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Hailing from Saskatoon in Canada, the Sheepdogs have been playing their unique brand of country infused blues rock since 2006. The band came to catch up with Orange at Black Deer Festival just outside of Tunbridge Wells. Jimmy had just played the Main stage on the Sunday before sitting down with us to chat about how he started playing guitar and how the AD30 is perfect for his playing.

How did you start playing guitar?

I guess I was inspired by my dad’s good friend at the time, he is a fantastic guitar player. He played an old 65′ Telecaster and it was just the most beautiful guitar, he is a very soulful player and him and my Dad would play and sing, that was kind of my first inspiration to play.

What were your influences when you started playing?

I listened to Hendrix, Cream and Zeppelin, all that kind of stuff, Free! Traced the routes and got into the blues pretty heavy. So I was emulating people like Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Sutton Hose and then into 50’s and 60’s with Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf. All that kind of stuff.

How did you join the band?

It’s kind of funny, they had a guitar player leave about 2/3’s of the way through an American tour and they were in a bind. I was good friends with their guitar tech at the time, he bet a weeks wages that I would be a good fit. So they called me up and gave me all the material the night before. I stayed up the night before and learnt everything I could as best as I could. We did one rehearsal and then we did the rest of the tour and I have been with the guys ever since.

How are you finding the festival so far?

Saw Kris Kristofferson, that was pretty amazing! That’s been kind of a dream of mine to see him, I’m a big time fan. It’s a gorgeous festival, beautiful landscape and a laid back vibe, its nice.

What’s your set-up on stage?

It’s not too complicated, I use an old Les Paul, pedal wise an MXR dyna comp for soloing, playing slide and for sustain overall. I have fuzz pedal, a delay, a tube screamer and tuner, I play an Orange AD30. I just love the sound of those power tubes, so I was looking for something that was kind of along those lines but a little more controllable and a lot more volume, so I could get more headroom. It was the perfect amp.

What do you usually look for in an amp?

It has to be reliable and versatile, I have a simple setup, I am a volume control player. So I need an amp to be nice and gainy, but I can dail it back on the guitar and it can be shimmering clean too. In order to have that you have to have headroom otherwise your tone gets too compressed. So there is kind of a happy medium between gain and headroom, I find that amp does it perfect.

What makes the AD30 so suitable for your genre?

It’s that EL84 breakup, it just does something different than any other power tube. It’s a little tighter, a little more top end response and the clarity suits that music fine. It gives me a lot of control, the top channel is great but its pretty gainy for what we are doing, so I use the bottom channel all the time. I will dial it back for different tunes and change the gain structure.

What else makes the AD30 so great?

It sounds fantastic but it’s also super reliable. We do roughly 200+ shows a year and I’ve used mine for the last three years, I have just had to change tubes. That is just super reliable and does exactly what I want it to do every night.

How does it feel being part of the Orange family?

It feels great, love representing fantastic amps that make me sound better!

Of all the genres of music, country is exceptional.

Formed by a continent of migrants, country music is a concoction of hardships and woes interlaced with the music and culture from across the globe. Its predecessor, Roots, spawned a vast array of musical styles that have since split and reconnected many times over.

Claudia Hoyser
Claudia Hoyser plays Orange Rocker 15

It’s music built on experimentation and where one in a million chance happenings seem to occur on a frequent basis. Swerving the direction into new unexplored areas, just as the pioneers had done way back when.

From Cash to Stretches

Although there were many country greats before Johnny Cash, the Rockabilly sound of the 50s, driven by amplified guitars, was a defining moment in the evolution of country music. Luther Perkins, ‘the original man behind the man in black’ paid a huge part in that with his signature ‘boom-chicka-boom’ sound which defined the genre.

It is said that Perkins’ style of playing came by chance when defective equipment left him little choice but to dampen his strings with his palm. Consider the classic locomotive stomp from the hit song ‘Fulsom Prison Blues’. To pull that off requires skill and equipment capable of bringing out those tonal nuances.

A Modern Twist on an Old Faithful

The Orange TremLord 30 was designed with careful consideration to players needs, offering a compact 30-watt all-valve combo that replicates the golden age of Country tone. It’s a sweet sounding amp with an Orange twist, featuring those classic EL84 tubes that add a little British character to the mids.

Orange TremLord 30 Amplifer

What makes this amp unique is the custom made Lavoce 1×12” speaker providing a smoother top end along with more headroom before the amp starts breaking up. It’s the perfect match for players looking for responsiveness; faithfully replicating the subtlety and spacious voicing of that golden age.

Eloquent clean tones can be ceremoniously battered by a crashy, splashy beast of a tube driven two-spring reverb tank that oozes with vintage class. If you want to add in delays or compression for a truly authentic sound, the low impedance 12AT7 tube driven FX loop gives you flexibility without sacrificing on tone. Even at lower volumes, Tremlord 30 is designed to be switched all the way to 1-Watt, ideal for even the most intimate spaces.

The Bakersfield Sound

Speaking of intimate spaces, it was Mearle Haggard experience of watching Jonny Cash perform at San Quentin State Prison in 1959 that lead him to pursue his calling in country music. As far as country players go, Haggard is what Joe Strummer was to Punk Rock; he provided a stark contrast to heavily producer controlled music that choked the mainstream airwaves.

