I opened the Orange shop in September 1968 and designed a crest with each part symbolising the values and ethos of what I wanted the company to represent. Above the crest I put the new company’s name “Orange” in stylised writing. I’ve always dreamt big so under the crest I placed the words “Voice Of The World”. I’m so proud that after nearly 53 years, what was once a wild ambition has now been realised and represents what Orange has become.

Orange continues to surpass my most ambitious dreams. Reaching out around the world to over 120 countries, it’s true that ‘The sun never sets on Orange’ and it always fills me with great comfort to know that at any one time there will always be someone, somewhere enjoying the warmth provided by the classic sound of an Orange amplifier. This new emblem will accompany the crest and logo in identifying the high quality products and caring support we strive to provide worldwide. The Orange O acts like the sun, shining its light and warmth over the globe and I hope it will continue to do so, “always”.

Cliff Cooper
Founder and CEO

The Orange Voice Box developed by Orange in the mid 70’s and from memory the first batch of prototypes were branded Orange. However, at that time we had released the JImmy Bean amps with the 70’s denim and leather appearance, so we decided to market the Voice Box under the brand name of Jimmy Bean. The Voice Box emerged on recordings of Stevie Wonder, Joe Walsh etc. and of course on the back of Peter Frampton’s hugely successful ‘Show Me The Way’.

In fact, John Miles went to No2. in the US Billboard Charts with ‘Slow Down’ which was recorded using the Voice Box. It connects between amp and speaker with a simple footswitch which diverts the sound from the speaker to the transducer inside the Voice Box. A plastic tube connects between the Voice Box and into the performer’s mouth which is then amplified through the microphone and PA System. Various sounds could then be created by shaping your mouth. The driver in the Jimmy Bean was the Celestion HF1000 Horn unit. They were hugely successful.

Ever since he founded Orange back in 1968, Cliff Cooper has always believed that no other company could have cared more than us about innovation in guitar valve amplifier design and sound technology. However, it’s not just about design, it’s about how the sound is perceived – something that Cliff has always thought of as ‘the sound of the sound‘… it’s about the physical pleasure that the sound of an amp gives a guitarist as he plays. That is what really matters.

I’ll share some of my favourite ‘Orange Sound‘ devices that I use in my studio, live shows, demos, etc.

For example, let’s talk about the Kongpressor pedal, an analogue Class A compression pedal with an organic three dimensional quality.

Credit: Musicradar

Kongpressor’s effect is transparent at lower compression levels, but somehow fattening, adding mojo and a glossy sheen to your core tone that you’ll truly miss when it’s bypassed. Even at extreme settings, the tone always remains musical with great feel under the fingers. Outstanding for crystal clean country pickin’, but maintaining the bottom end that seems to get lost in many compression pedals, behaving impeccably with overdrive pedals or the lead channel of your amplifier, adding fullness and sustain.

Oooooooor, what about the PPC212, a closed-back 2×12″ featuring two Celestion Vintage 30 speakers, the PPC212 is in essence our classic 4×12 slashed in half, ideal for players looking for the the fattest possible tone when a 4×12″ would be too large.

Finished in our legendary 1968 livery, basket weave vinyl, woven speaker grille cloth, signature ‘picture frame’ edging and 18mm Birch ply construction… what a cab !! As Devon Allman described it “This ain’t your Daddy’s blues. It’s the next generation. It gets airborne. It’s fueled by Orange.”

I’ll keep picking favourites and bringing them to you, to maybe give you a new idea for your rig, an obscure gadget you should discover or the next classic to be Orange product.

“… we can always learn new skills and improve, we will also continue with our search for perfection.” – Cliff Cooper

Frank Sidoris by David Phillips

Orange Amplification is delighted to welcome new Ambassador Frank Sidoris, rhythm guitarist with Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators.
 
Sidoris, who has been with Slash since 2012, has also played with Alice Cooper, the late great Lemmy Kilmister and Rush’s Alex Lifeson. More recently he has joined Wolf Van Halen’s, Eddie Van Halen’s son, new band Mammoth WVH.
 
