new Fender Champion 600 good for harp?

The lowdown on the Mississippi Sax. Just for Google, this section is about harmonicas.

Postby pentatone » Sun Jan 28, 2007 7:37 pm

"If you own a tweed Champ clone, you've got a fabulous harp amp."

That´s how I feel - but I like it to keep it for playing my guitar through and I´d like to get an extra harp amp for gigging because I´ve heard that the 12AX7 tube produces a bit too much gain when driven by a harp. I´m thinking for a while now about soldering a second one, configurated for harp, when I read about the Champion and got a bit curious if it could be nice to have something different.
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Postby angerboy » Sun Jan 28, 2007 8:12 pm

At the suggestion of guitar players that spend too much time reading stuff on the Internet, I tried a 12AY7 in my tweed Champ clone. I put the 12AX7 back in it. It didn't improve the sound that came out of it. I've had over a dozen harp players (from crappy to awesome) play through it with the 12AX7 and nobody felt that it had too much gain. Most people raved about how good it sounded.

Try a lower gain pre-amp tube in your Champ for a while. Don't be surprised if you go back to the 12AX7.

Personally, I wouldn't swap the tube and I probably wouldn't buy another amp to cover the under 10W category.

Your mileage may vary.

As far as the 6" speaker goes, Ted Weber offers a 6" ceramic that's a replacement for the old Tweed Champ. He no longer offers a 6" alnico.

How does your tweed Super sound? I think that might be my next build.
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Postby pentatone » Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:02 pm

"How does your tweed Super sound?"

angerboy -

it´s always difficult to describe tone with words but to get an idea you could imagine it in the Bassman territory. When I decided to get a bigger amp I first tried a Bassman clone - which is available as a kit here in Germany - but became sceptical if I could use it with the volume that is needed to get the famous tone. Over and above that the Bassman is too heavy for me - I´m in my mid 40s now and my discs aren´t the best. After some research I found out that the Pro, Bandmaster and Super circuits are very similar to the Bassman and I decided to go the smallest 2x10 way so that I ordered a Super kit from the USA without ever having heard one. I was lucky - it´s exactly what I expected. It breaks up a bit earlier than the Bassman with very similar tones and possibilties - f.e. channel jumpering. I use the useless ground switch as an eq-bypass which gives the possibilty for some extra drive and installed bias measure points and a bias pot.
I have Jensen P10R RI speakers in it and I´m satisfied with them so far - I´ve never heard some of the well repuited Webers in action, maybe they sound even better.
I finally replaced the added GT 6L6C tubes with TAD short bottles and the preamp tubes with EH 12AX7 which was a huge improvement.

Ok - I made a lot of words and I hope it helps a bit.


Edited to add: I forgot to thank you for your explanations regarding the preamp tube in the Champ - it helps a lot.
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Postby ricochet » Sun Jan 28, 2007 10:14 pm

Where I first saw the low gain tube swap for harp suggested was with the Crate VC108, at a time when it was the only game in town for a commercially produced new 5W tube amp. Unfortunately, the VC108 has a solid state op amp in front of the 12AX7 that can't be turned off. It has way too much gain for guitar playing, too. Swapping out the tube there doesn't really solve the problem, since the op amp's still there. Like an overdrive pedal you can't switch off or turn down.

Seems to me that the general advice about tube swapping for lower gain came along after the VC108 swap had become widespread. But I could be wrong.
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Postby t bone bruce » Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:15 pm

I think tube swapping has been around longer, and it's used on other amps too. everything from the Pro-Junior to the '59 Bassman. The problem lies in most guitar amps having too much pre-amp gain, leaving you with very little room to maneuver on the volume control. Often harp players can't turn up beyond "3" before feedback sets it. There's two ways around it. One is to tweek the preamp section, which means soldering and poking around inside the amp, but it's easier for most people to swap the preamp tubes for lower gain ones. This means you get more usable range on the volume control, rather than getting louder. Of course if you can't achieve quite as much gain you won't drive the power tube into distortion quite so much, but the distortion harp players want is usually less than a guitarist wants. Vintage amps from the 40's and 50's weren't designed to get distortion, it was thought that players would want a clean sound. most of the amps had mutiple inputs so microphones and accordians could be used with them too. I notice that in the promo vid from NAMM the guy says they've altered the preamp for more gain than the original. Not a good thing for harp IMO
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Postby jeffl » Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:17 pm

One can always put another pre-amp in the loop, such as the Holmes Harp Commander, and control the signal issues that way. Of course, it adds expense to the chain,but a good useable small pre-amp is handy for a number of situations. Acoustics on stage, and full band amp and speaker placement, as well as mic placement, all effect feedback, and sometimes you jus' can't use some of the same settings if yer playin' in a new setting. An amp doesn't have to be perfect to sound great. I played thru a blackface Fender (Riviera era) Champion 25 that jus' kicked ass and really got me a "scooped mids" thing goin' , and I've never noticed those amps before. It was $249,used obviously, and I thought it was alotta bang for the buck. 25 watts will work for jus' about any small to mid-size venue.
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Postby angerboy » Tue Jan 30, 2007 3:38 am

I suspect that Fender put a 12AX7 in the Champion 600, because they probably couldn't get a dirt cheap and plentiful supply of 6SJ7's.
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Postby ricochet » Tue Jan 30, 2007 3:42 am

Yeah, Russian 6SJ7s are plentiful and cheap now, but I think they're NOS and aren't actually in production. The supply would dry up quickly (as any NOS tubes will) if people rely heavily on the old stock for new equipment. Then you're SOL.
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Postby jeffl » Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:44 pm

It's been my general impression that going to a lower tube value will primarily make an audible difference when you have a few more watts to work with--something approaching 20 Watts, or more. When I did it to my Peavey Classic 30, I couldn't tell the difference until I drove the amp at club volumes, which is the idea--it allows you to drive the amp harder and not reach unuseable volumes until it starts to break up. Turning the volume knob up on a Blues Blaster harp mic will accomplish the same thing.
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