Price paid: $ 179
Purchased from: Guitar Heaven
Sound — 9
The clean channel produces good, classic Fender clean electric guitar tones, and only starts to break up between 8-9 (with Fender Single coils, 7-8 with Humbuckers). By the time you hit ten the sound will have became pretty dirty, but still manageable. The dirty channel mimics tube distortion really well on lower gain settings, but you cannot get a real 'sharp' distortion for metal with only the gain channel. The Dirty channel also starts to break up at higher volumes. Because of how the amp controls are set up, the Gain Knob also effects Volume pretty noticeably, so each increase in volume also adds Gain which compounds the breaking up problem and makes the higher levels of the Dirty Channel just noise and not very useful except for maybe New York-style Punk. The on-board effects are split between the 'good' effects and the 'bad' effects. The three Delay and and three Reverb (and the combined Reverb+DLY) settings sound very nice and really Shine when used at medium-low levels. The either two Flange settings work very well when the Gain Knob is turned up, otherwise they are not much better than you most basic Flange pedal, but still usable by all means. The Chorus effect is a very weak, even in the Combined Chorus+DLY and Chorus+REV settings, and you'll be hard pressed to hear a Chorus effect at any level. The Vibratone (or Rotating Cabinet effect) and two Tremolo settings are practically unusable for anything but Progressive except at extremely low levels. All in all, this Amp's sound is very Fender and very Rock-n-Roll. The great clean channel (or dirty channel with a little Drive going) plus the incredible reverb effect make this amp ideal for a Blues Man on a budget. Alone, I would trust this amp to be able to tackle anything from Blues to Hard Rock to Punk. Metalheads might need a few external effects to get the sounds they want and Proggs might wanna try something with a few more effects. For Sound, Nine. It would be ten, but as a solid state, it breaks up really badly at highest levels.
Overall Impression — 10
I believe that the Champion 300 is the best guitar-related purchase I've ever made. If it were lost or stolen I would go back in time and buy two, since it's discontinued. I mean, the only way this amp could be better is if it had a 12" speaker. When I bought it I compared it to a comparable sized Fender Frontman (I don't remember the model), a Fender Deluxe, and an Epiphone Valve Jr. Half Stack and a Peavey 30 watt (also I don't remember the model). The Champ blew the Peavy, the Epiphone and the Frontman out of the water. The Deluxe is definitely the better amp, but not by as much as one would think. But the deluxe was out of my price range, so I went with the Champion 300 which has yet to let me down. Overall Impression: Fender outdid themselves on this little solid state. It might be a good thing they discontinued it or it would have been a serious contender against the Fender Blues Jr. at a fraction of the cost.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Reliability: Excellent, hands down. I feel that I am reasonably justified in trusting that every time I flip the Switch that the Champion 300 will spring to life, ready to work. After the amount of abuse I put on this thing in the last 5 months, I would not feel disappointed or gypped if it crapped out on my tomorrow, but still feel very sad. But the thing refuses to quit. However, you should expect to have to change the speaker after playing prolonged periods at max volume. Durability: Unlike some other amps, the Champ 300 is practically built for a battlefield. The construction is solid and I've dropped my Champ onto hard floors and concrete sidewalks without anything much more the surface scratches. Reliability and Durability: TEN. Provided I don't keep dropping it, I expect this amp (except for the speaker) to last longer than I will.
Features — 8
I'm reviewing a Fender Champion 300 Solid State Amp. Mine was made in 2006 in Indonesia. The Champ 300 has since been discontinued, and I might have purchased one of the last "new" ones in existence. Mine was a demo model that had spent roughly 3&1/2 years on display without ever being sold. Upon doing some research into this amp, I believe that there were a number of technical issues in the amp that were never ironed out (something about a smooth clipping circuit or possibly an extra internal tone control, the details were lacking) and it was discontinued. But I've had mine for five months and have put it through it's paces, and it hasn't yet showed its age or any defects. It features two inputs (0dB & -16dB), 16 different effects settings, a three band EQ, a headphone jack and a foot Switch input. It puts out 30 watts through either a clean channel, with very nice clean tones up to moderate volumes, or a dirty channel, which can be set up to go from light overdrive to tons of fuzz. Overall, This amp works well in a bedroom or dorm for solo practice, and the Headphone Jack allows for some late night playing, however at lower volumes the Champion 300 can be "touchy" and it may take a very delicate touch to get the right settings and sounds. Where the Champ 300 really stands out is at moderate volumes when practicing with a band. The ten inch speaker can be heard over drums and at top volumes the amp can even drown out the Floor Tom drums. For Gigging, it is loud enough to gig in a bar or even a half-full gymnasium without being. In fact, the ability to gig with a Champion 300 was one of the selling points of this amp before it was discontinued. Unfortunately, the sound quality degrades extremely fast after passing the '9' mark, but that's only really affected me one time. However, since it has been discontinued, it may be hard to find the appropriate one-button footswitch that would work with this amp (The only one I've found is a special order through a authorized dealer at a ridiculous markup). For Features, I'm rating it high because it is a nice "workhorse" gigging amp, with about 15 more effects than a comparable amp, but I'm dropping it to an 8 because most of those effects aren't practical for gigging or practice (see Sound).