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The Fender Champion 100 is a DSP-based modeling amplifier. It is easy to use and will get you a vacuum tube-like tone. The amplifier is a two-speaker combo with built-in digital effects. It has 2 channels that can be changed with the included foot switch.
It’s designed with a vintage Fender layout and is intuitive and easy to use. If visual appeal and great sound are what you are after, then this might be your amp!
Let’s take a look at some key features.
- Two channel modeling amp.
- Combo with 2-12″ speakers.
- Many amp voicing.
- Many built-In effects.
- Auxiliary input and headphone out.
- Built-In effects loop.
- 100 Watt output power.
- Foot switch included.
Find more details here.
Who Is This Amplifier For?
Anyone who plays blues, jazz, or rock should consider the Fender Champion. The amplifier provides beautiful cleans and a good classic distortion.
It’s portable and has significant output power, making it excellent for performances. It claims to offer high-gain distortion, but they didn’t sound great in my opinion.
If you just want an edge of break-up style distortion, this is great. Moreover, it plays nicely with effect pedals. So this is excellent as a pedal platform amp. You can also use distortion pedals with the amp. If you need something that sounds good.
I could see myself using this amplifier for many different music styles. It has a lot of power, but I prefer it for lower gain sounds.
The high-gain tones are not quite there, but like I say, it takes pedals well. This makes it more versatile if you’re going to use it for volume, like I would in aggressive music styles.
Fender Champion Score
I personally had the opportunity to try out the Champion 100 with my Squier Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars. Both of which are a great fit for the style I was going for. I was aiming for lower gain vibes, as the amp isn’t really made for any aggressive music styles.
Starting off with channel one, the clean tone. I was immediately struck by the realistic model of the pristine cleans. This is something Fender is known for.
I’ve played on Fender tube amps before. But I must admit that the Champion 100 doesn’t quite live up to the legendary cleans. It does definitely come close!
The amp added a touch of magic to the unique vibes of each guitar, which was really impressive. Moving on to channel two!
The voicing control really came into play, offering models of Fender amps as well as others. From jazz to metal, there was a setting for all, and the gain control allowed for fine-tuning to taste.
The EQ on each of the channels was quite responsive. They offer enough range to dial in a good tone with any of the voicings. However, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t quite break up in the power section as a tube amp does. So, if you crank it, the sound can be a bit solid state-like in nature.
Overall, I was pleased with the sound and versatility of the Champion 100! But in my opinion, it’s best for lower gain sounds and cleans. My favorite settings were the Blackface and Tweed. They were less distorted and seem to be where the amp shines.
I highly recommend giving it a try. You can even check out some great sound clips of the amp in action in the video below!
- Build and design.
- Good build/materials.
- Good sound for the price point.
- Great clean channel.
- Built-In effects loop.
- 100 Watt output.
- Some patches louder than others.
The champion 100 is a 40-pound combo amplifier, measuring 26″ wide, 19″ high, and 10.25″ deep. The amp is on the heavier side. Especially when compared to something like the Boss Katana weighing 25 pounds.
It’s equipped with two 12-inch Fender special design speakers. Built into a sturdy wooden 3/4″ MDF enclosure finished with black Tolex and silver corners.
All controls are front-facing. Foot switch and effects loop jacks are located on the front of the amp for easy access. The control knobs are vintage-style skirted for that old-school Fender look. I opened up the amplifier to inspect the circuit boards. They are green PCBs with surface mount circuitry, all high quality!
The included foot switch mounts easily into the rear of the amplifier. This keeps the unit and its accessories together. A robust handle is used and is more than strong enough to support the weight of the amp and is easy to hold. I have an average hand size, and it fit just fine.
Its classic silver face Fender grille cloth gives the amplifier a great look. Overall, it is quite robust and well-made, it can handle the road if you are to use it for gigs or travel.
Channels and Controls
The Fender Champion is a 2 Channel modeling amplifier. It has a standard layout that most players are familiar with. Channel one gives you classic Fender cleans based on amplifiers like the Twin Reverb. It allows you to select effects to your liking.
