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Tried the New '57 Champ...Hated it.

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by cbucki, Aug 2, 2009.

  1. cbucki

    cbucki Tele-Meister

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    I came across a new '57 Champ and had to give it a try because tweed was the only thing I lacked in my current setup.

    It was a 48-hour love affair. I started with a CV Tele and an EJ Strat, and really liked what I was hearing. I really thought I had a winner.

    Then...I plugged in my two guitars with humbuckers. Awful from beginning-to-end. The neck pickup is useless through the new '57. It's not pleasant at all on the middle position, either. You get NO sparkle or semblence of a pleasant tone. It's as if there's a wall of insulation around the amp. My Gretsch was unplayable. It was so bad,I thought it was the guitar. I took both the Gretsch and the amp to a trusted local shop who mainly does repairs, and the sentiment was that the problem laid in the amp voicing.

    What it DOES do is get you that "Layla" sound easily with a Strat because it's voiced to break-up at much lower volume than a retro Champ. I guess if you used NOTHING but single coils, it's not all that horrible. Oddly enough, that seems to be the marketing strategy for this product.

    However, I evaluated and traded it as soon as I could for a Vic 518. Day and night difference, and the Vic is less expensive. The Vic just kicks the '57 all over the block. EVERY sonic nuance is far superior; far more headroom, humbuckers sound very good (A Les Paul can jangle), and a far more substantial cab.

    This was quite the revelation, because I did not particularly enjoy my Regal and had no Vic fandom whatsoever prior-to-purchase.

    Bottom Line: Awful product for the price ($1000!), and not a very good product at any price. I think this one will stand beside the ridiculous Marshall Haze as a "Dog of the Year" candidate.

    I would think it will take a lot of advertising dollars to get this reviewed positively in any pub :p

    [​IMG]
     
  2. petebradt

    petebradt Former Member

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    I built mine and it's a screamin machine, but I do not use humbuckers, nor will I ever. I also have a 10" speaker in mine.

    Can't speak to the Fender version, never heard it, probably never will. I like my home-brew just fine.
     
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  3. cbucki

    cbucki Tele-Meister

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    Actually, I stumbled across the revelation because I read a thread where someone LOVED their Gretsch (TV Jones Filtertrons) through their vintage Champ.

    So, I tried it with the '57 and ...no.

    The next day I take the Gretsch and the Fender to the Vic dealer and the Gretsch sounded extremely nice through the Vic 518. Almost like an acoustic amp. This was not possible through the Fender. The Les Paul was just an afterthought for some testing.

    I'm not sure anything more than my CV Tele/518 combo is not overkill! It can really cover a base or three.
     
  4. JohnnyCrash

    JohnnyCrash Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    The old tweed Champ circuit isn't very friendly to humbuckers as it is.

    One thing you'll notice with several different tweed circuits (but not all), is people who really love them are single coil users - those that have mixed feelings have darkness/mud issues with humbuckers.

    I can't speak on the Vic's circuit, but perhaps the inputs are a little better for humbuckers. There's a few mods/tricks you can use on '57 RI Champ circuits to help humbuckers (but at its buying price, why should you have to mod one at all?).

    Second, what speaker is in your Vic? Webers are great speakers and are used in the '57 RI, but since the Champ is a reissue of an amp from the days where humbuckers were still new technology, perhaps the Vic's speaker helps clear up humbuckers where the Weber may be more historically accurate.
     
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  5. cbucki

    cbucki Tele-Meister

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    The speaker is a Jensen special design.

    The headroom difference between the Fender and the Vic is amazing. I'm sure that's why it seems more humbucker-friendly. It's also FAR more vibration resistant. I keep it on a table, and the Fender speaker rattled like an SOB, where you really have to give a good dose of HB neck pickup to get the Vic to shake that much.

    I only use input #2 for both SCs and HBs. Seems to work...

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Michael Bolt-on

    Michael Bolt-on TDPRI Member

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    Hmmm. I've always wondered how the Gibson GA5 stacks up to the likes of the new 57' Champ, the Victoria 518, Swart Space Tone, etc. I love my Gibson GA5 at times, at times I definately need more amp in general. And I mostly prefer HB's, so thats an issue for me too. Sucks to hear you didn't like the Fender!
     
