Fender Champion 100 Review
The Fender Champion 100 is a DSP-based modeling amplifier that 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 and 2 channels that can be changed with the included foot switch.
It is designed with a vintage Fender layout and is intuitive and easy to use. If look and sound are what you are after, then this might be your amp!
Fender Champion 100 Features
Let’s take a look at some key features.
- 2 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
- 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. It is equipped with two 12 inch Fender special design speakers in a sturdy wooden 3/4″ MDF enclosure finished with black Tolex and silver corners.
All controls are front-facing, with footswitch and effects loop jacks located on the front of the amp for easy access. The control knobs are vintage-style skirted for that old-school Fender look.
The included foot switch mounts easily into the rear of the amplifier, keeping 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.
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 with a standard layout that most players are familiar with. Channel one gives you classic Fender cleans based on amplifiers like the Twin Reverb and allows you to select effects to your liking.
Channel two expands to allow you to now select your amp voicing with the voice knob, and then fine-tune to taste with the gain control and effects. The voice control is the more powerful feature here, as 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 which sound great for the value here.
Both channels feature their own Equalizer and effects that are independent of each other for incredible versatility in tone!
Built In Effects
Being a DSP based amplifier, the Fender Champion 100 has some great built-in digital effects that sound good! The intuitive rotary control on either channel will allow you to select from a combination of 16 different configurations.
Once they are selected, turning them on and off is as simple as pressing the right footswitch 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 and Delay
- Chorus and Delay
- Chorus and Reverb
If you desire any more effects than this, the FX Loop can be used to then insert your favorite effect or distortion pedals!
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.
Champion 100 Inputs And Outputs
The amplifier has a single instrument input and foot switch input on the front for easy access, plus an effects loop.
The effects loop is labelled as PRE OUT (Send) and PWR IN (Return) which 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 from practice to gigging, it’s got you covered!
The Fender Champion is rated at 100 watts 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!
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.
Effects loop Performance
The effects loop on the Fender Champion 100 is very good and takes pedals well.
So if you have some pedals that you prefer to use instead of the onboard effects, you will find that the loop on this amp is great!
The effects loop is inserted into the signal after the modeling and before the power amplifier.
As I mentioned earlier, the amplifier comes with a 2 button footswitch that 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.
Fender Champion 100 Sound
For this amplifier test, I used the Squier Stratocaster as well as the Telecaster guitars, as I felt they would be a great fit for this style.
When you first plug into the Champion 100 you will most likely start with channel one, the clean tone. If you have any experience with Fender cleans, you know they are legendary and sought after.
The Champion does a real good model of the pristine cleans that players have come to know and love. Both guitars had different vibes, but the amp really added magic to each sound.
If you have ever played a Fender tube amp, you will come to find that the Champion 100 does not quite live up to the legendary cleans, but darn does it come close!
Channel two is where the voicing control comes into play, where there are some great models of Fender amps as well as others. Depending on what you play, you will find something you like with the selections that they have included in this amp.
From jazz to metal, there is a setting for all and gain control to fine tune to taste, and they sound pretty good. The EQ on each of the channels is quite responsive and offers enough range to dial in a good tone with any of the voicing.
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.
Other Fender Champion Models To Consider
Fender has made different models of the Champion series amplifiers to provide players with what they need. Some have lower wattage, while some have 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 is 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 controls. Still a very viable option!
Conclusion And Final Thoughts
There are many great electric guitar amplifiers on the market for under $500, and the Fender Champion 100 is one of the better models you can buy. It is very easy to get a wonderful sound as soon as you plug in, which makes it a better choice than others at this price point.
If you are 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 the time with it that I did, I would recommend it for anyone who plays rock, blues, jazz, and funk. It’s also a great pedal platform amp and can get plenty loud, which is great 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 really can’t be beaten!
Is the Fender Champion 100 good for gigging?
Yes, the Fender Champion 100 is a great amplifier for gigging. It is powerful enough to provide enough volume to 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, as well as switch channels, which is great for paying live.
What type of amp is Fender Champion 100?
The Fender Champion is a DSP based combo amplifier 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 the heavier music and that the Champion was great for more of a vintage style.
Is the Fender Champion 100 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.