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  1. #1

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    COVID-19, lockdown, no gigs..... what to do? Internet is a funny thing.... before you know a 5F1 Champ kit sits in your shopping basket and another click and it’s paid for and on it’s way.....

    So it took a good weekend of soldering the electronics together. Another week to build a cab out of some Ikea-shelves and I dug a Jensen P10R out of my parts cabinet (I have too much stuff...).

    Man, is this a fun amp! Sounds great!! Very surprised by the clean volume and headroom! No, it won’t cut it in a gig with drums and horns... but I’m sure it can do coffee house gigs for solo guitar or with a singer. Perhaps it could even do gigs in a quiet room and a soft drummer using brushes.

    And the sound is sooo jazzy. It has a very pleasant and complex mid-thing going on. Bass is surprisingly full for such a small amp. I was surprised how dark sounding it is (but not woolly or muffled), I now understand how those bright telecasters could sound so full and jazzy in the old days!

    Recordings later on, trio rehearsal first tonight (with social distancing if course).

    Fun, fun, fun!






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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Glad to hear it!

    Where did you get the kit? It is on my list of things I might want to do in the near future. I've posted pictures before of some amp cabs I modded with nice quality wood, but I haven't built one from scratch yet.

    However, speaking of scratch, an LP kit from Stew Mac is currently itching me, and since I don't have one at home and am getting a little bored with turning bowls and pens and making knives (well not really, but always looking for a new challenge) this might be my first new project.

  4. #3

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    Well done! And I didn't even know IKEA sold amp cabinet kits.

  5. #4

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    Really cool!

  6. #5

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    Sheer beauty! Well done, Sir, and play it in good health!

  7. #6

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    Check you -- building the Cooper ES-330 and a 5F1 during this awful year.

    Keep going, J!

  8. #7

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    My Champ is perfectly fine with a drummer in restaurants and small bars.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gitfiddler
    Well done! And I didn't even know IKEA sold amp cabinet kits.
    Sure--it's called the Chamstrka. Right next to the Fjorlik and Pflustra.

    Sorry, I can't resist posting this...an oldie but a goodie!


  10. #9

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    Good job !
    I went that way some years ago and didn't regret
    Used it during rehearsals when it was still permitted :-(
    Perfect for practice amp at home
    And, above all, what fun is it to play with a toy you built yourself !

  11. #10

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    Great Job!
    some weeks ago i had a water damage that killed my cheap Champ clone ( only the cab, not the electronic nor the HP). So now i need to build/buy a new cabinet and i am also thinking about increasing the HP size. Of course it was originally a 8" HP but i would like to increase the head room without loosing the special roots sound.
    Why did you choose a 10" and not a 12" HP? it was just a matter of available stuff or you tested both sizes and decided the 10" was the best choice ?
    Julien

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    Glad to hear it!

    Where did you get the kit? It is on my list of things I might want to do in the near future. I've posted pictures before of some amp cabs I modded with nice quality wood, but I haven't built one from scratch yet.

    However, speaking of scratch, an LP kit from Stew Mac is currently itching me, and since I don't have one at home and am getting a little bored with turning bowls and pens and making knives (well not really, but always looking for a new challenge) this might be my first new project.
    I got the kit from this Dutch electronics supplier:

    Home Page

    Probably not very cost efficient to order it from overseas? It didn’t come with any brandnames on it, except for the Hammond trafos. I think the store compiles the kit themselves? Not sure though... but I think there are lots of very similar kits on the market.
    Last edited by Little Jay; 02-15-2021 at 04:34 AM.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sherry
    Check you -- building the Cooper ES-330 and a 5F1 during this awful year.

