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Quality.

It’s one of the most misunderstood words in the dictionary.

Yet the history of the word quality can be traced back to Plato. To the philosopher, ‘quality’ is characteristic that exists by itself, and cannot be reduced further. The Latin root from where we get the word ‘qualitas’ translates as ‘of what kind’, or simply put relative to the need.

The Quality of Orange Amplifiers

Orange Amplifiers might be synonymous with the grunt and grit of analogue circuitry, oozing with creamy mids, distinctive lows and highs, accurately representing the full frequency range. The beefed-up brother of the British sound; gnarly and rugged, but approachable and easy to understand.

Much of our modern equipment stems from the ideas of Orange Technical Director, Adrian Emsley.

Adrian designs and builds amps, but he worked in all the places that you’d find amps being pushed to their limit, like out on the road and in the studio. Transport vibration, dropping (it happens), bashing (even more likely to happen), temperatures changing from hot to cold, the damp humid air of a sweaty stage to arid conditions outside, it’s a brutal life, that of a rig.

Then there’s the function of the amp itself!

And that’s how we test the mettle of Quality at Orange Amplifiers:

Made by the working musician, for the working musician.

“I’ve had the same two Rockerverb MKII 100 heads and cabs since 2011. Not once have I had any problems with my Orange gear. I’ve never even blown a fuse or a speaker. My band, Evanescence, tours all over the world, playing in different climates from cold and dry to hot and wet. My gear has been shipped back and forth across the Atlantic many times, been in cargo holds in the belly of aeroplanes across the pacific and always performs when the time comes. It’s more reliable than just about every piece of gear that I’ve ever had!!!”
Troy McLawhorn of Evanescence

Beastly Thinking

What Adrian and his team do is make amplifiers that are complexly simple. More time is taken in the design stage to make an Orange Amplifer playable with little user input.

Orange Amplifiers are designed to easily dial in a tone. There’s not much most front panels, removing the need for endless twiddling of knobs and button switching. Instead, by using an all analogue signal path our amps are voiced with a distinct character, from the point of plugging in, it sounds good. Which means more time making music, less time fighting to get the sound you want.

“I want something that’s going to work, not too much hustle and fuss and something that’s just Rock N’ Roll”
– Kelby Ray, The Cadilac Three

As Little Design as Possible

When it comes to designing amps, lots of care, consideration, time and heaps of perspiration go into the design stage. Generally speaking, Orange Amplifiers have fewer components in the signal chain and here’s why:

Remove the complexity and there’s less to go wrong.

So where your money is going is on higher-spec components that work as they should. Components with the lowest failure rates and over-engineered, so whatever you throw at your amplifier, it will continue to operate the same as the last time you switched it on.

Take for example the trace lines on the PCBs. It’s not something that screams rock and roll, but when you get right down into it, it’s about as hardcore as it gets.

As you push your amp to its limits, be that continuous operation or driving it hard as hell, heat can build up. That heat eventually wears out components and then your in trouble. We lay extra-thick PCB traces to prevent impedance from building up unwanted heat, so the amps keep going for longer.

That’s exactly why Orange Amplifiers are favoured by touring rig companies worldwide. They’re a reliable workhorse that can take the punishing rigours of the road.

The Roadies Friend

Moving, lifting, stacking, packing. All the wondrous jobs that eventually take their toll on your gear. Mick Dines (of Orange Amplifiers) knew this well and the result was one of the most solid speaker cabs on the market.

Back when he designed the first cabs, Mick Dines didn’t cut corners and much of the design remains the same today. There’s no illusion of strength, as Cliff Cooper, founder and CEO explains:

“The 4×12 was built to be very strong and featured a baffle centre post, 13-ply (18mm) birch-faced marine plywood and a tough orange vinyl cloth covering called Rexine. The use of Basketweave on the grill really helped to define the ‘Orange sound’.”

Take a look at the bottom of the cab and you’ll find wooden ‘skids’ instead of plastic castors. Skids make moving gear easier but they also acoustically couple the cabinet to the stage, enhancing the bass response and transmit all that power right through your bones.

