Our fourth ‘How I got into playing’ post where we as part of our ‘Learn the Orange Way’ campaign, offer free guitar lessons for all Orange users (more on that here), and share a series of quotes from some of our artists on why how they got into playing.

Anthony Meier, Sacri Monti & Radio Moscow

Photo by Emily Power via The Jonesing Jams

A lot of the people I grew up jamming with is really fucking good at the guitar, so I decided to look into playing the bass as I’m influenced a lot by it rhythmically and I’ve always appreciated good bass players. I started playing it more myself and realised how much fun it was and stuck with it. We used to have jam sessions three or four times a week when I was younger, and when we started Sacri Monti I bass was what I wanted to play.

Shaun Cooper, Taking Back Sunday

My parents introduced me to rock ’n’ roll music when I was a little kid, and I remember hearing The Beatles and I just connected immediately – hearing John Lennon’s voice was just like ‘Ok, I get this, and I really like it.’ My mum would always sing around the house and play a little bit of piano and my dad plays the accordion – you can’t really rock out with an accordion, although Dropkick Murphys figured out how to do. I guess people in my family were always into music and would play at least a little bit. I started playing bass when I was 12 years old, and I dont know what it was or why, but I just fell in love with it.

Devin Holt, Pallbearer

The first band I ever fell in love with was Nirvana. I remember reading about Kurt early on, and discovered that he’d loved both the Beatles and Black Sabbath. So I checked them out, and ended up sharing his admiration for both. It was around this time that I first picked up a guitar, and it’s been a wild ride since then.

Space, Black Futures

Hey Todd! Cheers for taking the time to chat to us in these locked down times, would you be so kind to introduce yourself to the reader?
Todd:
I’m Todd Winger, the guitarist in the UK rock outfit, Collateral. When we’re not out touring I work in a little bicycle shop in Maidstone during the day to keep my wife & daughter fed and watered. I started playing guitar at around 10 years old because my older brother was my childhood idol, and seeing what he could do with a 6 string was incredible! He taught me for a while until I began learning songs by ear which has served me well so far. I’ve never been one for reading music!

How did Collateral come together?
Todd:
Angelo & Jack have been in bands for a long, long time, I joined just over 2 years ago when a good friend of mine told me Angelo was looking for a guitarist. I’d never met him, but only heard good things about his talents! I sent a couple videos over & it spiralled from there. About 5 months later we needed a drummer and my long time friend Ben Atkinson being the best drummer I know, joined the crew.

You released your self-titled debut album in February and congratulations is in order, so congrats! What can you tell us about it?
Todd:
Firstly, thank you to everyone who has purchased it, streamed it, voted for it and plugged it all over the world. To reach the top 5 in the UK rock chart is amazing for us! We live an hour apart so we tend to send each other ideas, riffs and demos.. we then change a couple of things, put our own spin on it and send it back.. We usually then track the guitars on a computer clean and ‘re amp in the studio. I’ll run the solos in pretty much last thing when I’ve got a solid feel for the song. We recorded the album with Sean Kenney at Ten21 Studios in Maidstone. He’s a great guy to work with and puts a great mix together! For the album the Orange Rockerverb MKiii 50w was used on every song and on all solos!! 

Hell yeah! Can you tell us a bit about your relationship and experiences with Orange?
Todd:
The first time Orange really jumped out at me was seeing Blackberry smoke at Download 2015.. They are one of my all time favourite bands & for such a dark festival.. seeing an entire backline of Orange was awesome!! A year or so later, at a Cadillac Three gig, I met a lovely lady by the name of Karla-Ann who it turns out, is the Queen of covering the Orange amps & cabs at the factory! She told me about how amazing the company are to work for. Personally, having experienced both sides of the coin work wise that goes a long long way in my book! My relationship with Orange so far, has been nothing less than amazing!! Rapid responses to my ridiculous questions and so, so much kindness!! You’ll have to beat me away from Orange Amplifiers with a seriously big stick!!

What do you look for in an amp?
Todd:
I like an amp that you don’t have to put a ton of pedals in front of to make it sound good. In my search for an amp head, I trudged to a well known guitar shop with ample choice.. I played a plethora of different brands and models and regardless of my soft spot for Orange.. the Rockerverb MKIII simply blew every other brand out of the water! I wanted the ability to pull some utterly filthy distortion out of it and in turn, dial it back to a nice southern crunch. I rarely use a clean tone, but the Rockerverb has tons of chimey clean through smooth funky tones in the bag, no problem! 

What’s your current set up?
Todd:
I use the Rockerverb 50 MKIII head, PPC412 cabinet loaded with Celestion Vintage 30s. The one and only effect I use is a Zoom …. Chorus Pedal to widen the sound a little, mainly for rhythm purposes. That puppy sits at the back and stays on always. At my feet sits a korg pitch black tuner and under my fingers.. Jackson guitars with either Tonerider (Awesome pickups from down here in Kent) or Seymour Duncan pickups.

