Saturday, January 24, 2009

Champ and 5F2H Amps

Last night I went over to RoadHouse Joe’s bass player’s house to jam and work on some material. He plays killer slide guitar. Anyway, I took along my trusty old 1970 Fender Champ since I hadn’t played it much in the last few months because of the acquisition of the snakeskin 5F2H amp.

Holy Shit! I’d forgotten how really outstanding that amp sounds. After the tubes were nicely warmed up I cranked it up to 8 (which still ain’t very loud) and jammed on a long, greasy vamp with Rob playing slide. Mercy, but that little Champ was singin’!

I was playing a Low F harp into a bullet mic with a Shure CM element. The Champ, as you may recall, has been modified a bit: Weber 10-inch 10A125-O speaker, NOS RCA 6V6 power tube, 5751 preamp tube, Weber Copper Cap 5Y3 rectifier, and the negative feedback loop defeated.

It has a little less dirt than the 5F2H, with a beautiful tearing on the edges of the notes. With the alnico speaker it compresses a bit more than the 5F2H. The snakeskin amp sounds big, mean and edgy (kinda like me) while the Champ is more sedate. The snakeskin amp has more colors in its tone, but the Champ has a gorgeous unity of sound.

I understand why people pay big bucks for boutique amps, but these two little guys are the best-sounding small harp amps I’ve ever heard. They’re not exactly cheap, as I’ve probably spent about $600 getting the Champ right, and a little more on the 5F2H. But they are way cheaper than most boutique amps.

I’m looking into producing and marketing the 5F2H harp amp, with a selling price around $700, assembled and tweaked by the guy who originally designed it. More on that later…


Anonymous said...

Your 5F2H has one power tube, a 6L6, and a 12" inch speaker right?

Rick Davis said...

My 5F2H has one power tube, which can be a KT66, 6L6, or 6V6. The cab is a 5E3 tweed Deluxe Narrow Panel with a 12 inch speaker. Today I have a Tung Sol 6L6WGC STR power tube and an old Mojo Tone P12R speaker in the amp.

The 5F2H I'm thinking of marketing would be similar, but with a 10-inch Weber speaker.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the answer.
How does the 5F2H differ from a 5E3 besides one power tube (6L6) vs 2 power tubes 6V6. I have an old 5E3 I bought 15 years ago with a 12" alnico that is great and easy to carry, a nice step down from 4x10 I use on gigs. I like the single 12 over the 10, more nuts but thats me.
You have a good idea and it is a niche that has not been filled by the sonnys and harpkings of the world.

Rick Davis said...

Hey Peter-

Actually, the 5F2H amps has no relation at all to the 5E3. The 5F2H circuit is based somewhat on the Premier Twin 8 amp from the early Sixties. It is an invention of Bruce Collins.

Mine is housed in a 5E3 Deluxe cab (instead of the Princeton cab) to provide a larger speaker.

If you have an old tweed Deluxe you have quite a harp amp there. I love the tone of 2x6V6 amps. But they sound a lot different than the 5F2H...