A trend started around the early 1980s to find worthy replacement to hard-to-find tone worthy amps like the Fender Champ, has the boutique guitar amplifier scene – then and now – a still largely undiscovered country?
By: Ringo Bones
It is somewhat weird and disconcerting while Ronald Reagan was calling on Americans to return to “old values”, any electronic equipment – especially vacuum tube electric guitar amplifiers – from that era Ronald Reagan wants Americans to return to were getting scarcer and scarcer the longer he stayed in power. Tone-worthy electric guitar amplifiers, like the 1958 Fender Champ, were not only acquiring hyper inflated second hand prices, but were also increasingly getting scarce that by the mid 1980s, A “battered” 1958 Fender Champ with a hum problem that gave it a signal to noise ratio of around 40 decibels were selling for nearly 1,000 US dollars on the second-hand market. Given the dilemma, electric guitar amplifier manufacturers quickly exploited the need, but sadly, the boutique amplifier scene is still largely an “undiscovered country” to the uninitiated.
During the early 1990s, the increasing scarcity of 1950s era Fender Champs finally started an industry that sets to replace them with modern built equivalents that not only sound as good but also as good as the built quality of the original at prices reasonable enough to avoid you from questioning your own sanity once you’ve decided to buy one upon hearing how great it sounds after a few choice chords. Even though every high powered Marshall amps “secretly” wants to sound like a Fender Champ while still being able to play at loud arena-filling labels, modern boutique amps now have their raison d’être near the end of the 20th Century as a recording session amp in a space restricted home studio.
Around the early 1990s, the Kendrick 2410 Electric Guitar Amplifier got the rave reviews It deserves for delivering what it claims to be able to – and even more. The claim of raw tone and rich harmonics at your fingertips was entirely justified at the time. It might be the “Holy Grail of guitar amps” says guitarist Tery Oubre, but it can be hard to open and check inside when compared to other boutique amps. Interested parties could check out their catalog at Kendrick Amplifiers, PO Box 160 Pflugerville, Tx. 78660.
While I’m more inclined to use and own the Belov Dragster not only because it is easier to open in order to check out the circuit during vacuum tube replacement time even though the circuit doesn’t run its output tubes at the very inch of their lives thus they tend to last longer than most but also its parallel single ended circuit configuration that uses either 6L6 and EL34 output tubes makes it closer in tone to the original 6V6 output tube equipped Fender Champ. Even though the parallel single-ended output circuit configuration of the Belov Dragster is more at home at Hi-Fi World that at Guitar World, the Belov Dragster electric guitar amp has something to offer to both the guitarist and the hi-fi enthusiast.