Our third ‘How I got into playing’ post where we as part of our ‘Learn the Orange Way’ campaign, offer free guitar lessons for all Orange users (more on that here), and share a series of quotes from some of our artists on why how they got into playing.

Marcus King, The Marcus King Band

I first started playing when I was about 3 or 4, and I’ve been playing professionally since I was about 11. I was really inspired by guitar players such as Clapton, Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn from a young age, another early discovery was The Allman Brothers Band, as well as The Marshall Tucker Band and a bunch of other great Southern bands. Later on, I got really intrigued by “the frontman”, and artists such as James Brown, Otis Redding  and Aretha Franklin – anyone who had that certain attitude would really speak to me. What really changed the game for me was when I started studying jazz theory, and discovering Miles Davis and John Coltrane was really life changing to me, a clear game changer.

Steve Bello

I heard Led Zeppelin when I was four years old, thanks to my aunt, not that she was aware of it at the time. My grandfather was a jazz guitarist way back when, so while I liked that there was a guitar player in the house, I wanted to play heavy rock from the start. Grew up listening to Zep, Queen, Aerosmith, Kiss. Started learning guitar at age 9 but didn’t take it seriously until I saw Ritchie Blackmore on MTV smashing his guitar, and seeing videos of Jimi Hendrix lighting his Strat on fire. Both of those moments made me think “I have to play guitar for life!”

Becky Blomfield, Milk Teeth

I grew up surrounded by music and the people playing it, my grandmother played and my dad played the saxophone. It was something I just naturally gravitated towards from a very young age, and it didn’t go away. I think you either have it in you or you dont, and for me it was just something I stuck with.

Photo by Carla Mundy

Stoked you’re down to chat from afar while both being quarantined away. Your band Haggard Cat just released ‘Common Sense Holiday’, congrats! It’s a killer record, what can you tell us about it?
Matt:
Why thank you! We’re both very proud of it! It’s certainly was the most intense writing and recording process we’ve ever entered into. I think from the very first track that we wrote (First Words) we knew that we were potentially looking at something very special, so we set out to make over very own Dark Side of the Moon. I think it’s my favourite album that I personally have ever been a part of. The song writing feels more evolved and mature.

We never want to relax into being the type of band that releases the same record twice, as I’m really not interested in releasing an album where a listener will already know exactly what they’re getting before even hearing a note. Some bands do this very well, but I think it makes the whole scene quite a lethargic place to be. So I never want us to stop moving, I want to take in as many different types of music from different places and allow it all to become absorbed into what we do!

In particular, now that I’m able to stand back and look at the album more critically, I’m very proud of the work I did lyrically, I think each of the songs has it’s own thing to say. I actually isolated myself to write the bulk of the lyrics (which seems quite ironic now given “the event”). I was away for a few weeks in Christchurch, New Zealand – so I set myself the task of cutting myself off the world and really honing in on what I was writing. I went a little stir crazy, but I think it really gave me a unique perspective on what I was writing about.

To sort of recap a bit, how did Haggard Cat come about in the first place?
Matt:
Haggard Cat has been mine and Tom’s passion project for almost 10 years. It has basically always been our method of writing songs, and practicing material to get it up to scratch no matter what project we were working on at the time; just the two of us going into a room and playing loud. So it only made sense for us to embark on making this our full-time project. It’s definitely the most honest form of us making music together – it’s what comes out naturally. We’ve been playing under the name Haggard Cat since the middle of 2017 when Jamie Lenman took a punt and decided to get us to support him on tour, since then we’ve pretty much been coerced into becoming a real band. Long before any of this ever happened we used to stand a bottle of Bourbon on a wooden stool (named Chris who still comes with us to every show to this day) and we wouldn’t finish the show until the bottle was empty. Hazy, hazy days.

Have you always been into music?
Matt:
A friend of mine at school’s parents bought him an electric guitar. I remember thinking it was the coolest thing ever, so basically I copied and begged my parents to get me one too. From that point on I did nothing but play guitar. I’d play in between lessons and at break times I would stay indoors and play some more, I would play non-stop after school and I even got our music teacher to write me a note excusing me from PE lessons to practice. I just loved it, and since then making music is all I’ve really had a true interest in doing.

As a guitar and drum two piece, what would you say you find the most challenging?
Matt:
This could sound a little pretentious, but the hardest thing is staying as far away from the 2-piece band stereotype that seems to precede any duo’s reputation. There’s definitely a pre-conceived notion that there’s only so much you can achieve between two of you and I think it’s a lazy idea. That was our main mission statement on CSH, to sound as far away from the typical “rock and roll” duo people have come to expect. We treated the production almost like a hip-hop album, and wanted to have a revolving door of collaborators and musicians that would come along and add their own flavours. And then as soon as it came to playing something live it would be an all together re-imagined different beast, kind of like Dylan would do in the 70s, or more recently what the Raconteurs do to their songs live.

