SF Vibro Champ, is this one of those deals I shouldn't miss out on?

Chiogtr4x

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I can only think in terms of 'gig utility ' and related cost/value...
$900 is too much $$ for on any Champ but either a BF one or a Tweed ( which I know is gonna be more than $900)
Less than $900 gets me a TM Deluxe Reverb, or a new '68 Custom Vibro- Champ Reverb ( with a 10" and Reverb), or 5 or 6 Vox Pathfinders, if you could find... ( an amp I gig with that cost me $85)
Just saying $900 is too much for an SF Vibro Champ-
The 5f1 and the Black/Silver Plate Champs have different tone circuits. I don’t think similarities/comparisons between the 2 abound. I’ve never played a 5f1, but that is my understanding. Someone with the appropriate experience please feel free to clarify.
I've never played a real Tweed Champ ( I have played and heard the SF/BF ones) and am assuming they can get a super saturated breakup that I've heard on really early electric blues and 'new' bands ( like James Harman Band, T Bitrds, Anson Funderburgh) that went for that sound
 
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gridlock

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$900 sounds way too high to me, maybe that for a BFVC, even then, it’s only an 8” speaker amp.

I’d save up and get a SF Princeton Reverb or a SF Deluxe Reverb for $1500.
 

JeffBlue

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I have a 1968 Vibro Champ that I modded (I know, I know) that I love. I added a 10 inch 4 ohm Peavey Scorpion speaker and added a Mercury Magnetics 57 Champ output transformer. This amp sounds glorious. $900 for a 1976 sounds like a bit overpriced.
 

Telecasterless

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I had a '76 Champ (not Vibro). I hated it. It was the most boring amp I could ever imagine. That little speaker is.....whatever. I had no money. I couldn't afford a bigger amp. I was practicing and playing in bands and that little thing was so wimpy, I couldn't be heard. I always had to borrow an amp from someone whenever we played parties. Ok, it wasn't the amp's fault, but it embarrassed me. But really, it had no soul, as far as I'm concerned. Yeah, I'm no Clapton, that's for sure, but god I hated that amp. So happy that I sold it one day, 3 decades later to pay for my SFDR and I never looked back. Bye bye you little piece of sh*t. That's my story anyways. Will never ever go near another one again. I'll play my DR at 0.5 if I have to go low volume and it will still sound 1000x better than my Champ.
 

GAS Giant

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I've found a 1976 SF Vibro Champ in what appears to be really nice condition (on the outside at least, no gut shots) for $900 Canadian. The ad says it has JJ tubes, and comes with a Weber 8" installed, but includes the original speaker as well, and a 3 prong power cable has already been installed. Based on the pictures, I see no tears in the grille cloth or the tolex, and the faceplate looks really nice. It's about a 3 hour drive away, which doesn't dissuade me as honestly I would enjoy a mini road trip through the Rockies to get to this town. I've got a couple amp builds under my belt so I'd be comfortable doing some basic maintenance and replacing filter caps or coupling caps if necessary.

Is this one of those deals I'd be silly to pass up? I've already treated myself to a couple of used low-watt amps this year so I feel like I should be responsible and say no. What say you more experienced players and collectors? Jump on it?
These days they are pretty pricey...with the original speaker as part of the deal, if it has the original transformers, I would be interested indeed.
 

JDRNoPro

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I have a 76 SF Vibro Champ in very good condition that has been properly serviced. Stock speaker sucked IMO so it has a WGS now. For small amps. I also have a 65 PRRI, a 5F1 clone and a 57 Custom Champ. I never play the SFVC and can't think of any situation that the PRRI doesn't sound better. Of these small amps, the 57 Custom Champ gets the most use by far - usually with a reverb pedal and occasionally a trem pedal. I don't play heavy OD - mostly clean @ edge of breakup. For me, it just has the most complex and interesting tone. Interestingly, it also sounds bigger/fuller than my SFVC or the other 5F1 clone. Listen with your ears, as they say!

I love older vintage Fender amps and still own several. I also really like some of the newer models and have owned enough of both so that I don't automatically assume that all old amps are somehow magical and all new ones are junk.

I think the asking price for that SFVC seems a bit high - even @ today's inflated prices. If you have never tried a VC, it might be worth a drive just to check it out though.
 

Tone Chase

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I have a 1974 Bronco that someone modded, and a 1968 drip edge Vibro Champ.

The modded amp was not working right when I bought it, so I had a really good tech go through it. Mods were explained to me, we discussed what should be kept, reversed, etc. It is now a beastly little amp.

Both amps sound really good, but just putting one simple enhancement pedal in front of these amps, makes them sound awesome. I use my Mesa Tone Burst pedal, and it sweetens, fattens up, provides a touch sensitivity of larger, more powerful amps.

The same pedal is magical on every amp that choose to use it with.

Give a simple enhancement pedal, or EQ pedal a try on these smaller amps. It just might change what you think about small amps.
 

BobbyZ

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Had a real nice early drip edge VC in great shape. Did the service, new cap can and all the other electrolytic caps plus a grounded cord and it had a Weber speaker, not a Sig one of the more expensive ones. Ok not a Champ fan at all so I put in the local music store for $600 where it sat a couple years, finally sold about 4 years ago.
If you like them they're great little amps but the reality is they're often over priced. The vast majority aren't serviced yet, which isn't exactly hard but that cap can gets you if you don't have a big old soldering iron.
Also with the VC you likely won't get the foot switch. If you don't use the trem it's worth making a shorted jack and trying it, adds a bit of gain when switched off.
I'm not knocking them at all! Really well built 5(ish) watt amps. Just don't trip my trigger after having two of them over the years. Really wish I liked them because they actually could do most everything I do now, I just like big amps. :)
 

Drew617

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Disclaimer, I love a healthy BF/SF Champ.

Not that long ago these were $300 amps. That was a screaming bargain IMO, and entry point to owning a genuine 1970s CBS Fender amplifier, made from genuine 1970s commodity parts and assembled with real artisinal apathy for extra toanz. More recently these hovered around $500 which isn't ridiculous but wasn't the same obvious value as before. At approaching $1000, I'd call the market for these straight up crazysauce irrational.

I'm being a little snarky for effect, but really: There is mostly no special mojo in off-the-shelf 1970s components, with the exception that their values and performance have probably drifted in the last 40-50 years. I like looking at and playing genuine old Fender stuff too, and agree that's worth something, but IMO,
  • As a guitar amplification device, a $500 kit will probably perform better or can be tweaked to perform equally, will include a better pine cabinet, will be safer, will probably smell better and be less sticky

  • As an investment, there are probably a thousand more effective things to do with your cash. Recent price increases for these coincide with a pandemic and some broader craziness in the economy and gear market. Correlated? I dunno, but it's possible that current prices won't hold

  • As cred... eh, sure, whatever
If I really wanted another real one, I'd jump at 500 USD. Unless these are more scarce in Canada than I think, I'd think this is not an exceptional deal.
 




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