1978 Fender Champ

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs Up: Great Fender tone and looks. Small size, low weight, simple design and reliable. Excellent original condition with documents. UK 240V power supply. Vintage market price

Thumbs Down: Very few downsides worth mentioning. The output transformer is newer. No reverb or modern day conveniences

Decree: A great entry point into genuine vintage classic valve amps without the cost, size or complexity.  This is a great little amp, full of Fender character that is great for home, studio or small gig. Don’t be put off by the anti‑‘silverface’ rhetoric out there, this is a genuine piece of Fender history

Model Description:

The humble Fender Champ was once seen as a modest beginner’s amp that many aspiring guitarists would pretty much give away when they set their sights on more ‘serious’ amplifiers (or gave up). However, over the years the unassuming Champ has gained a much more favourable reputation and has become highly respected for its consummate tone. Musicians have finally woken up to the technical and aural charms of the diminutive, hand‑wired, single‑ended Class A, 5 watt valve amp. There are many advantages for a vintage Champ in its inherent simplicity, portability and reliability and it is great for recording, home use or fed into a PA. Leo Fender introduced the original Champion amp in 1948 and it has had several updates over its life including the famous brown ‘tweed’ covering used from 1953 to 1964. The major facelift came with the ‘blackface’ Champ with its black control panel and black tolex covering, produced from 1964 to 1967. An upmarket version including a tremolo circuit – the Vibro Champ – also appeared in 1964. The control panel was replaced with a silver one, giving rise to the ‘silverface’ moniker from 1967 to 1981. Despite many critics and amp snobs disparaging Fender’s ‘silverface’ years, the change was cosmetically superficial as, crucially, the Champ retained the previous incarnation’s circuit design. The last of the classic Champs reverted to ‘blackface’ aesthetics for its final year before it was discontinued in 1982, being superseded by the altogether different, Rivera‑era Fender Super Champ. Fender has since re‑used the Champ name on several amps and has reissued modern recreations of classic models since 2006.

Amplifier Description:

Here we have a fantastic CBS‑era 1978 Fender Champ in fabulous original condition. I am a big fan of these little old American amps. The Champ is a back‑to‑basics, no‑frills valve amplifier without reverb or tremolo (compare it to CRAVE Guitars’ 1978 Fender Vibro Champ, for instance). The controls are typically simple comprising only volume, treble and bass. The UK‑spec power supply is original, indicating that it was always intended for the European market. This example is in excellent condition for its age, only showing signs of careful use; not too much, not too little, just right. The output transformer has been replaced at some point with a quality vintage spec equivalent but that’s all. In use, it has all the characteristics associated with small vintage Fender amps. For its 5W output into a single 8” speaker, it is surprisingly punchy with bags of tone. At low volume settings, the sound is typically clean and sparkly, ideal for effects. The tone breaks up progressively into smooth, warm classic overdrive and then distortion, as volume increases. The sonic signature is much admired (and envied) by many modern boutique amp builders. While original Fender ‘tweed’ and ‘blackface’ amps are increasingly pricy on the vintage market, the ‘silverface’ models are still good value and represent an excellent entry point into genuine, rather than reissue, vintage amp territory. However, as these wonderful little amps get older and people wise up to the fact that they are a great bargain, they will become increasingly desirable, just like their older and bigger brethren. Why not grab a cool piece of genuine American hand‑made heritage silver while you can? Perhaps Leo called it the Champ for a good reason.


  • Made in Fullerton, California, USA in 1978
  • Marine particle board open-back cabinet covered in black tolex with top‑mounted carrying handle and chrome hardware
  • Orange sparkle silver speaker cloth with raised chrome and black Fender badge (no ‘tail’, with ‘Made In USA’)
  • Single channel with 2x standard ¼” jack inputs (high, low)
  • Silver control panel with black text, blue logo and red jewel light
  • Controls: On-off toggle switch, volume, treble, bass
  • UK 240V power supply
  • All-valve, single-ended, Class A, hand-wired circuitry
  • Valves: 6V6GT (x1), 12AX7 (x2), 5Y3GT (x1)
  • 5 watts RMS into 4 ohms
  • Original Fender 1×8” speaker
  • Original owner’s manual, warranty card and circuit board schematic
  • Dimensions: 14”(h) x 17”(w) x 7 ½” (d)
  • Weight: 22½lbs (10Kg)

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