The year’s almost to an end and so is our 2019 ‘Voice of’ campaign. Throughout the year, we’ve taken a look at a variety of artist and genres we work with through ‘Voice of Clean’, ‘Voice of Rock’, ‘Voice of Blues’, ‘Voice of Acoustic’, ‘Voice of Bass’ – you get the idea.
As we’ve now entered December it’s time for the grand finale, ‘The Voice of the World’. Orange is, as many of you know, quintessentially British, and was back in the day hard to come across outside the UK. It wasn’t actually until the early 2000s that we broke into the US market and got picked up by a lot of metal and punk bands, something we can probably thank Slipknot for – so, thank you, Slipknot!. We’ve since seen Orange grow in Europe, as well as expanding globally to Asia. For ‘Voice of the World’, we’ve decided to shine a light on a few artists inspired by their home country or culture, starting with my very own Bergen hometown heroes, Enslaved.
Since the formation of the band in 1991, Enslaved have released 14 albums, and made a name for themselves internationally on the black metal scene. Taking inspiration from Norse mythology, vikings and their Norwegian heritage, Enslaved is the picture perfect ‘Voice of Norway’, which is in many ways the black metal capital of the world – so much so, that guitarist Ivar Bjørnson was commissioned by the Norwegian government alongside Einar Selvik of Wardruna, to create a musical piece celebration the 200 year anniversary of the Norwegian constitution back in 2014. Hell yeah Norway!
In recent years, ‘maid cafés’ have become somewhat of a thing in Japan, and the concept is simple; In these cafés, the staff, or waitresses, are dressed as maids, and asked to treat their customers as their personal master and mistresses. The idea behind BAND-MAID came from founding member Miku Kobato who’d previously worked at a maid café. BAND-MAID’s built their image around it the concept of the cafés, with each band member’s maid costume being fitted to their personality, as they refer to their fans as ‘masters’ and ‘princesses’, with a submissiveness that creates a huge contrast to their aggressive way of playing. Only in Japan..
Some of you might have read the recent interview we did with El Amir – if not, let’s recap; El Amir is a German-Spanish flamenco guitarist and multi instrumentalist, currently on the road with Hans Zimmer’s show, ‘The World of Hans Zimmer’. Hans Zimmer might be known to most as a film score composer, as he has done the music for films such as The Lion King, Inception, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Dark Knight – and the list goes on. While on the road with the Hans Zimmer show, El Amir is in charge of electric as well as acoustic guitars, ukulele and the Greek instrument bouzouki. El Amir started playing flamenco at the age of 8, and first performed publicly at the age of 12. As an adult, he played oud, bouzouki and guitar for Radio Tarifa for nearly a decade, and has played venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, Barbican Centre and Royal Festival Hall, all in London alone.
Kudos to the Irish for making Irish folk music not just acceptable to play at pubs and bars, but something people gets genuinely stoked about hearing in bars – who doesn’t love a shanty when you’re ten pints deep?! GUILTY! Now, Lankum might not be your typical drunken Irish shanty band, but they play Irish folk nevertheless, and beautifully so, if I might add. Having been described as “a younger, darker Pogues with more astonishing power”, Lankum mixes elements of classic Irish folk music with the ambience and emotion of Bon Iver and textures of Sunn O))). They initially named the band ‘Lynched’ after band members and brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch, but changed it to Lankum to avoid associations with the practice of lynching, announcing in a statement that “We will not continue to work under our current name while the systemic persecution and murder of Black people in the USA continues.”
Now, this list wouldn’t really be complete without a British artist on it, would it? Representing good ol’ England and London on this list is one of our most recent endorsed artists, Gorilla bassist Sarah Jane. Inspired by great British bands such as Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Motörhead and The Who, Sarah Jane picked up the bass after dabbling with the guitar for a couple of years and got sucked in as “we all know bass is obviously the most important part of a bands sound…”. She’s been playing high paced and heavy rock ‘n’ roll with Gorilla for two decades now, and is currently promoting their latest album ‘Treecreeper’ out on Heavy Psych Sounds. Sarah Jane’s got quite the collection of Orange gear, just check out the interview we did with her earlier this year.
https://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/IMG_2571.jpg9221392Ella Stormarkhttps://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Orange-Pics-logo-307px.pngElla Stormark2019-12-01 09:00:252019-12-12 20:53:49The Voice of the World
Does your goldfish enjoy Mastodon? Is the answer to controlling a fire, more fire? And how can we be everywhere at once, yet still on the tour bus?
Orange may have the answer.
From within the Deep
Along the murky journey of discovery, music, especially amplified music developed through necessity. Just as humans evolved ears from gills, the universal language of music has continued to change faster than you can say ‘amphibian’.
