Saturday, August 15, 2009


I know that google alerts and the like are sometimes monitored by corporate types to see what kind of talk goes on about their products. Witness the response from Orvis about my post detailing my 20 year satisfaction with one of their fly fishing rods.

So maybe Fender does the same. If I could bend the ear of a Fender executive with the power to re-introduce a discontinued product into commerce, I'd beg them to start making the Fender Super Champ amplifier, the Paul Rivera designed model.

I've been "playing at" guitar and bass since before I could drive. I'm not much better now than I was in my teen years when I had lots of practice time. I can actually play a few songs and a lot of riffs, but playing guitar never came easy to me like playing drums did. Hell, playing piano and keyboards has always been easier than guitar or bass for me, and probably because keyboard instruments are also, in their original form, percussion instruments.

But no matter. I will not be deterred on the guitar and bass. The advent of Garageband has made me a much better guitarist, thanks to GB's ability to loop rhythm tracks and import/export data from a song. I'm not trying to fool anyone with my musical compositions, but I do like them to sound the best they can, which frankly, like my guitar/bass playing, is still a pretty raw edge garage band sound.

Just last year, Fender introduced a new model called the Super Champ XD. It's a plenty nice amp for the money, especially if you bought one last year before they nearly doubled in price. It's a tube/solid state combo with digital effects and amp emulation. It's a cool amp, but it's not what I want.

The clean Fender sound on the Super Champ XD is about as close as you're gonna get with a mostly solid state amp to the classic Fender tube sound. I'm talking the beloved sound of the Harvard and the Princeton from the 1960's and 1970's. Some of the greatest rock and roll albums in history were recorded with tiny tube amps, and many fine current day albums are as well.

What middle aged guys like me who like a good guitar sound in their home studio or jams with friends want is an excellent sounding amp that weighs about 25 pounds. I want an amp to play blues and blues-rock on. We've got the expendable income to buy an amp in the $800 to $1,000 range.

The great thing about the Rivera designed Super Champ is the sound. For only having 18 watts, I'd swear it was almost as loud as a Fender Deluxe Reverb. It has a unique tube configuration that was peculiar to this Fender amp, and some writers say that's why it's such a great amp. This site here tells you about the amp better than I can:
But what I know about the Super Champ is this: It sounds marvelous and is big enough to gig a band with. In one of my old bands, we played some smaller places where they didn't want us to be blasting. Both of the guitarists, who had many, many amps of all sizes, chose to use these Super Champs as their amps. I played a jazz bop drum kit with smaller cymbal sizes to try to keep the level down, and the bassist used about a 200 watt Ampeg. So we were still able to wail on our axes but just at a reduced volume.
But the Super Champ keeps up with my full sized drum kit as well. I've played many gigs with the fellows and was always amazed at the volume coming out of that 18 watt amp.
So come on, Fender. I've seen the latest reissued, a vintage reissue Champ 57. It's selling here for $1,000 and that's a bit much for a 7 watt amp with a 8" speaker.
Give us something worth that kind of money. I can buy a REAL vintage 1950's champ in excellent condition for the same or less than you're selling the Champ 57 for. Class A. Hand wired point to point.
The point is, guys like me are willing to pay for a cool product. Give me something like a real all tube Super Champ, an absolute reissue of the Rivera model. Make it hand wired. Put a good speaker in it, not a cheapie like the one in the Super Champ XD. Once I changed the speaker out in the XD, it was a different, and far better sounding amplifier.
So here's what I want for my thousand dollars, Fender:
-A Rivera reissue Super Champ with the only changes being:
-a footswitch for channel switching that's not funky like the original;
-a direct out so I can connect to my mac via an interface.
-an excellent 10 speaker
-a cover.


  1. You have my vote as well!!

    -Mess'n with TEXAS

  2. They are nice amps. I bought 2 new in 82 and used them stereo. Sold one and still have one I just biased w/new tubes . Sounds great And Im going to start using it again for smaller gigs. Glad I didn't sell it.

  3. I bought an '83 from the original owner back in '87 for $150 (incl the orig foot switch). I still have it. Over the years I took an equal interest in what makes the magic under the hood as much as making music. I taught myself how to make stomp boxes, mod and construct tube amps, basic Luthery and such. I hope that Fender reissues these Rivera Super Champs as I always wanted to attempt a couple of cool mods that I had read about but was unwilling to tear into my '83. The originals are scarce, for sure, and going for about 6-7 times what I paid, I haven't done anything to mine that wasn't easily and completely reversible. In fact, as a reissue, I'd like to see a head-only version too.