    Keep going, J!
    Apparently some good things can come out of this whole Corona-situation.... ;-)

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zheul
    Great Job!
    some weeks ago i had a water damage that killed my cheap Champ clone ( only the cab, not the electronic nor the HP). So now i need to build/buy a new cabinet and i am also thinking about increasing the HP size. Of course it was originally a 8" HP but i would like to increase the head room without loosing the special roots sound.
    Why did you choose a 10" and not a 12" HP? it was just a matter of available stuff or you tested both sizes and decided the 10" was the best choice ?
    Julien
    Yes, I had the Jensen P10R laying around :-) Used it many years ago in series with another P10R that developed a rattle so it was just sitting on the shelf waiting for a purpose ;-)

    Btw, I covered the cab in wall paper.... it’s a really sturdy scratch free wall paper. I think it looks great, but it’s probably a little less durable than tolex but I intended this little amp mainly for home practice.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    My Champ is perfectly fine with a drummer in restaurants and small bars.
    Wow that’s good to hear! But I take it that the drummer is using brushes then?

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay
    Wow that’s good to hear! But I take it that the drummer is using brushes then?
    No brushes, but with a light drummer, champ stayed clean with some room to spare on multiple small bar/restaurant situations. MIne is the original with 8 inch speakers. Champ is loud. Yours with a 10 inch speaker will be louder. I know a guy who did outdoor cottage gigs with a 12 inch one without a PA. I mean not big venues but still.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    No brushes, but with a light drummer, champ stayed clean with some room to spare on multiple small bar/restaurant situations. MIne is the original with 8 inch speakers. Champ is loud. Yours with a 10 inch speaker will be louder. I know a guy who did outdoor cottage gigs with a 12 inch one without a PA. I mean not big venues but still.
    I must say I am surprised to hear that! You guys must play really low volume then? I mean, the amp is louder than I expected and has more headroom then I anticipated for but it’s still a 5 watt amp.... also a Jensen P10R is not very efficient with a sensitivity of 95.1 dB so I have my reservations.... but I will take it to band rehearsal one of these days to see how it holds up.
    Last edited by Little Jay; 02-15-2021 at 04:35 AM.

  18. #17

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    That's some really neat soldering! I 've often been tempted, as i can do the electronics part, but i 've never done wood work so it gets a bit expensive. Where i live silverface ones do come up for 600-700 euros from time to time, but still, the joy of building it yourself....

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay
    Wow that’s good to hear! But I take it that the drummer is using brushes then?
    Good drummers know how to use dynamics, and can play tastefully anywhere! [They may be hard to find, but they exist!] Of course, the same can be said about guitarists..

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter
    That's some really neat soldering! I 've often been tempted, as i can do the electronics part, but i 've never done wood work so it gets a bit expensive. Where i live silverface ones do come up for 600-700 euros from time to time, but still, the joy of building it yourself....
    I bought the kit without cab for €249 (about USD 300 I think) including tubes and Hammond trafos. Speaker I already had, wood and grill cloth also (leftovers from other projects). I only spent another $25 on some wallpaper and 4 rubber rubber feet. But if you have to buy the speaker, wood, tolex and other small stuff then 600-700 for a Silverface Champ is hard to beat.....
    Last edited by Little Jay; 01-12-2021 at 11:23 AM.

  21. #20

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    Very clean and orderly wiring job! Much better looking than 5F1 I struggled to complete. Great job!

    Never underestimate the amount of fun you can have with a Tele bridge pickup and a cranked champ. Yeow!!!

  22. #21

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    The champ is mic'ed here for the audience (and recording purposes) but I think Julian Lage is also using it as stage monitor. So it's seems loud enough for stage volume with a not too restrained but a good drummer which of course means loud enough for some small venues.
    He is going between clean and dirty with his dynamics. I think I saw him touch is volume knob too. The drummer is adjusting his dynamics accordingly.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 01-12-2021 at 02:19 PM.

  23. #22

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    Great looking build!

  24. #23

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    I gotta say I really like the look of that wallpaper-covering.
    Nice alternative to the usual tweed and tolex finishes!

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gitfiddler
    Well done! And I didn't even know IKEA sold amp cabinet kits.
    Congrats on a project completed! Looks great!

