Orange amplifiers are amongst the biggest guitar amplifier brands on the planet. They make some of the most famous and widely used amps for both beginners through to very famous, professional musicians.
But how good are they really? What makes orange amps so popular and why?
Let’s take a look at the history of orange amplifiers, how they’re made, who uses them, what styles of music they’re best for and whether they would be a good fit for you and what you want.
History of Orange Amplifiers
Orange was founded in London in 1968 by Cliff Cooper. Cliff was a musician and electronics student who after experimenting with his own amplifier design opened a music store and studio. When struggling to get enough stock to cover demand Cooper began designing and producing his own amplifiers.
Cliff is still in charge today and the name Orange he originally came up with is from the color of the walls of the store – a very bright, psychedelic orange.
Soon after the store came Orange amps and they quickly found a market. Popularity grew in the early 1970’s but as rock music began to fall out of favor at the end of the 70’s into the 80’s Orange began to struggle.
In fact the 1980’s were a barren period for Orange with very little produced or sold. The only signs of life for Orange were Cooper building special orders. And in the early 90’s Gibson bought the Orange name to manufacturer their own lineup of ‘Orange’ amps under.
That could have signalled the end for Orange but thanks to the lack of success of Gibson’s Oranges they gave the name back to Cooper in 1997 and things changed.
After working with Noel Gallagher of Oasis, who had been a long time user of Orange amps, the AD series (AD15, 30 and 30R) was designed and launched to much acclaim. Soon huge artists like Jimmy Page were using Orange amps.
This gave the brand a massive boost both at home and internationally and the 2000’s saw Orange rise to even greater prominence.
With the launch of the Tiny Terror, the first lunchbox amp, they set the trend for small, portable but powerful amp heads and the Rockerverb and Thunderverb became huge hits in their own right.
Now one of the leading music brands they enjoy huge success and have their range of amps used by large swathes of well known musicians.
Where are Orange Amps Made
Some Orange amps are made in the UK and others in China. Having said that “made in the UK” actually means “assembled in the UK”. The parts are shipped from China to the UK where those parts are assembled in a UK factory.
Price plays a large part in the where the amp is made – the more expensive it is the more likely it is to be made in the UK. The cheaper or more affordable amps tend to be made in China.
In the past having an amplifier made in China would have meant the quality suffered. Nowadays though many huge guitar and amplifier manufacturers have large parts of their product range made in China and the quality is still excellent. In fact a lot of the time you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a China and UK made amp.
Which Orange Amps are Made in the UK
The Orange amplifiers made in the UK are:
- Orange Rockerverb 50
- Orange Rockerverb 100
- Orange Dual Dark
- Orange Thunderverb 200
- Orange Thunderverb 50
- Orange AD5
- Orange AD15
- Orange AD30
- Orange AD50
- Orange AD140
- Orange Tiny Terror Hard Wired Edition
- Orange Rocker 30
Which Orange Amps are Made in the UK
The Orange amplifiers made in China are:
- Orange TH30
- Orange TH50
- Orange TH100
- Orange Tiny Terror
- Orange Micro Terror
- Orange Micro Dark
- Orange Dual Terror
- Orange Jim Root Terror
- Orange OR15
- Orange OR50
- Orange OR100
- Orange Terror Stamp
- Orange Rocker 15
- Orange Rocker 32
Who Uses Orange Amps
Everyone! They’ve become an exceptionally popular brand and you can see musicians from every genre of music – country and pop right through to the heaviest metal and punk – using Orange amps.
Stevie Wonder and Fleetwood Mac were both very early adopters of Orange amps. Jimmy Page has famously used them. In the 90’s Orange heads and cabs would be seen routinely at Oasis gigs, and more recently the likes of Jim Root of Slipknot and Brent Hinds of Mastadon have had their own signature Orange amps.
They do have a tendency to be favored by heavier styles of music, largely down to the gain they produce, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
You only have to look at any well known band or musician playing live and there’s a good chance you will see an Orange amp or speaker cabinet somewhere on stage. Regardless of the genre or style of music.
The fact that there are many bands that use orange amps and you can see their use wide spread throughout the music industry is testament to their appeal and quality.
What Makes Orange Amps So Good?
Everything is of course subjective, but there are some things Orange get right that makes them so popular and used by some of the biggest artists on the planet are:
If you compare Orange to other amps they seem to have fewer features. But what they excel in is keeping their amps simple and straightforward to use without losing any of the tone. Some amplifiers can be overwhelming when trying to dial in your sound but Oranges tend to only have very basic tone controls that you can’t really struggle with.
For a lot of guitarists that simplicity is preferable. Being able to plug in, do some very small adjustments and start playing is all they want.
Spending all your time chasing or searching for your tone is going to be frustrating. So knowing it’s just at the end of a few small turns with your trusted Orange amp is a big selling point for them, and along with their sound, why so many artists choose and stick with them.
Orange very much have their own sound. It may not be one you like (you probably will though) but its definitely unique. You can identify the Orange gain. It’s distinctive and one that really only they do. If you like and want it then Orange is your only option.
The Orange gain speaks for itself and is used by so many famous artists it doesn’t need justifying. But actually the Orange clean tone is surprisingly good, and often overlooked. It definitely has its own flavor but combined with the amazing gain it means that virtually every amp in their product range gives you so many options and versatility in sound.
Oranges are built like tanks! All their amps are incredibly sturdy, well made and durable. They can take a beating and some serious punishment, which if you’re touring is pretty much a necessity.
Knowing you can rely on your amp to work when you need it and not get damaged whilst travelling is what all touring musicians want. Turning up to a gig to find your amp isn’t working is a nightmare, and one you won’t put up with if it repeatedly happens.