Endurance without Compromise

At the very heart of the valve amp is the output transformer. We always over spec our transformers, and there’s a reason for this:

An under spec transformer leads to excess heat being produced inside an amp, ultimately causing problems over long-term operation.

Secondly, if underpowered, the transformer will saturate, throttling the output signal. This will cause losses to the bottom and top of the frequency range rather than passing the whole bandwidth.

Equipped for the Modern Musician

Pedals, pedals, pedals; there’s so many tone choices available, but to get the most of your gear, consider the FX loop.

Your amp, pedals and instrument all need to work in harmony together. Too much signal into your pedal board and the circuit overloads causing distortion. On the way back in, you want sufficient level to drive the power amp.

Orange Amplifiers always * feature a Valve Buffered FX Loop, ensuring you won’t lose any of your amp’s mojo.

* Almost always, Terror Bass features a solid state FX Loop

Instantly Playable

While digital modeling is pretty incredible, we believe the costs outweigh the benefits in comparison to solid-state circuitry like in our Crush range. We design amps that are instantly playable; so you’re straight into making music, not tone hunting.

Flexibility in the Design

Versatility is often overlooked which is why our valve amps (except the AD30) have wattage switching options built-in. That means you can tailor your amp to whatever situation you’re playing, be that in the studio or on stage, you can always hit the tonal sweet spot without the need to make ears bleed

Summing it up

With so many different options out there, choosing the right equipment for your setup is a bit overwhelming. Our equipment is designed by the working musician, for the working musician.

Simply put, gear that handles anything you can throw at it.

Let’s cut to the chase.

When we’re talking about blues amplification the apple fell a long way from the tree of its origins. Yet there’s something fundamentally organic about the sound of the blues that hasn’t been lost in translation.

That’s because the foundation of blues lies in the roots.

“The Rocker dirty channel has been at the heart of my guitar tone for 12 years. Standing alone it’s warm and hits you like a wall of sound, then stacked it cuts and sustains in the best way possible. It’s hard to imagine a show without that signature Orange overdrive” – Hannah Wicklund

Just like a tree, breaks overtime spawn new saplings, fed from a lineage of ancient roots that continue to feed musicians. Inspiring them to push their limits, evolving in ways that are almost indistinguishable from their forbearers.

But once you get down in the mud you’ll notice that everything that was, still is.

The murky roots of the Mississippi Delta

To some extent, it takes a lot of imagination to tell the story of blues amplification. But what we do know is before amplification; we had the acoustic blues. A melting pot of sound, mixed up from traditional string bands, folk, Creole and Broadway theatre songs.

It’s no surprise that legends like Robert Johnson originally made their crust playing American show tunes at Juke joints. These places were wild and unruly, the name itself ‘Juke’ comes from the Gullah word ‘joog’ or ‘jug’ meaning rowdy or disorderly. So the need for louder instruments was a prerequisite. Resonators became widely used for those who could afford them. Not many of these players could.

Blues: amplified

Consider the first amplifiers these blues legends were using. Makeshift designs built by converting old radios. They were pure grit; filthy dirt that was brutality embodied.

The Orange Rocker 32 is the perfect amp to achieve that level of grime. All valve monster tone within the footprint of a self-contained stereo combo. This is an amp designed for experimentation.

Orange Rocker 32 Amplifier

Just as the pioneers had rewired and retubed army issue radios (often players would swap out the smoother 6v6s for European standard EL34s) to create roaring beasts usually resigned to closing time on a Saturday night, the Orange Rocker 32 gives you so much flexibility.

12AX7s on the front end allows you to dial the distortion all the way up to Mr Nasty while the 12AT7s give more headroom and chimey cleaner tone. Add in 4 x EL84’s at the power amp stage and the whole thing fires up when overdriven.

Now the old school blues players didn’t have luxurious stereo effects returns with separate valve output stages, but you can be sure they would have been melting heads in the process.

Some other cool features include half power mode for tinnitus-free wailing, perfect for those who don’t want to experience the deafening silence of a motor shelling during an intimate gig.

Boomtown USA

Many of the Delta players migrated northwards during the great depression, up to the Mississippi and along Highway 61 towards the big city lights of Chicago, from there, blues exploded.

