With so many lower priced, feature-heavy amps on the market, choosing the perfect practice/starter amp can be a difficult task, so have Orange just made your search easier? Jamie Humphries reviews.
Orange founder, Cliff Cooper, began his brightly coloured journey when he opened the Orange Musical Instruments shop and Recording Studio, in swinging London, in 1968. Cliff's background was in electrical engineering, but styling was also crucial to Cliff's designs. When the Orange amp was born it was unique: a valve amp with a bright orange covering, a distinctive sci-fi design, large volume controls and hieroglyphic legends beneath all the controls. Early endorsers were British Blues act Fleetwood Mac (in their pre-Stevie Nicks/Lyndsey Buckingham incarnation), who subsequently took the Orange Amp to the US. Later, with such artists as Jimmy Page, Stevie Wonder, John Mayall, Wishbone Ash and BB King (to name but a few!) turning Orange, the brand's popularity grew. During the '70s Orange introduced 120 and 80 Watt versions, establishing Orange as one of the most popular valve amps in the world.
After a reincarnation following business difficulties, Orange amps began to enjoy a return to popularity during the early '90s, especially with such heavyweight Brit Pop bands such as Oasis and Blur. More recently, Orange have enjoyed success with endorsers like Slipknot, Down and Mastodon - indeed, they've become a very common site on stage with any number of hip young bands. Arguably, Orange has never been cooler. But alongside the famous, hugely powerful, all-valve heads the company has also enjoyed great success with the low wattage, all-valve 'Tiny Terror' head and, coming up fast in the outside lane, are Orange's more entry-level offerings, the very affordable, solid state 'Crush' range.
The entry level amp market is very competitive and when choosing an amp at this end of the spectrum, tone, features, portability, and volume, at both bedroom and rehearsal level, will all pay a vital part.
The Crush 35 has all the great styling you would expect from an Orange amp: rugged design, woven speaker grill, hieroglyph control graphics and not forgetting that unmistakable Orange vinyl cover and black corner covers. This 35 Watt combo boasts twin channels, clean and crunch, with the crunch channel capable of vintage to modern high gain tones that are rich and not fizzy. The clean channel is capable of producing bright country, snappy funk and even rich warm jazz tones and these can be shaped with the effective three band EQ. But that's not all, because the Crush features great quality digital effects, ranging through delay, reverb and a variety of modulation effects. On top of this there is a footswitch input to enable you to switch channels without interrupting your performance. There is also a headphone jack, and also a MP3 input for your iPod, so you can jam all night without waking the neighbours!
With features such as this, the Crush 35 is well suited to a varied life, from bedroom wood-shedding, to rehearsal room shredding, to small gigs, making it surely one of the most versatile and featured packed amps in this price bracket. It's a great amp at a very affordable price from a company that really understands tone.