    Re. Gitfiddler: I once made a 1x12" open-back cab for my son, starting from IKEA's cheapest EUR 10 massive pine night-table. Doesn't seem to be in their program anymore. Wallpaper covering, multiple coats of boat varnish, leather on the corners. Eminence Texas Heat inside. Works, as all open-backs do. Just a hint: an easy way to make beautifully finished cabs is to use wood or even plastic HDF laminate flooring and aluminum corner profiles. I frankly don't think the cab material matters as much as the volume and configuration, and open-back is very forgiving in this respect.

  26. #25

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    For a bit more retro-vintage-vibe I added some alu strips to the front:


  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by wkmandeville
    Great looking build!

  28. #27

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    Nice! I might build a 5E3 clone soon.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zigracer
    Nice! I might build a 5E3 clone soon.
    Don’t tempt me..... lockdown is being prolonged here in the Netherlands, so...... ;-)

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sherry
    Check you -- building the Cooper ES-330 and a 5F1 during this awful year.

    Keep going, J!
    Funny enough especially the Cooper ES-330 sounds great through the 5F1!

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    The champ is mic'ed here for the audience (and recording purposes) but I think Julian Lage is also using it as stage monitor. So it's seems loud enough for stage volume with a not too restrained but a good drummer which of course means loud enough for some small venues.
    He is going between clean and dirty with his dynamics. I think I saw him touch is volume knob too. The drummer is adjusting his dynamics accordingly.
    There is also a PA.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Littlemark
    There is also a PA.
    Yes of course, but that doesn’t work in a satisfactory way (for me) if the stage volume of the rest of the band is louder than your amp and you have to rely on a monitor to hear yourself.... I dislike the sound of monitors and much prefer to hear the amp itself!
    Last edited by Little Jay; 01-17-2021 at 04:20 AM.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Littlemark
    There is also a PA.
    Of course, for the audience. Julian Lage is standing right next to the bass amp and right in front of the drums. Chances are he is not relying on the PA to hear himself. The Champ is still competing with the other instruments on the stage for him to hear himself.

  34. #33

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    Thats a pretty sweet looking Champ!
    I too have been bitten by the build your own amp bug, nice podcast by Jason at the Fretboard Journal
    "The Truth about Vintage Amps" by Skip Simmons ..I am sooooo addicted.... can't even play my guitar
    because so much wire twisting, I done split me finger!!
    I built a Champ!-me-finga-jpg

  35. #34

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    Thanks papawooley! Yes, it’s very satisfying and fun to build your own amp.

    I am very in love with the sound of this little Champ!

    (Oh recording, shoot, let’s see if I can do one in my lunch break today)

  36. #35

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    I built a champ clone two years ago (then a 5E3 clone a year later and now planning my 3rd build).

    At first I found it unusable without an EQ infront of it, so I added a tonestack, like the later vibrochamp got (but also with mid knob), which can be "turned off", and did some more mods to it but still with the option to get more or less the original tone.

    Later though I've started to like the very middy "tweed" tone more.

    Here is a small demo with first 12 bars with tone stack then I "bypass" the tone stack (it has much more gain without the tone stack so I lower the volume to compensate) and do another 12 bars


    Set up is:
    guitar (ES175) -> champ clone -> cabinet with 12 inch Jensen P12Q -> Røde stereo videomic pro connected to headset jack (just mono) of my phone.

  37. #36

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    Yes, I recognise that tone (without the EQ) from mine! I do like it a lot! My ES-125 sounds sooo woody and thunky through it (yes time for a recording...) and my Cooper ES-330 sounds simply great too!

    I do use my Boss reverb pedal with it, ‘cause I’m so used to reverb.

    Of course my mind is already wondering if a 5E3 would deliver that same kind of tone on stage-volume levels...... ;-)

  38. #37

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    5E3 has its own thing going on. You will probably like it for what it is rather than just liking it for having champish tone at higher volumes.
    It is a bit more friendly to single coil pickups but I (and many others) lowered the value of the coupling cap in one of the channels which makes is nicer to humbuckers.

