Transition Fender Champ 5F1 C-21020
The Champs keep coming! This one is Transition Fender Champ model 5F1, serial number C-21020. It is called a transition model because it straddles the tweed and black tolex styling of the vintage Fender amp line. The Champ was the last amp to make the switch to the black tolex covering in 1964. The switch to the black tolex covering also included a new plastic handle instead of leather, and a sparkly silver grill cloth instead of the oxblood/brown grill of the tweeds.
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 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.
Dating this amp by serial number places this as being made at the beginning of 1964. I don’t have a picture of the tube chart so that we could date this amp by the two letter tube chart code, but I do have two posts about Champs that straddle this serial number with C-20739 (December 1963) and C-22005 (May or June 1964). We’ll have to be happy with putting this amp as being made in early 1964.
The chrome on the control panel looks pitted and dull. The power cord has been replaced. The tolex looks to be in really good shape. This was one of the main benefits of the new covering. It held up better to the rigors of gigging and touring than the light colored tweed.