is why you are mulling over the Fender Champion 20-watt and 40-watt guitar amplifiers – hoping to wench value for every dollar that you spend.
I hear you. Upgrading within a series can always be a confusing ordeal, even with a legendary brand like Fender. We know both of these are top notch products, but we often wonder if we will be adding any real value to the purchase by moving (slightly) upstream.
That is exactly what we will explore today as we pit the Fender Champion 20 and 40 guitar amplifiers against each other. What are the difference between the two amps? Is there any advantage of choosing one over the other?
I will answer those questions in detail and, as a bonus, we will look at some alternate guitar amp options in the same segment that you can consider.
Table of Contents
I recommend the Fender Champion 40-watt guitar amplifer over its junior avatar because of the additional power, more responsive 12-inch Fender Special Design speaker, and open-sounding tone. The price difference of $90 is worth it if you will use it for rehearsals, small venues, and clubs. The Fender Champion 20-watt guitar amplifer is a better choice if you are restricted by your budget or you want a lightweight amp that breaks up easy.
With that TL;DR in place, let’s move on to a more in-depth look at the two guitar amplifiers in the Champion Series and see how they square up on important features and use cases.
Fender 20 vs 40: Overview
The Fender Champion Series was introduced as a budget-friendly line of versatile guitar amplifiers. The series features the Fender Champion 20, 40, 50XL, and 100 models – each with the same basic framework and technology but with additional features as you move upstream.
Right since their release, Fender Champion amps turned into a runaway hit among guitarists. Their success can be attributed to the classic Fender Blackface styling, built-in digital effects, amp simulations, and – most importantly – their modest price tag.
Champion Series amps consistently rank among the best sellers in the practice amp segment. They have excellent customer reviews among rock, blues, and country guitarists.
The amp simulations and selectable voicing offer abundant choices to create a vast tonal palette. Whether you pay creamy blues or 50s rock or foot-stomping funk, the amp types and special effects will give you something fun and useable to work with.
They both feature the black vinyl + silver grille cloth styling with skirted knobs and an old-school guitar amp vibe.
The Fender Champion 20-watt version is the perfect choice if you want a small, low-cost guitar amplifier to drill out scales and play your favorite songs on the couch. The small size and low-weight make it travel-friendly and the styles + features are impressive for the price.
The Fender Champion 40-watt version is right for guitar players who need the additional power, two channel operation, and selectable footswitch that can make it easier to use in you live and rehearsal rig. Louder is not always better, so piling volume comes at the cost of portability due to the larger dimensions and extra weight.
I subjected the first two amps in the series – Champion 20 and Champion 40 - in a serious shootout to help you determine which one is right for you. The table demonstrates their key features and differences between the two options.
Fender Champion 20-watts
Fender Champion 40-watts
16 x 12 x 16 inches (D x W X H)
9” x 17.25” x 17.25” (D x W X H)
Reverb, Delay/Echo, Chorus, Tremolo, Vibratone, and more.
Reverb, Delay/Echo, Chorus, Tremolo, Vibratone, and more.
1.8 inch AUX Input
1.8 inch Headphone Out
One channel - Selectable Amp Voicing
Two channels – Blackface clean + Selectable Amp Voicing
2 Button Footswitch (add-on purchase)
12 lbs (8.6 kgs)
Side by side Comparison of Features and Specs
Built-in Effects and Amp Modelling
Fender Champion 20 and 40 feature 4 amp options – Tweed, Blackface, British, and Metal. They are reasonable representations of classic American and British amps, but they do sound digital on the whole. Luckily, that is common to both so it doesn’t complicate your decision.
Both amps have a sufficient amount of onboard effects such as Chorus, Tremolo, Flanger, Wah, Vibratone, Reverb, and Delay. They are not the selling point for either amp, but are helpful in experiment and exploring tones and textures while you practice through these amps.
The Fender Champion 20 and 40 features a TAP button to set the delay time and tremolo speed according to your needs. That’s that for the commonality between the two.
As for what’s dissimilar, the key differentiator between the two amplifiers is that the Fender Champion 40 offers two channels – clean and distortion – which the lower model has a single channel with selectable voicing. In addition to that, you can buy a footswitch and hook it up to the Champion 40 (sold separately) if you have need for such.