Photo by Carla Mundy

On that note, what do you look for in an amp, and what’s your current set up?
Matt:
I put an unholy amount of bludgeoning low frequencies through my amp, so what’s always been important for me is having something that can tackle those with ease and spit them out with some balls, grit and above all clarity (with the added bonus of being able to do it at ear-splitting volume). My current set up relies on my trusty Orange Thunderverb 200 as its backbone, along with a 1973 Fender Bassman 135 for extra rumble. I also use an Orange Rocker 30 blended in there for a bit of extra sparkly grit, and on the album I use a vintage Roland Jazz Chorus for some spacey wobble. I run all of it through a bunch of tough as a brick-shit-house Orange Cabs loaded with V30s (as is tradition). 

What’s your best quarantine activity?
Matt:
Listening to records and drinking whisky. Yes, I’m a cliche.

Haggard Cat’s heading out on tour in September, after having to cancel their original spring tour due to Covid-19. Full touring schedule below, something to look forward to hey?!

1 Watt amps. Remember that craze? Yeah, so do I. I thought they were a bit disappointing too. The thing is, it seems like such a good idea: you love the sound of your big amp running full-tilt at a gig, but it’s just too loud to be practical in the studio, or sociable at home. Enter the 1W amp – often a simplified version of the front end of a big amp, strapped to a push-pull power amp design made from a dual triode preamp valve. You can see the thinking here but, having spoken to Orange Technical Director and all-round amp genius, Adrian Emsley, I get why this concept misses the point.

Adrian is a man who knows a thing or two about shrinking amps in the search for great tone – he completely turned the guitar amplifier industry on its head (no pun intended) with his now legendary Tiny Terror. This pocket-sized 15W powerhouse wiped the floor with its 100W contemporaries and changed the market forever. The reason? You could crank the Tiny Terror up into power amp overdrive (the holy grail of guitar tone) whilst all the big-rig owners had to get their distortion from the preamp – or get thrown out of the venue for making a racket!

And this is the main problem with the 1 Watt amp fad. Sure, you can turn up the volume until the power amp starts clipping, but you’re still clipping a preamp valve and it still sounds like preamp distortion. You’ll have heard the valve-related terms ‘Pentode’ and ‘Triode’ before and, while they’re a bit nerdy to really go into here, they’ll make some great background reading for those who are interested in this very important difference.

The other big downfall of the 1 Watt amp is, while you’re able to crank it up just like your big amp, it’s not your big amp!! Not only are these often-budget offerings lacking the features or character that we love about our gigging rigs, they also mean you have to buy another amp.

This is where Adrian Emsley stepped in with the aptly-named ‘Headroom/Bedroom’ switch, featured on Orange’s acclaimed Rocker 15 head and combo and the none-more-retro-and-cool Tremlord 30. The Bedroom mode drops the Rocker 15’s output all the way to 0.5 Watts (1 Watt on the Tremlord) by manipulating the signal headroom in the phase inverter part of the circuit. This simple control lets you dial in your favourite gigging sounds so quietly you could hear the neighbours banging on the walls…but they aren’t.

Flip to Headroom and it’s back to all-out, stage-filling, trouser-flapping tone. The best part is you’re always making use of those inimitable pentode output valves and still enjoying every feature of your go-to amp, without compromise. In typical fashion, Emsley has managed to tackle quite a complicated question and come up with an answer that just works. You don’t need room for two amps, you just need Headroom and Bedroom.

I’d like to know why my reverb in my Rockerverb MKIII stopped working.
Mikko: This could be caused by a number of things but the first and most obvious thing to check would be the reverb valve (12AT7). If this doesn’t solve the issue then it will most probably be a bad contact with the reverb cables, a faulty reverb tank or reverb transformer. In any case I recommend getting in touch with your local Orange Dealer or taking it to a local repair shop to get it looked at.

I think the HT fuse went in my OR15? Power amp tubes are very fresh. Any other reason why this could happen?
Mikko: Have you confirmed that it is the HT fuse that has gone or is this simply an assumption because you’re not getting any sound from the amp? If you’ve tested the HT fuse with a multimeter but it looks fine to the eye it could just be a bad fuse. You could try replacing the fuse with the correct type. If the fuse looks charred it has definitely blown due to a more serious fault in the amp. You say your output valves are new but unfortunately that doesn’t mean they haven’t failed yet. You could try bypassing the preamp entirely by plugging your guitar into the FX return to see if you’re getting any sound. This can help you narrow down the fault – if you’re getting sound from the FX Return you have a fault in the preamp (eg. a bad valve).

