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For the novice bedroom shredder or the intermediate guitarist who plays the occasional gig at the local club or bar, the Super Champ X2 is perfect. 15 watts of power is manageable at home, but can still scream on-stage if you need it to. If you’re a jazz player, you’ll love the Jazzmaster voicing on the Super Champ, giving you solid-state style cleans even with the volume cranked up. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have a headphone jack, so you won’t have the option of practicing silently with this amp.
Looks and Build
The Fender Super Champ’s iconic styling is based on the legendary 60s-era Fender Blackface amplifiers. Black Tolex surrounds the cabinet, providing ruggedness and durability. Silver thread grille cloth, lampshade knobs, and white lettering complete the look. A grooved black plastic carrying handle with metal trim lets you take this amp anywhere you want to go. No corner protectors mean the amp won’t handle being pushed and shoved well, so take extra care with it. Black screws reinforce areas of the amp, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Tubes are fragile and prone to breaking if dropped, so be careful!
The Super Champ X2 is a bit of an oddball and there’s a lot of confusion on the internet about what kind of amp it actually is. Contrary to what the spec sheet may lead you to believe, it’s not really a full tube-based amp. It’s actually a hybrid amp. Fender has added a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) to the preamp of the X2, while the power-amp is indeed all tube. While the X2 does have a tube in the preamp, it’s purpose isn’t to amplify the sound, so it’s not really fair to call it a tube amp. The preamp amplification is all done by the Digital Signal Processor.
While this isn’t a traditional tube setup, the X2 still sounds amazing. It has a great sense of tube dynamics and distortion thanks to tube-based power amp section. In summary, the DSP in the preamp is responsible for all the tone shaping, while the tube-based power amp is what gives the Super Champ the organic distortion sought after by tone enthusiasts of all genres.
The DSP gives you a choice of 16 iconic voices inspired by amps from Fender and other manufacturers like Mesa/Boogie. From the beloved ’65 Twin to modern metal voicings, you’ll find a tone that suits any style of music.
To get the most out of the X2, connect it to your Mac or PC using the built-in USB jack. Using the Fender FUSE application, you can modify the amp’s models, effects, and presets to your heart’s desire. Blend two voicings, rearrange them, or even select from multiple cabinet emulation settings for recording. You can get so much mileage out of the X2 and the Fuse application if you spend some time and experiment.
Using a dedicated effects knob, you can select from 15 effects on the Super Champ X2. A second knob allows you to change the level of the chosen effect. You’ll also find a Tap Tempo button that lets you rhythmically tap an interval to adjust the delay and modulation rates for certain effects. Some settings are a combination of multiple effects, like Reverb + Delay or Chorus + Reverb.
The amp knobs only allow you to select one effects setting at a time. However, if you connect the amp to the Fender FUSE application on your computer, you can have up to 7 effects running simultaneously. Using a virtual pedalboard interface, you can customize effects parameters like decay, tone, and more! You can even change the order of the effects from before the preamp to after the preamp – like a virtual effects loop. This adds even more versatility to your sound and is an excellent addition by Fender that allows an extensive amount of experimentation.
If you prefer to use your own effects pedals, you’ll be happy to know that the Super Champ takes pedals really well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an effects loop, but this is, after all, a beginner’s amp.
Knobs, Jacks, Switches, and Buttons
On the front of the Fender Super Champ, you’ll find the standard 1/4″ guitar input. Notice there are two volume knobs – one for each channel of the amplifier. A channel selector lets you choose between a low gain channel perfect for those iconic Fender clean tones and a higher-gain channel for crunchy blues licks and heavy palm-muted riffs. Note that there is only one Gain knob on the amp. The Gain knob is used only on the second channel. Channel 1 is voiced strictly for cleans. It is unaffected by the Voice and Gain knobs.
When you’ve selected channel 2, the Voice knob lets you choose from 16 different amplifier voicings – customizable with the Fender FUSE app. There’s also a two-band EQ for more tone control over your Treble and Bass frequencies. A missing ‘Mids’ knob reminds us that this is still a budget beginner amplifier. However, you can adjust the mids in the Fender FUSE app, but we would have preferred to have all the tone controls on the amp itself.
Finally, regardless of the channel you have selected, there’s an FX Adjust and FX Select button that lets you pick from 15 effects settings. Combine this with the Tap Tempo button and you’ll be able to dial in the effects to your liking. You can go even further with effects parameters in the FUSE app.
On the back of the amp is the power input and switch, and the speaker output (for connecting the internal speaker or an external speaker cabinet). As a reminder: never run your amp without a speaker connected! You’ll also find the Line Out jack for recording or live performances, a USB jack for connecting to your computer, and a Footswitch input for remotely switching the channels on the amp.
Power, Speaker, and Cabinet
15 watts of power means you can get loud enough for playing small gigs with a band without needing an external sound system. Unfortunately, there isn’t a built-in attenuator, but the amp volume is still manageable at bedroom levels. A Fender Special Design 10″ speaker won’t melt any faces, but it gets the job done. We wish it were a 12″ speaker, but 10″ is a good compromise for a lower-wattage amp such as this. You can even plug in your favorite speaker cabinet if you want for even more versatility, but be sure it has the right wattage and ohm ratings. The X2’s own speaker cabinet is open and fills the room with ambiance, so it sounds even more powerful than it really is.
You have a couple of options when recording with the Fender Super Champ X2. An old-school line out can be plugged into a recording console or audio interface. You can even use the line-out to connect to a PA system for a volume boost at your local venues. The real bread and butter of the X2 is the USB jack that allows for pristine, high-quality professional recording. By connecting to the FUSE app, you can select from 12 cabinet emulation settings that can make you sound like you’re recording through a 1×12 cabinet or a massive 4×12 cabinet. You can even turn off the cabinet emulation and use your own impulse responses for ultimate control over your tone.
Of course, you can always mic up the Super Champ and record the tried-and-true, traditional way.
At 24 pounds, the Super Champ is deceptively heavy for its smaller-wattage. However, it’s completely manageable and easy to take anywhere thanks to the carrying handle. The handle even is grooved for extra grip – great attention to detail by Fender.
The Super Champ X2 sounds like a dream. The voicings are very versatile and really let you play just about anything. Check out this popular YouTube review from InTheBlues for some sound samples of the X2.
Reviews on Amazon praise the Super Champ for being solidly built and having many usable voicings. Some reviews complained about a ‘fizzle’ sound and amps shipped with a broken knob, but these are definitely issues that warrant an exchange. At ‘only’ 15 watts, some reviewers were happy that it could perform well at gigs and small venues. However, keep in mind that if you’re in a band with a heavy-handed drummer, you might need some more power. Reviewers on Guitar Center had similar praises to sing about the versatility and warm sound of the power amp tubes, but still dinged the amp for not having a Mids knob – an unfortunate oversight on Fender’s part. Reddit users have similar remarks as well.
Conclusion and Ratings
While it’s a bit of an oddball, the Super Champ X2 is a great amplifier for the beginner and intermediate guitarist. Though it has some quirks, we think the beautiful cleans more than make up for the lack of Gain control on channel 1. With so much customizability in the Fender Fuse app, you can get any sound you dream of.
Fender Super Champ X2 Review Summary
- Extremely versatile with voicings for all genres
- Tube-based design for natural poweramp distortion
- Quality onboard effects
- Classic Fender Blackface styling
- A loud drummer can drown you out
- Some common settings require the Fuse app - like setting the Mids and effects chaining
- No headphone jack or aux input