For Practice, Rehersal, and Recording
Other than the two channel option on the Champion 40 amplifier, both guitar amps offer the same features for practice. This includes the 1/8” AUX input and the headphone out for silent practice. The effects section is the same but once again the FC40 has more power and it will reflect in the dynamics of your tone.
Guitar Amplifier Tonal Palette
It’s important to note that the 8-inch Fender Special Design speaker of the FC20 has different tonal characteristic compared to open-sounding 12-inch speaker cone in the Fender Champion 40. The 8-inch speaker has a weaker bass response and will breakup sooner, which is a good or bad thing based on the use case. The power handling capacity is better in the 12-inch speaker.
That said, they both offer sufficient clarity and pair well with Fender or Squire guitars. The FC20 is a good for casual and couch playing, but the FC40 is bigger with more dynamic range.
The two channel operations of the Champion 40 make it more useable for gigs, rehearsals, and recordings. It offers a Blackface Clean channel and a Selectable Amp Voice Channel that are selectable via a 2-button footswitch (sold separately).
Verdict: Fender 20 or Fender 40 – What is right for you?
Fender 20 is compact guitar amp that is portable and ideal for practice. It’s a cost-effective way to obtain amp modeling and built-in effects for bedroom playing, jams, rehearsals, and (very) small venues.
It is won’t appease guitarists who need a powerful amp for gigs or rehearsing with a full band, especially in louder/aggressive genres. However, it’s lightweight and ultra-portable, if that’s something you are looking for.
Fender 40 is a better choice for the extra features and bump in power. It shares all the bells and whistles of its junior counterpart with the addition of two channels and a 12-inch speaker rated at 8 ohms. The extra power in a manageable size makes it a better option for club gigs.
This video does a great job of outlining the difference between the two guitar amplifiers:
Alternate Options to Consider
Fender Mustang LT25 and LT50 Guitar Amplifiers
Both the Fender Mustang LT25 and LT50 are viable alternatives to the Fender Champion 20 and 40 guitar amplifiers. At $149 for the LT25, there is a difference in price, but the Mustang’s ability to record direct to a DAW could justify that uptick in the price.
The Mustang amps are thought of as an improvement on the older Fender guitar amplifier designs, including the Champion Series. They cater to the needs of modern guitar players and students and would make a great first guitar amp or practice amp.
Much like the Champion 20, the LT25 sports an 8 inch speaker but it also features a color display screen and an interface for recording directly to your DAW. The Fender Mustang LT25 features 50 presets, 25 effect, 20 modeled amps and additional features such as USB connectivity and a built-in chromatic tuner.
Vox Valvetronix VT20X Modeling Guitar Amplifer
If you can move further upstream, the Vox VT20X is a fantastic amp for the money. The VT20X is stylish, warm-sounding, and has all the functionality needed to become the mainstay of your practice rig. It’s a hybrid with a 12AX7 preamp tube and an 8-inch speaker.
It’s priced approximately $50 more than the Fender Chamption 20 but has a commendable modeling engine (VET – Virtual Element Technology) with 11 amp models and 13 high-quality effects. Despite the small size, it packs a thunderous tone of spectacular quality.
Like the Champion 40, VT20X offers an auxillary input, headphone output, and optional foot controller that is sold separately. However, it also includes a chromatic tuner, companion app (Editor software), and eight user programs with two banks and four channels.
The companion app increase the access to amps from 11 to 20 with an additional 33 built-in programs. It can be a good alternative to the Champion 20 or 40 if you can stretch your budget. However, the Vox VT20X is relatively more complicated to operate than Champion Series Guitar Amplifiers.
The best amp is one that fits your budget and serve all your needs. But needs and budget change when we grow as musicians. We need bigger, better, and more versatile gear and equipment to keep up with the demands of recording and gigging.
That is why I feel getting the Fender Champion 40 may be a better choice as you are less likely to outgrow it in the short run. In music, we call this ‘future-proofing’ gear.
Either of these two amps could serve your needs faithfully as they both carry the classic Fender styling and tone. The features are largely similar, with some important distinctions that we’ve highlighted.
Hopefully, this information will help you make the right choice for your rig. Check out some of our other articles and review related to guitar amplification to explore more choices. As always – Happy Hunting!
Enter your text here...