Price paid: $ 50
Features: I have one of the later 70's silverface 5 watt champs with the red casing around the power plug. For an amp with 3 knobs (volume, treble and bass) it's quite versatile. It runs off of 2 power tubes and 3 preamp tubes I believe, not entirely sure what kind and has an 6 inch speaker which I, once again, don't know the brand name.
If I were going to gig with it I'd make sure I had a PA system of some sort with me. It hardly has any clean headroom, and even when cranked to 10 with an external speaker it can be easily overpowered by a drummer.
I wish it was more in the neighborhood of 15 watts and had a slightly larger speaker, but since I use it as a bedroom/dormroom practice amp as well as a recording amp I don't need the extra wattage or larger speaker. // 8
Sound: I use both a PRS CE 22 with Dragon II pups and a heavily customized Squier Stratocaster Deluxe with custom wound pups. The amp gives off a low amount of hiss in a sterile room that is hardly bothersome when the amp is played at any reasonable volume. However when I play it in the room I record in loaded with computers and lights and other electronic equipment it hums uncontrollably loud, even with humbuckers. Not sure what the deal with that is, but it's easily fixed by playing facing a blanket hung on a wall.
The amp truly shines when used to play lightly overdriven blues and crunchy yet warm solos but it can also be driven to sound like Eric Clapton with Cream. The clean channel is extremely quiet but is just like any other Fender amplifier, pristine and shimmery. The amp begins to break up around 5 using the first input jack but I tend to use the second where it breaks up around 7. Mind you 7 on this amp is nearly equivalent to about 1.5-2 on a Valveking.
Overall I like the sound very much, it's got great tone. Can you say "Layla! You got me on my knees!" // 9
Reliability & Durability: Well, it was made in 78 and I received it in excellent condition with all the original parts and no reparations in 2009. I'd say it's very reliable and very durable. The Champ was one of the few amps still hardwired in the late 70's, most other companies had switched to using boards. Personally I think hard wiring is a little more reliable. I did have one problem that the cable that connected the amplifier and speaker's solder joint became weakened and the sound would cut in and out. But that was easily fixed with a soldering iron. // 10
Overall Impression: This amp is a sweet piece of work. It fit's me pretty well even though I would prefer some more volume. I frequently choose to play it over my valveking when I walk into the room and see them sitting side by side. I'd be heartbroken if this amp were stolen honestly, but I'm not sure I'd try to find a replacement. It would be sorely missed but I'd take something with a little more wattage next. I'd gladly have paid significantly more for this amp than I did, it's excellent.
I recommend one to anyone Who needs a recording or practice amp that wants crunchy tube overdrive at reasonable volumes. // 9