You know the sound of a 1957 ‘narrow panel’ Tweed Champ better than you realise. All over Rolling Stones and ZZ-Top hits and the main guitar sound in Derek And The Dominos’ classic Layla, this small-but-beautiful amp design is one of the most recorded in the history of rock ‘n’ roll and indeed electric blues.
Fender’s 1957 Tweed Champ reissue isn’t 100-percent vintage accurate but it’s certainly more reliable and safer than the original. Oh, and it’s a little tone monster too.
Aside from the numerous clones and homebrew kits that this simple circuit has inspired, Fender’s own Champion 600 is a cheap and popular all-valve option with great sounds for very little money. The Super Champ XD takes ‘60s Blackface cosmetics and adds a library of sounds and digital effects, and is a fantastic compact option for practice and small rehearsals. Finally the Pro Junior is yet another popular Champ-influenced all-valve affair from the Fender catalogue.
“So many fancy boutique amps listed but not one vote for the little Fender Champ? At a local blues festival I watched an artist mic one up on a chair and proceed to blow the audience away. That tiny amp did everything. All from the volume knob. Sometimes less is more.” (Thanks, toyhouse)
“Hmm... Blues Junior is nice, Pro Junior would get a vote if it had reverb. But, at the moment, the humble Super Champ XD gets my vote - from SRV grit to BB King chimey-ness - its all there. And don't give me that ‘oooh, oooh! it's a hybrid!’. It sings like a bird and that's all that matters. Les Paul, Tele and Strat - all sound great.” (Thanks, Chuffola)
“It doesn't get much simpler than a Fender Pro Junior, a Strat and your fingers. Great tone that won't break the bank.” (Thanks, Fretwired)
Fender 1957 Tweed Champ currently available from Thomann and Soundslive