That evolution began in the Deep South as musicians innovated through necessity, converting wartime radios into rip-roaring filthy beasts of amplifiers that warded away the competition with a harrowing banshee-like wail of the Delta and Chicago Blues.
The Beast from the East
Innovation like that of the blues explosion provided the inspiration for amps like the Orange Rocker 32. All valve monster tone within a 2×10” stereo combo designed for experimentation, offering a 15W per channel stereo power amp with a mono FX send and stereo return (left and right).
Within one box you have an array of tonal weaponry to rival even the monster rig superpowers. Imagine the footprint of a self-contained amplifier, but with the option to run stereo or mono outboard rigs or even A/B split to create two separate tones, helping to build a complex sound that would envy the genius of professional amp techs.
The Cadillac Three (signed to Big Machine Records) are quite an incredible band who push the envelope of the Southern Rock genre, occupying a space in country music that goes beyond their stomping ground of Nashville.
Part of their appeal is their straight-talking, no-nonsense songwriting alongside a unique band setup that features Kelby playing a lap steel guitar, bi-amped to produce the full spectrum of tones.
“People watch us play live and they think there are six people in the band when it’s all coming from two guys and a drummer,” said Kelby in a recent interview with Orange.
On what makes Orange Amplifiers ideal for building a mountain of tone Kelby goes on to say “If you play through any of the Orange amps over their competitor (products) you’ll notice the difference is this cool overdrive sound that gives a little bit of grit on the bass of the AD200-MK3, and the crunch and full-bodied mid-range of the AD30HTC and OR15H”.
However, Kelby’s mad skill though is mastering the art of bass playing and transferring that skill onto the lap steel while simultaneously covering the treble side of the instrument, something that he partially attributes to the advice of legendary producer Bob Rock. These days Kelby is nailing it all on his own!
And into the Realm of Possibility
Another Big Machine Records artist who’s been pushing the limits of the bass guitar for some time now is Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick.
Petersson dons a mindboggling 12-string bass which is pretty innovative in itself, but he also runs a monstrous rig of all valve gear combining guitar and bass amps with a huge speaker array pushing a hell of a lot of air. He likes to push his amps to their limits, producing natural overtones that you can only get from all analogue gear.
By his own admission, Tom is looking for that sound when the amp is ‘about ready to blow up’. That’s why at Orange Amplifiers we build our amps to be taken one step beyond the expected, gear that can handle anything you throw at it.
“It’s at this point you can dig in and it breaks up; back off and the amp is clean”, said Petersson. “Orange Amplifiers give you the headroom to create your own sound, allowing for techniques like muting where the subtly comes out in your playing”.
Petersson’s sound is a combination of the AD200 bass head with an 8×10” cabinet, that’s 200 Watts of pure creamy, dynamic low-end with focused mid-range, engulphing you in a barrage of harmonics across the whole frequency spectrum.
In contrast, Geddy Lee uses the same AD200 bass amp as one-quarter of his mega rig opting to max out the treble and gain to produce the overdrive part of his tone, highlighting how universal that classic all-valve bass amp can be.
But for Tom Petersson, his Cerberus-like monster rig features two Orange guitar amplifiers for the top end which includes a Custom Shop 50 head, crafted to produce exquisite blues-rock tones. This amp includes a switchable output stage to offer the chimey purity of Class A or a more opened mid-range Class A/B which adds plenty of full-bodied kick. Petersson’s Customer Shop 50 is partnered with two 4×12” cabinets.
Tom also boasts a venomous Rockerverb mkii alongside two 2×12” cabinets, adding the filth and the fury to his already mighty setup.
Innovating with Solid (State) Logic
After recording and touring 12 studio albums Ty Tabor knows a lot about tone and as an Orange representative with experience using solid-state gear in the studio and on the road since the beginning of the technology, he’s an authority on the subject.
Tabor’s amp of choice way back was the Lab Series L5, also a favourite of the late great BB King. It’s one of those fabled amplifiers that many people have been striving to recreate. The fact that Tabor was the first endorsee to use the Orange Crush Pro 120 is a testament to the tone of that solid-state amp.
When Orange took our foray into solid-state amp build of the Crush series, we put all the attention to detail you get from an Orange tube amp, giving that lively feel and responsiveness with a rich tonal characteristic, the hallmark British sound. If you imagine how those early solid-state engineers would have been producing their amplifiers, they were probably taking the same approach as Orange, although those pioneering engineers didn’t have the luxury of using tried and proved on the road, sourced from reliable partners. They were in at the deep end!