Channel two expands to allow you to now select your amp voicing with the knob. Then fine-tune to taste with the gain control and effects. The voice knob is the more powerful feature. You can then use it to select your favorite tube-like distortion. The treble, mid and bass controls can then fine-tune your sound even further.
Voicing options include blackface, British, metal, jazz, and tweed. They sound great for the value found here. Both channels feature their own Equalizer and effects. They are independent of each other for incredible versatility in tone!
The knobs all feel pretty rigid and are quality units. These are Alpha style potentiometers mounted directly to the PCB. They are then fastened to the front of the amp with nuts. This is common practice and is a great design.
Built In Effects
The Fender Champion 100 has some great built-in digital effects that sound good! The rotary control on either channel will allow you to select from 16 different effects.
Once they are selected, turning them on and off is as simple as pressing the right foot switch button. And adding the amount of effect is as simple as setting the FX Level knob. The single effects built into the amplifier include:
- Reverb (room, hall or spring).
The rotary switch also has a few settings to make combinations of effects possible as well! You can stack reverb, delay, and chorus in different configurations. If you desire any more effects, the FX loop can be used to then insert your favorite effect or distortion pedals!
To my ear, this is one of the stronger parts of this amplifier. The effects are excellent and lush. They sound like they are high quality. I really appreciated this about the effects, but I’m not surprised, as this is one of the powerful features of DSP.
Tap Tempo Switch
Next to the FX control, you will find the tap tempo button. This is a cool feature that will allow you to set your modulation rate or delay time to the speed of your playing. Simply press the switch a few times until it is synced with the tempo you desire.
Each channel can be set to a different tap tempo speed, which is an awesome feature, and we would expect no less.
Inputs And Outputs
The amplifier has a single instrument input. Plus foot switch input on the front for easy access, and an effects loop also. The effects loop is labeled as PRE OUT (Send) and PWR IN (Return). This is a bit different from what you will normally see on an amplifier, but makes sense!
There is also a 1/8″ auxiliary input that will allow you to connect a media player to the amp and play music. This is a great feature for practice when you want an additional source of audio. Another 1/8″ output for headphones is located on the amplifier to allow for silent playing.
Another powerful feature for late-night jamming or recording! The features on the amp will provide some amazing versatility. Anything from practice to gigging, it’s got you covered!
The Fender Champion is rated at 100 watts of output power, and it is in fact loud!
In a band setting, the amplifier was able to provide enough power to keep up with a drummer with more volume on tap. Your band might even complain that you are too loud with the amount of power on tap, and clean headroom is no problem!
In my jam space, I measured the loudness with a sound level meter. And with the volume on the amplifier set to about 3/4, the output was reading over 100dB! This is one loud amp! Use earplugs if you’re going to crank it.
The amplifier comes with two 12-inch speakers that are labeled Musical Instrument Loudspeaker. These drivers are specially designed for Fender potentially made by Eminence.
They are a 16-ohm speaker with a magnet adequate for the DSP models created in the Champion 100. They are a good sounding speaker and seem to be of quality. Upgrading the speakers is possible, just make sure that the impedance is correct if you do so.
I like the Celestion speakers, specifically cream backs. I believe they would be a real good fit for this amplifier. You might also consider the V30s.
Effects loop Performance
The effects loop on the Fender Champion 100 is very good and takes pedals well. Do you have some pedals that you prefer to use instead of the onboard effects? Then you will find that the loop on this amp is great! The effects loop is inserted into the signal after the modeling. But before the power amplifier.
I ran a number of single stomp boxes into the loop. Reverb, delay and chorus all sounded great. I even ran a few distortion pedals into the loop and found that it didn’t color the sound poorly. Although I’m not sure if it was great for distortion pedals. I preferred running them into the front.
Included Foot Switch
The amplifier comes with a 2-button foot switch. This is great because I have purchased many amps that don’t include the foot switch!
It will allow you to alternate channels and turn the effects on and off. The foot switch will not allow you to alter the effects or tap tempo and is a basic device.
But once your amp is set the way you like, it is a set-and-forget kind of thing anyway. The foot switch connects to the amp via the 1/4″ jack and cable. I found it was pretty robust and can take a beating. I stomped down on the foot switch pretty hard and it was fine.
