How to Date a Tweed Fender Champ Amplifier by Serial Number
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.
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.