What you get with the Orange Crush Pro is two channels built into the ruggedness of a solid-state amp. One channel is a classic vintage-inspired channel with sparkle at the top end and when pushed it embodies the bluesy crunch of Keith Richards. Channel two is more matched to the Rockerverb’s high gain, all-out attack.
Masters of Flexibility
Brent Hinds of Mastodon is a beastmaster; those who venture the deep enough into the bowels of the underworld will discover his truly monstrous creation. Ler LaLonde of Primus knows the deal; he’s also one of the dark souls of willing to adventure into the depths of musical creativity where mere mortals dare to tread.
It’s diversity where the Brent Hinds Terror comes up trumps with two channels and a unique Terror gain structure that works beautifully for funk, world music and metal alike.
The natural channel has more bottom end staying fat and full, oozing with warm valve compression from the EL84 output section. On the dirty channel, there’s three different gain structure, brighter at lower gain levels which fattens up the more you dial the gain in. The new gain structure also means that the gain comes in more quickly.
Into Another Dimension
Sometimes big rigs come in surprisingly little boxes, take for instance the OMEC Teleport interface. For a start, this piece of kit fits in your pocket or snugly on your pedalboard.
What the OMEC Teleport does best is give you total flexibility transferring from the analogue realm through to digital or vice versa.
Use it as a high-quality AD converter to:
Track straight into a DAW or audio editing software from your instrument
Connect to a virtual rack straight from your instrument
Use it as a high-quality DA converter to:
Switch a digital signal back to analogue into whatever outboard gear you’re using (like a mixing desk, DI box, amplifier)
The OMEC Teleport is roadworthy, and that is noteworthy. Just like all Orange products, it’s designed to take the brunt of the road, it’s a rock-solid design in a stompbox casing; pretty tough to break. If you’re nodding your head at this point, you’ve experienced the joy of your latest recording gadget falling apart mid-tour.
Second, on the horror shit show of modern technology is latency issues, the OMEC Teleport, doesn’t have this issue, here’s what Rudy Sarzo of Whitesnake/Ozzy Osbourne had to say:
“As a recording and touring musician with the Teleport I’m now able to bring my favorite audio plugins on my laptop, iPad or iPhone and play them on stage, in my hotel room or recording studio. I now have a consistent tone and quality anywhere I go with minimal amount of gear. In addition, the low latency and high-end AD/DA makes the Teleport my to go audio interface. All of this in a lightweight mini pedal. A total game-changer!!!”
There’s more, you can convert audio to MIDI, meaning you can control synths and MIDI libraries, Nalle Colt of Vintage Trouble adds:
“What an amazing little pedal! Big thanks to Danny Gomez at Orange Amplifiers for setting me up with this little genius box. With the major advancements of digital plugins, this is the gateway to marry new and old together in a super simple way.”
The Ever-Evolving Sphere
At Orange Amplifiers we keep close to players, from bedroom guitarist to the worldwide touring artist. You never know when or where the next great idea will come from, but it will always have: a tough skin, be simple on the outside, but complex enough on the inside keep doing what it needs to, and most of all bear fruit for the future innovators.
Hi everyone, and welcome to the OMEC Teleport files,
My name is Danny Gomez and I designed and developed the OMEC Teleport with the Orange Amplification team. Let me tell you a little about myself and the circumstances that “teleported” me to here and now…
As a touring musician, I needed something simple that allowed me to bring my studio software & apps with me on tour. Teleport_ing the studio to the road and the road to the studio with the first interface ready for your pedalboard. Record, play, practise or discover new virtual instruments. No boundaries, no limits, anywhere, anytime.
This compact and extremely powerful Teleport is a high-quality audio interface, a universal connection device (Mac, PC, iOS, Android) without any specific drivers or software requirements, with high-quality ADC/DAC converters, a USB B connector and housed in a small effect pedal enclosure. The plug and play stompbox design of the OMEC Teleport makes it easier than ever to combine digital software/app models with pedals and amps in your performance rig, as well as to record digital audio with no fuss.
With this versatility the Teleport can be used for a wide range of applications: musicians that want to play, record, mix or process their sound, with the autonomy provided by mobile devices…
Everybody makes mistakes. For years that was the Orange motto (not really). We’ve been known for building some of the most innovative products in the whole of the music industry. But like everyone else, we’ve experienced a few missteps along the way. We nailed the Tiny Terror. We totally screwed up Orange Airlines (lots of people died) and the Orange parachute (several more people died).
Here’s a list of what we believe are our most innovative products throughout our 52 year history. A lot of them aren’t real (but people skimming this article won’t realize that!).
