1964 Fender Vibro Champ Black Panel Pre-CBS FEIC Unicorn

This is the real deal. Built when Leo Fender still owned the company.
The online source, Superior Music lists the Vibro Champ production serial numbers starting at 100 in 1964.
This Vibro Champ has the lowest serial number known to exist. This is not your average run-of-the-mill Black Panel Vibro Champ.

The Facts:
Serial Number: A00120 (20th Vibro Champ Built)
Power Output: 5 Watts
Inside Chassis Serial Number: TE3864
Cabinet Number: NB4064, SA4064
Circuit: AA764
• V1: (Preamp): Sylvania 12AX7;
• V2: (Vibrato): Philco 12AX7
• Power: Ruby 6V6
• Rectifier: RCA 5Y3
Speaker: 1979 10" Eminence Ceramic Squareback (The baffle has been cut out to receive the 10" speaker)
Production: #1
Year/Month Stamp: "NI" (September 1964)
Schumacher Transformers: Input 606-4-20; Output 606-4-30
Capacitors: Astron

The electronics are all original, including the intact "death cap."
There is one odd thing among the capacitors: In the typical AA764 Vibro Champ circuit there are 4 large filter capacitors. In this amp there is an additional fifth capacitor included in the array. It is quite large and is piggybacked on one of the other capacitors. A friend who does electronics examined it and said it undoubtedly was installed when the amp was built; it is identical and came stock with the other capacitors. He said perhaps when Fender began production of the Vibro Champ it may have been designed with 5 capacitors, which they put there as a safeguard to ensure the control of runaway oscillation. Perhaps very quickly thereafter the Fender engineers learned that the fifth capacitor was unnecessary and simply omitted it. Being that this is one of the first Vibro Champ Amps built when production began, that scenario seems likely. In any event, it stands out as being different than all but three other Vibro Champ AA764 circuits we’ve seen.

Several factors point to this being one of the first Vibro Champ Amps built:
1) Extra capacitor
2) Low chassis serial number
3) Very early inside chassis serial number
4) Very early cabinet serial number
5) Very early transformer production dates
6) Tube sticker codes (production #1, "NI")

These are the markers of a Unicorn.

We know that Schumacher built transformers to Leo Fender's specifications. Basic deduction tells us that the early production date on the input transformer in this amp indicates that, when taking into consideration the lag of production time and shipping, Fender Fullerton was ordering parts for this line at least 5 to 6 months before production began. Leo Fender was a genius.

Everything works the way it was designed, as it came out of Fullerton in September 1964.

Before the amp arrived to us it had been modified with the 10" speaker. When we spoke with Skip Simmons about it he said it was a good mod. Turns out that the new reissue Vibro Champ Reverb is outfitted with a 10” speaker. This amp was way ahead of the curve.
We also asked Skip about the 5AR4 rectifier tube shown in the pic of the back of the amp, and he said that the 5AR4 channels too much voltage for this amp and may damage the components. He suggested that we replace it with a 5Y3, so we did.

Original tolex, grill cloth, chassis straps and handle. '64 Vibro Champs did not come with a grill logo. Control knobs are original.

Of particular note, the grill cloth appears to have been installed with the narrow wales running vertical. It appears “backward” looking to the eye, but it was installed this way at the factory. Apparently there was a learning curve among the amp builders.

The tolex has a fair amount of nicks, nothing major, but certainly not pristine in any way. No museum piece, this is a player-grade amp. The faceplate is in good shape, not perfect but it looks good. These flaws do not detract from the collectible value in this amp.

There is some rust/corrosion on the chassis and other chrome. It does not affect the performance. Everything is solid.
Original stock small glider feet remain on the bottom.
Collectible as it stands.

Own a piece of Fender history that will only gain value.

Sold As-Is.

This amp is priced according to originality, collectibility, and value. If you believe it is over-priced, please make an offer. We are always open to offers.

Chrysalis Gear is a Reverb Certified Preferred Seller, Quick Shipper, and Quick Responder to messages and offers. Reverb recognizes that we provide outstanding customer service. We are here for you before, during, and after the sale. Happy musicians is our goal. If you have any questions, just send a message. We’re happy to answer.

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This item is sold As-Described

This item is sold As-Described and cannot be returned unless it arrives in a condition different from how it was described or photographed. Items must be returned in original, as-shipped condition with all original packaging.Learn More.

Listed5 years ago
ConditionGood (Used)
Good condition items function properly but may exhibit some wear and tear.learn more
  • Vibro Champ 6-Watt 1x8" Guitar Combo
  • Black Panel
  • 1964
Made In
  • United States
Model Sub-Family
  • Fender Vibro Champ
Model Family
  • Fender Champ Amp
Speaker Configuration
  • 1x8"
  • Tube
  • Fender Vintage Black Panel Amps
  • None
Color Family
  • Black

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Joined Reverb:2014

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