Are you looking for a low-cost unit with a wide variety of amplifier simulations and effects that can be used for practice or onstage? In this Fender Champion 20 review, I tell you what makes this amp unique and why you should give it serious consideration.
Keep on reading to learn all the details!
You can use the table of contents below to take you to the area that interests you. Click on the little box to open it, and then click on the section of the article you want to read, or you can read from start to finish if you want the full Champion 20 experience!
What Is The Fender Champion 20?
The Fender Champion 20 is a solid-state 20 Watt single-channel 1×8 combo amp. It features twelve selectable amp “voicings” (simulations) and twelve built-in digital effects.
The amp simulations and effects models can be selected and adjusted simply by turning the knobs on the classic blackface cosmetics control panel.
This is the smallest and lowest-cost model in the Fender Champion amplifier line. Its compact and lightweight design allows it to be easily transported anywhere.
It can give you great sound at bedroom-friendly volume levels and has a headphone jack for silent practice sessions. An MP3 input allows you to play with backing tracks.
Champion 20 – Cheat Sheet
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ☆ 9.6 Out Of 10
Street Price $150
The Fender Champion 20 is a solid-state 20 Watt single-channel 1×8 combo amp.
It features twelve selectable amp “voicings” (simulations) and twelve built-in digital effects.
If you want to go directly to the Champion 20 specs, click here.
✅ 12 Organic Amp Simulations (Voices)
✅ 12 Built-In Digital Effects
✅ Takes Pedals Well
❌ No Effects Loop
❌ Amp Cover Not Included
❌ Not Loud Enough For Large Venues
9.5 Out Of 10
9.5 Out Of 10
9.7 Out Of 10
9.8 Out Of 10
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.
Fender makes an extensive line of pickups for all their guitars and bass guitars. Their Custom Shop pickups are hand-wired with hand-beveled magnetic pole pieces and period-correct wire and bobbins.
Who Is The Champion 20 Amplifier For?
The Champion 20 can be used by anyone, from the beginning player all the way up to the professional guitarist. It can be used as a bedroom-friendly practice amp, in a recording studio, or mic’d on stage and fed into the house PA system via the soundboard.
This amp was designed to be a low-cost solution for the player that wants a single-channel, gain-adjustable unit with digital amp modeling and effects.
It features a player-friendly control panel that allows all settings to be adjusted without the need to fiddle with digital displays or menus.
How The Champion 20 Works
The Champion 20 is a single-channel amp that allows you to dial in the volume, gain, treble, and bass for each of the 12 digital amplifier simulations. Using the FX level control, the 12 digital effects are mixed with the amp models.
Additionally, there is a tap tempo switch to set the duration of the delay and tremolo effects.
The Aux-in jack allows you to play along with background music from MP3 files, and there is a headphones-out jack for quiet practice.
The voice control allows you to choose from three sets of four types of amplifier simulations, Tweed, Blackface, British, and Metal.
A tri-color indicator changes color as you select each voice type, which functions as a helpful visual indicator.
Each of the 12 amp models can be combined with any digital effect from the FX Selector control, whose effect intensity can be dialed up or down using the FX Level control.
FX Select Control And FX Level
The FX Select Control contains seven groups of digital effects and effects combinations. Each group has 1 to 3 settings.
The FX Level control blends the effect into the amplifier model so that you can vary its intensity in the output signal.
|1.||Reverb + Ch||Reverb + Chorus|
|2.||Reverb + Ch||Reverb Hall|
|3.||Reverb + Ch||Reverb Spring|
|4.||Chorus||Chorus Fast Sweep|
|5.||Chorus||Chorus Deep Sweep|
|7.||Delay + Rev||Delay Slapback|
|8.||Delay + Rev||Delay Long|
|9.||Delay + Rev||Delay + Reverb|
Here are the Fender Champion 20 Specs.
|Power||20 Watts RMS|
|Channel 1||Multi-purpose, clean-to-high-gain with amp modeling and effects|
|Controls||Gain, Volume, Voice, Treble, Bass, FX Level, FX Select, Tap|
|Inputs (front of amp)||1 x 1/4″ Instrument Jack|
1 x 1/8″ Aux-In Jack (for MP3 player, etc.)
|Output (front of amp)||1 x 1/8″ Headphone Jack|
|DSP Modeling||Twelve Amplifier Models|
|Effects||Twelve Built-In Digital Effects|
|Line Outs (on back of amp)||No|
|Speaker||One 8-inch Fender Special Design|
|Handle||Black Molded Plastic Strap with Chrome Caps|
|Dimensions||H: 12.75″, W: 13.75″, D: 7.5″|
Champion 20 Vs. Champion 40
Here is a table that shows the fundamental differences between the Fender Champion 20 vs 40 Watt amplifiers.