He uses the Custom Shop 50 amp, known for its exquisite blues / rock tones providing an inspiring canvas for his rhythm work combining it with the cabinet main stay for touring artists, the classic PPC412.
 
Talking about being an Orange Ambassador Sidoris said: “It’s an honor to be associated with Orange, a company that has remained at the pinnacle of iconic tone and style for decades and continues to catch eyes and ears on stage and in the studio.”

We regularly receive photos, videos and enquiries regarding old Orange amps, the latest one being an Orange 120 watt 6 channel PA mixer amp with reverb (Cheers to @seppevermeeren & @johnnygreenstudio on Instagram for sending us the photo!). We are lucky to have a few experts onboard who’s been with Orange since the early days and are able to answer pretty much any question, such as Mick Dines who had the following to say about the amp above:

This is an Orange 120 watt 6 channel PA mixer amp with reverb. They were manufactured between 1974 – 1977. This is the powered version using a 120 watt Orange slave power amplifier (model OR111) and the transistor preamp. It was also available as a ’mixer only’ with a sloped fronted cabinet.The cabinet may be original, but it has been recovered in a leatherette type of material with metal corners. Curiously, the back of the cabinet is covered in the original ICI basket weave, the same emboss that is used today, but painted black. In 1976 we updated our covering material to an exclusive product manufactured by a UK company called Brymors, so this amplifier would have been earlier than 1976. As with all Orange chassis’ during this period, the model number was added using ‘Letraset’ (a typeface letter/number transfer) and then varnished over. As there were so many models using the same chassis, amps were built as either an 80 watt or a 120 watt and the final model was built based upon our order book.

The model number OR111 was updated mid 70’s to SL120. The chassis printing is the older style and the mixer preamp fixed with bolts through the front panel which was not the production method of fixing. Serial numbers were not entirely consistent with the year of manufacture but I would suggest that this was one of the first batches of the mixer amp ever made so I would suggest this is a 1974 model. Due to the various manufacturing irregularities I would further suggest this may even have been the prototype.

I have a couple of pictures of a later model that were sent to me and you will be able to see the difference between the two chassis:

1969 was a big year for Orange Amplifiers. It was when we found our mojo, what we call the Voice of the World.

50 years on we take a look at the world of Orange and how together we’ve shaped the Voice of the World.

Fleetwood Mac Sweden November 1968 with the very first Orange backline & PA.

Having started by making super clean lead amplifiers Orange soon began to look for ways to increase the ‘perceived’ volume at the request of our customers. Our equipment gave out a true 120 watts RMS but lower-powered models from other manufacturers sounded louder.

The solution came to Orange Amplifiers CEO Cliff Cooper after a meeting with a leading ear specialist in London’s Harley Street.

The brain can register distortion as pain in order to protect the mechanism of the ears. The jagged harmonics produced by the distortion work the ear’s conducting bones harder, and this is perceived by the audio nerves as an increase in sound level. The original Orange amps were especially clean sounding with very little distortion. In order to correct the situation, we gave the amp a lot more gain and modified our circuitry. These changes gave birth to the ‘Orange sound’ – best described as ‘fat’ and ‘warm’ – more musical and richer in harmonics, with a unique saturation in the mids.

Cliff Cooper

Success soon followed with a boom throughout the 1970s, but changes in circumstances meant that by the end of the decade production had almost stopped. Yet Orange Amplifiers remained at large and were gathering an unseen legion of fans.

The Voice of the World was resuscitated in 1997 when Britpop pioneer Noel Galligher visited Cliff Cooper and now Technical Director Adrian Emsley in Denmark Street where Cliff ran a shop. Noel wanted to add more crunch to his vintage OR120, eventually leading to the development of a new amplifier, the OTR. This heralded the second coming of Orange. This was closely followed by the AD series in 1998.

Noel Gallagher’s Orange Custom Shop 140

In a world far, far away from Britpop, stoner rockers were also adopting vintage Orange within their wall of sound. The embers of Orange Amplifiers, smouldering in the limelight of yesteryear, went from a flicker to a roaring flame when an Orange OR120 was featured on the album insert of Sleep’s 1998 release ‘Dopesmoker’.