Some amp makers have a lot of different models that sort of all do roughly the same thing. There isn’t much difference between them. Whereas Orange cover so many bases with their whole range. They cater to a lot of different tastes and styles of music that means your options are extensive.
From the blistering high gain of the Rockerverb to the straight up rock sound of the OR15, the Orange range exemplifies versatility.
This is somewhat subjective too but in comparison to a lot of their competitors they’re very well priced. The entry level amps like the Crush series are fantastically affordable and better than most of the competition. And the higher end Rockerverbs and Thunderverbs are often less expensive than other amps that do the same sort of thing.
It’s not the most important aspect of an amplifier but we are visual creatures and Orange certainly have a “look”. You can’t miss that color and fail to notice them both on stage and if you’re browsing a store.
How much that’s affects their popularity is hard to say. But guitarists like to look good too and it wouldn’t be a shock if that bright orange tolex helped sell a few more units!
What are Orange Amps Good for
It depends on the amp. Generally speaking they have a very signature, fuzzy gain that has become hugely popular with high gain artists. But as the likes of Stevie Wonder and John McVie of Fleetwood Mac show it’s not just the heavy artists relying on Orange.
Really you can find any tone you’re after from an Orange. Yes, even lovely cleans!
Admittedly if you only want that signature, sparkly Fender clean tone then Orange aren’t going to be the best choice for you. Although the Thunderverb and Rockerverb do get surprisingly close and the Crush has a lovely clean sound too.
But for all round versatility then it’s hard to think of any range of amps that can cover the bases that Orange do.
What do Orange Amps Sound Like
They have their own very unique sound. Mainly characterized by their gain, which is thick and quite dark. They sit somewhere between a Marshall and a Vox, really.
Check out this video for a better idea of the Orange sound:
Are Orange Amps Good for Beginners
Orange have a specific series of amps – the Crush range – that are intended and marketed for those new to playing the guitar. The Crush series of amps are designed with those getting familiar with amps and playing in mind and make practising at low volume levels easy.
They’re one of the best sellers in that area of beginner amps and for good reason. The BOSS Katana and the Fender Mustang are probably more feature packed but for straightforward playability and great sound then as a beginner it’s hard to go wrong with one of the Crushes!
The Micro Terror is small and fits on your desk if you need space. It does a great classic rock sound and gets surprisingly loud.
They also have a good selection of mid tier, low to middle watt tube amps that make great choices for when you progress a little and want to upgrade from a beginner amp. The Rocker 15, for example, is a wonderful first tube amp due to its size and power scaling options (that allows you to reduce the watts for lower volume playing).
Or even if you are a beginner you can go straight in with the big boys and pick up a Rockerverb or Thunderverb!
Are Orange Amps Good for Metal
Many metal bands use some of Oranges higher gain amps like the Rockerverb and Thunderverb.
In fact it’s mainly the heavier rock and metal acts that Orange have become most well known for. If they’re good enough for Slipknot or Jimmy Page then they must be doing something right!
And because Orange are so well known for their gain it means a lot of their amps are a good fit for playing metal.
What About their Cabinets?
Orange may be most famous for their amps and sound they produce but a big part of that are the speaker cabinets they’re played through. And Orange cabs are hugely popular too.
Their 1×12, the PPC112, is one of the most affordable and well made cabinets on the market.
PPC, which stands for Powerful Projector Cabinets, prefaces their range of guitar speaker cabinets. So PPC112 is a single, 12 inch speaker. PPC212 is 2 speakers and PPC412 is 4 speakers. They come with a Celestion Vintage 30 speakers.
All Orange cabs are sturdy and well built from Baltic birch ply with strong glue. The basket weave is solid and they are a dependable to cabinet you can trust.
They’re a great choice to go with any Orange head but also work brilliantly with most other brand of amps too.
Are Orange Bass Amps Good?
Much like they’re guitar amp brothers Orange bass amps are also highly thought of and widely used.
They do suffer from the same problem as Orange guitar amps in that there is a perception that they only fit one style of music – rock and metal. Whilst they’re excellent for that it’s unfair to think of them as only being suited to that genre of music.
Again, they are extremely versatile and with a whole range of options from the entry level beginner amps through to those suitable for serious touring musicians.
They’re also built like the guitar amps – very well! Sturdy and durable they’ll survive years of hard touring without you having to worry about them failing on you.
Do Orange Amps Sound like Marshalls?
Not really. Whilst they do both have a British sounding distortion the Orange gain is a lot more grainier and looser than Marshall’s. “Thick” is often used to describe the Orange gain and its very apt.
Oranges tend to push the lower mids more than Marshall’s which push the upper mids.
Having said that every amp is different and it’s best to try and compare the models you might be considering to see which sounds best to your ears.
Which Orange Amps have Effects Loops?
If you want an effects loop in your amp then there are many options available in the Orange range:
- Thunderverb 200
- Thunderverb 50
- Rockerverb 50
- Rockerverb 100
- Rocker 15
- Rocker 32
- Dual Dark 50
- Dual Dark 100
- Crush 35RT
- Crush Pro 60
- Crush Pro 120
- Dark Terror
- Dual Dark
- Micro Dark
Current Orange Range of Guitar Amps
These are the current Orange amps available to buy:
Well hopefully you are now far more informed about Orange amps, what they sound like, how they’re built and whether they would be a good option for yourself.
If you are thinking of getting an Orange amp then you can assured they are amongst the best amplifiers out there and will do a job for you regardless of the type of music you play or skill level you’re currently at.