  7. doggy1972

    doggy1972 Tele-Meister

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    [​IMG]
    What about one of these. Nice little Champ :) Bigger speaker yup. Does it with humbuckers
     
  8. Michael Bolt-on

    Michael Bolt-on TDPRI Member

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    Nice!
     
  9. vintage2

    vintage2 TDPRI Member

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    Ouch! My buddy has an original '57 tweed champ, and it sounds great with humbuckers and single coils. That's unfortunate the reissue isn't acceptable. I'll have to check it out anyway!
     
  10. backline

    backline Tele-Afflicted

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    There are only a few parts in there but.... The Vicky might be different from the Fender in a few ways:
    1. The tubes. NOS compared to modern day perhaps. Or even the difference between modern day tubes. JJ compared to TungSol for instance.
    2. The Vicky might have had an AY7, or maybe the Fender would benefit from one.
    3. By-passed cathode on the input can make a big difference. Do you know which had one, either, both, neither?. And what value was the cap?
    4. What did the bias look like for each amp? Tolerances are +/- 20%. That is huge. There could be a big disparity regarding plate current, dissipation, etc. etc. That could kill the little Fender right there. Who knows.

    So one experience with one amp, does not a review make. Not creating any excuse for Fender, maybe there Champ has come up short. But there may be some legitimate caveats.
    Good Luck
     
  11. valiant

    valiant Tele-Holic

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    I have a Valvetrain 205 which is a 1955 Princeton 5F2A the next one up from the Fender Champ as it has a slightly bigger cabinet although still 1x8 and the added sophistication of a tone control...the speaker is a Weber ALNICo Sig8s.......
    the Valvetrain is excellent with humbuckers.....Epiphone Riviera mini-humbucker and Guild Starfire 4 HB1.
    It does seem odd that Fender should seemingly voice the 57 Champ only for single coils and have ended up with an amp that sounds awfull with humbuckers and must have tested a Filtertron equiped Gretsch and Hot Rod Telecaster...
    The main rivals to the 57 Champ all get great reviews with single coils and humbuckers alike and the Fender is in direct competition with the Swart Space Tone 6V6se along with the Victoria 518 and Valvetrain 205.
     
  12. teleamp

    teleamp Poster Extraordinaire

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    Bingo, there's a world of difference between the vintage champs and the repos being made today.

    A good example is the youtube video of the guy that has an original Champion 600, a new stock Champion 600, and a MM modded new Champion 600. The old one blows the doors off the other two.
     
  13. stantheman

    stantheman Doctor of Teleocity

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    no no no

    IMHO - You're putting a Western Saddle on a Thoroughbred.
    What You done is put the World's Fattest Man on a Derby Contender - of course it doesn't work. If You're gonna use a Standard cranked it's gotta be a Silverface or a '66 or later Blackface then....you'll have Joe Perry's Tone.
    Even a Tweed Deluxe with PAF's going through it gets Flabby in a hurry; Old Black is not a Standard in the PAF sense but what Neil uses for pickups is perfect for his sound.
    The smallest Tweed for PAF LP Standards that's gonna sound great LOUD is gonna be a Pro with a 15" or a Super with two 10's.
    Princetons and Harvards will get You the same result You got with The Champ.
     
  14. gaddis

    gaddis Tele-Afflicted

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    Does anyone know what circuit variation Fender used in the '57 Champ reissue?
     
  15. Joe K

    Joe K Tele-Holic

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    Headroom? Nah, the beauty of Champs is no headroom.

    I am not sure why anyone would want to talk about lack of headroom in the new Champ reissue. To me, a Champ is the the very last amp you would get if you want headroom. It is a practice or recording amp that gives you raunchy breakup at relatively low volumes - and that is with single coils. I would expect humbuckers to overpower it way too easily.

    Me, I am satisfied with my SF Vibrochamp and 5E3 clone. I am intrigued by tweed Champs though and may get one to play around with one day ..but not for $1,000!
     