The music was called the Bakersfield sound and its reverberations have cut deep into the music of America, influencing the artists like the Grateful Dead, Credence Clearwater Revival and The Flying Burrito Brothers. These artists, in turn, influenced the Southern Rock movement, and at its peak in the 70s, guitarists began to turn to the grunt of an all-tube British amplifier.

Orange AD30 All-Valve Amplifier

Our flagship Orange AD30 is an ideal midpoint between the classic country tone and that synonymous British sound that harks back to the heyday of the all-valve amplifier. Its balanced and natural compression is the perfect all-rounder amp for country picking. If you need more heat, the second channel gives you more attack while still emphasising the bottom end for a full-bodied tone.

A Divided Country

On one side of the ravine, a glassy formation looms ominously; its meteoric rise is a paragon of success and excess. Below, overshadowed by the enormity of its neighbour, a gritty cliff edge juts out over the ravine.

And there’s no way better to explain it, mainstream traditional and pop country guitarists usually opt for the open and glassy chimes of an amplifier with those iconic American 6V6 tubes. It’s a path well trodden.

Artists like Tim Montana and The Shrednecks aren’t just pushing the envelope of sound, they’re pioneering a new wave of southern rock that’s like a sonic punch in the face. The bastard love child of ZZ Top where smashing out riffs like Thor’s hammer on the Rockies is just another day in the trailer park. Their weapon of choice is the Rockerverb MKiii.

“Orange amps give me the versatility to go from the cleanest, warmest, country sounds to the melt your face, Shredneck shakedown, in the click of a switch! These amps are built for the road and built for life” – Tim Montana

This boozed-up, steroid-fuelled monster is no roadhouse frequenter. It’s built for a hardcore workout on the road with a feast of total delights that range from chimey cleans and iconic gain tones of a classic British crunch right through to a fistfight with Satan himself.

But others choose to expand the frontiers.

Looking Back to Go Forward

Not so long ago the general public could distinguish the difference between that classic American tone and the British sound. While they are fundamentally different, the lines have become blurred. That’s when the magic happens.

Claudia Hoyser – What Kinda Man

Take modern country artist Claudia Hoyser, her amp of choice is the Rocker 15. It’s an amp that is perfectly voiced to bring out the natural sound of the instrument, the perfect accompaniment for Hoyser’s sultry vocal styling. Sensitive to the touch of dynamics and oozing with valve warmth the Rocker 15 begs one question.

How long before others walk the line?

Since 2016 Orange Amplifiers has had an artist relations office in Nashville, TN. Nashville is known for much more than Country music these days. As the result of a migration from LA, NY and points all over the US (and beyond) by artists like Jack White, Black Keys, and many others, a very thriving local Indie scene has exploded here. Consequently, we see artists of every stripe here in the Nashville Showroom.

In a given month we may have visits from the guys from Catfish and the Bottle Men, Mothership, Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown, Lilly Winwood, Velvet Starlings, Skeleton Krew, Marcus King or Smashing Pumpkins.

Having said all this, we do get our share of straight Country Music artists as well. It’s just sometimes tough to draw the distinction between who is Country, Rock or Americana these days. How does one define a brilliant guitarist like longtime Orange Ambassador Marcus King or Zakk Brown?

Marcus King with Orange’s Nashville Artist Rep, Pat Foley

Just recently we had a major video shoot take place in the showroom and in the parking lot just outside. It was a full-on roundup of bikers, hot rods, beer, barbeque and loud music. Billy F Gibbons and Orange Ambassador Tim Montana teamed up on the video for their project called the Whisker Brothers. The theme was a celebration of summer days and nights and particularly the joys of a major barbeque cookout and party. Rather unusual and very country.

BBQ and Cars…yeah, that seems about right for a Tim Montana/ZZ Top video shoot

Our regular visitors run the gamut from country session players like Pat Buchanan and Buddy Woodward looking to borrow something special for a session, rockin country bands like The Cadillac 3 or members of Luke Combs Band, full on Rock bands like The Gene Simmonds Band or mega guitarist Orianthi as well as Country singers like Margot Price or Raelyn Nelson. We also regularly provide amps or pedals to some legendary Nashville studios like RCA Studio B, Omni Sound or Ocean Way. Just this week we provided two AD30 amps and  multiple cabs to new Orange Ambassador Adam Lester for the Peter Frampton Tour which should be amazing judging by the rehearsals.

One of the artists we are featuring for Voice of Country Month is a great new Country artist from Rochester, NY named Claudia Hoyser. Claudia and her producer, Tony Gross paid us a visit a while back while in town for the Country Radio Seminar. Claudia loved the Rocker 15 and Tony was enthralled with the Acoustic pre-amp which he has integrated into both their recording and performance rigs.

New Orange Ambassador Claudia Hoyser

We get it all here in Nashville. If you happen to be on the road and passing through Nashville feel free to give us a call and perhaps drop in for a visit.

Orange Amps Nashville: 1310 Clinton Street, Suite 105, Nashville, Tennessee, 37203