1978 Fender Vibro Champ

Model Description:

What was once seen as a modest ‘student’ or practice amp has turned out to be a vintage hand‑wired, all‑valve, 5 watt legend. The US‑manufactured single channel Champ has become much sought after for its vintage tones that make it ideal for small gigs, rehearsal, studio work and home practice; fab for modern-day use in fact. While the Vibro Champ adds a tremolo (not vibrato) effect to the simpler Champ, there is no reverb. The VC, as it’s known to its fans, is a simple, reliable and effective musician’s tool. Between 1964 and 1967, Champs had a black control panel with white text (blackface), and from 1967 to 1981, it had a silver control panel with blue logo (silverface). It finally ceased original production in 1982. One point of interest, the Fender Bronco amp is effectively a rebadged Vibro Champ. Don’t be put off by the stigma associated with the ‘silverface’ design; the circuitry remained largely unchanged throughout the Vibro Champ’s production.

Amplifier Description:

This sweet little 1978 amp is typical of the CBS-era ‘silverface’ Champs. From the serial number and rear panel, this looks like it was originally an American model imported into the UK and the transformer replaced to work on 240V – much more usable over here. The original 8” Fender Oxford speaker has also been replaced by an excellent (old) Weber Signature Series speaker at some point. Otherwise it is in outstanding, original condition with just a few cool signs of several decades of light use. Sound-wise it has the signature sparkling Fender sound and it breaks up into natural distortion at relatively low volumes. It actually has a pretty potent punch for just 5 watts into an 8” speaker. The lovely valve tremolo is very warm and organic, brilliantly evocative its era. The Vibro Champ shares many characteristics with trendy 21st century boutique amps and is a good antidote for today’s all-digital world. Yes, it really is that cool and that classy. Vintage Vibro Champs like this are now rapidly increasing in value due to their well-earned, enviable reputation.


  • Made in Fullerton, California, USA
  • Marine particle board open-back cabinet covered in black tolex with top-mounted carrying handle and chrome hardware
  • Silver speaker cloth with raised chrome and black Fender badge (no tail, no ‘Made In USA’)
  • Single channel with 2 x ¼” jack inputs
  • Silver control panel with black text, blue logo and blue jewel light
  • Controls: On-off slide switch, volume, treble, bass and on-board ‘vibrato’ (speed/ intensity)
  • All-valve, single-ended, Class A, hand-wired circuitry
  • Valves: 6V6GT (x1), 12AX7 (x2), 5Y3GT (x1)
  • Replacement 1×8” Weber Signature Series alnico-magnet speaker
  • 5 watts RMS into 4 ohms
  • UK 240V power input
  • Dimensions: 14”(h) x 17”(w) x 7 ½” (d)
  • Weight: 22½lbs (10Kg)

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