Other Champion Models To Consider
Fender has made different models of the Champion series amplifiers. This is to provide players with what they need. Some have lower wattage, while some feature improved functions.
Fender Champion 100XL
The 100 XL is an upgraded version of the 100 base version that we reviewed in this article. It features a few upgrades with a slightly higher price tag. Some upgrades include:
- Celestion Midnight 60 Speakers.
- Black Grill Cloth.
- Blackface Style knobs.
- Modified Amp Models.
- Added effects.
Fender Champion 40
If 100 watts are too loud, there is always a 40-watt version as well. This version is not only lower in volume, but also functions. The Champion 40 features similar sounds to the 100. But offers one speaker-less control. Still a very viable option!
If the Fender Champion isn’t quite what you are looking for, there are some other options available. Here are some competitors that are worth considering.
The Boss Katana is a very versatile amplifier that does many tones. Unlike the Champion, the Katana MKII is capable of aggressive and heavy tones. Plus, they sound excellent! The Champion had trouble doing heavy tones where the Katana doesn’t.
The Katana is also lighter and has a different look. So if you’re a player that prefers hard rock and metal, then it will be a better fit. It also has many built-in effects. Check out our review on the Katana.
The Marshall Code is another good DSP amplifier. This one, however, focuses on Marshall tones only. You will find some of the more popular Marshall tube amps from years past. They have all been recreated and now offered in the Code.
The tones are good, especially if you like Marshall and compete with the Katana. The Katana is still more versatile, but you will find good effects in the Code. It’s worth looking at if you are an old school rocker! Check out our review.
There are many great electric guitar amplifiers on the market for under $500. The Fender Champion 100 is one of the better models you can buy. It’s very easy to get a wonderful sound as soon as you plug in. This makes it a better choice than others at this price point.
Coming from an amplifier at a higher price point. You may be disappointed in some sounds possible with this one. It’s great for beginners, for sure. But it does lack the feeling and response of a tube amp that some may have come to know and love.
However, if you are looking for a practice or home amplifier, you will enjoy this one. The cleans on the Champion 100 are very good and worth the price alone.
So if you are going for cleans and mid-gain sounds, this is the one! The metal and higher gain sounds are not bad for the price, but are limited in where they will take you.
If you are a high-gain metal guy, this amp will get 75% of the way there. It’s not bad, but it’s not a 5150 nor is it meant to be, as is evident by the amplifier’s look.
So is it worth the investment? Very much so! Fender did a great job with this amplifier. It has some nice features and sounds, and the output power is perfect. It can serve many purposes, from practice to gigging and more.
After spending time with it, I would recommend this amp to anyone who plays rock, blues, jazz, and funk. It’s also a great pedal platform amp and can get plenty loud, which is perfect for gigs.
Many people use this amplifier and swear by it, which makes it worth your time to look into. So if you are interested, it’s worth taking the plunge as the price is hard to beat!
Is the Fender Champion 100 good for gigging?
Yes, the Fender Champion 100 is a great amplifier for gigging. It’s powerful enough to provide good volume. Easily stand out from drums and other instruments in a band setting. It has 2 speakers that will help to provide a well-rounded sound.
The built-in effects are also a great addition as they will help give you many sounds perfect for gigs. The foot switch will also turn them on and off. And also change channels, which is great for paying live.
What type of amp is the Fender Champion 100?
The Fender Champion is a DSP-based combo amplifier. It’s aimed to satisfy the vintage or classic music genres.
If you are into Jazz, Rock, blues, or any other kind of vintage music style, this amp will be a great fit. There are several amplifier models that can provide different sounds. Even hard rock or metal tones.
But after using it for a number of hours, I found that there are better amplifiers for heavier music. That the Champion was great for more of a vintage style.
Is it a good amp to use with pedals?
Yes, the Fender Champion is a great pedal platform amplifier, as it has plenty of headroom and is very loud.
The effects pedals sound very good when run through the front of the amp or even into the loop. The effects loop on the amp is also very good and is perfect for reverb, delays, or other time-based pedals.