Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Review – Astonishing!

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Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Review – A left-sided view of the amp

Are you looking for big Fender mojo in a little package? In this Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb review, I’ll tell you why this small amp can kick some serious sonic butt!

Meet the Vibro Champ that adds reverb and more bass for a big sound that can cover everything from rock and traditional blues to jazz.

Keep on reading to get up to speed on the newest edition of Fender’s ’68 Custom amp series!


Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb

8.8 out of 10
$800

A 5 Watt Redesign Of The Vibro Champ That Features A Digital Reverb And A larger 10 Inch Speaker.

If you are in a hurry, go here to check out the Champ’s specs.

Design
8/10
Functionality
9/10
Overall Quality
9/10
Price
9/10

Pros

Great Sound

Enhanced Low End

Wide-Range Vibrato

Cons

Footswitch Not Included

No effects Loop

Reverb Is Digital

What Is The 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb?

Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Review – A rear view of the amplifier

The 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb is part of Fender’s ’68 Custom amp series. This series retains the classic look and sound of the original amps while adding modifications that improve the overall tone.

It takes the original 5 Watt 68 Vibro Champ to the next level by adding a lush Hall reverb and upgrading the speaker size to 10 inches to beef up the amp’s low-end.

The rest of the amp is true to the original ’68 Vibro Champ spec.


Player Plus Nashville Telecaster Review - The Fender Logo

Fender Company Profile

Unless you just started playing the guitar today, you are undoubtedly familiar with the Fender brand. These guitars have literally helped define rock n’ roll and blues history. Their original factory was in Fullerton California.

Fender guitars are now made in many parts of the world, with the American-made and Custom Shop guitar lines still made with pride in the USA.

The Fender Broadcaster was first introduced in the autumn of 1950. It became known as a “Nocaster” after the Broadcaster label was removed from the headstock to avoid a trademark lawsuit from Gretsch over their “Broadkaster” drum set. The guitar was re-branded the Telecaster, and the rest is history!

Fender has also led the way with amplifiers. Their “K&F” (Doc Kauffman and Leo Fender) series were the very first Fender amps, made by the K&F Manufacturing Corporation. These amps formed the basis of the Woodie, Tweed, Blonde, Brownface, Blackface, and Silverface series.


Who Is The 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb For?

This amp is for anyone that wants the Champ’s unique tube sparkle and low-volume breakup, with a re-design that overcomes its speaker size limitations. If you’ve ever played through a Champ, you know what I’m talking about. It shines in the upper and midrange registers but can be a little shallow at the bottom.

Despite its limitations, no matter how I adjust my other Fender amps, they never quite sound and perform like a Champ. This is what made this “student” amp attractive to professional players for recording and playing smaller gigs.

The 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb is the perfect amp for players that like clean to mildly overdriven sounds at bedroom-friendly levels.


How The Vibro Champ Reverb Amp Works

The Vibro Champ Reverb Amp’s operation is straightforward and identical to the vintage Vibro Champ, except for the addition of the reverb adjustment knob and a reverb button on the footswitch.

Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Review – The front control panel

Here are the specifications for the 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb.

ItemSpecification
Power5 Watts RMS
ChannelsOne Channel
Equalization ControlsTreble and Bass
Preamp Valves (Tubes)Two ECC83 (12AX7)
Power Amp ValveOne 6V6GT
Inputs2 x 1/4″ instrument jacks
EffectsVibrato and Digital “Hall” Reverb
Effects LoopNo
Line Outs (on back of amp)1 x 1/4″ (internal speaker), 1 x 1/4″
FootswitchYes (reverb, tremolo), Not Included
Speaker1 x 10″ Celestion Ten 30 G10R-30
Cabinet7-ply Birch Plywood with Silver Turquoise Grille Cloth
CoveringBlack Textured Vinyl
HandleBlack Molded Plastic Strap with Silver Caps
DimensionsH: 14″, W: 16.88″, D: 8.12″
Weight20.4  lbs
Price$800 (Street)

68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb VS Vintage 68 Vibro Champ

Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Review – Original (vintage) Vibro Champ amp
A Vintage Silverface
’73 Vibro Champ

So, what’s the difference between a 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb and a vintage 68 Vibro Champ besides overall sound, collectability, and cost?