  16. teleman1

    teleman1 Tele-Afflicted

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    reintroducing this topic. I notice no one mentioned the Weber speaker. I am borrowing a 57 and will try it through an alnico Jensen. My ECVC thrives with that speaker and sounds eh! with a Weber. Anyone upgrade their 57 speaker?
     
  17. JDRNoPro

    JDRNoPro Friend of Leo's

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    This caught my attention and I noted that it is an old thread and refers to the older version of the 57 Champ. I will simply say that I have a new version Fender 57 Custom Champ with the 12AY7 preamp and newer yellow tone caps and my experience with it is pretty much the opposite of the OP's. Having said that, I do prefer it with single coil pickups, but I tend to prefer single coils over humbuckers through almost any amp.

    For a long time, I was convinced that this amp was not that good, not worth the money, clones are better, and all those things we often hear in threads about Fender's "reissue" Champ. Curiosity finally got the best of me, and I decided to buy one and find out for myself. Well - I was astounded about how good it sounds - full, rich, articulate, and so touch sensitive. Loud too - I usually play at around 5.5 to 6 volume. Beautiful cleans with a light touch and into juicy OD with a heavier attack. Not at all boxy and am still amazed how big it sounds considering it's diminutive size. I will also mention that I have a top quality 5F1 clone built by a very highly regarded builder. Owned that one for around 10 years - it is for sale. Could have returned the 57 Champ for up to 45 days - it's is going nowhere. Also will mention that I tried a Victoria 518 a few years ago and it is certainly a top quality amp but I thought it sounded a bit on the harsh side. Just my impression at that time with that amp - certainly not saying they aren't good! As far as price, I believe current street price on the Victoria 518 is $1292. Clark is higher than that ($1400 I think), and I see other new Champ clones regularly advertised for nearly $1000 by some builders. I paid $850 for my brand new 57 Custom Champ through a major retailer. No special sale - that's the price I negotiated.

    Anyway, the OP's review and comments are from 11 years ago. Most more recent reviews by actual owners of the new 57 Custom Champ are very positive. I'm not saying the 57 Custom Champ is the very best, but it certainly is pretty darn good, fairly priced vs. the competition, has a real warranty backed by a legitimate company, and..........well, I really love mine. Obviously, the best thing to do is to try first if possible. If that is not possible, buy from a retailer with a good trial/return policy.

    edit: teleman 1 asked about the Weber speaker. I noted that there have been two types of Weber speakers used in these Fender Champs - both Alnico, but one with a round magnet (or cover) and one square. I have read somewhere that they are the same speaker. Maybe.....or maybe not.......as my 57 Custom has the square style Alnico, whereas my 5F1 clone has the round version Weber alnico. The two amps sound much different - even when I switched the tubes and also when I plugged the chassis of each into the other's cabinet & speaker. That square magnet Weber Alnico in my amp sounds terrific IMO.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2020
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  18. smuc

    smuc TDPRI Member

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    I have played through 3 different Champs with 3 different speakers and yes the speaker does change the tone quite a bit. My findings are as follows:

    5F1 clone (no V1 cathode cap, V1 12AX7) with WGS G8C - amazingly balanced, not too loud and not too bright.
    57 Reissue (V1 cathode cap, V1 12AY7) with an original square magnet alnico - loud and bright, have not had time to really compare it yet
    Gretsch G5222 5F1 build (V1 cathode cap, V1 12AX7 and a bright cap, colder bias) with Jensen C8R - Not sure if it's the Jensen, but the amp was quite dark and therefore I added the bright cap.

    You can check out the Gretsch with the Jensen here.
     
  19. teleman1

    teleman1 Tele-Afflicted

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    I have an ECVC and when I disconnect the Weber Speaker and plug it into a Jensen Special design Alnico, probably from the 60's and it is night and day in tone improvement. I have heard it said that Fender doesn't like WEber, but I think that is more for the Princeton Reverb.
     
  20. teleplayer99

    teleplayer99 Tele-Meister

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    I too tried the 57 Champ and it has its good points. The Vicky is very nice. Played them too, but went with Swart Atomic Space Tone JR. The tube reverb sold me. Never thought I would need an attenuator with a 5 watt amp.
     
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