I’ve got photos of another great transition model Fender Champ. These are known as Transition models because they straddle Fender’s transition away from tweed cabinet coverings to black tolex. This particular Champ is serial number C-22818. Dating this amp by its serial number tells us it was manufactured in late 1964. For a more accurate manufacture date, we need to look at the two letter tube chart code. On this amp, the tube chart code is NH which stands for August 1964. There were only about another 200 or so Champs made in this style before the complete redesign into the blackface style and switch to a new serial number scheme. This is among the last 5F1 Champs made. For additional examples of late model 5F1s you can check out C-22845 and C-22872.
I’m feeling a little ambitious today and am posting again! Two posts about vintage Champs in one day may be more exciting than finding two girls with green eyes.
Tweed Fender Champ 5C1 serial number 7498 is a great looking little Champ. Dating this amp by its serial number puts it as being manufactured in mid-1954. I don’t have a picture of the tube chart so this would be as close as we would be able to get on a date if we didn’t have this little gem to help us out – Tweed Fender Champ 5C1 7484, manufactured in May 1954. I’m going to guess that 7498 was made in May, too.
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.
I’ve got one of the earliest 5E1 Champs for your enjoyment today. This one is Tweed Fender Champ 5E1 C-00072. I’ve seen one earlier than this one. I posted about it here.
Dating this amp by its serial number tells us that it was made in 1955. This was a transition year for the Champ, moving from the rear facing control setup of the 5D1 into the top mounted controls of the 5E1 and 5F1 models. The preamp tube also changed from a 6SJ7 to a 12AX7. There were about 2000 of the 5D1 Champs made in 1955 and about 800 of the 5E1 Champs made in 1955. I would expect this one to have been manufactured in the later part of 1955. The two letter tube chart code should help us out here.
I have some more photos to share today. It is a 5E1 model Tweed Fender Champ with the serial number C-00789. This serial number puts this amp being made in late 1955. From the serial number work done by Greg Gagliano we know that there weren’t too many 5E1 Champs made after this one in 1955. The tube chart code is a little hard to make out in these photos. I ran it through Photoshop and guessed at what settings would result in a clearer image. It is not as easy as they make it look on TV. What is my best guess as to the tube chart code? Find out after the jump.
I’ve got a short post for your pleasure today. This is a transition model 5F1 Fender Champ. It straddles 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.
This particular amp is serial number C-20644. This serial number dates this amp to late 1963. I have a picture of the tube chart and the two letter stamped code that tells us the month and year of manufacture. The code stamped on this amp is ML which tells us this amp was made in December 1963. This makes this a very early example of a transition Champ.