Surprisingly, there is not a major price difference between the two amps, unless the vintage model is mint & in perfect working condition with all original parts.

Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Review – 68 vintage amp hand-wired chassis
Vintage Hand-Wired
’68 Silverface Vibro Champ

Check out this comparison chart, which shows the major differences between the two amps.

Item68 Custom Vibro Champ ReverbVintage 68 Vibro Champ
Circuit DesignModern-Style PCBPoint-To-Point Handwired (AA764)
Tube-Driven VibratoYesYes
ReverbYes (DSP “Hall”)No
FootswitchReverb and VibratoVibrato
Speaker1 x 10″ Celestion Ten 30 G10R-30 1 x 8″ Oxford 8EV
Power5 Watts RMS6 Watts RMS
RectifierSolid StateTube (5Y3)
Preamp ValvesTwo ECC83 (12AX7) TubesTwo 7025 (low-noise, low-hum 12AX7)
Amp ValveOne 6V6GTOne 6V6GT
Amp ConfigurationSingle-Ended Class ASingle-Ended Class A
Schumacher Transformer?YesYes
Manufactured In:MexicoUSA
Price$800 (Street)750 – $1,000 & up (good condition)

My Guitar Lair - Features and Benefits Section

Features And Benefits

Here are some of the features and benefits of the 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb.

Solid Cabinet Design

The 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb has a robust 7-ply Birch Plywood cabinet covered with Black Textured Vinyl that helps project the sound and keep vibration to a minimum, especially with the oversized 10-inch speaker.

The cabinet comes with a period-correct Silver Turquoise Grille Cloth that looks great with the front control panel.

Class-A Tube Design

The amp has an all-tube Class-A design that is fairly quiet even at near-saturated levels. It has a solid-state rectifier that gives it less power sag than the vintage Silverface Vibro Champ.

Lush “Hall” Reverb

The Vibro Champ Reverb comes with a lush digital (DSP) Hall reverb that performs well, even at higher settings, without sounding too harsh or artificial. It can make your playing sound three-dimensional without overpowering the music, even in larger rooms.

Takes Pedals Well

With a relatively low noise floor, this Champ takes overdrive, distortion, and fuzz pedals well. Echo and modulation pedals like phaser, flanger, and chorus sound good, even though there is no effects loop available.

Compact And Lightweight

At just over 20 pounds, the size and weight of the ’68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb make it a pleasure to carry around, and it can fit in the tightest spaces. It’s a real “back-saver,” especially if you frequently tote it to band practice.

Good Price Point

The Vibro Reverb Champ is reasonably priced for the quality of the build and overall performance. You really get a lot for your money, especially for a tube amp.


My Guitar Lair - Pros (Thumbs Up) Section

What I Like About It

Here are the things that make the ’68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb a serious contender in the small combo amp arena.

Dynamic Response

This amp is very responsive to picking dynamics and fingerboard gymnastics like hammer-ons and trills. Using a single-coil guitar, like a Tele, gives the amp plenty of champ-like “zing.” Humbucker-guitars will provide you with a bit more of a “darker” sound.

Clean Break-Up

As you crank the volume above 5, you will begin the notice the amp subtly saturate in a very musically usable way. Depending on the guitar, the amp will start to break up nicely around or above a volume of 8.

If you’re looking for the clean “Fender” naturally overdriven sound, this amp will give it to you without a pedal.

Enhanced Low-End

The 10 inch Celestion Ten 30 G10R-30 speaker adds a lot of tight-sounding low end for an amp in this size and power category. Chords sound rich and full without suffocating the mids, while solos sound well-balanced

Wide-Range Vibrato

The Champ’s vibrato can easily conjure the ’50s surf sound or ’60s “psychedelic” textures. It has an overall silky smooth character that can add enticing subtly to jazz comping.


