Amp catch-up posting continues! This one comes in the form of a custom build in a gutted chassis and cabinet. The husk in question was an old Ampeg V50H from the 90s, and the goal was vintage-style Orange. Lovely idea.
First a few words about Orange amps and the vintage vs. the modern company. The original Orange and Matamp amps of the late sixties and seventies were quite unique beasts when compared to the offerings of Marshall/Fender/Hiwatt/etc. They featured a different tone stack and phase inversion and all-in-all made for a different sounding amp with unique sounding distortion characteristics. Add to that the snappy design and bright orange tolex made them look absolutely phenomenal. Well that company came and went, and Orange has re-launched several times over the years, most notably the very successful re-launch in the 2000s to present day. The sad thing, however, is that the modern day Orange company retained nothing of their former self other than the bright tolex. The newer Orange offerings have more in common with a Marshall than they do the original units. This isnt to say that they sound bad or anything, but in my opinion it is criminal to skip out on the unique features of the originals. If you’ve only had experience with the newer Oranges, i highly recommend you check out the older ones and hear the difference.
So this build was pretty straight vintage with a few tweaks. First, Orange amps varied their phase inverters very slightly in about 1972, but sonically the difference is huge in my opinion. Per the customers request, this amp has a switchable option to toggle between either the pre or post 1972 option, but my hunch is that it gets left on the pre-72 setting, as its much more articulate and dynamic sounding. Additionally this one includes a master volume control like what was used in the late 70s on the Orange OD series of amps. The amp is a 50W (Orange cited these as 80W but those definitions are largely subjective) with controls laid out in accordance with the customer’s requests. To match the theme of Orange, an amp named after its color, we went with a black theme on this one and a big “NOIR” badge on the front. The end result was simply mind blowing. The sound on these is really rich and the tone control capabilities are extremely wide with this tone stack. Add to that the distortion is different than what you normally hear. A bit more grit to it, and it goes smoothly from full-bodied clean and huge sounding to this thick creamy distortion. I go back and forth between my favorite pieces in amp design and the completion of this custom job definitely tipped me back in the direction of the classic Orange elements.