The primary considerations are the output power, speaker size, channels, and price.
|Item||Champion 20 Amp||Champion 40 Amp|
|Power||20 Watts RMS||40 Watts RMS|
|Speaker||One 8-inch Fender Special Design||One 12-inch Fender Special Design|
|Channels||One Channel||Two channels (one clean, one with|
selectable amp voicing)
|Footswtich||None||Optional 2-button: for channel selection and effects on/off (not included)|
|Dimensions||H: 12.75″, W: 13.75″, D: 7.5″||H: 17.25″, W: 17.25″, D: 9″|
|Weight||12 lbs||19 lbs|
If you need the extra power and want two foot-switchable channels so that you can set one channel clean and the other overdriven or distorted with effects, it might be worth the extra $100. The footswitch also allows you to turn the champion 40’s effects on and off while playing.
Click here to check the Champion 40 availability, user reviews, and current pricing on Amazon.
If you want something with more output power, click HERE to check out my full review on the Fender Champion 100 amplifier!
Features And Benefits
Check Out These Great Champion 20 Amp Features
Low-Cost Saves You Money!
This amp can save money by being your “one and done” solution for amplification and effects!
The amp offers a lot of value for its price! You get 12 great-sounding amp models that can cover virtually any musical genre! The 12 digital effects will take your musical creativity to the next level!
The tap tempo button located on the front control panel allows you to set the tempo on the delay and tremolo. This quickly adjusts these two effects to sync with whatever you are playing.
The auxiliary input lets you play along with your favorite music via MP3 files or whatever analog audio signal you choose. It makes it an excellent amp to practice your solos and licks!
The headphone output allows you to practice in complete silence. It’s ideal for use when other people in the house are sleeping.
Classic Fender Blackface Cosmetics
The Champion has the classic look of the ’60s BlackFace amps, with an angled black control panel, skirted control knobs, silver grille cloth, and black vinyl covering. It has vintage looks that harken back to the early days of Rock N’ Roll!
The compact design and light weight make it easy to take this amp anywhere, even if you travel by public transportation.
Sturdy Cabinet Construction
The cabinet of this combo amp is designed to withstand the rigors of the road and still deliver impeccable sound!
Here is a video from Fender demonstrating the sound of the Champion 20, 40, and 100 Watt model amplifiers. Check it out!
What I Like About The Champion 20
Here are some of the things I like most about this amp.
The “Voice” Control is basically an amp model selector. It lets you choose between Tweed, Blackface, British, and Metal models. Each amp type has three models. A tri-color indicator changes color as you select each voice type, which is a helpful visual indicator.
The amp models are organic-sounding and very usable. Each amp model can be made to sound more or less aggressive by adjusting the amp’s volume and gain settings. The sustain on all the amp models is generally excellent!
The FX Select knob brings in all the various digital effects that can be used with each of the amp models (voices), or it can be turned off to play an amp model “dry.” The tri-color indicator changes color as you select each effect type, which is a helpful visual indicator.
Many effect types are available, including reverb, vibrato, tremolo, chorus, flanger, delay, and wah.
A tap tempo allows you to set the tempo on the delay and tremolo effects.
The effects sound excellent with all of the amplifier models (voices), and combining any voice with each of the effects is easy.
Takes Pedals Well
If you would like to add additional effects, like a distortion box, or fuzz, the Champion 20 takes analog and digital pedals well, no matter which voice or FX Select effect you use.
The Champion 20’s gain setting allows you to get a natural-sounding overdrive from each of the amp’s voices, using single-coil and humbucker pickups.
The overdrive works well for soloing and when playing chords. It cleans up nicely when you turn down the volume control on the guitar.
What You Might Not Like About It
There is very little not to love about the Champion 20 amp; however, you might consider a few things.
No Effects Loop
Ok, so it doesn’t have an effects loop, but it’s got 12 digital effects between the pre-amp and amp sections. Therefore it’s like having a built-in effects loop, but you can’t expand it by adding additional stomp boxes.
Most of what you might want for additional effects, like distortion or Fuzz, would not go in an effects loop. You want to use these pedals between the guitar and the amp’s input jack to send the signal directly into the front-end (pre-amp).
See What Is A Guitar Stomp Box – Attractive, Little, Tantalizing, for more info.
Amp Cover Not Included
It would have been nice to get a cover with the amp, especially if you plan on gigging with it. A Fender Champion 20 amp cover is available for about $25. Perhaps you can negotiate the cover into the price of your purchase.
Not Loud Enough To Play Large Venues
This 20 Watt amp is ideal for home practice, band practice, and small gigs like clubs. It will not be adequate for large gigs or outdoor venues unless you mic it into the soundboard.
I’ve seen guitar players mic amps as small as 5 Watts and get great sound, so it’s really not a problem.
Other Things To Consider
Here are some additional things that might factor into your decision to purchase this amplifier.
What Sets the Champion 20 Apart From Its Competitors?
The Champion 20 is unique because it is an easy-to-use amplifier that does not require digital menus or time-intensive “patch” configurations.
All the controls are user-friendly and work like a totally analog amp. Guitar players love being able to tweak a guitar sound simply by turning a few knobs to adjust the 12 amp models and digital effects.
