I recently received this question from a friend:

“Hey John,

As my most trusted source on music equipment, can you help me understand if I should purchase a tweed fender champ?  I already have a 1965 blackface champ.  Am I incorrect in thinking the tones will be worlds apart?
–Friend”

I’m flattered! I’ve narrowed my focus for vintage amps largely on clean examples from Fender recently because of the intersection of their prevalence here in the US and desirability. Champs are some of the most fun because they are simple, affordable, and can sound phenomenal.
My response:

“Hi Friend!

Great to hear from you and great question. Do you use pedals in front of your current Champ to get dirt? If so, I’d recommend sticking with the blackface. If you’re looking for more of a straight up saturated tube amp tone, then a narrow panel tweed Champ could be a great addition to the lineup. It will likely breakup a little earlier and a little smoother than the blackface Champ. Make sure you’re looking for 1957 and later Champs (narrow panel with 8″ speaker) because the earlier ones often don’t have the gain necessary to get that vintage crunchy tone. I’m told that the later the better with 1960 and 1961 being the most desirable among vintage amp people because of the output transformer brand used etc etc. As a point of reference, this ’57 (http://truevintageguitar.com/inventory/1957-fender-champ-amp/) went for $2,000 in nice but largely unserviced condition. It sold in a few days.
Best of luck in the hunt!
–John”

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