“I’ve been using Orange for kinda a long time actually. I was watching Black Sabbath on MTV when I was a kid and I was like Orange, Orange, Orange. After that, we started buying Oranges up when we first, kind of, started the band. That’s kind of I was going for – you know, in the beginner like a classic, rock, overdrive. Now I’m just using massive mountains of Orange” – Matt Pike of Sleep

Since the 90s, Orange Amplifiers and the Voice of the World has become synonymous with music from every genre: Country to Metal, World to Jazz. Even from our humble beginnings, Orange has always been a David and Goliath-like story, we’re not just a business full of execs in suits, with Orange it’s personal. We’ve done all the jobs possible: roadie, performer, rigger, producer, repair engineer; in other words, we understand your voice, it sounds a lot like ours.

Shaping the Voice of the World

1.     Built to last, our speaker cabinet design went beyond the designs at the time. 18mm birch-faced marine ply, a central baffle post and tough Orange vinyl was the standard we set. It still remains to this day.

2.     Wooden skids replaced plastic casters. No more broken wheels and the skids act as a coupler, enhancing the bass response.

3.     Orange Amplifiers own our factories, unlike other OEMs who use contractors we’re able to manage every step of the production process in house, irrespective of the country of manufacture.

4.     By over-specifying on the transformers, we reduce the amount of heat building up inside your amplifier, meaning longer operational life. 

5.     Those very transformers prevent the amplifier from throttling the output signal, which means passing the whole frequency spectrum without losses to the top and bottom of the range. 

6.     Almost all our amplifiers (bar the Terror Bass) feature a tube buffered FX loop ensuring the signal chain isn’t compromised at any stage. 

7.     Analogue is the standard, that means no digital modelling. Only the highest quality components and that all-analogue design is what brings Orange Amplifiers tone to life

8.     We created the first-ever digital amplifier with the OMEC Digital back in 1974.

9.     While we launched don’t mess with what’s inside the amp we’ve brought the same commonsense Orange thinking to the digital era with the OMEC Teleport, a latency-free AD/DA converter, marrying up old and new technology and super simple to use.

10.  We justify our all analogue circuitry through what makes Orange ‘Orange’. Just switch the amp on and you’ll get what we mean, no tone hunting required. Simply plug and play.

11.  Built for international touring artists as well as home use, wattage switching options are designed into many of our amplifiers. Also this feature is ideal for pushing your amp to the edge.

12.  Experimentation is our bag, take for instance the Rocker 32 which features a two 10” Voice of the World speakers which can run in mono, stereo or even patched one side wet and the other side dry.

13.  Speaking of those Voice of the World speakers. What makes them unique is a very fast and tight bottom end that speeds up with more overdrive, alongside a vintage sounding top end.

14.  Our flagship Rockerverb MkIII is built on three generations of development based on user feedback, featuring a four-stage ‘dirty’ channel that gives mid-range crunch the more you crank it.

15.  We’ve also led the revolution of lunchbox proportions with our now discontinued Tiny Terror heralded as “the most important guitar product in the last 30 years” – Guitarist Magazine. Although you can’t buy the original anymore, we now do a 30-watt version, doubling the power!

16.  Innovation is something we’re proud of, and we’re keen to support innovators too such as Kelby Ray of The Cadillac Three. His lap steel rig brings out both the highs and the lows taking the grit of the AD200-MK3, and the crunch and full-bodied mid-range of the AD30HTC and OR15H.

17.  It’s not just Kelby who’s at it with innovation. Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick’s monster rig features both Orange bass and guitar amps pushed to their limit, Petersson’s sound comes from when the amp is “about ready to blow up”, but they don’t blow up…

18.  See number 5.

19.  Orange Amplifiers, valve or solid-state, are made to bring out the expression in your playing, offering a dynamic low-end with a focused mid-range and harmonics that are present across the full frequency spectrum.

