Champ 25 SE review by Fender

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.8 (6 votes)
Fender: Champ 25 SE

Purchased from: Pawn Shop

Sound — 9
I use this amp with a Epiphone Special 1 with P90's, an Epiphone Dot and a Frankenstrat. To start out, it has a beautiful clean channel. It just rings out tone with an undeniable crystal clean and warmth that comes from the tubes. Fender amps are known for their clean settings and this amp is no exception. It also has a mid shift button, that when used gives a totally different clean which is really cool. You can go from surf, to pop, to clean blues to jazz just by using the settings and the shift boost. When I started to play it and get used to it, I found myself smiling uncontrollably as I haven't had an amp that gets such a pure and beautiful clean tone. And turning up the volume, the headroom stays clean. The distortion channel, while not the greatest (more than likely due to the solid state preamp), is definitely usable. By setting the gain low, and playing with the contour, I have gotten a crunchy sound that is good for power chords and rhythm work. I am going to get a good distortion pedal for lead work, and I feel it will work well with the channel. The distortion is just a little to harsh when the gain is turned up for lead work for my tastes, but again, this is my preference. The reverb works beautifully. Overall, I am very pleased with this amp, and am glad I got it.

Overall Impression — 9
I traded a Line 6 Spider III HD150 half stack that I paid $120.00 (no lie) for this Fender. Best trade I ever made. I like to play rock, blues, powerpop and even some country and this amp does it all. The clean channel, which is where the tube tone comes through is warm while retaining a chime and clarity that is second to none. The famous Fender clean is in this amp and it shines through. While the gain channel is a little harsh for my liking, even though the pre amp stage is solid state, I can get a good rhythm tone with it and will only need a pedal for lead work. This amp was made in the U.S. and it shows, the fit, finish and overall quality shines through. I played this amp side by side with a Hartke GT60 Piggyback mini stack, a Peavey Envoy and a Crate and there was NO comparison, not on build quality and more importantly tone. Too bad Fender didn't keep making this amp.

Reliability & Durability — 10
Simply put, this thing is built like a tank. It is of solid construction, and this amp has some weight to it which is nice. The tubes are in solid and has some protection for them and it looks like servicing will be relatively easy. For 25 watts, it is definitely loud enough to gig with, and even though it does not have a speaker out, the 12 inch speaker that is in the amp is clear and projects a very good sound. This amp was made in the U.S. and it shows, the wood construction and the tolex fit tight, and overall, the amp exudes quality.

Features — 9
The Champ 25SE model was made in the U.S. by Fender, during 1992 through 94. It is a 25 watt amp with a solid state preamp, and a tube power amp. It uses 2 6l6GC tubes and a 12AX7 for the phase inverter. It comes with reverb, standby and seperate controls for the 2 channels, volume, bass, middle and treble plus a mid shift boost button for the clean channel, gain, contour, bass, middle, treble and volume for the gain channel, a master reverb plus a "loudness" (master volume) for the amp. It comes with a Fender 12 inch speaker, an input for a footswitch, and line out in the back, effects in and out inputs on the front.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Update: I got a Boss DS1 at a local pawn shop for $10.00 and use it with the clean tube channel. It sounds pretty good with it. The overdrive channel is still a little too harsh and muddy, even with the pedal. I am thinking of adding either a SD1 or a Digitech Blues pedal to my DS1 for more color and options. I am still in love with this amp and treat it as a single channel amp. While I can't say it nails the "Blackface" or "Silverface" sound, it's more of a hybrid (IMO) that just has that clean chime that I love. For this alone, the purchase is worth it. As I said, I wish they still made this amp. 25 watts tube is a good power level.
    My first and favorite pedal for the Champ 25 se was the tremolo, which makes this amp sound very much like a twin.
    I just got one a few days ago... reading your review helped me make my decision. Thanks for such a detailed review! I agree, the cleans are absolutely fantastic, but the drive channel is lacking refinement. It goes from zero to insane with out much in between. I play blues and funk, and I love a dirty fender amp. I found a sweet spot in there between 1 and 2 on the gain, but it is sooooo touchy! I wish there was better control of the gain. This amp is capable of way too much distortion for my taste. But the clean channel alone was worth it! (Edit) I traded a Green Russian Big Muff for mine on craigslist, no regrets! Awesome amp for my growing collection
    I found that on humbucker equipped guitars, that that "Sweet spot" sounds ok. I'm using a Delta Labs Overdrive pedal, and a Boss DS1. Between the two, I'm happy with the sounds when I need distortion. I'm still in love with the enormous headroom on the clean channel. Too bad they only made this amp a short time.
    I'm using the Champ 25 (first edition), It's a great amp for the cleans. Like a small Twin Reverb. Much better and less boxy sounding as the Hot Rod Deluxe for instance. Distortion is not really my cup of tea, but that's were pedals are for