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Pimp my amp episode 1 - Champion 600
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 20 July 2009

Welcome to episode one of Pimp my amp!  In this episode, we will pimp up a Fender  Champion 600.  This is one of the many simple and affordable tube amps currently available.  It's a very simple champ-ish design consisting of one 12ax7 and one 6v6.  The twist is that it has a full tone stack but no knobs to control it!  In other words, it was voiced a certain way and values were fixed for that voicing.

Stock, it's a somewhat thin sounding amp.  Not a lot of bass and adequate distortion.  So, let's start pimping! Right off the bat, at least two things need to be changed: the cheap fender speaker and the very cheap 12ax7.  Both are not up to par.  

For the speaker, I went for a Weber 6" Signature Series Ceramic.  Since most real champs had ceramic speakers, I went for that one.  The other reason I went with the ceramic speaker was that it fit perfectly!  The alnico one from Weber wouldn't have fit without some mods.

For the preamp tube, I chose my favorite 12ax7 especially for fender amps.  The Tung-sol re-issue is just perfect for ANY fender amps.  Lotsa chime, lotsa bottom end and great gain.  All of that with low noise!

For the 6V6, the EH sounded good but not great.  I ended up with a JJ 6V6 and this thing just rocks!  This is optional but a great improvement, at least for me.  Here is a picture of the easy part of the mods (i.e. speaker and tubes):


Now comes the fun part.  Please note that the next section deals with the internals of the amp and therefore exposes you to potentially high voltages.  If you don't know what you are doing, don't risk your life, take it to a good tech!

Stock, the amp uses 2 PCB boards.  One for the inputs and volume and one for all the other components of the amp.  I am not a fan of PCBs but, at this price point, what do you expect!  The following 2 pictures are of the stock amp (click on the picture for a bigger image):

Here is what I had in mind for this amp.  I wanted to change the inputs to real chassis mounted ones.  They are more reliable in the long run and there is more than enough room in there for this mod.  The second mod is even more interesting.  In a typical champ, there is no 'tone stack'.  Even though it is fixed in the champion 600, this is still a full TMB stack (treble - mid - bass).  This sucks the gain out of the first stage BIG TIME.  I wanted to make this switchable!  So, a simple switch to have a tone stack or to remove the tone stack.  I also wanted to make this mod invisible.  I wanted the amp to keep it's original un-altered look.  I found the perfect solution.  A 1Meg Audio pot with a DPST switch!  This allows me to be able to remove the bottom resistor of the tone stack!  When the knob is pulled, the tone stack is active.  When you push the knob down, the tone stack is removed.  This had a dramatic effect in the sound!  The gain almost doubled!  That is some gain for such a small amp.  All in all, a great amp that is a great moders platform!  

The next 2 pictures show the modified amp internally:


The next picture shows that from the outside, this still looks like a stock champion 600:

Well that's it for this episode, hope you enjoyed it!

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 July 2009 )