Why are your tubes connected straight on to the board…? Pretty much going to burn out the board due to this. Why wouldn’t you house them in a chassis then wired them to the board? For $2500 you would hope to have an amp that didn’t have short cuts/ cost cuts.
Mikko: With proper PCB design, a good layout, appropriate creepage clearances, correct voltages and the use of high quality materials and components this is really not a problem. The chassis’ on our amplifier heads are also mounted on the bottom of the sleeve meaning that all the heat will rise out of the chassis rather than into it. We have also made and still make hand wired amps such as the ‘Custom Shop 50’ where all the valve sockets are chassis mount and hand wired.. Of course this is always the preferred method but not everyone can afford a hand wired amp.

I’ve got a 1977 OR80 Overdrive Head (not the combo). It warms up and plays but is on the quiet side. If it turn the volume up to 50% I can talk louder than it….  I put in new matched tubes 1 week before this started happening. Any ideas?
Mikko: The OR80 is a very loud amp so it definitely sounds like you’re experiencing some faults here! Considering the age of the amplifier the first things to know before spunking any more money on tubes: has it been to a tech for an inspection and has it had the electrolytic capacitors replaced? From what you’re describing it does sound like a valve related issue to me. Even though your output valves are new it doesn’t mean they haven’t gone already. There could be an underlying issue in the poweramp or could be that you just received a duff pair of valves. When were the preamp valves replaced? One of these could have failed or worn out. The vintage Orange Amps are notorious for chewing through power valves quicker as they’ve got very high plate and screen voltages and no standby switch to protect the amp from huge inrush currents. I would definitely recommend taking it to a reputable technician who can inspect it, do the required repairs, replace the filter caps (if not done already) and get it biased properly. I would also recommend getting a standby switch installed. It can be installed on the SLAVE OUT on the back so there’s no need to drill new holes to the chassis.

I have a 90’s Overdrive 120 half-stack. (Also an OR15 that I love!) How close to the originals are the 90’s amps? I know some of the chassis, etc are original but is there any way to tell specifics?
Mikko:
For the most part they look pretty close to the originals. The preamp design looks very similar and even the PCB layout is nearly the same as on the 70’s models. Some of the component values are different, for example the capacitor values in the tonestack of the reissues were taken from the Overdrive Series Two circuit. The transformers on the reissues are of course from a different manufacturer. Those 90’s (pre ‘97) reissues were built in the U.K by Matamp and sold by Gibson as they had licensed the Orange name. I have never seen one of these amps or any circuit diagrams for them so I’m afraid I can’t be much more specific than that.

If someone can answer my questions it is probably you: Which Solid State amps can I use without a load? I have an OB1, can I use it without speakers? I was also thinking of getting a Little Bass Thing or a Terror Bass reissue, and that would be a decisive factor. There’s always contradictory information from people on the internet and even from the sales people at Orange. Thanks for your time!
Mikko: You’re fine to use any of those solid state amps without a load. With modern solid state amplifiers this is rarely an issue. This definitely comes in handy for silent recording at home!

Does the original Rocker 30 share a preamp stage with any of the modern heads? I heard the R32 has a different schematic. And is that because of the fx loop? Thanks! Love my Rocker.
Mikko: The Rocker 30 and the Rocker 32 share a very similar preamp stage, they’re nearly identical apart for a couple of components. A little bit of brightness was added to the Rocker 32 clean channel as people thought the Rocker 30 clean channel sounded a bit too warm. There were other design concepts implemented that made these amps very different. Such as: The ‘Rocker 30’ runs the preamp heaters at 5vAC rather than the typical 6.3vAC. The mains transformer used had a spare 5v winding for a rectifier valve (not used in the R30) and this tap was used for the preamp valves.. Very cool stuff! Also the cathode biased EL34 output stage sounds and feels very different.

My JR terror is extremely noisy at high gain… even with a quality noise gate… what could be the issue? P.S… I love your products!
Mikko: The Jim Root Terror is a 4 gain stage amplifier, so it will always have some noise to it at extremely high gain settings. But if you’re experiencing an offensive amount of noise it is very possible that you have a bad/noisy valve in your amp. I would try swapping out the first and second preamp valve one at a time to see if that does the trick. Also make sure you’re using your noise gate in the FX Loop! If you’re using a lot of gain there will always be some noise coming from the preamp so putting your noise gate in front of the amp isn’t going to do very much.