In 2005 we unleashed the Tiny Terror upon the world. Amp design has never been the same since. It was the world’s first lunchbox amp, and in addition to spawning a whole line of Terror amps from Orange, it also created a rush by other amp manufacturers to “downsize” their products. At 15 watts with a footprint the size of an A4 sheet of paper, the Tiny Terror was a Brit-rock tone machine and a true innovation.
Bull Horn Cab Add-On
Worried about being heard “in the mix” when playing live with your 5 piece doom metal band? Is your band not exactly big enough they can afford a PA? The “Bullhorn Cab Add-On” from Orange is just the thing for you. We were the first in the industry to amplify an amplifier. We called the technology DOUBLE AMPLIFYING ™. However, considering the “technology” consisted of just a simple leather strap, and the fact the strap cost $500, and the fact the bullhorn was not included, the product did not last long.
Most valve testers are as big as a suitcase and weigh more than a 50-watt amp. That’s why guitar techs around the world rejoiced when we introduced the world’s smallest portable valve tester, the VT1000. It’s simple to use and tests a wide range of the most common amp valves. Techs for guitarists such as Brian May and Slipknot’s Jim Root use the VT1000 every day on the road. It has become a “must have” piece of kit!
Chocolate Fountain Mini Stack
Over the years, many bands have requested special Orange merch items they can sell at shows. Our response made sense in theory. We created a special Orange chocolate fountain mini stack so bands could sell chocolate-covered treats. What could go wrong? Turns out the bands were not good at cleaning the fountain after each use. That led to a number of salmonella claims. In addition, when sales were good, bands were forced to order up to 50 pounds of chocolate PER SHOW to satisfy the demand. We quickly discontinued the chocolate fountain mini stack and replaced them with t-shirts.
We will admit that the Taser Guitar (AKA “Electric Electric Guitar”) was, quite simply, a bad idea. Security was all the rave in the early 2000’s and we so jumped on the band wagon with the Taser Guitar add-on. By connecting it to your guitar, anyone who tried to steal it would receive a 200-watt shock. Unfortunately, we had a 95% malfunction rate and anyone who even tried to PLAY the guitar, including the owner, would get shocked. The governments of many countries came down hard on us.
While other companies focus on innovations around digital and wireless technology, you can always trust Orange to innovate in a different direction (not backwards, more like “sideways”). The Twister Cable is a prime example. Some guitarists are analog purists. They will never be caught using wireless systems on stage. The Twister Cable rotates 360 degrees, allowing guitarists to concentrate on their playing instead of how wrapped up they are in their cable. Have no fear of pulling the plug while rocking out!
Cassette Player Amp
It was the 80’s and drug culture was at its peak.
This one is super innovative. The OMEC Teleport interface is a universal connection device (IOS, Android, Mac, PC) without any specific drivers or software requirements. It features high quality ADC/DAC converters – through a USB B connector – housed in a small effect pedal enclosure. The Teleport allows you to convert both analog audio signals (an instrument for example) to digital to be processed with the many applications available. Additionally, the Teleport gives you the ability to convert digital audio signals to analogue (through mixers, D.I. boxes, amplifiers, etc.).
It was the 90’s and drug culture was at its peak.
From day one, Orange’s Founder and CEO, Cliff Cooper, has been receiving bribes from the chiropractic industry in exchange for making amps that weigh so much they’re destined to cause back pain. Just kidding! The bulk of the weight in our amps comes from the transformers. Orange doesn’t fool around when it comes to transformers. We overwind and, in general, just overbuild them. They’re a proprietary blend of metal, power, and awesome. No other amp manufacturers engineer to the same spec and that’s what makes our transformers innovative.
The Orange Chimeramp
A chimera is usually a human that has been crossbred with another animal. However, in 1996 our amp designers teamed up with researchers from the Slovakian Institute of Animal Husbandry and created the first-ever “Chimeramp.” It was part amp, part barn owl. Although we had some initial success in hunting circles, by 1998 the Chimeramp was discontinued after an accident occurred while attempting to crossbreed an amp with Velociraptor DNA.
