In this post we’ll be doing a full Fender Champion 20 review. Fender is well known for its wide variety of guitars, basses, and guitar amplifiers. Fender amplifiers themselves are legendary. The early tweed models and Blackface and Silverface amps of the 1960s and ’70s have defined popular music sound for decades. Now Fender has designed an amp geared towards beginners and players who need a portable, budget-friendly practice amplifier.
The Fender Champion 20 amp is compact, simple to use, and perfect for any guitar playing style. This is an ideal choice for anyone looking for a practice amp. While aimed at budget-conscious beginners, this amplifier’s features are anything but.
Fender Champion 20 Features
- Sound shaping
This amplifier allows you to shape your sound. With an equalizer section that includes both bass and treble functions, you can also change your sound using the various effects. The special effects include sound delay, chorus, vibratome, and reverb. The Fender Champion 20 gives you lots of options to make high-quality sounds.
The gain control makes it easy to dial in the specific amount of gain you want. This is a 20-watt amplifier, making it perfect for small gigs or practising at home. An 8-inch speaker puts out a surprising amount of sound for its size.
- Voice Control
One of the unique features of this amplifier is the voicing control. This knob dials from clean tones to distorted effects. There are 17 different amp models to choose from, and each one is varied enough to cover most music genres. This amplifier gives you the control you need to make your sound.
- Multiple Amplifier Models
The features for the main amp models are adjustable. This amplifier gives musicians digital models for three tweed Fender amps, three blackface Fender voicings, three British Vox models, and three metal voicings. Variations in gain between each of the models in each category allow you to fine-tune your sound exactly how you like it. Here are the four primary models that come with the Fender Champion 20
Tweed – The tweed model creates early Fender tones. Famous twin amps to this are the Twin Deluxe and the Princeton. This amp model will help you dial in these types of tones.
Blackface – The blackface model came out after tweeds were produced. These amplifiers have small controls that appear to look like tiny hats. Today, these amps look very similar to the original models, albeit with newer circuitry.
British – The British amp model offers both British and American tones to get a wide range of different voices on your playing. The British amp gives you classic rock sounds from the ’60s and ’70s.
Metal – The metal amp setting gives you more gain so that you can play with a more metal-sounding tone. This amp is famous for its classic rock sounds from the ’80s and ’90s.
- Easy Jamming
Jamming with your personal MP3 tracks is easier than ever, as the Fender Champion 20 has its own auxiliary input. Plug your smartphone or another smart device into the jack and jam beside your favourite tracks. You can use headphones with it as well to make your jam session a little quieter.
- Special Effects
This amplifier has effect pedals built right in, so you don’t have to buy them separately. This will not only save you money but gives you a more comprehensive sound range. The touch of a button will set your delay and tremolo amounts. The special effects available on the dial include:
- Reverb – simulate or exaggerate natural reverberations to create a complex echo
- Delay or Echo – copies your sound for a repeat at a later time
- Chorus – thicken your sound to sound like there are multiple guitars playing
- Flanger – uses an LFO (low-frequency oscillation) to provide a shorter delay time
- Tremolo – rhythmically change the volume of your signal
- Wah – create a glide effect for solo styling
- Vibratone – add depth and complexity to your tone by using Fender’s version of the Leslie rotating speaker
Delay timers and tremolo effects can be set with the tap button on the amplifier. Most of the features are pretty basic; only the effect’s level can be adjusted, not the rate or depth. The reverb, Vibratone, and tremolo effects are solid, however. These effects included within the amplifier are an excellent way for beginners to experiment with their sound without paying hundreds of dollars for a pedalboard.
The Fender Champion 20’s control setup is relatively straightforward. The amp only has one channel, with standard volume and gain control knobs. There are also knobs for the bass and treble equalizer. A 12-way control follows this to select the amp voicing.
While this 12-way voicing control dial has 12 distinct settings around the dial, it snaps into place at each voicing selection. Unfortunately, this means you can’t blend different voicings. A small light next to the dial identifies which voicing you’re tuned to. The light changes from green to yellow to red for each of the four categories when you change amp models. While it takes a bit to get used to, it’s really very intuitive to use.
An effects dial rounds out the control panel, with an additional effects level knob to exert maximum influence on your sound. The auxiliary and headphone jack let you play on top of your personal tracks and practice quietly when you need to.
The Fender Champion 20 sounds impressive, given its status as a budget-friendly amp. The amp models sound precisely like the originals they are modelled after.
The amp won’t trick you into thinking you’re playing with a tube model amp, however. The small speaker can sound boxy if you’re playing within a large space.
The effects are great to get a feel for what sounds you can get out of your guitar; however, they’re limited in their capabilities. If you’re more serious about adjusting your sound, you may still need to invest in a set of pedals.
Wattage: 20 watts
Inputs: One, ¼” size
Auxiliary Inputs: 1/8” stereo jack for use with a smart device or media player
Headphone Jack: standard 1/8” stereo
Channels: One, with selectable amp voice
Effects: Reverb, Delay/Echo, Chorus, Flanger, Tremolo, Vibratone, and more
Speaker: One, 8” special Fender design speaker
Weight: 12 pounds
Pros and Cons of the Fender Champion 20
- Many different amp modelling settings to choose from
- Lots of built-in effects
- Classic Fender amp look
- Perfect size for practice or small sessions
- Not powerful enough for larger gigs
- Cumbersome power switch on the back of the amplifier unit
Who is this amplifier made for?
The Fender Champion 20 is best suited for those who want to do a lot of practising. It’s small enough to cart around to small sessions or use in your bedroom. It’s not big enough to use for any proper music gig, such as a bar band.
A performance amp for gigs will need more than the 20 watts produced by this amp, but if you want all the effects available for practice, this may be an ideal choice.
Fender Champion 20 Review – The Bottom Line
This amplifier has a lot of options in a small package. It has extraordinary amplifier modelling, so you can get decent sound at home without spending a ton of money.
This isn’t an amp for someone playing professional gigs, and if you’re looking for that performance, you’ll be disappointed.
The Fender Champion 20, however, is one of the best amps on the market at its price point and worth consideration if you are in search of a budget amplifier.