I have a 70’s OR80R combo. Turning up the reverb also adds high frequencies.
Mikko: ‘It will just do that’ is the short answer to this question. Some of the older Orange Amps, especially the rarer models with add-ons such as reverb, master volume, slave outs etc. can be a bit weird with some design quirks to say the least. The OR80R is a very rare amp and there weren’t many made in the first place so it wouldn’t surprise me if the reverb was implemented in some strange way. That said, I have never seen one of these amps in person and there aren’t even any original schematic diagrams left as far as I’m aware. A regular chassis with some rudimentary modifications was used to build these amps so even that shows it was more of a limited and experimental model. It looks like a separate PCB was used for the reverb components and no reverb transformer was used.

Reverb is out on my Rockerverb MKII 100 How do I know if it’s the fuse or spring?
Mikko: If your amp is working but your reverb isn’t, it won’t be a fuse. It will most likely be a dead reverb valve. The Rockerverb MKII uses two 12AT7 (ECC81) valves for the Reverb (positions V6 & V11) and if one of these is dead you won’t get any reverb. If that doesn’t solve the problem then we could be looking at faulty reverb leads, tank or even a faulty reverb transformer. I would recommend taking this to a reputable technician and it should be a fairly quick and inexpensive fault to fix.

My OR15 will turn on but won’t produce any sound. Worked fine the day before this happened. Have checked all fuses and tubes. Took to local shop, but they aren’t a certified Orange dealer, so they couldn’t really do much investigation. Any suggestions? Or do I need to have it sent in?
Mikko: When you checked the fuses did you do it by visual inspection only or did you test them with a multimeter as well? If it was only a visual inspection there is a possibility that your HT Fuse is just faulty (the filament could’ve come loose). You should plug your guitar directly into the FX Return of your OR15, this will bypass the preamp entirely and put your signal straight into the power amp. If this works it could tell there is a fault in the preamp (eg. a bad valve). You could also have a bad contact in your FX Loop jack sockets on the back of your amp. If one of these contacts has dirt or corrosion and something is not making contact it will cut your signal entirely. The FX Loop is a fully valve buffered loop running in a series configuration meaning the signal still goes through the valve and the switching jacks when unplugged. You should definitely try cleaning the FX Loop jack sockets, a simple way is to apply some contact cleaner (if you’ve got some) on a jack plug and inserting it into both sockets a dozen times. This should clear out any dirt and you’ll quickly find out if it was that! If any of the above doesn’t work or help you should definitely take it to a local amp technician/repair shop. They should all be capable of repairing the amp with or without being Orange Certified. Alternatively if you live in the U.K you’re more than welcome to send the amp in for us for a repair. If this is something you’d consider you can email us on workshop@orangeamps.com.

Would my OR15 ever need a “tune up”? Also, how often do the tubes need changing? Thanks!!
Mikko:
Yes your OR15 will eventually need a tune up! Lucky for you these amps are very low maintenance and easy to keep running for years by yourself if you’re comfortable with the occasional valve change. I personally don’t really change my valves unless there is an issue or the amp is starting to sound dull but it is good practice to at least change the output valves every now and then. This really depends on how often you play: If you’re playing everyday and gigging every week you probably want to change them at least once a year. If you play at home once a week and play the occasional gig they’ll last you a lot longer. The OR15 uses 2x EL84 valves in a cathode biased configuration meaning you won’t need to get the bias adjusted when you replace them. You just need to purchase a matched pair of EL84’s (they must be matched) and install them in your amp. I recommend JJ’s as they seem to make one of the most reliable and good sounding EL84’s at the moment, they are widely available and won’t cost you a fortune.

Since this morning I have no more sound on my Orange Rocker 15, but yesterday I had sound. Have my tubes gotten out of service?
Mikko: Assuming the amp still powers on yes it is very likely that one of your valves has gone bad. But first I would check the HT Fuse, this might seem fine on a visual inspection but if tested with a multimeter it could just be a bad fuse with a loose filament. I would also try plugging the guitar straight into the FX Return on the back of the amp. This bypasses the preamp entirely and let’s you plug straight into the power amp so if you’re getting sound the fault must be in the preamp (eg. a bad valve). You should also try and clean the FX Loop jack sockets. The signal still passes through the switching jacks when disconnected so any issues here could cause it to cut out. Apply some contact cleaner (if you’ve got any) on a jack plug and plug it into both sockets a dozen times. This should clear out any dirt or corrosion and fix the problem. If none of the above works it is definitely time to take it to your local Orange Dealer or an amp repair technician.

Which valves should I put in my OTR120? Thanks!
Mikko: For this amp I would try to pick output valves that can handle the higher plate & screen voltages. If I wanted to stick with EL34’s I’d probably go with Svetlana Winged C’s. The KT77 would be an interesting option, they’re a direct drop in replacement but can take the higher screen voltages and I’ve heard them sound great in other amps. Valve choices largely depend on taste and budget but I would ask the dealer about EL34’s that can handle higher plate and screen voltages. For preamp valves I’d personally go with some nice NOS valves like Mullards for example. There aren’t many preamp valves in it (1 preamp valve and 1 phase inverter) so it won’t cost you much, and they’ll last you a lot longer so you won’t be swearing everytime you blow an output valve.

