Written by Bobby
Parent article: Best guitar amps
QUICK HIT: A roundup featuring five of our favorite amplifiers from Orange Amps, including tube and solid state options.
Orange OR15H & TH30H Tube Heads
Our top PickS
With a stripped down spec sheet that keeps the price low, the OR15 and TH30 amp heads give you the tube circuit tone and all the basics at a high value price point. In the Orange lineup, they're two of the best balances of cost and quality we can recommend.
They also don't have a "thing" like other amp brands.
Mesa has their modern tube distortion, Fender has their warm tone and reverb, and Marshall has their bright wailing lead tone.
What does Orange Amps have?
Not to downplay the substance of Orange Amps, but one of their most recognizable traits is their appearance and aesthetics. Even from a distance, the orange casing of their amplifiers is hard to miss.
But aside from appearance, Orange Amps also have a lot to offer when it comes to tone, flexibility, combo options, and head options.
In this article, we're looking at five of our favorite Orange Amps that we're most comfortable recommending. It includes the following:
- Combo amps
- Amp heads
- Tube amps
- Solid state amps
Below the product recommendation section, we'll spend a fair amount of time highlighting more specific recommendations for these and other categories with the Orange Amps brand.
If you have questions, feel free to drop them in the comments section below.
Read more: How to use a guitar amp
Our Five Favorite Orange Amps
- Orange Crush 12
- Orange Micro Dark Hybrid Head
- Orange Crush Pro 120 Head
- Orange OR15H and TH30H Heads
- Orange Rockerverb 50 MKII
Orange Crush 12 Combo
Orange Micro Dark Head
Orange Crush Pro 120 Watt Head
Orange OR15H & TH30H Amp Heads
Orange Rockerverb 50 MKII
1. Orange Crush 12 Combo (practice amp)
Keep in mind, the Crush 12 is significantly different than the Crush 120 C. The 120 is a fairly large 120 watt combo, while the 12 is a much smaller and simpler practice amp. We're recommending the Crush 12 in that form because we're going with other recommendations for more expensive Orange amps.
However, both models are good.
Here's a quick screengrab of the two in their Sweetwater entries so you can see the difference.
The control scheme for the Crush 12 is simple, but it covers all the basics.
- Three-band EQ
- Headphone jack
Here's a look at the control panel for the preamp, which sits directly on top of the combo:
Pricing of the Crush 12
At 12 watts and a solid state circuit, the Crush 12 is firmly in the practice amp category, but also affordable. At only $99 it's one of the cheapest Orange amps available, making it a high-value option for those who don't want a bigger, more professional-level amplifier.
You can see on Reverb that the used pricing for this amp tends to drop much lower:
We'd recommend staying away from larger big box retailers like Amazon, as they seem to charge more for the Crush 12 (at least at the time of writing this article).
From the Orange product page, here's a quick look at the complete features and specs sheet:
The Ideal User
With a single channel, a solid state circuit, and a basic control scheme, the Orange Crush 12 is a high-value practice amp and great beginners option. For those wanting something with more power, we'd advise going with more channels and/or higher wattage. We'll cover some of those options as we go.
IDEAL FOR: Practice amps, bedroom jamming, and beginners
- Price point is great
- Sounds decent for its size (12 watts can get you some volume in a solid state power amp)
- Three-band EQ and separate control for overdrive
- Limited functionality and only one channel
- Not much use outside of practice amp or beginner contexts
2. Orange Micro Dark Amp Head
The Micro Dark is an amp head with only three knobs:
- Shape (single-band EQ)
What most people love about it is portability, at only three points and a few inches wide. You can take it basically anywhere. You can see just how tiny it is in this clip from Ola Englund:
Aside from portability, this amp is - surprisingly - all about heavy distortion. With a tube-powered preamp and a solid state power amp, you get a fairly heavy tone that sounds modern and almost metal, like you would expect from a boutique distortion pedal.
Here's the YouTube clip of Ola's demo so you can listen for yourself:
If you listen to the demo you'll hear a ton of sustain and a heavy, smooth distortion profile that sounds like a much bigger amplifier. For those wanting a distortion-focused preamp that's easy to cart around, the Micro Dark is a real treat in the sub-200 dollar price range.
Used pricing can drop even lower, easily around the $150 mark.
A headphone out, 8 ohm speaker cab connection, and effects loop are all included. Here's a full list from the Orange Amp's website:
Speaker Connection and Headphone Jack Notes
Per the user manual, a couple important considerations about the headphone jack and speaker out on the Micro Dark:
- You can use both the speaker out and the headphone jack at the same time
- If you're not using the headphone jack, you must have a speaker connected to the Micro Dark to absorb the load
Regarding the headphones:
And for the speaker cab:
The Ideal User
The Micro Dark has a surprising amount of versatility.
I've heard of people who use it for recording, gigging, bedroom jamming, and everything in between. If I were to summarize, I'd say it would be better suited for those who already have a speaker cab and/or plan to use the headphone jack most of the time.