Where money flows, technology grows, and with that amplifier design took off. Classics amps that today now symbolise the American sound became a common workhorse for blues musicians.

Those amps though from back in the day were dirty beasts. The players; innovators. So when it comes to getting close to those classic sounds you got to think about what was going on over there.

Amplifiers were being modded and tweaked, each one was unique, often driven by a need to keep the thing going long enough to play out the next gig. It’s said that when Keith Richards and Eric Clapton paid homage to their heroes by meeting them on American soil they were expected them to be wielding Gibsons, but in fact, they were playing Kays. A perception that comes from an ability to play the hell out of anything and make it sound badass.

Orange TremLord 30

The TremLord 30 is an Orange take on the classic amps that were around in the 50s. It’s quite likely that this beefed up vintage design is an accurate reflection of what was in use, opting for EL84 (nee EL34s) that break up more than the 6v6 type American tube.

What those guys wouldn’t have were contemporary FX chains that give you far more flexibility without suffering tonal loss.

Probably the single most beautiful thing to happen in modern-day amplifier design is to drop the volume but still retain the springiness of a valve amp. That means you don’t need a plethora of amps to keep you away from an anti-social behaviour order.

The Spirit of Revival

Orange, as you may know, played a role in sculpting the sound of the blues from the late 60s when Fleetwood Mac took the first Orange rig out across America. This was a big step away from those early blues players who sacrificed blood and bone to amplify their sound.

This was a wall of sound, thick with mid-ranged compression, tar-like, knurled and jagged edges reminiscent of sun-beaten highways where its origins were performed in road worker campsites. A sound that rang on endlessly as the birds picked at the carrion that laid in their wake, and which has evolved beyond comprehension, yet still is as relevant now as it was 50 years ago.

The amplifier which embodies the spirit of the British sound is the Orange AD30, our flagship all-valve amplifier.

So we’ll let the music do the talking:

From an Artist Relations perspective, the AD200B bass amp is one of the best weapons in my arsenal. It’s an amp with extremely pure bass tone, lots of clarity no matter how you’ve set the knobs, and it’s overdrive is a perfect blend of classic and modern. I’ve had hundreds of artists make the switch from “the other standard bass amp company that which will remain unnamed” onto the AD200B.

Artists love it because it’s produced to the same standard as most vintage tube bass amps. They also tend to make the switch when their classic bass amps are ready to come off the road to become studio-only pieces.

Here’s the backstory on a handful of Orange Ambassadors that use the AD200B (which we commonly refer to as just the “AD200”):


Geddy Lee – Rush

This might be hard to believe, but Slipknot is actually responsible for Geddy Lee playing the AD200.

Rush and Slipknot were recording next to each other in a Nashville studio. On a whim, Geddy heard the bass tone coming out of Slipknot’s studio and peeked his head in to find out what was making that glorious sound. Martin, Jim Root’s tech at the time, told him it was the AD200.

It took us about NEGATIVE FIVE MINUTES to decide Geddy could make or break Orange bass amps. Once we got that now-iconic photo of him chilling on top of his AD200’s we started buying up a ton of full page ads in guitar magazines. It was basically an entire year of promoting Geddy. The result? A nearly 100% increase in bass sales (and they’ve been growing every year since then).

Geddy used the AD200 for ¼ of his onstage bass tone. He turned the gain and the treble all the way up and everything else down as far as it could go. So basically the AD200 was his overdrive tone. However, the bass tone on Rush’s 2012 album Clockwork Angels is FULL of AD200 (check it out).


Glenn Hughes – Deep Purple, Black Country Communion

I was at Winter NAMM in 2011 when suddenly I got pulled into our demo room by an extremely excited Cliff Cooper (Orange’s Founder and CEO). He told me Glenn Hughes had stopped by and asked to try the AD200. We stuffed ourselves into that demo room like sardines. Glenn plugged in, played for 10 seconds, and then stopped and looked at all of us. His face had an expression of disbelief.

“This is the tone I’ve been trying to find for decades…this is my sound.”

