Shortly after Fender released the Champion 600 around five years ago, folks quickly realized it was a great little amp to mod. The circuit on this 1×6″ 5 watt tube amp is quite similar to a silverface Champ. But to hit a $200 price range, it was made in China with a whole bunch of features either stripped out or cheapened.
Still, it’s a great little bedroom tube amp (which is why I bought one) and it’s an excellent platform for experimenting.
Most commonly, people are swapping the speaker with a Jensen MOD or Weber speaker. The tubes are an easy swap, as a new 6V6 and 12AX7 obviously make a big impact.
Another common and easy mod is bypassing the tone stack. There’s a bunch of fixed resistors that set the eq and lower the gain. Avoiding that whole mess gets you, essentially, the tweed Champ sound. Get your Clapton chops in order!
People who are rather bold will go even further, doing mods from folks like Mercury, to replace the transformers and choke.
In virtually all of these cases, people are trying to get closer to that classic Champ sound. Usually a tweed sound. Flatter eq, lots of gain. And that’s cool, but I wanted to go a different route.
Shortly after getting my 600, I started to think it could be a platform for an everyday amp, not just a bedroom wonder. And for me, that means more gain isn’t the idea. I wanted a louder amp that stayed clean long enough to play over a drummer. I figured pedals would do the trick for any overdrive just fine.
So at first, I did this:
– Put a Philips/JAN 6V6GT in for the power tube
– An RCA 12AX7 in front of that
– Hooked it up to a 1×12 cabinet with an Eminence Cannabis Rex
It worked pretty nicely. Stayed clean just fine, was plenty loud. But the tone was rough. With single coils that had a pretty dramatic EQ sweep, it sounded good. With humbuckers, terrible. Muddy, dull, lifeless.
After a while, I started just looking for a new amp. But the tiny head/combo market that stays clean is not too impressive.
So I thought, “what if I just add an EQ to my amp? How hard can it be?”
Turns out, not hard at all!
Here’s the basics of making it happen. Be warned, messing with tube amps can leave you dead in a hurry… so make sure you know what you’re doing.
1) Remove R20/R21 and replace with a 250k pot for treble
2) Remove R22 and replace with a 250k pot for bass
3) Remove R19 and replace with a 25k pot for mid
That’s it! Now you can shape your sound however you like. I’d imagine if I still used the tiny speaker, cranking all three pots up to max would give me a sound kinda close to the bypassed tone stack sound of a tweed… but I’m happy that I can make any guitar sound good through this thing.
Here’s a quick demo showing the range of the EQ mod I outlined.