At the established price point it's probably still more of a practice and beginner amp than anything else.
IDEAL FOR: Practice, those who already have a speaker cab, headphone jamming, recording, and fans of heavy distortion.
- Distortion sounds great (heavy, smooth, modern)
- Headphone jack and speaker output
- Effects loop included
- Tubes in the preamp (power amp is solid state)
- Surprisingly versatile for being so small
- Portability is great
- Speaker cab is a must if you aren't using headphones
- Single-band EQs have their limitations
3. Orange Crush Pro 120 Watt Head
As we move into the Pro level 100 series, we're getting into amplifiers that leave the practice/beginner category and are designed more for professional gigging and/or recording. The Crush Pro 120 is a 120 watt amp head with a long list of desirable features, most notably the following:
- Two channels
- Onboard reverb
- Effects loop
- High wattage
All of these features help put the 120 firmly in the intermediate to advanced category, despite being entirely reliant on solid state circuits.
Price and Value of the 120
Hovering around $450 retail, the 120 sits below the threshold that Orange tends to price their tube amps at (usually $800 and higher).
If you aren't concerned about having a tube amp head, the 120 gives you plenty of heavy distortion and a great tone profile. Add the advanced features and controls and you're getting a fantastic value, in a sub-$500 amplifier.
The 120 breaks up the control scheme into three categories:
- Dirty channel
- Clean channel
Between these three sections you have the following controls:
- Value (Master)
- Reverb (Master)
- Volume (Dirty)
- Treble/Mid/Bass (Dirty)
- Gain (Dirty)
- Treble/Bass (Clean)
- Volume (Clean)
You get a downgrade in your clean channel's EQ, giving you only treble and bass while leaving out the midrange control available in the dirty channel.
But it's more than enough flexibility to make the 120 a reliable gigging or recording amp head.
Note that there is no headphone jack on this amp. However, there are two speaker outputs, an effects loop, and inputs on the back of the amp for the footswitch (the Orange FS-2 which we'll cover later).
The Ideal User
If you aren't concerned with making the leap to a tube amp, the Pro 120 is a great landing spot for recording and gigging. It can also be a bridge amp between the smaller combos you might have played as a beginner and the nicer tube amps we'll get into next. In the mid-level $400-$600 price range, this is one of our favorite recommendations.
IDEAL FOR: Mid-level guitar amp needs, solid state fans, recording, and gigging
- High wattage
- Two channels (both footswitchable)
- Dirty channel sounds great
- Onboard reverb (also footswitchable)
- Price point is decent
- Footswitch is not included
- No tubes to be found
4. Orange OR15H Amp Head
Orange helps keep the price of the OR15 down by using only one channel and leaving out onboard reverb. Controls are simple with the bare minimum of a three-band EQ, volume, and gain.
However, they do run tubes at both the preamp and power amp level, giving you one of the most affordable Orange tube options on the market.
It's a great amplifier for someone that already runs a thorough pedalboard, perhaps with a distortion pedal and reverb that they already like.
Here's the breakdown of tubes in the OR15:
- 12AX7 (three in the preamp)
- 12AT7 (one in the preamp)
- EL84 (two in the preamp)
The tone of the amp is not overly heavy or "metal," but it is smooth and warm, giving you plenty of saturation on the higher gain levels. This demo covers most of the OR15's settings:
Price and Value
It's clear that this amp is priced where it is because of the tubes and not because of extra features. We'd loved to see a second channel, but even with the single channel a $700 price tag is good value.
IDEAL FOR: Simple rigs, clean tones, and those still using a lot of pedals.
- All-tube circuitry
- High-end amp for a decent price point
- Onboard gain (distortion) sounds great at varying levels
- Only one channel
- No reverb
5. Orange Rockerverb 50 MKII
While the OR15 is a simplified "bare bones" amplifier, the Rockerverb series is far more advanced and a more complete amp that includes more features and perks. Unlike the OR15, the Rockerverb 50 includes onboard reverb and two footswitchable channels.
These two features alone give you far more flexibility, allowing you to dial in both a clean and distorted sound on each channel and then switch between the two.
A tube-driven effects loop is also included.
Cost and Value
The only problem with the Rockerverb is that it costs you a dramatic increase in price compared to the other amps in this list. The Rockerverb 50 MKII typically retails around $2000, which you can see in this Sweetwater entry:
Here's the used pricing and trendline that I pulled from the Rockerverb 50's Reverb.com entry:
You can browse the Rockerverb 50 MKII on Reverb here.
Here's a second graph that shows some of the most recent transactions involving this particular amp, at least at the time of writing this article:
You can see here that buying used could be a viable alternative, perhaps even getting you 50 percent off the retail price tag.
Panels and Controls
Per the user manual, let's take a look at the controls and options from the front and back panel of the MKII amp head. The front panel first:
This includes your two channels as well as the three band EQ - one provided for each channel - volume controls and a gain knob for the dirty channel. Note that you can switch the channels from the front panel as well, if you don't have the footswitch.
