The first of these new USA tube amp models was the Fender Champ 12 – a very small, practice-sized amplifier, which seemed well specified, and on paper, fit for a lot more than just bedroom use.Retailing at £282 in black, or at £299 in snakeskin, red, grey or white, the Champ 12 was an American made valve amp offering features such as built in reverb, and an overdrive/distortion channel.But it sounded like they’d taken all the frequencies you actually wanted, and removed them, whilst keeping the boxy, ‘telephonic’ frequencies that would make the amp sound cheap.
IN USE In clean mode, the Champ 12 performed very well as a practice amp, or in recording situations, accompanied by effects.
It did need a bit of help in the bass department (an EQ pedal was a great companion), but it didn’t sound as small as it actually was.
I thought it had a nice tone, which, when tweaked a little with an outboard equalizer, made for a great playing experience at lowish volumes.
However, the voicing Fender had selected for the drive was very poor indeed.
The frequency range was, according to Fender, shifted in relation to the clean mode, and tailored for screaming leads.