    If you upgrade the transformers in a champ you can use a 6L6 to get a bit more volume. (you probably need to adjust some component values in the power supply/filtering and bias circuits to get the most out of it.)
    There is also a kit available called Uraltone jr. which I think is basically a champ with some extra features and two single ended power tubes. It supports different types of tubes, 6L6s for instance which should give around 20W output. They (Uraltone) are in Finland so ordering within EU is convenient. (I ordered their 5E3 kit).

  39. #38

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    Champs really benefit from EQ pedals. They don't even come with a tone knob, the originals didn't even have an on/off switch.

    My Champ can sometimes sound too muddy and boomy, other times too harsh in the highs depending on the venue.Of course sometimes it just sounds perfect by itself but an eq pedal goes a long way in making the amp more versatile. I guess that can be said for any amp but most amps come with at least some basic tone controls. Imagine using a Princeton or Deluxe Reverb with trebles and bass at 10 all the time (of course these amps would be even less usable without tone knobs but the point stands).

    A lot of Champ's character is in it's mids but you can also cut the mids a bit to get more clean headroom and definition for chords when you need it.

  40. #39

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    Some history:

  41. #40

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    Yup, my Champ has the old style chassis without on/off switch (it’s integrated in the volume pot) and no tone knob. The only difference with the 5F1 schematic are the power caps: 20/10/10uf instead of 16/8/8, everything else is the same. Voltages right in the ball park with 185v on the 12ax7 anodes, 378v on the 6V6 anode and 325 on the 6V6 grid.

    It is a little darker than my other amps, although more treble creeps in when you up the volume (too loud for at home!). It’s lovely and it has a nice complex mid voice. All my guitars automatically start to ‘thunk’! Some people will add a treble bypass cap over the volume pot for a brighter sound, but I love it the way it is. Perfect with the modern Jensen P10R (some say the Jensen RI’s are shrill and harsh but I don’t hear that at all! Wonderful speaker).

    I have not tried this amp with an 8” speaker.

    Mine stays clean to about 3/4 on the volume dial, with P90s.

    Great amp for (low volume) jazz!!! I use my Boss FRV-1 reverb pedal and that emulates the spring reverb of my Twin Reverb perfectly (in fact: when I use it on my Twin I can set it so thatvI can’t distinguish between the Twin’s reverb and the pedal...).

    Every guitarist should own a Champ.... ;-)
    Last edited by Little Jay; 02-15-2021 at 04:41 AM.

  42. #41

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    Is your P10R 8 ohm or 4 ohm?
    My Champ is the standard Fender one (57 Custom) with an 8 inch Weber speaker (4 ohm). But I have a Princeton with a 10 inch P10R (8 ohm). Both amps have detachable speaker plugs. I plugged the Champ into the Princeton's cab a couple of times but I'm worried about the slight impedance mismatch causing a damage in the Champ.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 02-08-2021 at 01:43 PM.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Is your P10R 8 ohm or 4 ohm?
    My Champ is the standard Fender one (57 Custom) with an 8 inch Weber speaker (4 ohm). But I have a Princeton with 10inch a P10R (8 ohm). Both amps have detachable speaker plugs. I plugged the Champ into the Princeton's cab a couple of times but I'm worried about the slight impedance mismatch causing a damage in the Champ.
    4 ohm!

    (Although my OT also has a 8 ohm tap.)

    In general I read that a 100% impedance mismatch, either up or down, can be handled by most transformers.

  44. #43

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    All this glorification has made me reconsider the Tweed Champ. I have always thought that they are overdrive machines for studio rockers but apparently they are more flexible.

    Here in Finland a shop named Uraltone offers a Champ kit with tone pot. Would it destroy the ’magic’ of the Champ or make it just more useful little amp?

    UralTone 5F1 tweed champ 2.0 rakennussarja

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie
    All this glorification has made me reconsider the Tweed Champ. I have always thought that they are overdrive machines for studio rockers but apparently they are more flexible.