https://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Megaphone-Amp.jpg18002500alexhttps://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Orange-Pics-logo-307px.pngalex2019-09-18 16:43:152019-09-19 13:27:00Orange Innovations: The Good And The Bad
A new month, a new subject! September 2019 is ‘Voice of Innovation’ which means we will focus on our, well, slightly more ‘innovative’ amps. In 2017, Lead Amp Designer and Technical Director Ade Emsley was presented with a ‘People of the Moment Award’ at the MIA Gala Dinner, with the judges claiming Ade’s name was “Synonymous with innovative design, and that he is known and revered worldwide.” So yeah, we’re pretty innovative over here…
The discontinued Tiny Terror was a revelation when it first came out, and still remains so this day today. Created by Ade Emsley, the Tiny Terror was the original lunchbox amp which set the bar (high…) for those who were to come after. The Tiny Terror was initially an idea at a NAMM dinner where Ade wanted to make an amp that could fit into an A4 piece of paper, and just a week later, the prototype was a reality. About the amp, Ade has the following to say:
“The concept of the Tiny Terror was an amp you can carry anywhere. You turn up to play a gig and there are three bands playing. You turn up with your Tiny Terror it’s gig bag and your guitar. Before the gig you’ve sorted out the use of a mate’s 4×12 in one of the other bands. Plug in with the volume on ten and the gain on about six and suddenly you’re into 1980’s AC/DC territory.” Ade Emsley
With the Pedal Baby we’ve captured that original rock ’n’roll sound, and we can’t describe it better than Brant Bjork, who at this point had been using the Pedal Baby for about 2 months, had to say about it at Black Deer Festival:
“The sound I’ve always wanted is the sound Hendrix had, playing through these huge stacks of amps, that original rock ’n’ roll sound. Unfortunately for me, the venues I generally play aren’t normally big enough to bring in that amount of amps so when I was recommended the Pedal Baby I was so amazed that this tiny thing had managed to replicate such a huge and iconic sound.” Brant Bjork
The Pedal baby, which is a 100W class A/B power amplifier is designed for the touring musician as it’s easy to lug around with it’s neat size. As it’s fairly neutral sounding, it’s also perfect for pedal boards, modellers and digital processors.
The Crush Bass comes in three different variations; Crush Bass 25, Crush Bass 50 and the Crush bass 100. Here, we’re focusing on the Crush Bass 100. Despite it’s neat size don’t let yourself be fooled, the sound is huge and works well in small venues and for terrorising the neighbours at home (Trust me on this one, I’ve got one and the sound travels – far…) For the Crush Bass 100, we’ve taken the Blend and Gain controls from our equally popular OB1 Series with those in mind who plays around with guitar and bass amps at the same time so you get the layers, harmonics and distortion from the guitar amp, with the core bass tone from the bass amp.
In the Rocker 32, we like to think we have captured what might as well be the perfect pedal amp. The Rocker 32, which is an all-valve stereo amp can either be run like a ‘normal’ combo straight in, or with mono effect loops, the latter working well if lots of delays and huge soundscapes is your thing. If not, stick to option A and go for the ‘wet/dry’ mode to separate effects to one speaker, and clean guitar to the other, which creates separation on stage.
Blackberry Smoke is probably one of the hardest working bands around as they spend the majority of their time on the road relentlessly touring. Bassist Richard turner is an avid Orange artist, who first got turned onto the amps after seeing Black Sabbath using them back in the day when the amps were pretty hard to come across in the US. Years later, Blackberry Smoke was asked to play Orange’s 40th anniversary party at NAMM, where Richard played through a full Orange backline. Needless to say, he took a liking to it, and took it home.
Kelby Ray of The Cadillac Three is yet another country artist who’s taken a shine on our brightly coloured amps, and uses them both for his bass and lap steel. When looking for amps, Kelby wants something that’s easy to use and not a big fuss with buttons and knobs, so when he first played Orange at a Nashville festival he was sold; “I plugged into it and it was so easy to use – not a lot of knobs and it just sounded great. I want something that’s going to work, not too much hustle and fuss and something that’s just Rock N’ Roll. Orange is all those things, so that’s why I’ve always gravitated towards them, they’re something I’ve always loved to play.”
Raelyn Nelson have been singing for as long as she can remember, and was raised on a diet of gospel and country, before eventually being gifted a guitar by her granddad in her teens. Her granddad happens to be legendary country musician Willie Nelson, so needless to say, music runs in the family. With her band Raelyn Nelson Band, Raelyn pairs a Rocker 15 with her ukulele.
Guitarist Bob Weir (Formerly of Grateful Dead) was also mentioned in our “Voice of Clean” article, but is well worth a mention in this month’s Voice of Country too as he was in the man behind a lot of Grateful Dead’s country songs, as well as having built a solid name for himself in country with his solo career, and has this to say about his Rocker 15: “A fun, really flexible little amp for low-volume situations, like playin’ electric along with acoustic instruments….”
https://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/IMG_4181.jpg27314096Ella Stormarkhttps://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Orange-Pics-logo-307px.pngElla Stormark2019-07-01 12:00:352019-06-18 22:19:18The Voice of Country
Orange is well known as being the go to amp for anyone who wants distortion. From British Crunch to total filth. What people don’t associate with Orange is a clean sound and let me tell you, Orange does clean pretty bloody well actually and has done since the very earliest days. Remember, “Albatross” by Fleetwood Mac? Recorded using Orange Amps.
