Before we get into our Fender Champion 100 Review, let’s consider that when we think about Fender, most of us think of guitars, and specifically either the Fender Telecaster or the Fender Stratocaster. Given a couple more seconds, we’ll, of course, recall the fact that Fender makes guitar amplifiers too. But the fact is in 1945, five years before Leo Fender came up with the iconic design for the mass-produced Telecaster, he’d already manufactured his first guitar amp, the K&F.
The K&F amplifier was made in collaboration with Doc Kauffman. This ultimately was a short-lived partnership, as just one year later in 1946, Leo Fender went on to found his own company, the Fender Electrical Instrument Manufacturing Company.
In its first year of operation, and from its Californian headquarters in Fullerton, the first Fender in-house guitar amplifier was produced, The Woodie. And from these early beginnings, Fender has gone on to manufacture some of the best-known and best- selling guitar amplifiers in history. Repeatedly they have multiple guitar amplifiers in the top twenty best-sellers’ list.
With such a distinguished pedigree and history, we undoubtedly expect the Fender Champion 100 Review to throw up plenty of positives.
So, let’s take a closer look at the Fender and see how we think they’ve got on…
For those already familiar with Fender Amplifiers, the controls will feel straight forward and intuitive. This is a two-channel amplifier, and all the controls are laid out on the front panel.
The first clean channel has volume, bass, and treble controls. It also has multiple effects to choose from, including; reverb, delay/echo, chorus, tremolo, auto-wah, flanger, vibratone, and more. There is an FX control to dial in the level.
The second ‘dirty’ channel has the same controls again as the clean channel, but with mids, an added gain knob and amp modeling. The choice of amps includes; Jazz, Tweed, Blackface, British, and Metal.
The white toggle switch to change between the two channels is sensibly positioned on the dividing line between them.
The knobs are easy to operate, but the font around the FX Select and Voice Control switches could be bigger. It’s difficult to read and makes quick changes tricky. What’s more, we’d actually like to see these controls just click into place for each change, instead of relying on a green light coming on to guide you into place. Too fiddly by far.
Anyone much over 40 better have their glasses handy!
There are also TAP buttons to the right of each FX Select control knob.
Features & Specifications
This is a solid-state amp with twin 12” Fender speakers and has a combined output of 100W.
The left-hand side has inputs for a guitar and an external footswitch. The footswitch is optional and available for separate purchase. If you do intend to do any gigging with the Fender 100, it’s definitely an extra worth having. Thankfully it’s not expensive, and it allows you to switch between channels and effects much more easily. We’re sure you’ll agree, pretty important when playing live.
The right-hand side of the control panel has a Preamp In, and a Power Amp Out effects loop. These can be used with any outboard effects. The Fender 100 also features a 1/8” auxiliary input to connect to your media player and allow you to jam along with whatever or whoever floats your boat.
There’s also a 1/8” auxiliary input for your headphones. Your mum, dad, siblings, cats, dogs, and neighbors will love you for this.
There is no USB or Bluetooth connectivity with the Fender Champion 100. Possibly in this day and age, a bit of an omission. Ok, we know, we agree, this is not a particularly expensive guitar amplifier, but there are plenty of cheaper amps out there with this kind of modern connectivity.
Additionally, and hardly surprisingly, there’s no Wi-Fi either. Although if you take a look at Fender’s Mustang GT-200, you’ll find it there. Apparently, it’s the worlds’ first wifi equipped guitar amp. It can also do 0-60 in under six seconds, allegedly!
So How Does It Sound?
Well pretty good, actually. It undoubtedly produces a nice and precise dry clean tone. There’s plenty of power here too. With 100 watts, that’s more than enough to gig with, and of course ample volume for practicing at home.
To add to that classic Fender clean-tone, you have an array of onboard effects to put some color and some cool into your playing. And the Fender Champion 100 has some reasonable built-in effects, given its price point.
The effects actually sound pretty decent, with the exception of the auto-wah, but as with all onboard effects, they have their limitations. However, unlike when using separate pedals, with the Fender, you’re limited to using one effect, or a preset effects combination, at a time.
Also, realistically, we know that a good quality separate effects pedal will sound better. We also know that the chances are you already have a heap of pedals and a pedal-board the size of a boat. However, before you plug into your trusty board, it’s genuinely worth hearing what the Fender effects have to offer.
Similarly, it worth taking some time to explore the choice of different amp modeling options. The range will take you from the more refined and gentle tones of Jazz to something that isn’t – that would be Metal.
There’s no doubt that the Fender performs and sounds better when driven harder and with more gain. In fact, it sounds great. If you play Rock, Metal, or similar genres, then this would be a good fit. However, when trying to create a more complex, warm, and rich sound, that we might more typically associate with a valve amplifier, it’s not quite so convincing.
Regardless of the tone, you’re chasing the Fender does give you plenty of options and flexibility.
Build Quality & Design
With its black vinyl case and its silver grille cloth, The Fender Champion 100 displays all the design cues and familiarity of style that we’ve come to love. Indeed it has those classic looks and no-nonsense design that we’ve come to expect from Fender.
The Fender Champion 100, though not overly rich in features, is highly functional and easy to use for anyone with previous experience with alternate Fender amps.
Good news, for sure.
This is a guitar amp built and designed for work. It’s solid and sturdy and will take a good level of punishment. For musicians who are regularly moving between gigs and taking their own equipment with them, the Fender really comes into its own.
Unlike a valve amp, The Fender Champion 100 is not only more robust, but it’s also far less heavy. An equivalent two 12” speaker valve amp can take some serious lifting. If you’re not a cross between Dwayne Douglas Johnson and Vin Diesel, this is something you’re likely to be very pleased about.
As you can tell, we really like the Champion 100, but it might not be quite what you’re looking for? You may want something smaller and less powerful; if so, please check out our Fender Champion 40 review. Or maybe you want something with tubes? If so, the Fender Super Champ X2 Tube Amp is well worth considering.
If you want to move away from Fender, then take a look at our reviews of the Best Solid State Amps, the Best Modeling Amps, the Best Guitar Amplifiers under 250 dollars, and the Best Tube Amps currently available.
Fender Champion 100 Pros & Cons
- Sturdy and durable.
- Good strong clean tone.
- Great value for money.
- Light for a 100 watts amplifier.
- Effects loop input.
- Auxiliary inputs for a media player and headphones.
- An external footswitch pedal is available.
- It can be fiddly to dial in a sound.
- Lack of modern style connectivity.
The bottom line is that the Fender Champion 100 is a great sounding and versatile guitar amp.
It is more than capable of producing some great tones, both clean and not, and is suitable for use across a broad range of musical genres. It’s got enough power to knock your socks off. And it can be used for playing live but would be equally at home in a bedroom or studio.
This is a great workhorse of an amplifier and suitable for beginners or more seasoned musicians alike. Though it may lack some of the latest tech found on similar amplifiers, for the price, it’s still hard to beat.