My Guitar Lair - Cons (Thumbs Down) Section

What You Might Not Like About It

No effects loop

An effects loop would have really added a lot of functionality to this amp.

Time-based pedals, like echo, always sound and perform better when placed in an effects loop between the preamp and amp section, especially when combined with overdrive, distortion, or fuzz pedals in the front-end.

Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Review – The reverb & vibrato footswitch
NOT Included

Footswitch Not Included

If you want to quickly and easily engage the amp’s vibrato and reverb, you need to buy a footswitch to plug into the rear of the unit.

A Fender 2-button vibrato/reverb footswitch will cost you an extra $37, on average. Unfortunately, if you use reverb or vibrato frequently, this switch is a “must-have.”

Digital Reverb

A tube-driven reverb would have been more suitable for the sound of this amp, although it’s a little too much to ask for the price of this unit.

The DSP reverb, as stated above, is very usable. The HALL configuration will bring your playing out front in the mix, even when set at low settings.


Beware of an issue in this review

Beware Of These Issues

Not A Giggable Amp

The ’68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb is ideally suited as a “practice amp,” which is what the original Vibro Champ was designed for.

If you’re a beginner or looking for great Fender sound at bedroom levels, this unit is a perfect choice.

It can get you through band practice without an overly aggressive drummer or a small club performance with a quiet audience but be prepared to mic it into the mixing board for anything larger.

Amp Cover Not Included

As far as I know, Fender does not make an amp cover specifically for this amp. You could give the Fender Champ 110 cover (H: 14″, W: 18″, D: 8.″) a try, which might be a little loose in width and snug in depth.

If you’re buying the amp for home use, you really don’t need a cover, but if you’re planning on gigging with it, you might seriously consider something to protect it from road wear.

No “Middle” Tone Control

The tone stack in this amp does not include a “middle” adjustment, but to be fair, the original Champ and Vibro Champ amps never had one. Traditionally, the smaller amps did not have a middle tone control, although some of the newer boutique low-watt amps are made with one.

The lack of a middle tone knob is one of the things that gives this amp its typical sound.


Is The 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Legit?

This amplifier is an excellent option if you’re looking for the Fender “Vibro Champ” sound with an augmented low end and built-in reverb. It won’t quite stack up against a vintage ’68 Vibro Champ in terms of purity of tone, but this amp is the most practical alternative.

If you want to pay more for the real thing, then vintage Vibro Champs are fairly easy to locate, but I would rather go with this ’68 reissue model and take advantage of the updated design and performance reliability.


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Is The Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Made?

This amp is made in one of Fender’s factories in Mexico. These products are typically very high quality for the money. I have many made-in-Mexico (MIM) guitars and amps that really rock!

Is There A Power Output Difference Between The Reissue Vibro Champ Reverb And The Vintage Vibro Champ?

There is technically a one-Watt Difference. The reissue amp is rated a 5 Watts RMS, and the vintage Vibro Champ is rated at 6 Watts RMS.

Despite the power output difference, both amps are approximately the same in terms of overall loudness. The reissue amp can actually be a little louder due to the 10-inch speaker size and less power sag from the solid-state rectifier.

Was There A Vintage ’50s Tweed Version Of The Fender Vibro Champ?

No, Fender introduced the first Vibro Champ amp in 1964 and discontinued it in1982. The Vibro Champ was used to design the Fender Bronco amplifier in 1967.

The Vibro Champ and Bronco were essentially the same, except for a change in aesthetic features, like a change in the look of the Fender decal. The Bronco amp had a matching single-pickup Bronco guitar. They were both aimed at beginning guitar students.


History Of The Fender Champ Amplifier

Here is a brief history of the first Fender Champ amp and its evolution over the years.

Fender Champion 800/600 (1948)

Introduced in 1948, this was the very first amp of the series. The Champion 800 had an 8-inch speaker, while the Champion 600 sported a 6-inch speaker.

