There are few names as integral to the evolution of amplification than that of UK juggernauts Orange.
From Jimmy Page through to Jim Root and beyond, countless guitarists have relied on their designs to record classic albums and cut through crowds on the world’s biggest stages, helping solidify the brand’s status in music lore.
But as any keen gear historian will tell you, Orange Amps are far more than just an amplifier manufacturing mainstay. Since its earliest days as a second-hand retailer in the late ‘60s, the company has dabbled in almost all departments imaginable, churning out a myriad of instruments, PA speakers, cables, smartboards, and even a PC (seriously!).
However, if there’s been any Orange offshoot that’s really resonated with players over the years, it’d have to be the company’s fabled effects pedals of the 1970s. Vintage gear purists have made quite the fuss over these chunky, simple sound boxes on forums over the years, and as it so happens, the company actually took note.
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After being alerted to all this hype, Orange’s R’n’D team dug through their vaults to seek out the schematics to these cherished stompboxes, and lo and behold, stumbled on the goods.
Fast forward a few years later, and Orange has officially released their Vintage Pedals series: a reissue of three of these revered effects pedals. It’s a celebration of both the company’s rich heritage and a trio of sounds that helped define guitar tones of the era – distortion (duh), phaser, and sustain – all packed into a chunky chassis that oozes retro cool.
While these three pedals mainly retain their vintage characteristics, Orange has added just enough tweaks to make them convenient for the modern player. The addition of 9V DC power inputs and LEDs are the most evident among these changes, but each pedal also features modified internal circuitry, which we’ll explore as we dissect them individually.
There are few effects as synonymous to the ‘70s as the phaser is, and the Orange Vintage Phaser certainly lives up to that legacy. Originally sold as the Phazer – I bet our sub-editors are glad they updated the name this time around – it’s a four-stage phaser that sounds great and doesn’t muck around with excessive functionality, offering a simplistic take on a staple sound of the era.
Much like another iconic orange-coloured phaser pedal, this stompbox features just one control for speed, letting you toggle the overall rate of the effect. Crucially, Orange has also updated the circuitry to decrease the noise of the pedal, making sure there’s no extra fizz for a tidier overall tone.
From swirling psychedelic rock leads through to choppy jazz-funk rhythms, the Phaser is a worthy addition to any guitarist’s pedalboard, and sounds solid in isolation and when squashed together with other effects. It’s also worth noting that this pedal would certainly complement the needs of a bass or keys player as well – after all, there really is no better sound than that of a phased-out electric piano.
Few things sound as sweet as a juiced-up amp being pushed into overdrive, and that’s exactly what Orange has tapped into with their Vintage Distortion pedal. Again, this stompbox looks incredibly simple on the outside, featuring two controls to handle the effect’s volume and depth, as well as the same retro-style typeface that adorns the Phaser.
Perhaps unpredictably, it’s the Distortion pedal that Orange has decided to tweak the most internally. Whereas the original ‘70s unit featured a back-to-back diode design, this new reissue makes use of a refined amp circuit, complete with a tone stack that allows you to adjust treble via a trump point inside the chassis.
Despite these inner tweaks, the Distortion sounds just as tasty as you’d expect it to, and it’s surprisingly versatile to boot. A fat clean beast is easily achieved by dialling down the depth knob and riding up the level control, while cranking both beyond 12 o’clock unlocks some seriously gnarly rock rhythm sounds. Push it any further, and you’ll end up with saturated, super-chunky tones that are perfect for soaring leads, particularly when paired with humbuckers.
Dubbed as an ‘overdrive for your clean tone’, the Vintage Sustain pedal is another interesting offering, and when used effectively, could prove to be an incredibly dynamic sonic tool. It serves as both a boost and compressor, smoothing out the attack of your guitar signal and delivering a tasteful tone bump to boot.
Boasting two knobs for level and depth, the Sustain makes use of a mutli-coloured LED to visually depict how it interacts with your playing. A blue light signifies standard functionality, while heavier picking or strumming will see it dart between red and purple, letting you observe the way it compresses your tone.
As the name suggests, cranking the depth of this pedal will serve up sustain in its abundance, making it a suitable tool for snakey clean leads and intricate passages that involve plenty of slides and hammer-ons. It’s also a treat for funky Chic-style funk strumming, and can function more than adequately as a make-do boost when you crank the level control.
Whether you’re a vintage gear enthusiast looking for a fitting tribute to add to your collection or an experimental effects wiz wanting to embrace the simplicity of ‘70s-spec equipment, this new trio of Orange Vintage stomps are certainly worth your attention.
What’s more, if you go check one out in-store, you’ll have the chance to enter Orange Amplification’s 1st Crush competition. All you need to do is take a photo with your local retailer’s Orange amp display, post it to your socials and enter a few hashtags, and you’ll immediately enter the running to win a sweet swag of Orange prizes – it doesn’t get any sweeter than that!