One of only two amps i own that are made in the “modern era” – built in the past 2 years. This is an updated version of the venerable classic Champ that fender made in the 60s, well throughout the early 80s. The difference being it has a 10″ speaker (original Champ has 8″), the added DSP effects section, and no tube rectification (this has been a debate i some circles, whether it was good or not to have no 5Y3GT tube rectifier in the new amp). But it still retained the 1x 12AX7 preamp tube, and 2x 6V6 power tubes, effectively giving a 12-15W of power output. The rest of its description can be found in Fender’s Own Website.
Im not going to elaborate much with it’s sound – there are tons of material written about it, experiences that i must agree with. Soundwise, it is indeed a champ. Plugged in, it provides true tube tone, and remains relatively clean even as the volume is dimed. Its versatility (for better or for worse) comes in the DSP effects that engages either through the switch on its front panel, or via the optional 2-button footswitch. It can stand alone and produce plenty of sounds without any additional pedals linked to it. Simple, which is why i think it shines.
That being said, this article is for the cabinet repair done on a new champ XD (or as its known around the net as SCXD). Bought off of ebay for half its MSRP, it came in its original box, pristine and completely stock. The big issue as described in its auction listing was that it fell on its top right corner (probably during its original shipping to the store or on its way to it), cracking that cabinet corner, separating itself clean through. Ugly to say the least. Plugging a guitar through it has not affected its tone or any of its other DSP features. It was in excellent working condition, like new off the shelf (which i think it is – still has all the decals and tags still attached to it), only with the big crack.
This was easily fixed with wood glue and corner braces screwed in that run along the crack. After a day of curing, the amp is now probably sturdier than it it was new and unbroken – i grabbed it on its handle and yanked as hard as i can picking it up, and even swung it around literally, and it held well (its not that heavy with its stock speaker). The only thing that gives the repair away is the tolex tear, and only thru very close inspection. It looks like a production flaw, where the ends of the tolex meet unhidden (usually found under or away from sight).
One of the other things i did was to change out the tubes with NOS Magnavox 6V6s and RCA 12AX7. The Electro-Harmonix tubes are probably good (and ARE strong as measured with my tube tester), but i prefer the sound on the old stock tubes i put in. Its relatively weaker compared to the stock tubes that came with the SCXD, but that gave it a more mellower tone for me. If you search the internet, you can find instruction on how to properly adjust the bias with the handy trim pot that was built in to the PCB.
One other thing i also did was switch out the stock speaker. It was not bad at all, in fact i could have left it in there, and still sounded good. But i ended up changing it to Jensen C10Q. There are other suggestions that are believed to be better, and makes the amp sound louder (look online), but the jensen speaker gave the amp a much better clarity (compared to the stock), and since its got slightly higher wattage, it made it break up less (if it even broke up the sound at all). My goal was to get that fender clean sound. With the speaker, i have achieved this. In fact it gave it a better clarity at the low end. The pic shows the speaker in the background, with the chassis pulled out to measure the current flowing thru the NOS tubes just put in (before the bias adjustment with the blue round trimpot. You can see the older tubes running cold, drawing not much current).
The last thing i did was to put the rocker power switch on the front panel, right next to the pilot light. I never understood why a power switch would be on the back. I find it very cumbersome and annoying to have to reach around the back and fumble around to find it (its not like its the only thing on the back panel). So i cut away a rectangular hole to the right of the pilot light, stuck the rocker switch in, and simply moved the leads along with it. They were long enough to reach to the front panel, but had extended out a bit on the back that it pressed against the PCB that the electronics sat on. Its covered with insulation, so it wasnt cutting into anything (and there weren’t any signal path to short out). If you’re going to do this, make sure the power is unplugged. If not, it serves you right whatever happens to you.
I was tempted to do the famous mod that people had already done, which is to add a line IN (the SCXD already has a line out). It basically cuts out the DSP and allows you to plug in your own. I like the amp as it is, and personally i don’t use sophisticated DSPs (other than my chain of pedals which i use sparingly). I may do it next time, just to add more tonal options (hey, thats why i do these!).