Let’s take a hard and heavy amp such as the Rockerverb 100. Favoured by artists like Jim Root of Slipknot and Brian “Head” Welch of Korn, you may have the impression that it’s distortion only but nothing could be further from the truth. The clean channel has an extraordinary amount of headroom making it a perfect platform for FX pedals. If FX aren’t your thing and you want chimey, bell like clarity – we’ve got you covered. Orange Amps Technical Director, Ade Emsley who is an afficionado of tone has designed even our high gain amps so that they clean up beautifully on the dirty channel too.
Of course, there are all sorts of clean. Perhaps you’re more of an “Edge of Breakup” clean kind of player. Once again, there’s an amp for you in the AD30HTC. Do you need to shape your tone more? OK Check out the TH30. See where I’m going with this?
Let’s be honest, an Orange Amp is always going to sound like an Orange Amp and when it comes to crunch and distortion, may I with all due modesty say we’re pretty damned good at it but that doesn’t mean we’re a one trick pony amp company. 2019 has seen the launch of some of the most innovative products Orange has ever produced and guess what – they do clean spectacularly well! The Tremlord 30 is our take on a vintage amp of the 50’s and is so clean, you could eat your dinner off it, while the Pedalbaby 100…Well it’s a power amp. What else would it do?
There are many amps out there that do clean superbly well and are better known than Orange for doing so but the next time you’re thinking about an amp for your cleans, bear Orange in mind. You’ll probably be very pleasantly surprised.
https://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Voice-of-Logo-Only-CLEAN-1.png945946Neil Mitchellhttps://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Orange-Pics-logo-307px.pngNeil Mitchell2019-02-12 14:03:182019-07-02 09:04:30Clean in a World of Filth
Back when the gods of rock were bending our minds with new styles and sounds, it was clear that besides their immense talent, analogue amplifier technology played an imperative role. Even though amp design back then was still in its infancy, that classic analogue tone is still highly sought after. So much so that many manufacturers are attempting to recreate those sounds through digital modelling amps.
Arise the first digital amp
You may or may not know this but Orange Amplifiers were at the forefront digital amp design way back in the ’70s. The original OMEC amp was a digitally programmable 150-watt solid-state amp that could store preset sounds. It was so far ahead of the game that it was produced before the development of the CMOS chip!
These days digital amps has come a long way, making it possible to replicate almost any amplifier by modelling analogue circuitry. Yet still, there is still huge demand for true analogue amps, and that’s not to do with black magic, witchcraft or Don Draper-Esq marketing genius. It goes much deeper than that.
The basics of digital vs analogue amplifier design
Analogue amplifiers come in two main forms, tube and solid-state, although sometime they are configured as a hybrid, with a tube pre-amp and a solid-state power stage.
All-tube amplifiers such as our classic AD series use pre-amp tubes to sculpt the tone, and then power amp tubes to smash pure analogue gooeyness out of your speakers.
Solid-state amplifiers like the Orange 4 Stroke bass head or the Crush Pro Series use all analogue components (transistors, resistors and capacitors) in both the pre-amp and power amp circuit. That means you get the warmth people associate with analogue circuitry but reduce the overall size and weight of the amplifier by switching out the tubes for a solid-state power amp circuit.
In contrast, digital amps use digital algorithms to produce the tone at the pre-amp stage and most commonly, solid-state circuitry for the power stage. Some manufacturers offer a tube power stage, but this goes against the core benefit of a digital amp: flexibility.
These days we’re expected to be everything to everyone. It’s part of the immediacy culture. Rather than learning to understand the nuances of tone, we’re now able to flip a switch and change between two completely different sounding amplifiers. One minute you’re playing country blues and the next moment, black metal. Sounds pretty fun? But nothing is clear-cut.
The cost of flexibility is impact.
We’re talking about pure unadulterated grunt that you get from an analogue amp. It’s not just that you can hear it; you can feel an all-analogue amp pushing through your very soul; whole-bodied and direct, accurately representing the true nature of your instrument across the whole frequency spectrum. When you’re hammering it out on an all-valve or solid-state amp on stage it moves you, undulating like sea waves.
Unlike an algorithm that digitally recreates a signal, when you drive valves, they compress and produce warmth that has an almost erogenous aspect to it. Solid-state amps are cleverly designed to meet the needs of the most discerning player, creating complex and harmonically rich tones. When people speak of the warmth of analogue, they’re talking about how the sound unfolds and wraps around the music.
Live or in the studio, that full body of sound of analogue gels together the other instruments into a unified whole, sitting just right in the mix. Yet, solo instruments can still be attenuated without feeling harsh or out of place.