20.  Most amps are black. We can do black, we prefer Orange though.

21.  Our solid-state amplifiers are based on achieving that classic British Orange valve tone, only much lighter.

22.  We might over-engineer our equipment, but that’s why we’re on the rig list for most major equipment hire companies.

23.  One example of why is that we lay extra-thick PCB traces (Rock and Roll, I know!) to prevent impedance from building up unwanted heat.

24.  Alongside the lunchbox design, we also recognised that people are using pedals more and more. So we created the Pedal Baby 100 which gives you all that Orange clean tone in a portable unit, leaving you to add whatever you need on top. 

25.  It’s as much the genius that creates our technology as it is people we learn from that makes Orange Amplifiers the Voice of the World.

The Orange Forum is finally closing its doors. It had a great run, more than 15 years actually. We’re locking the forum and will leave it online indefinitely as a knowledge source/brain dump. Here’s a message from forum moderator, Billy Claire:

“This is the last topic on the Orange forum.

For the last few months there has been a real drop-off of interest in the forum. With the rise of Orange-specific Facebook groups, most of the questions that are being asked there would have been asked here previously. Times change. Add to that a rise in the number of spammers who join incessantly, and it has become difficult to separate fake members from real.

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I started coming to the forum in 2002 when I was a fledgling Orange fanatic looking for information anywhere I could find it. I had all the amp books that had a fleeting reference to Orange, like Aspen Pittman’s “The Tube Amp Book” and Ritchie Fliegler’s book, “Amps!: The Other Half of Rock ‘N’ Roll.” Ritchie’s book had a black and white photo from Nite Bob’s archives of the back page of the 1973 catalog with the enticing spread of Orange gear across a field. I hoped to find information on the forum, but I found myself answering a lot of people’s questions instead. After a few months, I emailed Jason Green and asked why Orange wasn’t answering the questions on the forum, and his reply was “By the time we’ve read them, you’ve already answered them – would you want to moderate the forum?” So I did, starting in 2004, and it’s been a fun fifteen years of doing so.

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Forum Mod, Billy Claire

Over the years I’ve come to know so many new people around the world that I regularly keep in touch with. In my travels I’ve met up with a few in London, Wales, here in the USA, and typically raise a pint or two with them! Some people that I’ve met have left the Orange camp, but I still keep in touch with them to this day. It was fun lending my amps to Orange for the 50th celebration display at NAMM a couple of years ago, and I really enjoyed meeting Cliff Cooper both at Orange HQ UK when I went over to visit and in Anaheim at NAMM. Everyone at Orange has been extremely helpful and friendly over the years and I would be remiss not to mention Alex Auxier, Mick Dines, Charlie Cooper, Neil Mitchell, Will Loftin, Ade Emsley, and many others who I have met or spoken to over the years. Add to that that I’m mentioned in the Orange coffee table book and I can die a happy man!

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Forum Mod Billy Claire and Cliff Cooper

We will lock the forum but leave it in place as a resource for people looking for information.

So remember:
• check your fuse
• use a known working cable/guitar/speaker cable
• it’s probably tubes/valves
• don’t touch anything inside
• plug one 16 ohm cab into the 16 ohm out; two 16 ohm cabs go into the two 8 ohm outs
• don’t mix ohms
• don’t try to run two heads into a stereo cab
• call Orange

Some resources:
Orange Field Guide:
www.orangefieldguide.com
Orange Amplifiers Owners Group Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/246540289020198
Orange Amplifiers AD Series Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/369947780302017/
Vintage Orange Amplification Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/331897577479370/

It’s been great! See you out there…
Billy Claire “

Those of you who read last week’s ‘Voice of Heritage‘ article (A little bit of shameless self promotion’s never killed anyone, has it…?) might recall Wishbone Ash and Andy Powell’s significance to Orange as they were one of the first major British bands to take Orange to the States (alongside Fleetwood Mac), with Wishbone Ash’s relationship to Orange dating all the way back to our humble days in Soho. So, needless to say, I was over the moon with excitement and filled to the brim with joy when I was asked to interview guitarist Andy Powell, an inspiration to so many musicians to follow, with the likes of Thin Lizzy and iron Maiden both citing Andy and the band’s twin guitar sound as a major influence to their own music.

