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Post new topic Looking for info about this vintage Fender Champ
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Author Topic:  Looking for info about this vintage Fender Champ
Eric Gleason


From:
Albany, New York, USA
Post  Posted 4 Jan 2019 7:30 pm    
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Hi, everyone. This is my first post, and I’ve found my way here because I’m looking for information that will help me nail down the origins of this lap steel. I’ve been googling, but what I have here doesn’t match the info I can find, and I’m at a dead end.

So here’s what I know about it:

It was originally the tan/desert fawn color. Whoever sprayed the white did it with the tuners and bridge plate on it, masked reasonably well.

Tuner buttons and pickup cover are black and appear to be original. I suspect it came with black knobs too.

There are no dates written in the cavities.

Serial number begins with a dash, then 5 characters, starting with 0.

The logo didn’t survive the refinish job. There’s no evidence of a label or nail holes for a plate.

I’m relatively certain that this instrument was bought in the late 90s/early 2000s to salvage the pots and cap so that a period-correct control plate could be made for a vintage Telecaster. I’ve installed new pots and vintage paper in oil cap to get it back into playing shape.

I was hoping to find resources that detail the nitty gritty changes over the years, like are available for Telecasters and Strats, but I haven’t had luck in finding those.

Any help figuring out this puzzle would be much appreciated!











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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post  Posted 5 Jan 2019 1:41 am    
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It's very hard to date Fender steels exactly without a date in the tuner pan route and, usually serial numbers are much more randon for steels than other Fender instruments making dating by serial number very unreliable (though, in general, lower numbers mean an older instrument).

However, in your case, I would say it is from 1957.

For some unknown reason, Fender guitars (Teles, Strats, P Basses) all had a dash in front of the serial number that year. I would say it was an error with the serial number stamping machine but it has also been noticed on Stringmasters too. No other year seems to have this anomaly. This is the first example of a Champ I have seen with the dash serial number but surely it would be too strange if it was from another year?
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Eric Gleason


From:
Albany, New York, USA
Post  Posted 5 Jan 2019 2:14 pm    
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Thanks, Jeff. Do the colors of the pickup cover and tuner buttons indicate anything about the era? I’ve seen some that were white instead of black.
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Chris Clem


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 6 Jan 2019 9:41 am    
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I think the chances are that there would be a date (under the Desert Sand color) in the tuner cavity) The Desert Sand was a solid (non transparent) lacquer and that is why you can't see it. Fender dated almost all there guitars during this time period.
If it was mine I would have no issue with stripping the finish in the cavity to see if it is dated.Just a little lacquer thinner and a rag then switch to Q-tips when you start to see the pencil marks.I have done this many times when I use to restore old Fenders that had already been refinished.Those dates were almost always still there.If this steel were 100% original I would NOT do it,but it's not all original,so it is worth try if you really want to know.
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Eric Gleason


From:
Albany, New York, USA
Post  Posted 6 Jan 2019 9:44 am    
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Chris, you’re saying that they wrote the date in pencil before spraying the lacquer?

Did they do it right in the middle? Though I’m hesitant to do that, it might actually enhance the value since there’s no other way to prove its age.
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post  Posted 6 Jan 2019 9:49 am    
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Eric Gleason wrote:
Chris, you’re saying that they wrote the date in pencil before spraying the lacquer?

Did they do it right in the middle? Though I’m hesitant to do that, it might actually enhance the value since there’s no other way to prove its age.


If it's the value you're worried about, don't worry. Unlike Teles and Strats, the value of Fender steels seems to bear no relation to their age.
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Chris Clem


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 6 Jan 2019 1:46 pm    
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The pencil marks are written on the bare wood before they put any finish on.They then have clear sealer coats before they put on the colors.Then there are clear coats on top of that..Stripping the finish off with lacquer thinner as I described earlier is really very easy to do,the finish will come right off on your rag.Just don't spill the thinner on the finish that is visible,cover those areas.I always put the thinner on the rag and just start whipping it on.The color will soak up in the rag.It only takes a few minutes to do it.
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 6 Jan 2019 5:06 pm    
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Eric Gleason wrote:
Do the colors of the pickup cover and tuner buttons indicate anything about the era? I’ve seen some that were white instead of black.

The Studio Deluxe had a white p/u cover and tuner buttons. It was basically a Champ on legs, with a marginally thicker body to accommodate the leg sockets.
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Stephen Cowell


From:
Round Rock, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2019 9:06 pm    
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Since the pot date codes are gone your best bet is to look at the case. Your guitar came with the black pickup cover and black tuners and knobs... that's how we know it's a Champ. If your case is Tweed, it's the late 50's... brown tolex, 60-63. Black, 64-up. As has been mentioned, dates (and serial numbers) on these guitars don't mean much. The paint job did you no favors, however. Play the heck out of it anyway.
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Tom Young


From:
Sacramento-California, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2019 7:28 am    
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Eric, I just stripped a Fender 1000 down to bare word after it had been THICKLY repainted over original finish and was amazed that the pencil date remained! 8/60 shows up much better than pic reveals


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