Since then Glenn has been using the AD200 at 99% of his shows without fail. When I can’t find backline for him in some random city in, say, Africa, he makes sure I know how sad it makes him. He recently switched from playing through a combination of OBC115 and OBC410 speakers, to a pyramid-looking set up featuring (3) OBC810 cabs turned sideways.


Tom Petersson – Cheap Trick

Everyone knows that Tom is constantly switching up his rig, but for the past 7 years Orange has become a staple of Tom’s tone. Tom plays 12 string bass guitars (which he’s famous for doing) and his rig is a mash-up of bass and guitar amps.

The first Orange amp he added to the mix was the AD200. Then he started throwing in Orange guitar amps, specifically the now-discontinued AD50 hand-wired, the AD30, and more recently the Custom Shop 50 hand-wired. For about a year his rig was entirely Orange, but in true Tom fashion he’s started to put some Fender back into it. Honestly, as long as Tom Petersson of motherfreaking Cheap Trick has Orange on his stage I’ll be OK with whatever it is!


Jason Narducy – Bob Mould, Superchunk, Split Single

I’m putting Jason Narducy, one of my favorite people in the world, right below Tom Petersson because Tom is the reason Jason picked up a bass. I’ll just let Jason tell you what he thinks about the AD200:

“The first time I played an AD200 was in a rehearsal space in LA in 2006. It was the first practice with Bob Pollard’s new band and we had to learn 357 songs or something like that. We also taught our livers what 357 beers felt like. Despite the beer and avalanche of songs, I knew right away that the Orange AD200 was special.

I noticed the amp was orange just like the manufacturer’s name. They nailed that. But more importantly, it had the best tone for my P-bass. There were no hollowed out frequencies that you get with the common rented bass rig. The AD200 has presence and muscle. It is my favorite thing besides beer. And my family, I guess.”

 


Ben Lemelin – Your Favorite Enemies

If you’ve been following Orange closely over the past decade you know that there’s a super insane French-Canadian dude named SEF from the band Your Favorite Enemies who has done product reviews for us. SEF is like the human version of candy-flipping. However, we also have been working with the band’s bassist, Ben Lemelin, for the same period of time, and he’s just as good at doing killer demos.

Ben loves the AD200 for its super pure bass tone and for its ability to get wildly overdriven when necessary.

 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ORANGE AD200B PAGE

I recently wrote an article entitled “A Choice, Not a Compromise: The Case for the Rocker 15.” In that article I cited the reasons why someone might prefer the Rocker 15 Combo over the larger Rocker 32 Combo. It’s more portable, it’s being used mainly for practice or recording, and it doesn’t have a stereo FX loop (which adds to the cost and probably isn’t necessary for most players).

Now I need you to forget what I said and consider the reasons why the Rocker 32 the perfect combo for your needs.

Reason #1 – You Want A Combo With A Stereo FX Loop

There aren’t many amps on the market that feature stereo FX loops. So, in the true spirit of Orange’s “make what we want” attitude, Lead Designer Ade Emsley added one to the Rocker 32. It’s valve-buffered and 100% true stereo, which makes it the perfect combo for exploring the possibilities of your pedalboard. You’ll never want to use a delay pedal in mono again once you’ve heard the soundscape you can create in stereo.

Or, try it the “old school” way by patching your pedals in wet/dry mode. One speaker has the effects while the other speaker has the clean tone from the amp. You’ll be amazed at the separation and clarity. While the stereo FX loop has a ton of live applications, just imagine what you can do with it in the studio! (Warning: Do not play with the stereo FX loop while drunk…it’s so much fun you may never want to sober up)

Reason #2 – You Need More Power

While the Rocker 15 has some unique power-switching options (15, 7, 1, and .5 watts) that make it awesome for both the bedroom and the studio, the Rocker 32 kicks up the power to 30 watts so you can get the volume you need for full-band scenarios. Also, with that extra 15 watts of power you’ll get the benefits of added clean headroom and extra saturation when you’re using lots of gain on the dirty channel. Don’t need the full 30 watts? Cut the power in half with the “full/half power” switch and you’ll be sitting at a neighbor-friendly 15 watts.