So my OR100 just seems like it loses its balls about 30 minutes into playing. Worn out tubes?
Mikko: This will most probably be old and worn out tubes. If you’ve had these in your amp for a while it’s probably time for a visit to the tech for an inspection, a revalve and a bias!

My RV50MK3 is making an angry kinda grumble/buzz, I’ve taken the back off and tapped all the tubes with a pencil but that didn’t make any noise, where do I go from here? Love your amps.
Mikko: Is this only affecting one of the channels or both of your channels? Is this affected at all by the controls and tone controls of your amp including the reverb? The input jack is on a switching jack so when you unplug it it mutes the preamp. Does it shut up when you unplug your instrument lead from the amp? If the answer is yes to all or some of those questions the fault is most probably in the preamp. If it’s on both channels and none of the controls do anything to it then it’s most probably a power amp issue. It does sound like a valve related problem to me so it might be time to contact your local Orange Dealer or an amp repair technician about a service, new output valves and a proper bias adjustment. If your amp is still under warranty then take it back to your dealer and they will take care of this for you.

What do you use to clean pots that make scratchy noise from dust???
Mikko: Contact cleaner lubricant. They come from many brands but it must be the lubricated type. And don’t use too much! If the pot is still scratchy and didn’t improve at all after the first application the pot might be worn out or you might have a bad preamp valve that is putting DC on the pot.

So I don’t currently own an Orange but I figured you guys could help me out… I recently got a 1969 Marshall Super Lead (my first amp ever) it was serviced right after I bought it, got a new set of power tubes (matched quad) and got it biased. Just yesterday I bought a cab for it (a 1960BV model from 2003), I also bought a THD Hot Plate 16ohm Attenuator so I can use it at home. The problem is my amp gets WAYYY TOO HOOOOT!! After using it for a little over an hour my whole house smelled like a mix of burnt wood, metal and wires, and that smell didn’t go away for like 5 hours after I turned off the amp. I use my attenuator close to the right knob on the front and I was using my amp with the volume all the way up on both channels. I was looking up some information online and apparently people have issues with their Super Leads when they attenuate it too much? Have you guys ever experienced anything like this? Could over attenuation be the cause of the heat and the smell?
Mikko: You are playing your 100W amp at full tilt, things are going to get hot! The amp doesn’t know it’s got an attenuator after it which is kinda the entire point of the attenuator. It lets the amp work at maximum power, cooking the valves and pulling loads of current through the mains transformer and power supply. The transformers are going to get hot, the valves are going to get shit hot and don’t forget about the attenuator which is there to dissipate the excess power into heat before reaching your speakers. Of course things can get a bit too mental and you might blow some valves or worse one of your transformers.. I’ve seen this before.

Traynor YBA1 late 60s. What mods would you do? 
Mikko: First I would make sure the death cap has been removed and a proper 3 prong cord has been installed. If I had to mod it I’d probably mod one of the channels into a plexi style thing as we’re not a million miles off.

Do you guys pack an electrical print with the Amps?
Mikko: If you’re talking about a schematic diagram no we don’t send these out with our amps. We do supply these to service technicians around the world upon request.

What’s a good way to get into amp building?
Mikko: ‘I love the smell of solder in the morning’. Let’s start with the obvious – you need to be very interested in AMPS.. if not obsessed! If schematics, wires, old dusty valves and capacitors remind you of some kind of robotic pornography you might have what it takes! I knew for years that I wanted to build valve amps and work with vintage audio equipment but I just had no idea how to get into it. It was very frustrating because I was completely alone and I didn’t know anyone else who was interested in it so I didn’t have anyone to discuss the topic with. So the hardest thing is to find the information and resources to get started learning and initially you’ll have to do this all by yourself. Be prepared to spend many lonely nights in front of the computer with a cheap bottle of wine building amps in your imagination. The next most important thing is to get out there and meet other people who are into this stuff. That’s easier said than done as most techs are reclusive mad bastards but once you’ve made some friends who work in the industry you’ll be amazed at what you’ll start learning!