In all circumstances, one of the key aspects to a great sounding analogue amp is just that, you need to do very little to get just what you want from it.
Time is money, in the studio, it’s all about the flow and onstage even more so.
Orange Amplifiers are synonymous with simple setup, be that getting a gnarly guitar tone or Venice Beach muscle man bass.
With an analogue amp there’s no shrillness you’d expect from digital, instead they accent the natural harmonics of the top end, thickening the midrange and levelling the boom of the bottom. The devil is in the detailed response to the natural ebb and flow of your instrument.
On the flipside, modelling amps could be seen the epitome of simplicity. Jogging through banks of classic amplifier setups certainly feels like you can conquer anything you can throw at it. But still, recording studios aren’t discarding their banks of ‘go to’ analogue amplifiers in a hurry, especially when it comes to pummeling the overdrive settings or looking for a sweet clean tone.
While valve and solid-state amps have an artful beauty to their clean tone, it’s when you get down and dirty that digital begins to lose its way. That is unless you’re looking for that specific sound you get from modelling amps; incisor sharp, transparent as Perspex.
Digital amps try to get close to modeling pre-amp circuitry but there’s nothing quite like the throaty roar of analogue. It all comes down to the imperfection of the technology that provides depth that is seemingly impossible to replicate honestly.
At a lower gain stage, the waveform becomes asymmetric, rich in even harmonics. But when you push the amp even further the bottom of the wave flattens, producing a symmetric wave with odd harmonics. It’s those odd harmonics that release the beast from within.
OK, so all-valve amps aren’t all that portable. Designed for functionality above anything else and are unmatched in pure brute strength and killer tone. Their modern digital counterparts sit on the other side of the fence; form is their strength, portability a supreme asset. At a cost, many professional musicians would agree, that is outweighed by their novelty.
Somewhere in-between sits the solid-state amp, the choice for many touring musicians where portability is a big benefit but without compromising too much on the essence of your sound. Ultimately ringing out true to the nature of your composition.
Fundamentally, above anything else, Orange has been at the forefront of producing innovative amplification since the late sixties, creating what is now recognized as the British sound.
First heralded by legends such Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Wonder, and blown into the stratosphere by Led Zeppelin.
Re-emerging, again and again, Orange Amplifiers has always been there to define the sound of artists such as Oasis in the ’90s and again taking the world by storm along with the Arctic Monkeys in the decades to follow. Orange Amplifiers, seemingly the Swiss army knife of the music industry.
https://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/omec-and-foot.jpg9122816alexhttps://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Orange-Pics-logo-307px.pngalex2019-01-24 08:35:552019-02-01 11:39:17That time you considered buying a digital modelling amp over an analogue amplifier
Let’s dive right in and talk about your history with Orange – do your remember your first ever encounter with the brand, whether it was playing it yourself or seeing someone else play one?
Danko: Yeah I totally remember, and the reason is why I play Orange. We went on tour with The Supersuckers, and the only way we could do that was if we could use their gear, and I used Ron’s Orange head, and I remember thinking “Holy fuck, this is just the best head I’ve ever played!”. That’s how I started with Orange, before that I’d seen other use it and I’d always liked it, but I was playing a variety of amps so it wasn’t until playing through Ron’s that Orange was really put on the map for me. When I then got the opportunity to work with Orange myself that just made sense.
You guys are known for touring relentle- Danko: I mean – yes, yes we do, or at least have done that, and I guess we’ve been on the road a fair bit this year as well even though for me it feels like an off year. We opened up for Skindred in the UK at the start of the year, came back for festivals, made an album, and now we’re here again. The off years are always the year we make the albums, although looking back at it now it doesn’t really take us much off the road at all.
When constantly on the road, how does a day in the life of Danko Jones normally look like? Danko: You know, not that exciting to be honest. On a day like today, I pretty much just hang around near the venue. I need sleep for my voice, so that’s about it, lots of down time. The best thing is to not think about it too much, and especially when it comes to playing the show; the moment I start thinking about things, I fuck it up on stage. There’s also this banter between the band and the audience that you just can’t plan, I’ve seen bands do that, script their set – and whenever someone shouts something at them from the crowd, they have no reply and there’s just no way of bouncing back form it. Have the songs rehearsed and that’s it, whatever happens happens. The best thing to do most days is to just go at it with a blank head and brain. So many bands these days have backing tracks and vocals and everything just seems so pre-programmed that there’s little room for spontaneity, and I think the audience picks up on that. I don’t mind if the show goes off the track, cause at least it shows the audience that they’re getting whatever we can serve them on the night, and there is something to be said for that. We go out there pretty low key, play the songs, and see where they take us.