Rated at about 3 Watts, both amps had a single 6SJ7 pentode in the preamp section and one 6V6 tetrode in the power amp section, along with a 5Y3 rectifier tube. There was a single-volume knob with no tone control.

Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Review – A 1957 Fender Champ Amplifier
1957 Fender Champ

Fender Tweed Champ (1955)

This amp was built into a new “Narrow Panel” tweed cabinet with an oxblood color grill cloth. It was available in both the 6 and 8-inch speaker configurations.

It had a 12AX7 dual-triode preamp and a single 6V6GT power tube to produce 5 watts of power.

Fender Blackface Champ (1964)

In 1964 fender updated the amp’s circuit and cabinet to the blackface design. This marked the beginning of the black panel and black Tolex cabinet covering.

Fender Vibro Champ (1964)

The Vibro Champ added a vibrato circuit and was available in blackface and silverface versions. It had speed and intensity controls. It was discontinued in 1982. The silverface version was used to design the Fender Bronco amplifier in 1967.

Fender Silverface Champ (1968)

Fender updated the circuit and cabinet to the silverface design, which featured a new silver control panel with silver turquoise grille cloth.

Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Review – A Fender Super Champ amp
Super Champ

Fender Super Champ (1982)

This was essentially a Champ on steroids with a Class A/B (push-pull) amplifier, a master volume, a 10″ speaker, and spring reverb. This higher-powered amp had a volume and midrange boost and produced 18 Watts RMS.

Fender Champ II (1982)

The Champ II was essentially an 18 Watt lower-gain version of the Super Champ, without the volume and midrange boost. It also had no reverb. This amp was discontinued after three years due to lackluster sales.

Fender Champion 600 Reissue (2006)

Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Review – A Super Champ XD amp
Super Champ XD

This amp was a Champion 600 reissue with a modified blackface Champ circuit.

Fender Super Champ XD (2007)

This amp was a reissue of the Super Champ. It was a hybrid design that used tube circuitry with digital modeling and effects, including reverb, delay, chorus, and tremolo.

Fender Vibro Champ XD (2007)

The Vibro Champ XD was a resurrected Vibro Champ that used a hybrid design to couple tube circuitry with a digital modeling processor to produce reverb, delay, chorus, tremolo, and Vibratone.

Fender ’57 Champ (2009)

The Fender ’57 Champ was simply a reissue of the 1957 narrow panel tweed Champ.

Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Review – An Eric Clapton Signature Vibro Champ amp
Eric Clapton
Vibro Champ

Fender Eric Clapton Signature Vibro Champ (2013)

This amp is based on the original Vibro Champ, built in a tweed cabinet. It has an 8-inch Weber speaker with volume and vibrato controls.

The design also incorporates a custom-made Schumacher transformer.

Fender ’68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb (2021)

This 5 Watt amp is the main subject of this article. It was introduced in January 2021 as a part of their Vintage Modified series. It is similar to the Vibro Champ with the addition of a digital Hall reverb and a larger 10-inch speaker.


Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts On The Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Review

The 68 reissue Vibro Champ is Fender’s attempt to take their original amp to the next level with the addition of a Hall reverb and a larger 10-inch speaker. It is part of the ’68 Custom Amp series.

Adding a Hall reverb gives the amp a larger and more three-dimensional sound. The 10-inch speaker makes it more robust in the low-end without being flabby-sounding.


If you are looking for an option that takes the Fender “Champ” sound to the next level, this reimagined tube amp is definitely worth a look. It can give you the best of both worlds between a compact combo and something that sounds a little bigger.

The 68 Custom Vibro Champ is an excellent choice for bedroom and band practice at low levels. At 5 Watts, it begs to be cranked and rewards you with a warm break-up that can be perfectly dialed in with your guitar’s volume knob.

You will not want to gig with this amp without micing it into the mixing board.

For another great amp, see Fender Tone Master Review – Check Out The New Super Reverb!

Also see, Fender 65 Princeton Reverb Review: Top-Notch All-Tube Tone!

For more info on combo tube amps Click Here –> Best Combo Guitar Amps For Any Budget: 5 All-Tube Beauties!


