Fender Champ 5E1 Tube Amplifier (1955)

Fender  Champ 5E1 Tube Amplifier (1955)
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Item # 9523
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Fender Champ 5E1 Model Tube Amplifier (1955), made in Fullerton, California, serial # C00607, tweed fabric covering finish.

This is an early and overall nicely preserved example of the elusive tweed Fender Champ 5E1 model, a fairly rare transitional version between the earlier widepanel 5D1 and the classic narrow panel 5F1, which remained in production all the way into the 60s. The 5E1 was only made from mid-1955 into 1956 and spearheaded Fenders new upgraded line now referred to as "narrow panel" tweed amps.

The main distinguishing characteristic of the 5E1 is it retains the smaller cabinet and 6" speaker of its immediate 5D1 predecessor. This and a couple of minor differences in component values make the amp slightly more soft-spoken in terms of volume, but otherwise nearly identical to that hallowed classic. Just like any tweed Champ, it features a single volume knob and a single ended 6V6-driven power section, yielding about 5 watts of output power and a rampaging overdrive sound when dimed.

This amp has a tube-chart ink-stamp "EK" indicating it was assembled in November of 1955, which is right around the time production started on this then-new model. It was wired up by Lily, and has her masking tape signature still intact. Now it may be superstition but we think this prolific Fender employee made some of the best amps of the 1950's, and we'd like to salute her long-ago labors! The serial number is C00607, indicating only a hundreds of this classic amp had been built before this one; after the advent of the 5F1 model thousands more would follow!
Height is 11 in. (27.9 cm.), 12 in. (30.5 cm.) width, and 7 1/4 in. (18.4 cm.) deep.
This is a relatively nicely preserved early example of this 5E1 Champ, showing some general wear but otherwise looking not too heavily used. Externally, there's only minor-to-moderate wear to the rather fragile tweed fabric covering; some minor edge-wear and some scuffing on the lower front panel as well as some staining to the rear bottom edge. The faceplate is shiny and clean with most of the stenciled lettering intact. The grille cloth is taut and in great shape with only a couple very minor signs of fraying. The original handle looks barely used!

Electrically, the amp is nicely original, save for the speaker, which is a replacement Weber Signature 6" AlNiCo that sounds fantastic. Both the Triad-made power and output transformers are original to the amp, reading 7787 and 50265, respectively. The amp has received routine maintenance, including standard replacement of electrolytic caps, as well as a grounded 3-prong power cord and cleaning of all sockets, pots and jacks as well as biased to spec.

Overall this is a clean and fabulous sounding example of an interesting variant on one of the great tweed classics, nowadays the popular vintage choice for an under-the desk modern home studio rig and always a shop favorite here. We like to think of Lily sitting at her bench in 1955 wiring up these gems, never imagining they would still delight players nearly 70 years on! Excellent - Condition.