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SurfGuitar101 News & Articles

Fender's Champ 600: A Great Lil' Surf Amp

When I decided to move to Mexico, to a place you can only get to by boat, I knew I would have to foresake my huge Fender Twin. But I didn't have much hope of finding a decent small amp that would make me happy. Most small amps sound like crap, the attitude being that you don't need decent tone for practice. But, I wanted a small amp that didn't make me cringe when I played it - and of course, I wanted clean Fender tone.

Fortunately, Fender just released the Champ 600, a 5-watt tube amp that is a tribute to the 50s-era Champ.

Did they get it right? Let's put it this way: when I put it next to my big blackface Twin, it actually added a sonic element to my sound that the big blackface beast was lacking. Of course, that was largely because the Champ 600 has a 6" speaker, meaning that its treble response is very good. But, surprisingly, it still gets a full, round sound that really works well for surf. The amp's power section comes through a single 6V6 tube, while a single 12AX7 completes the pre-amp section.

Controls include a single chicken-head style volume knob, which was the setup for the original Champ. You pretty much have to crank it all the way up to get decent volume, and even then, it is a little paltry. Still, plenty good for practice. There are two guitar cord inputs, one a clean channel and the other a mildly-distorted channel. Really, the distortion is almost non-existent, so I just plug into that channel and use the volume knob on my guitar to vary the drive. Naturally, there is no reverb, so you'll need either a pedal or a Fender reverb unit to get a decent surf sound. The amp also responds well to a drive pedals, but don't expect to get Marshall tone through your ProcoRat or other heavy-distortion pedal. A nice TS-9 tube screamer with mild overdrive is about all this amp can handle.

The two-tone cosmetics are a nice touch - very retro in appearance, with a nice Fender '50s vintage red-on-chrome badge that complements the overall look of the amp. A brown leather handle complements the vintage look.

For $200 bucks, this is a pricey addition to your collection, especially for a practice amp. But if good, clean Fender tone is important to you, this little amp does a good job for the money. I highly recommend this amp for newbies looking for a good surf practice amp and veterans looking for a nice apartment practice amp or even a recording amp.

Fender Champ 600 specs Series Vintage Modified

Type Tube Amplifier

Output 5 watts

Ohms 4 ohms

Speakers One 6", 4-ohm Special Design driver with ceramic magnet (0073904000)

Channels Two (Instrument and Microphone)

Features Tube Preamp and Tube Power Amp (One 12AX7 tube; One 6V6 tube).

5 watts into a 6" Special Design speaker.

High-gain and low-gain inputs; hotter preamp circuit than the 1950 original for warm natural overdrive when turned up.

Single volume control.

External speaker output.

Brown and blonde vinyl covering; vintage-correct 1950 "two-tone" cosmetics.

Leather strap handle.

Red jewel pilot light.

Controls Volume

Covering Brown and blonde vinyl covering; vintage-correct 1950 "two-tone" cosmetics.

Weight 15 lbs. (7 kg)

Dimensions Height: 11" (28 cm)

Width: 12" (31 cm)

Depth: 7.5" (19 cm)

Power Handling N/A

Tube Complement 1-12AX7A


(diode rectifier)

Street Price: $189 US


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