Your first project: Are you going to repair, restore/rebuild or scratch build an amp? I know you want to build amps but is this really the most sensible first project? Building amps from scratch costs a lot of money. It’s your first amp so you’re going to make some mistakes, buy some wrong parts etc. and there are no guarantees it will even work. So a more sensible first project could be a restoration. Yes vintage amps cost money too but if you choose wisely and do the work right you’ll at least make your money back or even turn a profit when you resell.. or end up with something really cool?! You will learn a lot more this way and after some success you will have the confidence to build your first amp. There are plenty of amazing books and resources out there, to name a few: The Tube Amp Book by Aspen Pitman, RCA Radio Designer’s Handbook by Langford Smith, Valve Wizard…

Did the overdrive 120‘s used different transformers thru the mid to end 70‘s?
Mikko: Yes Orange used a variety of different transformer manufacturers throughout the 70’s. I’ve seen Partridge in the very early ones, Parmeko towards the mid 70’s and the latest example from 1978 had Ladbroke transformers in it. 

Outside of broken input jacks, what is the most common failure for the amps you see?
Mikko: ‘User has been a twat’ or crap fuses seem to be the most common. You’d be surprised how many people put a pint in their amp!

Where is a good place to get replacement fuses for my Orange amp?
Mikko: If you’re in the U.K you should look on RS Components! They do free next day delivery so I get them from there. If you’re abroad you should try any other electronics/component supplier. The fuse size you’re looking for is 5x20mm and they’re really cheap.

Does the bell bottoms make the amp sounds better?
Mikko: They make everything better! Unless the flare’s too big and I can’t tell which pedal I’m treading on.

Where can I find bell bottoms as dope as these?
Mikko: The ladies section at ‘Council Thrift Shops’ in the corner of North Fairfax Avenue & Oakwood Avenue in Los Angeles, CA. Also there’s no changing room so you’ve got to strip on the shop floor. $8

What kind of oranges do you guys use to get those amps to sound so badass?
Mikko: The Orange Sunshine kind!

Meet the Team on Instagram

Orange Amps Launch Instagram Programme #OrangeHangs 

Meet The Orange Team With A Series Of Instagram Live Sessions.
Orange Amplification hopes that you and your family are staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.
 
Orange is offering a ray of sunshine with the #OrangeHangs programme of live Instagram sessions. Simply visit the Orange Amps ‘Watch Live’ Instagram for regular bright spells of positivity, help, advice and general rambles from a wide range of the company’s dedicated experts and ambassadors.
 
Every Tuesday and Friday at 2:00pm EST (6:00pm GMT) join Orange’s Global Artist Relations Manager, Alex Auxier, in Artists Relations Corner. He will be providing insights into endorsements, general Orange information and remote interviewing artists and industry guests. The hangs will also include live Q & A sessions.
 
Artist Relations and Technical Genius collide as Alex host’s a live stream with Jon Bailey, Orange’s USA Senior Amp Technician on Wednesdays at 2:30pm EST (6:30pm GMT). Drinks at the Genius Pub sees Jon’s unmatched breadth of knowledge ideally placed to take questions about anything related to musical gear, old and new.
 
Ella Stormark, from Orange Artist Relations, will Ramble On every Sunday at 12:20pm EST (4:20pm GMT). She will be talking records, music, working for Orange, endorsements and loads of other interesting odds ’n’ ends.
 
Plug in Baby, hosted by Danny Gomez, Orange Marketing & Artist Relations Consultant and OMEC Designer, will be broadcast across the week, Monday to Friday at 12:00pm EST (4:00pm GMT). He will be discussing contemporary guitar rigs, Orange new products and the groundbreaking OMEC Teleport technology, as well chatting about his life on the road as a session musician.
 
Other sessions in the pipeline, days and times to be announced soon, are the Wizard of Denmark Street where viewers can meet Orange’s Technical Director, the legendary Adrian Emsley. He will be talking about gear, product design and the world of R & D.

Cliff Cooper, founder and CEO of Orange Amplification, will feature in The World of Music. Send in questions to our website and he will be delighted to answer them. Plus Ken Rose, Orange Ambassador and guitarist with the band Hero Jr., will be playing in Quarantine Hero (Jr) where he will jam in both solo and band settings, take questions and talk about his love of all things Orange.
 
Stay connected and have something different to look forward to each day with Orange. No matter how far apart you are, with Orange, no one is alone. Visit https://orangeamps.com/blog-article/ to check the full weekly timetable of sessions.

Ask Cliff

We’re giving the opportunity for all Orange fans to put their questions to Orange Founder and CEO Cliff Cooper.

For more than 50 Years Cliff has been an important figure in the Music and Entertainment Industry. From recording to publishing – artist management to equipment hire, Cliff has always sought to bring an innovative approach to everything he’s done and in the process has become friends with some of the biggest names in the industry.

If you have a question for Cliff about Orange, his five decades in the music industry, or frankly anything about this business, this is your chance to ask someone who really has seen and done it all.

To submit a question, all we need you to do is complete the form below and Cliff will try to answer as many of your questions as he can. We’ll broadcast his answers on our Instagram page

What are you waiting for?

