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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.

For this months ‘Voice of’ campaign we’re mixing it up a bit to focus more on the actual amps instead of the artists using them like we’ve done in previous months like ‘Voice of Country’, ‘Voice of Rock’, ‘Voice of Acoustic’ – you get my drift. Check out our selections for ‘Voice of Quality’ below.

Rockerverb MKIII

The Rockerverb series, consisting of both 50W & 100W heads as well as a 50W combo have been a customer favourite since it first launched back in 2004 and have since proved itself to be a workhorse of an amp suiting a whole variety of genres. A decade and a half after first being released, the Rockerverb has been tweaked and improved using customer feedback as well as lead amp designer and technical director Ade Emsley’s brilliant mind, which has led us to the most recent Rockerverb series, the MKIII. The biggest change in tone from the MKII to the MKIII is the clean channel, as the MKIII allows for a lot more headroom and chime than it’s predecessor. However, fear not, it still has the warmth and vintage feel to it as well. The MKIII has also been given the same foot switchable attenuator as the Dual Dark and Thunderverb, and it works a treat.

A few artists using Rockerverb MKIII:
Andy Powell, Wishbone Ash – Rockerverb 100 MKIII
Stevie Wonder – Rockerverb 50 MKIII Combo
Matt Pike, Sleep, High on Fire – Rockerverb 100 MKIII
Marcus King, The Marcus Kind
Jim Root, Slipknot – Rockerverb 100 MKIII
Andreas Kisser, Sepultura – Rockerverb 100 MKIII

Custom Shop 50

Our Custom Shop 50 is a carefully hand wired head operating at either 50w in class AB, or 30W in class A. Switching between the two allows you to adjust the tone from a sensitive chime in class A to a warmer, fuller sound in AB. The responsive EQ section works well with the Gain control, making it a smooth transition going from round and warm, to bold and snarly. The Custom Shop 50 is a prime example of a British amplifier, and perfect for good ol’ British blues.

A few artists using the Custom Shop 50:
Scott Holiday, Rival Sons
Wolf Jaw
1000mods

AD200

Truls Mörck, Graveyard

Another classic of ours is the AD200 bass head, which, as the Rockerverb, we’ve improved and tweaked our way to the current MKIII. Even when blasting out at max, the AD200 remains clean and punchy all the way. The amp is loaded wit four 6550 valves pushing the 200W of power which generates an enormous sound, which also means it generates enormous weight, but isn’t that the price we pay for solid valve amplifiers? A classic Orange ‘plug and play’ amp.

A few artists using AD200 MKIII:
Glenn Hughes
Geddy Lee, Rush
Truls Mörck, Graveyard
Tom Petersson, Cheap Trick
Steve Micciche, Every Time I Die

PPC212V

The PPC212V, which is our first ever vertical cabinet, is built using birch plywood and installed with  two lightweight Celestial Neo Creamback speakers to make it as light as possible – one of the lightest 2 x 12 speaker cabs around, actually, as it comes up at just under 20 kilos. However, fear not, the lightness of the weight does not compromise the heaviness of the sound, you still get the Orange excellence.

A few artists using PPC212V:
Rob Graham, Drenge
Mary Spender
Todd, Mobile Deathcamp
Bad Day Blues Band
Roascio RCM