You'll need to buy the Orange FS-2 footswitch separately.
Let's take a look at the back panel as well.
You'll notice an effects loop, along with the following footswitchable jacks:
All of these features can be controlled via the FS-2 footswitch, which can control two at a time. We'd recommend - in most cases - using the reverb and channel controls. The attenuator can help you reduce volume, but isn't a true attenuator that can handle speaker load. Always make sure to have a speaker cab connected before running the Rockerverb 50, unless you have a speaker load attenuator for your amp.
Note that past versions of this amp seem to have left out the attenuator feature all together. Chances are that's part of why used options are much cheaper.
The Rockerverb 50 is an advanced players tube amp, certainly capable of handling most gigging and recording requirements. Given the extended control and the features that go above and beyond what the OR15 offers, it's a great fit for those wanting a tube amp that provides high quality tone and a higher level of functionality.
If you don't care about attenuation, we'd recommend going used and getting one of the cheaper iterations of the Rockerverb. Note there are also different wattage totals that have been released.
IDEAL FOR: Professional gigging, recording, and increased flexibility
- Two channels
- Onboard/footswitchable channels, reverb, and attenuation
- Distorted and clean tones sound great
- Three-band EQ for each channel
The Orange Amps Lineup Explained
Orange Amps have released a ton of products, and not just amplifiers. However, even their amp's list is massive, which you can see on the Orange product page. To make sense of the amp options you have within the brand, here are the series that make up the bulk of their product lineup:
- Micro Dark and Terror heads
- Rocker combos
- Crush heads and combos
- Crush Pro heads and combos
- Orange OR, TH, and AD heads
- Rockerverb head and combo series
Most of the models and wattage variations occur within these six series. For example, you can have the following variations within a given Orange amp series:
- Amp type: Head or combo
- Model: OR, TH, MKII, or MKIII etc.
- Amp wattage: 20, 50, 100 watts, etc.
Here's how the naming conventions usually works:
Not all of the Orange Amp series will have models within the series. For example, the Orange TH series is just written TH30H. The "30" and the "H" just mean the amp is 30 watts and comes in the head form without a speaker cab (i.e. not a combo amp).
While there are other amps and products within the Orange brand, the series I've highlighted here are the most prominent.
If you've settled on the Orange Amps brand, you'll need to choose a series, wattage, amp form (head or combo), and perhaps a model within the series you've chosen.
Should I go with a different brand?
But what if you aren't sure about Orange Amps?
Perhaps another brand is in order.
Here are a few resources we've written on other amp brands:
If you want to break with Orange Amps, these are the brands we'd recommend, depending on your budget and musical genre of choice. Check the roundups for help with which amp brand works best for particular styles. For those that just want a short summary, I'd break it down like this:
- Modern, heavy styles: Mesa, Diezel, and Blackstar
- Vintage, bluesy styles: Marshall and Fender
What are Orange Amps known for most?
This is the weird thing about Orange Amps that I mentioned in the opening paragraph.
They don't really have a "thing."
They're good all-around, but it's fair to say that they're most known for their unique and prominent aesthetics.
The orange coloring and symbolic amp labels are easy to recall and have done an extremely effective job of helping the company establish a brand and niche within the guitar and music community.
Guitarists that Use Orange Amps
Orange Amps are all over the map when it comes to their artist list. Everything from heavy metal to blues, jazz, and bass players have used or are currently using Orange amps and/or pedals in their rigs. Notable names include Bob Weird, Orianthi, Korn, Slipknot, Jimmy Page, and ZZ Top, just to name a few.
Best Orange Amps by Different Styles
In this section we'll make some basic recommendations of Orange Amps for particular styles. Keep in mind, Orange products are particularly versatile, meaning many of them can be used and applied in a wide variety of contexts.
Which one for blues?
For blues, jazz, and lighter musical styles, we'd recommend the OR15H, with a single channel, bluesy tube response, and a simplified control system. It's also a good amp for those who rely more on a pedalboard.
Which one for metal?
For metal or more modern tones, we'd recommend going up to the Rockerverb series, perhaps the MKII. It's far more expensive, but worth it if you're going for a modern heavy tone that still gives you the tube circuit. If you can go without tubes, a much cheaper alternative would be something from the Crush Pro series.
Read more: Best amps for metal and hard rock
Which one for classic rock?
With the versatility of Orange amps, most of them can handle a more vintage, classic rock tone. Though we'd again recommend going back to the OR15H. If you want the two channels, the TH30H might be a better option for going back and forth between clean and dirty sounds.
In conclusion, the OR15 and the TH30 seem to strike the most ideal balance between quality and price. However, that doesn't mean that other Orange amplifiers are inferior or not worth looking at. It depends on your situation and how you value different features.
Primarily, you need to decide between tube and solid state - which is a big difference in pricing - and then between single and dual channels, representing another major price increase.
If you have questions about anything we've covered here, feel free to drop them in the comments section below and I'll do my best to help out.