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CMW335CMW335 Frets: 129
My 1953 Fender Champ

OK so I actually posted a few weeks ago but on the back of that thread it went pretty much straight to @ICBM for make safe alterations. He then pretended to break his arm and proceeded to lock himself in a room and play this till he could afford no more time off work  =) 

I jest of course and big shout out to @ICBM for the stellar work he has done he went the extra mile to make sure the amp was safe but also kept 100% original but for the change required to remove the risk of death... a minor flaw. A pleasure to meet and his enthusiasm not only for the amp but to give advice was very much appreciated.

Amazing vintage tones from this little Icon, absolutely delighted with it.




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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32799
    :)

    It was a real surprise to find that the amp was not only 100% original as far as I can tell - valves aside, and even then they're old - but also didn't need any work other than the new earthed mains cable and removal of the 'death cap'. (And replacing the pilot lamp bulb which was blown.)

    I would normally want to change the filter caps as a matter of course on an amp this old, but given the originality and condition I took a deep breath and tested it as-is, and they're fine for now. They won't last forever but that bridge can be crossed when it has to be.

    I even found a vintage GE pilot bulb in my box of old spares, so it seemed appropriate that this amp got it...

    It's interesting to compare it to the '59 5F1 I once had - I thought that the older one would be even more boxy and 'radio-like', but it's not - it has nowhere near the gain and snarl of the 5F1, and isn't as loud or overdriven when cranked up, but actually has a fuller and nicer clean tone.

    Very nice indeed. And it smells wonderful too!
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • CMW335CMW335 Frets: 129
    ICBM said:
    :)

    It was a real surprise to find that the amp was not only 100% original as far as I can tell - valves aside, and even then they're old - but also didn't need any work other than the new earthed mains cable and removal of the 'death cap'. (And replacing the pilot lamp bulb which was blown.)

    I would normally want to change the filter caps as a matter of course on an amp this old, but given the originality and condition I took a deep breath and tested it as-is, and they're fine for now. They won't last forever but that bridge can be crossed when it has to be.

    I even found a vintage GE pilot bulb in my box of old spares, so it seemed appropriate that this amp got it...

    It's interesting to compare it to the '59 5F1 I once had - I thought that the older one would be even more boxy and 'radio-like', but it's not - it has nowhere near the gain and snarl of the 5F1, and isn't as loud or overdriven when cranked up, but actually has a fuller and nicer clean tone.

    Very nice indeed. And it smells wonderful too!
    Thanks, I shall store this as appraisal should I ever decide to sell it  =)
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  • springheadspringhead Frets: 107
    Looks wonderful. Is it the original speaker? And if so is it a field coil or were these permanent magnets?

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  • CMW335CMW335 Frets: 129
    Looks wonderful. Is it the original speaker? And if so is it a field coil or were these permanent magnets?

    Yes 100% original including speaker but the second question I don’t know. Perhaps @ICBM can confirm?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32799
    Permanent magnet.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • deanodeano Frets: 132
    Sorry to be the "noob" on this, but what is the death cap? It sounds a little serious and I for one would like to know more in case I ever get an amp that - like a mushroom - has a death cap!
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  • 57Deluxe57Deluxe Frets: 5786
    edited October 9
    ICBM said:


    It was a real surprise to find that the amp was not only 100% original as far as I can tell - valves aside, and even then they're old - but also didn't need any work other than the new earthed mains cable and removal of the 'death cap'. >>>>(And replacing the pilot lamp bulb which was blown.)<<<<<
    Yes, Fender are very bad at this - I have had two blown lamps on my Fenders too....!
    <Vintage BOSS Upgrades>
    __________________________________
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  • KoaKoa Frets: 36
    Cool amp, used to have one and agree these early Champs have a cleaner tone and don’t break up as much as later ones, I really like them, perfect to really highlight the tone of the guitar. What guitars sound best through it? Seem to recall it was fine with h/b and single coil p/up
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32799
    deano said:
    Sorry to be the "noob" on this, but what is the death cap? It sounds a little serious and I for one would like to know more in case I ever get an amp that - like a mushroom - has a death cap!
    Until relatively recently, US electrical supplies were not earthed - the power cable only has live and neutral. In order to suppress noise in a guitar amp, the earth is necessary to do that as well as for safety, so American system is to connect the amp's chassis ground to the neutral (preferably) or to the live, via a capacitor which should (in theory) allow the noise to leak away without the chassis being actually connected to the mains wiring. Since American 2-pin plugs are symmetrical, you can put them into the socket either way up, so some amps also have a 'ground' switch so you can select whether the cap is connected to the live or the neutral, one of which is likely to be quieter than the other. On amps like this old Champ there is no ground switch and you would have to flip the plug over in the socket.

    All OK in theory, but if the capacitor fails to a short circuit - which they can - then the chassis, and hence the guitars strings because the guitar's ground is connected to the amp's ground - will be directly connected to either the neutral or... the live. Which you can probably now guess is why it's known as the 'death cap'!

    Modern US supplies do have an earth with a 3-pin plug, as they do in most other developed countries (excluding Japan, I think - and maybe a few others near there who adopted the same system), so you can replace the 2-wire cable with a modern 3-wire one which means the chassis can be earthed, and the 'death cap' removed.

    Basically, if you buy an old American amp and it has a 2-prong mains plug, it *must* be properly converted with a 3-wire cable, and used with a step-down transformer with an earth connection. If you buy one where this has been done already it would still be wise to check... recently I came across one - done by a supposedly reputable tech - where the 3-wire cable had been fitted but the death cap was still in place. OK, if the cap had failed then the live would short to earth and blow the fuse, but don't count on that happening fast enough to stop you getting a shock.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • deanodeano Frets: 132
    Thanks for that @ICBM much appreciated.
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  • KoaKoa Frets: 36
    And for sale on Gumtree already.......What’s up I wonder?
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  • CMW335CMW335 Frets: 129
    Koa said:
    And for sale on Gumtree already.......What’s up I wonder?
    @Koa  I have the chance to buy a great guitar from another member on here but need to raise the cash for it and something has to give unfortunately. Playing more acoustic these days so this and my strat are for sale. 
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  • KoaKoa Frets: 36
    I know the feeling, good luck with the sale. 
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  • CMW335CMW335 Frets: 129
    Koa said:
    I know the feeling, good luck with the sale. 
    @Koa Thanks mate, I will likely stick it in the classifieds too with a better price. Asking price on Gumtree and Ebay is marked up to combat low ballers and ebay/paypal fees.   
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