As every electric guitar player knows, a spectacular guitar is only half of the equation. You can have the best electric guitar ever made, but without a quality-sounding amplifier, that guitar is not much better than a piece of wood.
Electric guitar amplifiers are a very diverse lot. There are many different sizes, added features, constructions, designs, and prices.
Part of the problem is knowing just what you will be using the guitar amp for. Most people are looking for an amplifier that can serve as a practice amp but still have enough juice to play in small, live venues. Even with these limited criteria, finding the right guitar amp can still be tricky.
A simple rule to follow is that 20-40 watt guitar amps are excellent for practicing alone or in a group. Likewise, amps with 20-40 watts are powerful enough to use on stage in small close-quarter venues.
Another point of consideration is what the amplifier can offer as far as sound and tone are concerned.
How many channels? Are there built-in effects? Are there separate volume and gain control knobs?
Amplifiers in the mid-sized range are often preferred because they are powerful enough to use in practice and small stage settings, but are still relatively easy to move from one place to another.
Mid-size guitars amps are a great fit for small music venues like bars and clubs. Their physical size and weight make it easy to set up for live gigs on small stages. With 40 watts of power, the sound level is also ideal for more intimate performance settings.
The Fender Champion 40 is one such amp. And, it’s right at home pumping out just the levels needed for playing in local pubs and clubs.
If you are someone who is in the market for a practice amp or an amp that can be used for gigging, you are in luck. Because, we are going to take a closer look at one of the best-selling, mid-sized electric guitar amps out there.
So, please join us in reviewing the…
Fender Champion 40 Electric Guitar Amplifier
The Fender Champion 40 electric guitar amp falls into the mid-sized range of guitar amps. It has 40 watts of power which are ideal for practicing with a group. These 40 watts of power will also ensure your guitar is able to stand out in the mix during solos or lead riffs in a practice space or studio.
The Fender Champion 40 measures 17.25 inches in length and height. It is 9-inches thick and weighs 19 pounds. It cannot be picked up and casually tossed into the back of a car like small-sized amps, but it is not a back-breaking struggle to move it either.
This amp comes with an open back. This means that you get the great ‘open-back’ sound that enclosed speakers cannot provide. It also means that there is a small space behind the speaker and under the amp-head where you can store cables and other accessories.
The Fender Champion 40 features a classic look. This amp has black “Bronco” vinyl covering with a silver grille cloth for the speaker. The control knobs are vintage-style black skirted knobs that give it a nice old school look that Fender amps have come to be known for.
As mentioned earlier, the Fender Champion 40 provides up to 40 watts of pure Fender power from a solid-state amp head.
There are basically two main types of amplifier heads; tube and solid state. A solid-state amp simply means that the sounds are produced by a circuit board. The signal from the guitar is passed through conductors on the circuit board, which is then amplified and sent through the speaker.
Many people will say that a solid-state amp doesn’t have the same warmth and natural overdrive that tube amps can produce. This is true, but the sound of a tube amp is not that important when practicing or playing smaller gigs.
First of all, is longevity. Solid-state amps are “solid” because the electric circuitry doesn’t wear out or break very easily. Vacuum tubes are made from glass, so they do break far more easily, and the tubes can burn out quickly when pushed or used a lot. Either way, they will need regular replacement.
Second, is that solid-state amps allow for additional preamp voicings and effects to be incorporated. With added voicings, a single solid-state amp can have the characteristics of several different kinds of amps. This allows you greater freedom in how you want to shape your sound and tone.
On the Fender Champion 40, there are two channels. One for a clean signal and one for an overdriven signal.
The clean channel has control knobs for treble and bass. This channel provides you with classic Fender clean tones that are similar to the tones of a Twin Reverb amp. Without using any of the built-in effects, this channel offers a nice clear tone that is crisp and full.
There is a master volume control knob that affects the output levels for both channels. There is also an FX level control knob and selector dial, which we’ll cover more in the next section.
The overdrive channel has a gain control knob and a second volume control knob. With the second volume knob, you can really push the overdriven output level to blistering heights.
It is on this channel where we find the various amp voicings. We’ll get into these in the next section, but it is important to remember that the different amp voicings work with the overdrive channel and not with the clean channel.
There is a footswitch input which gives you an easy option to switch between the two channels with a tap of your toes. This amp also features an eight-inch headphone input so you can practice in peace when needed, and an eighth-inch AUX input for use with portable music players.
The speaker in the Fender Champion 40 is a Fender Special 12-inch speaker.
As we said before, the Fender Champion 40 features built-in effects that you can choose from using the FX selector knob. The effects featured on this amp include reverb, flanger, chorus, delay, touch-wah, vibrato, and tremolo. All of these effects can add a flurry of diversity to your sound.
There is an independent FX level control knob that allows you to shape how much the FX is added to the signal. You can get this amp to give you whispers of reverb or trippy, spaced-out delays. It is easy and intuitive to use.
These effects are not as controllable, dynamic or precise as single, separate effects pedals, but they get the job done and are a good way for novice players to begin familiarizing themselves with the main FX used in combination with electric guitars.
On the overdrive channel, we find the different amp voicings. Each of these models is based on the sound and tone of different amplifiers. The four main voicings are Tweed, Blackface, British, and Metal. Each of the different voicings has three different amp models to choose from.
With a total of twelve different amp voicing models, the Fender Champion is highly versatile, dynamic, and colorful. You will have no trouble dialing-in the exact sound and tone you want for your guitar.
All of the voicings offer excellent clarity and character. They may not be the real thing, but Fender has done a bang-up job of recreating the sound of the originals.