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How to Date a Tweed Fender Champ Amplifier by Serial Number

2009 October 26
by Jason Isadore


Another method of dating a tweed Fender Champ is by serial number. On my 1959 tweed Champ amplifier, the serial number is located right in front of the fuse cap. It is stamped into the chrome chassis with a white letter “C” (for Champ) and the serial number, also in white. As you can see from the photo below, the serial number of my amp is C 09556.

1959 tweed Fender Champ Fuse Cap

1959 tweed Fender Champ Fuse Cap and Serial Number

How can we determine a date from this serial number? Looking at the chart below we can see that there was a pretty consistent numbering scheme for the vintage tweed Fender Champs.

Champion 800 (green tweed)*

01 to 1000 – 1948-49

Champion 600 5B1 (two tone)

01 to 1300 – 1948-49

1300 to 1700 – 1950

1700 to 5000 – 1951-52

5000 to 5500 – 1953

Champ 5C1, 5D1 (tweed)

5500 to 6600 – 1953

6600 to 8000 – 1954

8000 to 9999 – 1955

Champ 5E1, 5F1 (tweed)

C00001 to C00800 – 1955

C00800 to C03100 – 1956

C03100 to C06000 – 1957

C06000 to C08800 – 1958

C08800 to C12500 – 1959

C12500 to C15500 – 1960

C15500 to C16800 – 1961

C17000 to C19000 – 1962

C19000 to C21000 – 1963

C21000 to C23000 – 1964

So we can see that a serial number of C 09556 is pretty close to the lower end for serial numbers for 1959 5F1 tweed Fender Champs. Combined with what we saw with dating a tweed Fender Champ by the tube chart and speaker code, I’m feeling pretty good that all of the various dating methods point to early 1959 for my amp.

I wish I could say that I figured all this out on my own.  While doing research on Fender amps in general, and the Champ in particular, I came across the most amazing series of articles by Greg Gagliano on the subject.  I’ve linked out to them below. If you have any interest in vintage Fender tube amps, without question you’ve got to read them all. The process that went into figuring all of this stuff out over 6 years and countless owners of vintage Fender amps is hands down an amazing story.

Dating Fender Amps by Serial Number,”20th Century Guitar Magazine, Gagliano, G., March 1997, pp 28 – 29.

Dating Fender Amps by Serial Number, Part II,” 20th Century Guitar Magazine, Gagliano, G., November 1997, pp 46 – 48.

Dating Fender Amps by Serial Number, Part III,” 20th Century Guitar Magazine, Gagliano, G., March 1999, pp 122 – 127.

Dating Fender Amps by Serial Number, Part IV,” 20th Century Guitar Magazine, Gagliano, G., March 2001.  pp 20 – 22.

*”Dating Fender Amps by Serial Number, Part V,” 20th Century Guitar Magazine, Gagliano, G., January 2002. pp 36 – 39. (This is where the partial chart above came from)

“Dating Fender Amps by Serial Number, Part VI”  Vintage Guitar Magazine, Gagliano, G., April 2010.

51 Responses leave one →
  1. Dave Fraley permalink
    December 1, 2009

    I am trying to locate a fuseholder for my Fender Champ “600″ that came with my Fender Champion lap steel guitar that my Dad bought for me around 1952-1954. I still play my lap steel every Sunday in church. The serial number for my amp is 4195. The serial number of my steel guitar is 2745. Can you direct me on how and where to procure the correct fuseholder for the “600″? I also have a Fender Vibrolux amp serial number F01537. It is a great amp…what year?
    Thanks,
    Dave

  2. myfenderchamp permalink
    December 1, 2009

    Sounds like a dream! If you’d like to show your Champ off, I’d love to do a post. Let me know if you are interested.

    For parts, I usually always start looking on eBay. If you have the original it should be fairly easy to find a replacement because you know what it looks like. I just did a quick search and didn’t turn anything up. My next stop would be to do a general web search on Google. There are a lot of great vintage parts suppliers out there that may be able to help. Finally, if those don’t work, I’d try my local vintage amp tech. They usually have drawers and drawers of parts to help you find something that works.

    For the date of your Vibrolux, I’ll turn to the wonderful series of articles by Greg Gagliano on the subject. This article has a complete listing of amps, serial numbers and dates. With a serial number of F01537 it looks like your Vibrolux was made in late 1958 or early 1959. Is there a tube chart on the inside? That is also a good place to look for the two letter date code Fender used at the time. Hope that helps! -Jason

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