Reason #3 – Tonal Versatility

In many ways the Rocker 32 is Orange’s answer to more “American-sounding” combos. It’s a direct competitor to the Fender Twin Reverb (of course the Rocker 32 doesn’t have reverb, but that’s not the point). At the same time it’s a combo that can stand up to British amps like the Vox AC30. What we’ve created is an amp that sits perfectly in-between British and American tones. If the Twin Reverb is shimmering and metallic sounding, then the Rocker 32 is shimmering but smooth.

The Rocker 32 is currently on stage or in the studio with bands as diverse as The Weeknd, Guided By Voices, Primus, Gene Evaro Jr, and Rival Sons. It’s picking up steam with jazz, gospel, and even country acts as well. If you’re looking for an amp that encompasses a “little bit of everything Orange,” look no further than the Orange Rocker 32 Combo.

The Dual Dark, as Lead Designer Ade Emsley describes it, is an Orange amp “for guitarists who don’t usually play Orange amps.” The Dual Dark is a completely different beast, both in terms of gain and voicing, from every other amp Orange has ever produced. It’s tighter on the bottom-end and has an almost percussive nature to its attack. And while all Orange amps tend to have massive amounts of distortion, it’s the searing brutality of the dirty channel (Channel B) on the Dual Dark really sets it apart from amps like the Rockerverb MKIII.

There are a lot of similarities between the Dual Dark and our now discontinued Thunderverb series. The Thunderverb 50 and 100 were the first Orange amps to feature attenuators and shape knobs. The attenuator is great for the studio and bedroom practice, since it allows the volume to be decreased without affecting the tone. The shape knob is actually a mid-scoop that takes the player from classic rock all the way through to mind-melting metal. These features, when introduced originally, were received well by Orange enthusiasts so it only made sense to keep them on future models (the Rockerverb MKIII also has an attenuator).

The similarities end when it comes to the voicing of the amps. If the Thunderverb was a true modern Orange amp, and the Rockerverb MKIII a melding of classic and modern tones, then the Dual Dark is the amp that bridges them all together. Channel A on the Dual Dark is extremely versatility, boasting a wide range of tones from Brit-rock to R&B. On this channel it can even be made to sound similar to our flagship AD30 head. But switch over to Channel B, the assumed “dirty channel” for most players, and let the shape knob rocket you into Thunderverb 200 high-gain metal territory (this, for example, is the channel Matt Pike from Sleep prefers).

It’s the Dual Dark’s voicing is what allows for such versatility. By backing off on the “fuzziness” that is inherent in most Orange amps (a desirable trait to most of our fans), Lead Designer Ade Emsley has made the Dual Dark capable of mimicking a wider variety of amp voicings. If other amp companies make “fizzy” sounding amps, and Orange is normally known for “fuzz,” then the Dual Dark occupies that in-between “fizz-fuzz” that makes it so unique.

There’s something for everybody in the Dual Dark series. Here are some examples of Orange Ambassadors from a wide variety of genres that have made the Dual Dark their go-to amps.

Matt Pike – Sleep, High on Fire

The Dual Dark 100 is always the first amp Matt requests on his backline riders. He prefers it above all other current production Orange amps. For him, it’s the gain and the gain alone that he desires. If we could supply him with 50 Dual Dark 100’s per show he’d take it.

Al Cisneros – Sleep

After Matt Pike started using the Dual Dark 100 regularly, Al got in touch and said he was interested in giving it a shot. Al uses a huge stack of bass amps, yes, but he also runs his signal through a guitar half stack to achieve a more grindy, trebly top-end to his tone. The Dual Dark 50 has become his go-to guitar amp since 2017.

Graham WhitfordTyler Bryant and the Shakedown

“It’s one of those amps you can plug straight into without a single pedal and get everything you need. I love it.”

Dave Catching – Eagles of Death Metal

We’ve had EODM’s lead guitarist, the absolutely most awesome dude on earth, Dave Catching, playing the Dual Darks on stage for several years. Coming from a Marshall/Fender background, he like a lot of our Dual Dark Ambassadors was turned on by the fact it doesn’t sound “classically Orange.” Dave also found that the Dual Dark can works wonders in his studio, Rancho De La Luna, with bands ranging from CKY to Kurt Vile.