They say you should never meet your heroes, but if your hero’s Andy I beg to differ, as he’s humble, kind, extremely charismatic and of course, incredibly talented. The interview turned into an hour long or so chat (for which I must apologise for to my fellow viking Marthe who had the tough job of editing it all together), and I reckon I could sit and listen to Andy’s stories for another three days without getting sick of them. However, I’m sure Andy’s got better things to do than self-indulging for my listening pleasure for days on end. In our hour or so of chatting, Andy shared some amazing stories from his life on the road, and I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

Last year we celebrated our 50 year anniversary, that’s half a century of Orange Amps! What’s even more impressive, is the fact that the company is still family run, with the CEO and top-cat being none other than founder Cliff Cooper himself, running the show decades down the line. Working closely with him, is son and Marketing Director Charlie Cooper – gotta love a family business, eyh?

When founded in 1968 as ‘Orange Music’, Orange was originally a retail store selling secondhand music equipment, doubling as a recording studio in the basement. However, it didn’t take long before Orange took on the task of making their own amps. Cliff had studied electronics at college and was ready for another challenge, and amplification named after his favourite colour seemed like the logical next step. Once Orange Amps became a reality, Cliff started searching for a company to help manufacture the amps, and eventually went with Mat Mathias of Radio Craft. At this point, Mat was working on his own 30w Matamp Series 2000 at the back of his tobacconist shop in Huddersfield.

When developing the Orange sound, Cliff worked closely with guitarists to find out what they wanted, and with artists such as Eric Clapton, Marc Bolan and Paul Kossoff all being frequent faces at the Orange shop he had pretty must the best customer feedback any man could hope for in those days. The original Orange amps had a very clean sound, so clean that despite blasting them at full blow they didn’t have the same effect as some distorted lower watt amps. The reason for this, is because the harmonics created by distortion works the ear’s conducting bones harder than a cleaner, less distorted sound, which is then perceived by our audio nerves as an increased sound level, and it wasn’t until the circuits were modified and a whole lotta gain was added that the Orange tone we all love and adore was born.

In October 1968, Fleetwood Mac’s former tour manager Dinky Dawson and guitarist Peter Green stopped by the Orange store and placed an order for the first ever Orange PA, which a mere four weeks later was a reality when the band got six 100w amps and sixteen cabs which they took for a spin around the UK, before flying them over to the states for a three month tour.

Creating these amps, Cliff and Mat Mathias worked together with Cliff supervising the 2000 Series being upgraded from 30w to 100w on Fleetwood Mac’s request, while the picture-frame amp sleeves and speaker enclosures were built on site in the Orange shop. Being on such a tight schedule, the brand new and iconic psychedelic Orange logo was sent up to Huddersfield to get engraved using a company Mat had used in the past – out of courtesy, Cliff also agreed to add the Matamp logo beneath it, which is when the whole ‘Orange Matamp’ confusion started. To set things straight, ‘Orange Matamp’ was never actually a company, however, it was a product, a very successful one, I might add, with some artists even using theirs this day to day (Wishbone Ash’s Andy Powell being one of them.) It didn’t take long before Orange was the talk of the town, and the company pretty much jet launching into oblivion with even the likes of BB King giving Orange a thumbs up!

Eric Clapton

Business was booming, and Cliff was keen to move production to larger premises to get on top of back-orders, as well as having this idea of ‘Cooper Mathias’ becoming a sub-contractor for other amplification manufacturers. Unfortunately, Mat Mathias had a different vision, and the two went their separate ways, while remaining friends until the passing of Mathias in 1989. As for Orange, the rest is, as they say, history. Filling you in on 50 years worth of history is quite the challenge, but if you wan’t to dig a little deeper we’ve got a whole series of ‘Building the Brand‘ on our blog – who said history couldn’t be fun?

Orange have since the start in 1968 played an important part in British music history, from the likes of Cream’s Eric Clapton stopping by the original Orange store to pick up a left handed Fender Stratocaster for Jimi Hendrix (more on that here), to providing Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac with a full Orange backline during one of their early US tours. Here we take a look at a few artists who have played a vital role in Orange’s success over the years.

