Orange Amplification joins the nation in mourning  the sad loss of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth Il and we offer our sincere condolences to the Royal Family at this time.

Receiving the Queen’s Award in 2006, 2009 & 2012 was and will always be a great honour for us.

We celebrate her unprecedented devotion to duty and her dedication to a life of public service and a unifying presence for us all.

Sincerely.

Cliff Cooper and all at Orange.

The colourful history of Orange Amplification is celebrated in three new videos featuring legendary front of house sound engineer Colin Norfield, renowned sound engineer John ‘JJ’ James and respected cabinet designer Mick Dines.

In the 70’s Orange Amplification created Orange Hire to provide the PA and backline for the big outdoor festivals such as Reading and the Isle of White. Bass player Colin Norfield was the perfect man to manage this enterprise. From this he went on to become one of the iconic pro-audio specialists of our time. The list of prestigious tours he has worked on include Diana Ross, Toto, Iron Maiden, Pink Floyd, Zucchero and his relationship with David Gilmour has lasted more than five decades.

A mainly self-taught tinkerer and rule breaker, John ‘JJ’ James was responsible for designing most of the company’s products through to 1979 including the innovative ‘Pics Only’ amp synonymous with the brand. When the Bexley Heath factory closed in 1979, James began working with Brain Hatt, chief engineer at Orange Studios before going on to spend more than forty years ‘stage left’ for world class gigs including Eric Clapton, Queen + Adam Lambert, Joe Satriani, Robbie Williams and many more.

Mick Dines, worked with Orange Amplification from 1968 to the present day and was the General Manager of Orange Amplification during the 70’s. He used his experience as a touring bass player to make the company’s cabinets solid and robust. He also introduced the characteristic ‘Basketweave’ front, the material which helped define the distinctive ‘Orange ‘ tone. Dines’ knowledge of the bass guitar was instrumental in the company’s move into the bass amp market with the introduction of the fabled 2×15” Reflector Cabinet using the most up to date parabola design featuring two massive 15” back to back speakers to maximise volume.

The entertaining and informative videos explore a time when these experts in their field were ‘just doing stuff’ that ‘nobody had thought of’ and ‘we made it kinda work’ .To view the Colin Norfield video please go to https://youtu.be/Srvoi9hfp8g, the John ‘JJ’ James video https://youtu.be/Fmp6ctbBy9o and the Mick Dines video https://youtu.be/ahlJ9Teedbw. To find out more about Orange Amplification history please go to https://orangeamps.com/history/

From the humble beginnings in London during the swinging sixties, Orange amps have grown into an international guitar amplifier company, catering for the likes of Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Slipknot, Iron Maiden, Rush and more. 

Orange was founded in 1968 by Cliff Cooper who to this day is the head of the company, but before it became the guitar amp company that it is today, it started out as a Soho music shop which sold used musical instruments and doubled as a recording studio in the basement. The ‘Orange Amps’ adventure started in September 1968 when former Fleetwood Mac guitarist, the late great Peter Green stopped by the shop alongside the band’s road manager Dinky Dawson, where they placed an order for the first ever Orange PA.

Fleetwood Mac’s former guitarist Peter Green

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 where they turned heads not just with their British blues, but bold, British backline.

The following year in 1969, soul superstar Stevie Wonder took to the Orange Studios to record, before deciding to include the amps on his 1972 album “Talking Book” for the recording of his hit “Superstition.” He can be seen using the amps in a seven minute version of the song on Sesame Street in 1973.

Another band that brought Orange to the states and opened American’s eyes to them, were Wishbone Ash, who’s history with Orange started in 1970 when guitarist Andy Powell stopped by the shop where he was served by Cliff who sold him a Gibson Flying V, 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”.

That, of course, brings us to Orange’s relationship with Jimmy Page & Led Zeppelin. Jimmy is perhaps one of the most influential guitarists of all time, (alongside Jimi, of course..) and has had a relationship with Orange which dates all the way back to the 70s and have been making regular appearances in his backline ever since. Some of you may have spotted that he used the Orange AD30 for Led Zeppelin’s ‘Celebration Day’ reunion show back in 2007…? Pretty cool, huh?

Since then, our roster have grown exponentially, but we are proud to say our relationship with all the above artist and bands are still going strong, although now with John McVie flying the Orange flag in camp Fleetwood Mac. To us, that is proof enough that Orange amps can stand the test of time.Or

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

From the launch of their respective brands in the mid-1960s, it took Jim Marshall, Hiwatt’s Dave Reeves and Laney’s Lynton Laney at least a year to achieve what Cliff Cooper did in just six months. Namely, international brand familiarity thanks to endorsement by exactly the right artists. In that short space of time – autumn 1968 to early spring 1969 – Orange grew from what today would be called a newly-established boutique amp maker, into a major brand competing with Vox, Marshall and Fender. 

 In truth, in spring 1969 Orange was still really a boutique operation with hand-wired amps being built – but built in big numbers – and rigorously tested in the back of a tobacconist/radio repairs shop in Huddersfield’s King Street up north. But by then Orange Amps’ image was way bigger than this.

