Today would have been Clarence Leonidas Fender’s 102nd birthday!
Better known as Leo Fender, if you haven’t checked it out already and have a few minutes to kill today, check out Wikipedia’s page about Leo. Lot’s of great info about one of the biggest influences on popular music in modern history.
Thanks to Billy Penn over at 300guitars.com for bringing this to my attention.
I have something a little different today. I’m selling a sweet little transition Fender Champ from 1964. These Transition models straddle the tweed and Tolex era of Fender’s vintage amplifiers. The Champ was the last amp to make the transition to the highly durable black Tolex covering. The black Tolex was preferred by working musicians on the larger professional amps because it hid dirt and wear from gigging better than the lighter colored tweed. These transition models are notable in that they use the same top mounted control cabinet style of the tweed Champs, but have the black tolex covering that was used in the now front facing control amps being produced by Fender – the blackfaces. According to legend, a pile of the old style Champ cabinets were found in a warehouse and rather than take a loss on throwing them out, the notoriously “frugal” Leo Fender just covered them in the new material and sold them off. This helped Fender’s bottom line since the Champ was a low margin, high volume student amp. It just didn’t make sense to take the loss on roughly 2000 already built cabinets.
I’ve posted a couple of times on how vacuum tubes work. I find it to be an endlessly fascinating subject. I’ve reached back into the archives to republish some old video clips I found on YouTube.
My vintage tweed Fender Champ is powered by three vacuum tubes – a 6v6GT, a 12AX7 and a 5y3GT. Since vacuum tubes aren’t an everyday occurrence these days, have you ever wonder how a vacuum tube actually works? They are the heart and soul of a vintage guitar amp. There is just something so compelling about technology that you can actually see and feel working (glowing, getting hot).
I found these old video clips from the 1940s. They are from “Electronics at Work,” a film made in 1943 by Westinghouse. I love watching old educational video clips (because they make me feel slightly superior) and they do a better job explaining what is going on inside a vacuum tube than I could ever hope to do on my own. This is the first part in a three part series. Hope you like it as much as I do.
Parts 2 and 3 coming soon (again). If you can’t wait, check out the Related Posts below.
I’ve got photos of Fender Champion 600 Serial Number 4001 today. The Champion 600s were made from approximately 1948-49 through 1953. About 5500 were made in this style. The Champion 600s were a nice cosmetic update to the Champion 800 while reducing its speaker from 8 inches to 6 inches. The Champion 600s featured a more pronounced angling of the cabinet front compared to the Champion 800 to help the amplified sound project farther.
Dating this amp by its serial number gives us a probable manufacture year of 1952. With a serial number of 4001 this is a rather late example of a Champion 600, so I think we are safe in assuming it was made in 1952. The Champion 600s do not have a two letter date code stamped on the tube chart. This is typical on later models and helps determine the month and year a particular amp was made. We’ll have to be content with just a year.