Pop Evil

Both guitarists Davey Grahs and Nick Fuelling of Pop Evil are playing identical set-ups consisting of Dual Dark and Rockerverb 100 MKIII 100 watt heads. For their stage volume needs it’s the perfect combo. It’s a loud, LOUD rig and between both the Dual Dark and Rockerverb MKIII they’re able to recreate the full spectrum of Orange tones.

“If sounds were a person, the sound Orange produces would be the Dos Equis guy.” – Davey Grahs

Kvelertak-Maciek-and-Vidar

You just finished touring with Slayer and Anthrax – how was that?
Maciek: It’s been really fucking cool, and kind of a milestone as they’re bands we all look up to. Definitely something to tick off our list.

How long have you been using Orange?
Vidar: We’ve been using Orange for long time, since before we started recording. Bjarte’s been using Orange for as long as I can remember. I had an old vintage Marshall amp that caught fire, and after that I swapped to Orange.
Maciek: I’ve got the TH30, Rockerverb and Thunderverb, and they just always deliver and they’re very reliable. And it looks fucking cool.

Do you have any specific pedals you feel work well with the amps?
Maciek: Well, yeah, there’s quite a few, but Orange sounds really good on it’s own. It’s a really good base, and then you can have fun with some pedals on top. I always use my Echoplex Preamp from Dunlop. Since we’ve got three guitars we all have to be on different levels, and I think it works really well with that one.
Vidar: I try to use as few pedals as possible, if it was up to me I’d just plug it straight into the amp and go, but obviously I do use some, I’ve had a Big Muff for a while and that works well, but then again, all my pedals works well with Orange.

Kvelertak (1)

Do you remember the first time you saw an Orange amp?
Vidar: I think it was Hellacopters, in the Toys and Flavours video.
Maciek: Not really, but I remember that when we started in 2009 Norway got kind of like an Orange boom, because I cant really think of any other Norwegian bands besides us having used Orange..?
Vidar: I’m sure there are a few, I just can’t think of them.

You’re one of few bands with Norwegian lyrics to have made it outside of Norway, was there ever any doubt, or moments when you considered English lyrics?
Vidar: We’ve actually never had a proper conversation about it. There’s been a few people saying we’d get further if we did, but I guess we kind of just proved them wrong.
Maciek: It’s a part of our sound as well, we’d sound completely different if our songs were in English. We’ve got one English verse, that’ll do. And to be fair, I don’t really know how much of a difference it would have made if our songs were in English, we’re doing really well as it is. It’s pretty cool doing gigs outside of Norway when you see people singing along, trying to get the Norwegian words right. It’s almost tempting to stop and ask them what they’re actually singing.

Kvelertak.

What kind of music did you listen to growing up? Was there anyone in specific that got you into music?
Vidar: Whatever my parents were listening to, so a mix between Dire Straits and Abba, but I guess what kind of sold music to me was when I got a Guns N’ Roses cassette.
Maciek: I’ve always liked music. I used to be really into skateboarding and listened to a lot of punk. It wasn’t until a bit later I got unto metal. Death was one of the bands that made me want to be good, but I guess it was mostly punk that got me started.

What are you currently listening to?
Maciek: I listen to quite a lot of hip hop, there’s been a lot of Lars Vaular lately, and Yelawolf.
Vidar: There’s a Finnish band called ‘Vasas Flora och Fauna’, which is kind of folk music. While touring with bands such as Slayer and Anthrax and listening to metal non-stop, it’s nice to unwind with something completely different.

Norwegian hip hop and Finnish folk music, I can imagine a few people will find that quite surprising!
Maciek: I listen to a fair bit of Hawaii music as well, like Johnny Pineapple.
Vidar: We’ve been playing Scorpions in our tour bus, which I never knew I liked.
Maciek: Erlend’s got Hellbillies backstage playlist, which consists of a bunch of bands that sounds just like Hellbillies. We’ve listened to that a lot.

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