The move to a small factory facility just outside of town in Cowcliffe took place at the start of 1970. By now, Brand Orange was the choice for many blues-rock and blues artists such as the Father of British Blues, John Mayall, who used a full Orange PA with column speakers and 200 watt amps.

John Mayall 1970
Steve Thompson bassist with John Mayall’s drummerless lineup Leeds Nov 1969

And it was BB King no less who had proved to be a major influencer in this.

On King’s April 1969 UK concert hall tour supported by Fleetwood Mac, he informally endorsed Orange: even though he had his Fender Dual Showman with him he tried out and then preferred to use Mac’s PA throughout the tour. What better PR can there be for a very young and new amp company than to have stage shots taken at London’s Royal Albert Hall of one of the blues greats using an Orange backline… photos which then appear in music papers worldwide the week after? 

BB King soundchecking Orange at the Royal Albert Hall on the opening night of his April 1969 UK tour

But of course it was Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac who set off this meteoric rise in Orange’s profile. They took delivery of the six 100 watt Orange Matamps with standalone reverb units, 6 offset 4×12 cabs, 1 8×10 bass cab plus PA speakers on November 3rd whilst gigging in the north of England, at Bradford.

Just two weeks later Mac’s legendary roadie, Dinky Dawson, took this first-ever Orange PA across the North Sea to Denmark and Sweden for a packed one-week tour. On the same bill in Copenhagen was Rory Gallagher’s Taste.

Fleetwood Mac on tour late ’68/early ’69 with the first ever Orange backline & PA. Note the taller 100 watt amp heads; offset configured 4×12″ cabs and straight-edged standalone reverb units – picture-frame sleeves came later.

Bass player, Richie McCracken must have been impressed with John McVie’s bass rig that night: he was soon a convert who most notably was then seen with an Orange 200-watt amp head onstage at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival.

So within just one month of the inauspicious and local Bradford debut, musicians and music fans across Scandinavia were ‘Orange aware’. Then two weeks after that the gear was flown across the Atlantic in time for the band’s first gig at New York’s Fillmore East venue on December 6th. A two-month tour right across America followed.

 Pennsylvanian blues guitarist, Rick Vito (who was in the late-1980s Behind The Mask Mac lineup) recalled seeing the band for the first time on the tour and immediately noticing and wanting his own Orange amp. Now this begs a marketing question: would Rick Vito have noticed and remembered the name of a new and hitherto unknown UK-made PA if it had been in standard black livery? Cliff Cooper’s marketing finesse in choosing the name of a colour for his products undoubtedly boosted visibility and brand-name recall.

But this crucial Mac-Orange tie-up wasn’t to last overly long.

It’s ironic that (as Mac’s Jeremy Spencer explained in 2006) at the start of that UK ’69 tour whilst BB King was trying out and liking Orange, all three Mac guitarists checked out his Fender Dual Showman and were equally impressed. So much so, that by the end of the summer and with the exception of John McVie, Mac had switched to Fender and mainly Dual Showmans. That said, Peter Green still sometimes took his OR200 and Orange standalone reverb on tour during 1970.

Undoubtedly Mac’s endorsement era was a fruitful time for the company not just in terms of publicity but also product development. The band’s original six 100 watt Orange amps made in October 1968 were powered by a pair of KT88 tubes, and had a 2-tier aluminium chassis with an ‘umbilical’ linking the preamp to output stage. These heads were taller than the subsequent OR100s in order to accommodate the KT88s. It is thought that at most 50 of these were made and as such today they are serious collectors’ items: there have been rumours of one or two still being in existence but no hard proof so far.

The next OR100 development stage was to switch to a single stove-enameled steel chassis and four EL34 tubes. Soon after that, in early 1969 the OR200 was introduced featuring four KT88s with a sleeve that was one inch taller and seven inches deeper than the OR100.

With first-rate endorsement having established Orange as an international brand throughout 1969, Cliff Cooper’s next marketing move was product placement. He did this in two stages: first, he set up Orange Hire which soon saw Orange PA’s onstage at many major summer festivals.

Then, partly thanks to this increased visibility – and just as he was looking to up Orange’s share of the German market – out of the blue he got a phone-call from Mike Leckebusch, producer of the Beat Club German television show. Colour TV was rapidly replacing black & white and Mike thought that the visual appeal of an Orange backline was just right for his weekly show. Cliff was only too pleased to oblige and supply. And so, in the early 1970s the stellar artists seen using Orange on nationwide German television included: Stevie Wonder, Status Quo, Canned Heat, Ike Turner, Muddy Waters, Black Sabbath, Free, Chuck Berry and Alice Cooper.

Sales in Germany soared as a result and so in 1971 Cliff formed a German subsidiary – Orange GMBH – in Frankfurt to meet this demand. One significant outcome of this was that Orange GMBH signed a deal to provide the PA for the 1972 Olympic Games at the Munich Stadium. No surprise then that sales of Orange right across Europe increased as a result.

“The 4 P’s of Marketing” has been a foundation business model for many decades. In order to succeed you have to get four broad marketing decisions just right: these are Product, Price, Promotion and Place. From 1968 onwards Cliff Cooper and Orange clearly got it right ….  but they got it right not by formal study but by intuition, learning from mistakes made and adapting to a constantly evolving music business.

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.