Sweet, small and crunchy

New Amplifier
Originally uploaded by kenf225

And no I’m not talking about something I might have brought back from Hershey, PA, but about an amplifier I bought today. It’s a Fender Champ 600, circa 1955 or so. It’s small — about five watts of power, and maybe 18″ across (a standard diatonic harmonica would just about fit under the handle) and sounds … amazing.

Tube amps sound best when you drive them hard, but even mid-size amps are just too loud to play at top volume. This little guy, though, can be opened up to 8 or 9 without blowing anyone out of the room, and sounds hot, with just that level of tube-distortion crunch that makes for that blues harp sound.

I rarely play amplified, but this will make its stage debut early next month at the Greenwich Village Bistro, with Saboteur Tiger. I’ll be playing harp for two sets with them on April 3, and before that I’ll be playing the Barrington Coffeehouse in Barrington, NJ, on March 29. More details to come on both shows.

New Amplifier New Amplifier

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8 Responses to Sweet, small and crunchy

  1. With the opening strains of “Leavin’ Trunk” in my head

    I can’t wait to hear you on it! I LOVE amplified harp!

    Watching the opening act for Taj Mahal a few weeks ago, I was feeling decidedly nonplussed, until the very cute guy started playing amplified harp, at which point I got up and jumped all over the place. remarked on my general change in mood once the harmonica came out.

    I notice, however, that the amp only goes up to 9. Couldn’t you at least have gotten a 10?

    • ken says:

      Re: With the opening strains of “Leavin’ Trunk” in my head

      That’s the sound all right! And it does go up to 10, although the numeral is half-hidden by the knob.

  2. doodlegoat says:


    I think you should get a new handle, tho. It looks like the same one is on the new version.

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