't buy it. A Princeton Reverb sounds GOdly in its original form. If it would have been viable, Leo would have added power and made it a 12 " WAIT, HE DID THAT! IT IS CALLED A DELUX REVERB! Princeton's sound best with a 10, you choose the 10. BUT, these tweed amps? You can unplug the speaker, use the champ as a head, and use anything, 8" cab, 10 inch cab, 12 inch cab, etc. It will sound as good or better than any combo cab you make or butcher to the combo to take a larger speaker, too big for the cab. I have two dove tailed 8" cabinets, wroks incredible with any small combo. No combo modded would sound as goods as these.
     
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  15. teleman1

    teleman1 Friend of Leo's

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    All said, my SS Vox Pathfinder sure dos some amazing things.
     
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  16. hepular

    hepular Tele-Afflicted

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  17. overlook1977

    overlook1977 Tele-Meister

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    They were stock. Literally took out of the sweetwater box, played for a few days, shipped back...no modifications.
     
  18. David Meiland

    David Meiland Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I assume they'd all be Fender if they were stock. I have a bunch of tubes laying around and will probably change them out to see what happens.

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  19. gkterry

    gkterry Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Send it back. SW will take the return. I had one for a while and liked it but it fell far short of being worth $1k so it went back.
     
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  20. teleman1

    teleman1 Friend of Leo's

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    Not healthy advice unless you have exhausted my check list above. It is ludicrous to expect 100% out of a tube amp being mailed to you. Most of the time, it is all OK. But a 12 ax7 acting weird or a 6v6 ruins your day no matter what amp you are using. If you are going to send a tube amp back without knowing how to maintain it, you should not have bought it in the first place. They require maintenance and once you own and play it, you Will know its idiosyncrasies. You will know when something sounds funny. And I bet, there is something at issue with the OPs 57 that can't be corrected by him. Sending back is a win for the post office and no one else.
     
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