At the street price of this amp, it’s hard to find something better! You would probably have to buy a used amp in the same price range to get more amp for your money.
Is There An older Version Of The Champion 20 Amp?
No, not to the best of my knowledge. The Fender Champion 20 amplifier goes back as far as 2013 without any significant changes. It really hit the mark for the target audience it was initially intended for.
Comparable Products To Consider
You could consider the Fender Mustang LT25, which is a 25 Watt modeling amp that sells for the same price ($125). The Mustang is smaller and has USB connectivity for digital workstation use (DAW).
One of the big differences is that the Champion has traditional analog controls, whereas the Mustang operates around accessing digital controls and menus. However, the Mustang has 20 amp models, 25 effects, and 50 presets to choose from.
If you want a modeling amp that is very easy to use, get the Champion 20!
Key Decision Making Factors
The Fender Champion 20 really shines as an easy-to-use low-wattage amp, suitable for practice and small venue environments. It doesn’t have as many modeling options as the Mustang LT25, but it’s quick and easy to change amp and effects models on-the-fly.
If you want a modeling amp that sounds great and you can quickly adjust between songs, you can’t go wrong with the Champion 20, compared to other amps in this price range!
The vast majority of user reviews from Amazon and online guitar stores are favorable (typically 4.5 and higher out of 5). However, some players have complained that the amp is “thin” or non-organic sounding.
Don’t expect this amp to compete with expensive high-end modeling amps or boutique tube amps, but for the price, you get your money’s worth and then some.
I think that, all things considered, the amp sounds fantastic!
Is The Fender Champion 20 Legit?
If you’re like me, when you grab a guitar, you like to play, not mess around with a lot of knobs and menus! It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole with modeling amps and not have any musical fun at all.
Although the Champion 20 is digital, the technical challenges of modeling amps disappear into the background, leaving you with two dozen great-sounding and easily accessible amp models and effects.
It feels like you’re playing through a Fender Blackface amp with all the extra sounds at your disposal!
In my mind, the Champion 20 is a great practice amp for the money!
If you’re interested in grabbing one for yourself, click the button below to check availability, user reviews, and current pricing. They won’t last long, and I highly recommend them!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the questions I get asked about the Champion 20.
If your question does not appear here, please put it in the comments, and I will get right back to you with an answer.
Is The Fender Champion 20 A Tube Amp Or Solid-State?
The Champion 20 is all solid-state with digital modeling capability. It does not contain any tubes.
Is The Fender Champion 20 A Modelling Amp?
Yes, it has a DSP chip that can model 12 high-quality amp models that are very organic-sounding and dynamically responsive. Twelve high-quality digital effects models can be mixed into the amp sounds.
Does The Fender Champion 20 Have Distortion?
The Champion 20 amp does not have a dedicated distortion effect. The amp can create distortion by selecting a “Metal” (high-gain) amp model and turning up the gain knob. The overall loudness can be adjusted with the volume knob.
These amp models (voices) can create great overdrive, distortion, and fuzz sounds with guitars that have humbucking and single-coil pickups.
How Do You Get The Clean Sound On Fender Champion 20?
The best way to get a clean sound with the Champion 20 is to select one of the Tweed or Blackface amp simulations and turn the gain knob down and the volume knob up.
You can do the same thing with the British and Metal amp models by adjusting the amp’s gain and volume and turning down the guitar’s volume knob.
What Does The Tap Button Do On A Fender Champion 20?
The tap tempo button located on the front control panel allows you to set the tempo on the delay and tremolo. This syncs these two effects to whatever you are playing.
I hope you found this Fender Champion 20 review valuable. This solid-state 20 Watt single-channel 1×8 combo amp has twelve selectable amp “voicings” (simulations) and twelve built-in digital effects.
The Champion 20 is a great home practice or band rehearsal amp. You can use it to play in a small club, but it is not loud enough for large venues or big outdoor performances without mic’ing it through the PA system.
The amp has a variety of Tweed, Blackface, British, and Metal simulations that are organic and dynamic enough to cover any musical genre.
The FX level control can mix any of the twelve digital effects with the amp simulations (voices). They are like having a built-in effects loop. The amp takes pedals, like distortion and fuzz, well on the front end, between the guitar and instrument input jack.
An auxiliary input jack allows you to play along with your favorite MP3 files or any other analog sound signal. There is also a headphone output for silent practice.
If you need the extra power and want two foot-switchable channels so that you can set one channel clean and the other channel overdriven or distorted with effects, it might be worth paying the extra $100 to buy the Champion 40 amp.
Click here to check the Champion 20 availability, user reviews, and current pricing on Amazon.
Tell Me What You Think
Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this Fender Champion 20 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 Fender Champion amp? Which one? What do you think of it?
- What is your favorite modeling amp in the $150 price range? Why?
- After reading this article, would you buy the Champion 20 amp?
- What else is on your mind?