    Here in Finland a shop named Uraltone offers a Champ kit with tone pot. Would it destroy the ’magic’ of the Champ or make it just more useful little amp?

    UralTone 5F1 tweed champ 2.0 rakennussarja
    You can bypass the tone pot if you want to see what difference it makes. But when the tone pot is fully open, it should effectively be bypassed. Maybe a small amount of high frequency signal would still get grounded. I doubt it'd be very noticable. 5E3's and many other tweed designs do come with tone pots.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    You can bypass the tone pot if you want to see what difference it makes. But when the tone pot is fully open, it should effectively be bypassed. Maybe a small amount of high frequency signal would still get grounded. I doubt it'd be very noticable. 5E3's and many other tweed designs do come with tone pots.
    It's probably essentially a 5F2a (tweed princeton). The tone control is a combination of a bright cap and a guitar tone knob kind of low pass filter.
    Tone control on "max" should be like a 5f1 with a bright cap mod.
    You can just disconnect the tone control to see if you prefer that sound.
    So if you buy that kit you could also build a 5f1 circuit without a tone control if you prefer, and you can experiment with finding out what you prefer
    If you come to the conclusion that you don't want the tone control, you can use its hole in the chassis for a different mod if you like.

    I've ordered from uraltone, they are great.

  47. #46

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    And finally a recording to demonstrate the sound of the Champ!

    Recorded with an SM58 in front of the speaker. I tried to play Misty, wanted to keep it rhythmic instread of rubato..... needs some more work I built a Champ!


  48. #47

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    Sounds great! Nice job

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay View Post
    And finally a recording to demonstrate the sound of the Champ!

    Recorded with an SM58 in front of the speaker. I tried to play Misty, wanted to keep it rhythmic instread of rubato..... needs some more work I built a Champ!

    Sounds mighty sweet, Jay! Using instruments and amps that you have built yourself must be very satisfying. Well done, Sir, well done!

  50. #49

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    I feel I really need to post this update, because I am mighty surprised!

    I took the Champ to the band rehearsal this afternoon. We were three: drums, bass, guitar. We don't play overly loud, but we are most certainly not quiet either! Drummer played with sticks.

    And whattayaknow?!? This 5-watt Champ totally held it's ground! No, you can't play squeaky clean with deep punchy basses - it's not a Twin Reverb. But the Champ circuit in combination with the Jensen P10R seems to be tuned for the exact right bandwidth of frequencies that make the guitar perfectly audible in the band mix. Volume knob was about half up, full on the guitar. The Champ does not even distort then! Okay, it does give some hair on the double stops and hard hit chords, and the clean tones start to compress and sing but in a very musical way. As said, there is not a lot of bass, so no watts are spilled to produce the power-consuming low frequencies, but still the tone is surprisingly full. The Champ is a relatively dark sounding amp, but on this volume level there is a nice clearness in the tone that gave my ES-330 (copy) with P90 a very nice clear voice but that's never shrill or sharp. I was surprised the tone is not boxy (maybe just a hint of boxiness) and remains very jazzy, full and round.

    With some drive pedals things go easily to the fusion and rock-side of the sound palette and then there is plenty of volume to spare. The absence of deep basses is then a definite advantage.

    Both drummer and bass player were very surprised by it's nice tone and the volume that comes out of this small package.

    Oh man.. I wish I had this amp as a practice amp 30 years ago, instead of this scratchy underpowered Japanese transistor amp I had back then......


  51. #50

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    Not surprised that your Champ held its own with a trio, especially since your ES330 style guitar has P90's. Those single coils sound great and stay clean longer than any humbucker pickup'd guitar. Back in ye olde days when I started playing, my main (i.e. ONLY) amp I could afford was a '65 Vibro Champ. My only guitar was a cheap Harmony that had single coil DeArmonds. I had the nerve to play in a 6 piece group of equally fledgling kids. I could crank that Champ up to 6 or 7 with no distortion, and even 8 or 9 if I rolled back the guitar's volume a bit.

    Enjoy your Champ!