Our second ‘How I got into playing’ post where we as part of our ‘Learn the Orange Way’ campaign, offer free guitar lessons for all Orange users (more on that here), and share a series of quotes from some of our artists on why how they got into playing.

Laura Cox

Photo by Carlos Fabian.

I picked up the guitar when I was 14, and I think my dad’s very much to thank for that. He wasn’t a musician himself, but he was very interested in music, and it was something that was a part of my life from a very young age; him playing various country and classic rock records around the house. I first started playing acoustic, but it only lasted for about a year as I realised electric was more my thing. I was just playing around at home, and signed up to Youtube where I started sharing videos of cover songs I was playing. I didn’t really think much of it besides wanting to share my passion with the world, so the response was pretty overwhelming as I ended up getting millions of views! Back then, it wasn’t many females my age doing that sort of thing, posting classic rock covers, so there seemed to be a market for it and it definitely helped me get where I am today!

Kristian Bell, The Wytches

I initially started out playing drums as a kid, and didn’t really get into guitar until I was 17. I’d watch people play Nirvana covers on YouTube and just copy what their hands were doing, that’s how I learnt the basics. I guess already knowing how to  play an instrument was a bit of a head start but I wouldn’t really say I’m a real guitar player, I just wanted to be able to play the Nirvana songs.

Murray Macleod, The Xcerts

Photo by: TLBrooker Imagery

Starting it all off and sparking the interest was definitely the household I grew up in, both my parents and older sister was very into music. My dad in particular is pretty much a rock ’n’ roll historical – not as a profession or a job, but for as long as I can remember he’s just always had this encyclopaedic knowledge about dates, record companies, releases, band members and tours, and he has this amazing vinyl collection that I’d go through as a kid, pick albums to listen to based on their covers and end up with bands such as KISS and The Monkees, but it wasn’t until he played me The Beatles everything changed; I even remember the day and exactly where we were, sat in our car parked up waiting for my sister, and he played me live at the BBC by The Beatles, and I think I must have been about six or seven, I was really young, but it just felt like real life magic.

Susan Santos at 100 Club 10th of March 2020

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Susan: I was born in a small city in the southwest of Spain, Badajoz. I’m a self taught guitar player, and I’ve always been into songwriting. I started a band in my hometown, but eventually moved to Madrid in the hope of making a living from my music. There, I worked as a guitarist in a National TV show and in musical theatre. Eventually, I started working on my own stuff, which I’ve been doing ever since. I’ve toured Europe, the US and Mexico, and released five albums. My last one, ‘No U Turn’ won be the best musician performance in The European Blues Awards, and Best Album Female in The L.A Music Critics Awards.

How did you get into playing in the first place?
Susan:
I originally started playing Spanish guitar when I was 18, and about two years later I found the blues on the radio – I’d never heard this sort of music before, and I didn’t know what it was but I instantly fell in love with that sound! From that point, I discovered all the classics, Beatles, Hendrix, Cream, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and of course, Stevie Ray Vaughn – my head felt like it was gonna explode when I heard him, and I just knew I wanted to play electric guitar.

As a guitarist, is there anyone else besides Stevie Ray Vaughn that sort of stuck out to you?
Susan:
I’m influenced by a lot of artists, but Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Tom Petty and The Beatles all bring out a smile and fill me with energy.

On that note, there’s footage of you jamming with Billy Gibbons, how did that come about? As a ZZ Top fan, how was that experience?
Susan:
Last summer my band and I played the same festival as Billy Gibbons’ Supersonic Blues Machine, and they invited me on stage to play with them, and it was an amazing experience. Just imagine, Billy is one of my favourite guitarists of all time! He was a lovely guy, and it was really funny as he kept speaking to me in Spanish;  “Hola Soy Guillermo…”. For that I played one of my other favourite amps, the Rockerverb 50 MKIII head – an awesome amp, perfect for a big stage.

You recently took our TremLord 30 on tour, how did you get on with it?
Susan:
The TremLord has the sound I always wanted, it’s got a warm and rounded tone, and it’s full of body. The tube tremolo with two speed settings and spring reverb is awesome, and I could use it for playing at home and get a great sound, changing the power mode from 30w down to just 1w. I’d recommend everyone to give it a go!

What do you look for in an amp?
Susan:
I’m after a clean sound, with a rock tone. Sparkling, with full body. Before I was a full time musician I used to work in a guitar shop, and I tried a whole bunch of amps. It’s not easy to find  clean tone without losing body, or losing tone with pedals. I’m incredibly happy with my current set up!

What sort of stuff are you currently listening to?
Susan:
I tend to listen to all kinds of music, as I find you can learn from all of them. Of course, I listen to a lot of rock, americana, country and soul. I’ve also been reading a lot of music biographies lately, about musicians such as Erik Satie, Tom Waits, Ravi Shankar and Woody Guthrie.