Fleetwood Mac, John McVie

Terror Bass
4 Stroke Bass
OB1-300
AD200 MK3
Fleetwood Mac’s story with Orange began in October 1968, when their road manager Dinky Dawson brought guitarist Peter Green to the Orange Shop where they placed an order for the first ever Orange PA, and just a few weeks later, the band got six 100-watt amps and sixteen cabs. The band took the backline for a spin around the UK, before taking them on a three month tour to the states.

Fleetwood Mac’s former guitarist Peter Green

Over the past five decades the band has had several line up changes as well as musical changes, going from classic British blues to melodic pop rock and soft rock. The only constant thing in the band since the early days if the solid rhythm section consisting of bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood. With this sort of history with the band, Orange was proud to welcome John McVie as an official endorsed artist in 2015.

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder, one of the biggest names in funk and soul and another one of the earliest artists to use Orange. Stevie Wonders history with the company dates all the way back to 1969 when he used the then existing Orange Studios. He first used Orange Amps while recording Superstition for his 1972 album “Talking Book”, and can be seen using them in a seven minute version of the song on Sesame Street in 1973.

The single hit number one on the Billboards and the album was certified Gold in Canada and the United states. Decades after the 70’s funk and soul heyday, Stevie Wonder is still going strong and is an avid Orange user and ambassador to this day. He’s also stopped by the Orange stall at the NAMM convention a couple of times to reminisce about the good old days with founder and CEO Cliff Cooper.

Wishbone Ash, Andy Powell

Rockerverb 100
PPC412
Orange Matamp

Another band that brought Orange to the states and opened American’s eyes to it were Wishbone Ash, and who’s history started with Orange in 1970 when guitarist Andy Powell stopped by the old Orange shop in Soho. He was then served by founder and CEO Cliff Cooper who sold him a Gibson Flying V which later became his trademark guitar, and one of the original Orange Matamp heads, which incredibly enough is still going strong this day today. Wishbone Ash are known for their two lead guitars and guitar harmonies which got Andy Powell and former bandmate Ted Turner voted two of the “Ten Most Important Guitarists in Rock History”, and in 1972 described by Melody Maker as “the most interesting two guitar team since the days when Beck and Page graced The Yardbirds”.

They have also been hugely influential on other guitarists, and inspired later bands such as Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy.

Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page

Custom Shop 50
AD30HTC
This one is pretty self explanatory, don’t you think? We feel pretty confident when we say that Led Zeppelin was, and probably forever will be, the biggest rock band the world has ever seen. From “Whole Lotta Love” to “Black Dog”, “Kashmir”, and “Immigrant Song” to, well, “Rock ’n’ Roll”, Led Zeppelin produced jaw dropping, foot stomping mind blowing powerhouse rock ’n’ roll songs with elements of blues, folk, fairytales and – hmm, lemon juice.. Fronted by Greek God-like Robert Plant and mysterious Jimmy Page in his silky dragon suits with the drummer of all drummers John Bonham behind the kit and multi-instrumentalist and bassist extraordinaire John Paul Jones on bass, well, other bands stood no chance. Led Zeppelin was a force to be reckoned with, heavier than their name itself, and we could not be prouder or more excited to have Jimmy Page as one of our artists. He first started using Orange in the 70s along with a few other amps and have been an avid user ever since. Some of you may have noticed he also used Orange for Led Zeppelin’s 2007 Celebration Day? Yeah, pretty cool huh?

Oasis

The 90s saw a few bands fight for the throne of the Britpop empire, but as far as commercial success goes, none exceeded Oasis, fronted by the Gallagher brothers who were featured as much in the media for their, uhm, ‘disagreements’ and wild lifestyle as for their music. Disputes and partying put aside, their second album, 1995’s “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?” became one of the best selling albums of all time, with 22 million copies sold worldwide. These were pretty quiet times for Orange, but towards the late nineties the company was making it’s way back to the top, and Noel Gallagher’s decision to use Orange on their 1997 record ‘Be Here Now’ as well as on their accompanying world tour certainly fuelled the fire.