In the 80s, Fender’s amplifiers sales started to fall off a bit, so top brass brought Paul Rivera on to bring some new life in to their time-tested stable. What resulted were excellent amps that fell a little left of the traditional Fender sound, but were phenomenal units nonetheless. The Super Champ is one of these resulting amps, and it is awesome.
The Super Champ varies from it’s older, traditional brother in a number of ways. While they share an identical chassis, the Super Champ sports a 10″ speaker and a whopping 18w RMS of all-tube output power, versus the Champ’s 8″ and 5w, respectively. This means that the Super is loud and much more present, moving it distinctly from a practice-and-studio amplifier and in to a very gig-able amp for small (and even many medium!) rooms.
Aside from its big-amp-small-package aesthetic, the Super Champ has some very good features. EQ is a 2-band T/B stack, though the treble control pulls out for a substantial and juicy mid-boost. There is a volume control as well, though that acts more like a gain control at the back of the circuit and interplays well with the master-volume that occurs at the front, allowing you to dial in some serious dirt. Additionally, the volume control pulls out to give you a ‘lead boost’, which isn’t quite a 2nd channel, but it’s close. There is also a reverb tank that sounds like Fender reverb normally sounds: Awesome.
Sound-wise, this amp carves out space in the high-mid range and dominates it with an iron fist. It sounds and feels a lot like a small-profile Mesa-Boogie, which is a bit of a departure from the Fender way of doing things, but a welcome and awesome direction to go. Equipment-wise, the speaker in this is a stock Fender special design. Also included is the footswitch to control verb and lead boost. It will drive an external 8ohm speaker cabinet, and also has a direct / recording output.
The pilot light has been swapped from standard red to a groovy green. The front grill badge has also been replaced with a ’70s one. There is a small tear in the speaker which is noticeable with low, bass-y sounds, but most players agree that a good Alnico 10″ is the way to go for this little monster. All wiring on this is point-to-point – in fact, the Rivera run of Fender amps were the last non-PCB units manufactured. All in all, this is a super-versatile, super-useable, and super clean amp that represents a very interesting moment in Fender history.
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