A rock band of figures made from nuts and bolts.

Tell Me What You Think

Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ review, have any questions about this product, or want to leave your own review.

I will be happy to help you.

  • Do you own a ’68 Custom Vibro Champ? What do you think of it?
  • How do you think this amp compares to the 1964 vintage Vibro Champ?
  • After reading this review, would you buy this amp?

About Frank



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6 thoughts on “Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb Review – Astonishing!”

  1. I come from a family of musicians so I know you can’t do a gig without a good amp.  And Fender is the best of the best, an industry icon.  Due to its high quality and stellar reputation, it’s a no-brainer that this particular practice amp has been going strong for almost 75 years.  It’s too bad we can’t get it in “vintage” tweed but what are you gonna do? I wish you had included a link for purchasing this great product!

    Reply
    • Hi, Cynthia

      Thank You for your comments!

      You seem to know a little about guitar amplifiers. Do you play? If not, there’s no time to start like the present, regardless of how old you are!

      Fender doesn’t make a ’50 tweed version of the Vibro Champ with reverb and a 10-inch speaker, but if they did, it would likely have a different circuit design, to match that time period.

      If anyone you know is looking for a great Champ, you/they should give the Fender Eric Clapton Signature Vibro Champ a look. Check it out in my article. It has an 8 Weber inch speaker, ’50s circuitry, and a single volume and vibrato control (no tone control). It is pricey, but it’s an amp to die for!

      The EC Vibro Champ can be a hard amp to find, but there’s also the Fender ’57 Custom Champ 1×8 Tube Combo Amp (5-Watts), which I own, and it is a little beast that puts out fabulous sounds! You can get this amp on Sweetwater dot com, and Amazon also has them now and again.

      Happy Holidays!

      Frank

      Reply
  2. Wow, this article packs some serious punch! Almost as much as the product it promotes! 

    You have not missed a thing, which I really appreciate, as it is so important to know all the facts before purchasing any new audio equipment.  

    I especially like that you include information on what a new purchaser may not like about the fender amp.  I do not think the downsides to this amp are that big of a deal. Not having a footswitch is not that big of a deal when you are getting such a compact machine that sounds so good

    The history of the fender amps is very interesting as well. I specifically like that Fender has kept the design integrity consistent throughout the years.  

    With Fender you just know the quality is going to be exceptional.  Some may be nervous to purchase a product made in Mexico, but Fender is such a reliable brand that I just would not have the same apprehension I would with other products.  

    Thanks again for the great information. This really helped me decide whether or not I should make this purchase!

    Reply
    • Hi, Ashley

      Thank You for your comments!

      You really can’t go wrong with this amp if your looking for the Fender sound in a low-power combo for practice or playing very small venues that don’t require a lot of power.

      I own a few different Fender Champ models, and they all have unique sound and performance profiles. The ’50s (Tweed), ’60s (Blackface), and ’70s (Silverface) models are all excellent, each in their way.

      If you decide to buy the amp, I would invest the extra money to buy the vibrato/reverb footswitch. You’ll be pleased you did!

      Please come back and visit my site soon!

      Happy Holidays,

      Frank

      Reply
  3. Great article.
    If you were to uppgrade the speaker on the 2021 68 Vibro Champ, wich loudspeaker would you choose?
    Possible to get a richer sound at low volume by uppgrading, or more headroom?
    Andreas

    Reply
    • Hi, Andreas

      Thank You for your questions!

      I think the 68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb sounds excellent with the 10-inch Celestion G10R-30 that comes with the amp. If you are looking for more of a late’50s to early ’60s sound, then your might like the sound of the Weber 10A125. It has a bit of a tighter low-end at a low volume and gives you a fat compressed sound when you push the amp.

      You’re not going to get a tremendous amount of headroom out of a 5 Watt RMS Champ. Driving the front end with a pedal might be your answer.

      It really comes down to personal sound preference. You may have to experiment with a few different speakers until you find what you like.

      Happy New Year! Have a great 2022!!
      Frank

      Reply

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