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Jose Rios has been part of the Free Nationals since it’s inception, he has also produced a number of the tracks across their four album career. Jose has been using the Rockerverb 100 MKIII since it’s launch and has been one of its biggest advocates. We met up with Jose before the band played a sold out show to 10K people at London’s Alexandria Palace in spring of 2019. He was relaxed but excited about the show and talked at length about his influences and how Orange is to him the voice of quality.


What’s up everybody, it’s Jose Rios from Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals.

What inspired you to pick up the guitar?

I picked up the guitar because of Stevie Ray Vaughan, my father listened to quite a bit of his music. That’s the whole reason I play, he introduced me to that stuff and I was hooked immediately. I learned about a lot of other people through him and I realised where he got his style from, through learning and listening to other records. But he is the reason I started playing the guitar. Jimi Hendrix obviously as Stevie Ray Vaughan was influenced by him, I think a lot of soul music, like the Motown stuff, that real clean chordy music. I really loved Jazz music but I wouldn’t consider myself to be a Jazz guy. But I do listen to a lot of that stuff, I incorporate it in my sound.

Why did you choose Orange?

Orange was just gritty, had a big sound and kind of sounded different than the other stuff in my genre/style. The reason I picked it up and started using it. Orange had the 412 and the Rockerverb head and it was a beast. I wanted that specifically, I wanted power!

What is it about the Rockerverb you love the most?

First of all the quality, how it’s made and how it looks, it’s incredible. I think it’s real sleek and clean, it’s built well and good quality all around. Speakers through to the tubes it’s just a solid amp, it’s clean, I don’t use the reverb on it, just the EQ. I don’t even have to turn it up that much because it is so loud! I have never gone past four I don’t think, because it is just so damn loud and i’m barely using the power that it has. But it breaks up nice, it has a nice clean tone basically the foundation for my board , I incorporate my sound through that, that like my medium, that rig and the pedals.

Talk us through your set-up at the moment.

Right now i’m actually using a Mexican Jag, that I put the same humbuckers into that were in my strat. The humbucker sound with that amp combined is like heavy duty man, it’s really powerful. My distortion pedal its a really creamy tone, cut through solo nastiness!

Do you prefer analogue or digital?

I’m just old school, I love the old guys and how they did it. They didn’t use digital, it was like amps, it was like analogue. I don’t know maybe I will one day switch over but right now I love my amp and I love having it on stage, I feel comfortable and i’m still as a player learning about it every day. Like tone and options on stage but right now i’m sticking to my guns and saying I need that 412 with me on the road!

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.

Drenge are a three piece band from Derbyshire, Eoin and Rory started the band in 2010 and in 2015 invited Rob formerly of Wet Nuns to join. Rob has been playing Orange for the last 2 years and is currently using the AD30 and the PPC212V cabinet. Rob explains how this combination gives him the perfect platform for his many pedals and how he was impressed to the versatility of Orange Amps.

Hey I’m Rob, I play with Drenge and I play Orange.

My first forays into guitar kind of started in the 90’s and sort of followed the influence back through time. Fugazi especially I found were the first band that I came across where they just plugged straight into amps and there was just one guitar, no pedals or particularly complicated going on rig wise. It was just that sound and using the volume control for your effect on the actual guitar, which is still something that I still do now.

I guess I had an idea in my mind as to what Orange amps sound like, definitely like the whole of the stoner rock, as much as I love that whole sound, it’s really not the right sound for this band. So I guess it did kind of surprise me when I got it and started playing with these guys, how much it didn’t have to do that sound, it didn’t have to do the thing, it is capable of lots of other guitar tones. It sounded fuckin’ great and really fuckin’ loud and what more do you want really?

I’d like to use both channels and do a switching thing because I like the sound of both channels but I have just been on the cleaner voiced channel. I’m kind of using pedals to do the aggressive stuff at the moment but I hope to explore the channel switching at some point very soon.

I’d always prioritise sound, having something that sounds excellent and you are not constantly worried it is going to give up on you, stop working, it’s a really well made thing, I’m very happy with it.

So I’m playing this Ampeg, it’s like a reissue of an old 60’s guitar that Dan Armstrong made and it’s made of plastic. This is like the Gregg Ginn of Black Flag guitar, he played one among many other cool people. From the guitar we go into a Boss tuner and then into a Octave TC which there is some tunes where on the recordings its double tracked so its two guitars. One is playing a riff and one is playing the riff but an octave above, so that just does those bits.

Then I have a Mellotron pedal that again there are some tunes on the record that have Mellotron parts and rather than switch over and play them on keyboards, we just have that. That is for a full wet, strings and choral stuff. After that it splits, for that i’m using the Orange Amp Detonator, which is ace it does exactly what its supposed to, it does it very well and not noisy, it’s great. After that we go into a Stone Deaf PDF which I use as a set wah sound, kind of honky lead solo stuff, to cut through and I have that on a pretty brutal setting which is pretty fun. Then the Rat, its like the most distorted that I go and then there is a Micro Amp as well which is after the amp crunchy setting, the Micro Amp is the next stage, then the Rat shreds your face off, then PDF does the shred your face off but with a very specific mid range.

Then we have the Melekko delay pedal which is ace, it’s quite an unconventional sounding delay, it does a lot of high oscillatory feedback stuff which is cool and then it goes into this guy. So I’m on Channel One which is the less aggressive, less gainy channel, pretty loud and it’s just full bass, quite a lot of mid and the treble is rolled off just a bit because of the brightness of this Ampeg. So that is the base of the whole thing and there are plenty points in the set where it is just that, it’s not like there is always pedals on. There is quite a few bits and bats where there is just the amp and I do quite like to use the volume control on the guitar to full on volume on the guitar to get it quite aggressive and then if it wants to be really clean will roll it off a bit.