Super Champ

Phil Keaggy

Early eighties. I went to see Phil Keaggy play.

I was totally blown away. What a guitar player.

He had the simplest of setups: a Strat, a Fender Super Champ and a Shure SM-57.

I already had a Strat and an SM-57. All I needed to sound like Phil was a Super Champ.

I went out the very next day and picked up a brand new 1984 Fender Super Champ. In response to a steep decline in amplifier sales in the late ”™70s and early ”™80s, Fender had restructured their amplifier design team in 1982. Managed by Paul Rivera the team moved quickly in creating a series of Fender Amps of which the Super Champ was one. I did not know that the amp would one day become a bit of a prized collector’s item. To me, it was my guitar hero’s amp.

It is one of the few pieces that I have carried with me as a guitar player over the past thirty years or so. That and my 1972 Guild D-40 and my 1976 Les Paul.

Well, I plugged it in a few months back.

Fender Super Champ

Bang! Poof!

A thick, noxious plume of smoke emerged from the amp. Not good.

I took it in to my amp tech for repair. Here was his diagnosis:

Hi Richard,

I’ve had a chance to look at your amp. The main problem: shorts in your filter capacitors. This also burnt some of the dropping resistors in your power supply.

Usually I can replace a single can (containing 4 capacitors) with single capacitors. On this amp there is no room under the chassis to do this.

I will have to order this multiple cap can from the US.

While I am replacing these caps, I would strongly advise you to replace all the remaining electrolytic caps in the amp as these will all go bad eventually.

In for a penny, in for a pound. Of course it needed to be recapped. It is, after all, a pretty old machine. It has great sentimental value to me that little amp. Should be back home in another week or so.

2 replies
  1. Rob
    Rob says:

    Hi, Richard, well, this post caused me to pull my Super Champ out of the closet. I, too bought one when it first came out and have kept it pristine since then. It’s never left home.

    I think I purchased mine as well in 1984, but I no longer have the documentation. I recall paying about $500 or so for it, foot pedal included. What a nicely designed, great sounding amp.

    I played it just a few minutes ago, with my 1964 ES-335 which I have had since 1977. Nothing in between but cable.

    What a combo. Pure. Simple. Unadulterated Tone.

    Fortunately, mine did not go poof. Although I must admit I turned it on with hesitation, gingerly flipping the toggle switch while holding my breath. Not to say it won’t – mine has been untouched since purchased. (Crossing fingers). And if it ever does, at least I will have somewhere to start.

    Thanks for the memories and revitalization of some old gear.

    Let us know once repaired and back in the stable.



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