You mentioned off years are album years, do you still write when you’re on the road or do you save that for when you’re back at home? Danko: No, we allow enough time at home to do the writing then. We spent some time this time last year as well as before and after summer digging deep into writing, and with those sort of writing sessions we were able to figure out what we wanted, and pick 11 or 12 favourites to go on the album. Ever since Rich Knox (drums) joined the band, I haven’t felt nervous before any of the releases, more than anything I’ve been excited and impatient for people to hear what we have been working on, which means I’m confident about the songs. This album we’re due to release is another one of those. I’ll admit there’s been some albums previously where I’ve been slightly nervous whether people would like it or not, and whenever I’ve had those sorts of doubts, those are always the albums that have had mixed reviews. I’ve always liked it, but it might not appeal to everyone else. The last two albums we put out, Fire Music (2015) and Wild Cat (2017) I wasn’t even nervous, and the reviews were really good, and our new album is just as good as both of them, if not better.
To dive back into Orange for this last question, what’s your setup for tonight? Danko: I’ve got a Rockerverb 50 head, and you know what, I’m not a gear head, I’m a creature of habit – whatever I find and like, that’s what I stick with. I can’t give you any specks of what it is I like about the head, it just have to sound like this (makes riff noise), which is a sound I’ve been making since I was seven. If it sounds like that, great. I don’t go searching for new products, and usually if I switch to something else or try something new, that will have to be presented and put in front of me. To me, amps aren’t precious possessions or collectables, they are the tools of my trade, the tools I need to do my job, and I gotta be honest, Orange is the best tools I’ve ever used.
Giannis: Hello, I am Giannis and I’m the guitar player from 1000 Mods.
Giorgos: I am Giorgos, I play for 1000 Mods and the reason I started playing guitar is because of Black Sabbath.
Giannis: The reason why I started playing guitar is because some of the first bands I ever listened to were MC5 and Motorhead.
Giorgos: We knew each other from a very young age. With Lampros, the drummer, we knew each other since we were three years old. After meeting Giannis later on, we started a few bands and we had a few music groups. Under the name 1000 Mods in 2006 we started recording albums.
After a few shows in the Corinthia region and a few festivals, we moved into the Athens music scene, as we wanted to play there and meet different bands. There was a really good music scene there which we became a part of, which as you know there is now a lot of recognition about this scene in Europe. I think all bands either from Greece or coming to play in Greece have only good things to say about it.
Giannis: The first band that I ever saw in a music video playing Orange, were MC5 and then in more modern times, Slipknot. The first Orange amp I ever played with, was an OR-120 and sometime in the middle of 2005, I bought a second one, an Orange 50 Watt Rockerverb.
Giorgos: The first experiences I had, was the Black Sabbath music videos, Paranoid and Iron Man. I remember a very good story when I bought Holy Mountain by Sleep they had written οn the back cover, if I am not mistaken that they were looking for Orange amps and wanted to buy them etc and this made a great impression on me.
I remember a funny story was when we went to Athens to various guitar stores and music stores and we went to a shop that was selling Orange at the time to try a Rockerverb 50 or 100. I remember when we put it on, we turned up the amp too much inside the store causing some strings from an acoustic guitar to break!
Anyway, when we listened to Orange we realised that this is where the sound is. As the store employee told us, it has a very good “honest” mids and a great headroom and that’s how we started being involved with Orange and buying Orange. I remember buying a Rockerverb 50 then Giannis got an old Orange OR-120 which we used live and from then on we continued experimenting with our sound and with Orange in general, because we loved it. Soon after, Orange started to become more popular, where we were playing, there were Orange and generally we all started playing on stage with Orange and many other music bands, were using Orange amps.
Giannis: From Orange, that is a very fundamental part of my sound I am using an Orange OR-120 1970 and an Orange Rockerverb 100 which are the very base of my sound and I consider them as a part that I can’t replace.
Generally I do a blend of sounds from the two Oranges, where the low and mid frequencies are coming from the old one and from the modern I get the high frequencies that I desperately need.
Giorgos: As we moved forward, we tried different sounds with other amps as well and blended them and about a year ago, it was a great honour for us, to have Charlie coming to Desertfest in London and suggesting us to collaborate and be a part of the Orange roster and become Orange ambassadors.
This period we are on our second round of promotion of our album “Repeated Exposure to…” and in the future we hope to start working on some new material hopefully in the middle of 2019.
https://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/1000mods-2.jpg26674000Ella Stormarkhttps://orangeamps.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Orange-Pics-logo-307px.pngElla Stormark2018-11-16 13:50:342018-11-29 11:04:48Our interview with Giannis and Giorgos from 1000 Mods.