Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Your amp sounds like it's pissed off."

I’ve played out with the little Fender Champ 3 times now at blues jams, one of which my band hosted. At two of the jams I ran a line out from the amp to the PA. At one jam in a smaller club the amp was more than adequate with no PA support. I plan to use it this Friday at a bar gig.

Several people I’ve talked to thought the Champ was now my gig rig, but that is not so. It is just sounding so damn good, and it is the perfect jam amp: It weighs only 21 pounds, sounds best without any effects, and has a great line out. I carry the amp in one hand and my harp case in the other (including and extra 20-foot instrument cable for the line out).

The Champ sounds spectacular with its new NOS paper in oil caps and custom harp voicing by Bruce Collins of Mission Amps. It still has a bit of the Champ-ish rasp, but with a much bigger, more musically complex tone. It has lost all the boxiness and nasal honk. It seems less compressed and more dynamic. The main beauty of the tone is that it just rips. The tearing along the front edge of the notes is gorgeous.

Yeah, you could get carried away with the crunch and overdo it with this amp, and I may be guilty of that sometimes. A guy who knows tone very well said to me it sounded like my amp was pissed off. Perfect!

So many harp players do everything they can to kill the highs in their amps. They lug big expensive 4x10 amps around, cut the highs off, crank it up to 4, and sound like a blanket is thrown over the amp. They are missing the best part of the harp tone.

Having raved about this amp, I gotta say it still does not sound as good as my regular gig rig, the snakeskin 5F2H custom amp. It just can’t. But the Champ is a snarling little bastard that turns a lot of heads. I’m diggin’ it right now.

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