Orange TH30

February 1, 2011

gpnp_gear orange_nr.jpgORANGE IS PROBABLY MOST associated with the hulking 120-watt monsters of the late ’60s and ’70s, but the British maker has also plied a successful trade in small-to-medium-sized heads and combos ever since its reemergence in the late ’90s. The AD15, AD30, and more recently the Tiny Terror have been particular favorites of the range. Now the dual-channel TH30 head brings footswitchable clean and highgain options with a rock and metal disposition to the lineup, while retaining classic Orange touches like the rack-handled chassis and stylized retro control legends.

The TH30 is based around the popular 30-watter format of four EL84 output tubes nominally configured in class A (cathode biased, with no negative feedback), with three 12AX7s (ECC83s) in the preamp, a 12AT7 (ECC81) to drive the series effects loop, and another 12AX7 in the phase inverter. Rectification is from solid-state diodes. Front-panel controls echo the simpler single-channel Orange heads of yore, with just Volume, Bass, and Treble for the Clean channel, and Gain, Shape (EQ contour), and Volume (master) for the Dirty channel.

Worth noting is that the Dirty channel has one more gain stage than any previous Orange lead channel, and a broad range of grind is available from its Gain control. Where the TH30 gets really clever, though, is in its simple yet versatile range of power switching options, which take the form of a frontpanel Full Power/Half Power switch (standby in the middle setting) that globally lowers the plate voltages to all tubes, and a back-panel 2 Tubes/4 Tubes switch that sets the number of EL84s in use. Used together, they yield two different modes of 15-watt output, each with a slightly different playing feel, and a 7-watt mode (Half Power/2 Tubes) for studio, bedroom, or small-club use. The 2/4 switch also reconfigures the output impedance for a perfect match at any setting, so the legends on the single 16Ω output and dual 8Ω outputs remain consistent, regardless of your power selection.

Testing the TH30 with a number of guitars through a closed-back 2x12 cab with Celestion G12-65 speakers, I found the Dirty channel instantly lovable. It leans unashamedly toward heavier rock sounds, with a thick, chunky body for an EL84- based amp, and plenty of weight even at the lowest output setting. The Shape control is a marvelous feature, taking you from midrange wallop to scooped thump at the twist of a single dial. While either extreme might be a bit excessive, the 180- degree sweep from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock packs a wealth of stunning voices.

gpnp_gear_3608.jpgThere’s more than enough gain on tap to effortlessly coax searing lead tones and willing feedback from the TH30, but the Dirty channel cleans up sweetly for vintage blues and crunch tones as desired. Set to Clean, the TH30 is impressively clear and sparkly, with shed loads of headroom and plenty of classic Brit chime. Around the middle of the Volume dial, the highs can be just a tad harsh on a Tele or Strat bridge pickup, but it’s a great channel overall. Finally, the effects loop is quiet and smooth and works just as it should. All told, the TH30 is a delightful amp to play—and a delightfully simple tool for crafting fierce, dynamic tones.

SPECIFICATIONS

CONTACT Orange Amplification, (404) 303-8196; orangeamps.com

MODEL TH30

PRICE $1,199 street (head, as tested); $1,349 1x12 combo

CHANNELS Two

CONTROLS Clean channel: Volume, Bass, Treble. Dirty channel: Gain, Shape, Volume

POWER 30, 15, and 7 watts

TUBES Three 12AX7 preamp tubes, one 12AT7 FX loop driver, one 12AX7 phase inverter, four EL84 output tubes

EXTRAS Full/Half Power switch, 2 Tubes/4 Tubes switch, series effects loop, Footswitch output, outputs for single 16Ω and dual 8Ωcabs

SPEAKER N/A

WEIGHT 32 lbs

BUILT China

KUDOS Player-friendly layout. Scorching lead tones with great body and dynamics. Versatile EQ range. Good clean channel.

CONCERNS Clean channel can be a little too edgy with single-coils.

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