5 Pedals that Transform Your Amp Into an Orange Stack

Orange amplifiers have never quite achieved the household name status that Fender and Marshall amps have long enjoyed, but to guitar players with a bit of a rebellious streak, they have long represented an appealing alternative to more mainstream guitar amp options. Besides their characteristically heavy, monolithic tones, which have been employed by a diverse range of artists, from T-Rex and Jimmy Page, to Hum and Mastodon, Orange amps also have a strong visual presence that speaks to a certain element of the rock community. In short, Orange amplifiers aren't for everyone, but the right kind of player, they're ideal. The company has successfully capitalized on this unique legacy in more recent years, after having gone through a number of ups and downs since its birth in 1968, and is now more popular and visible than ever.

With this resurgence, popular appreciation of the unique Orange sonic imprint has grown as well. The vintage models that established the brand are legendary for their prodigious output, meaty crunch tones, and the fuzzy, slightly loose quality of their gain. These idiosyncrasies have made Orange amps natural companions for guitarists that specialize in doom, sludge, stoner, and other similar genres of bottom-heavy rock music. They have also made the amps natural subjects for amp-in-a-box pedal designers looking to distill that signature Orange magic into a compact stomper. Though not as common as Fender and Marshall-styled dirt boxes, they are increasing in number, and are a great choice for guitarists looking for British-flavored, cranked tube amp tones that stray a bit from the norm. Here are a few of our favorites.

Orange Bax Bangeetar Guitar Pre-EQ

Orange has finally released its own stack-in-a-box stomp, so it only seems right to put this one at the top of the list. With its curious name (which is either the worst pedal name of all time, or maybe the best), the Bax Bangeetar seems to be a natural continuance of the company's distinguishing vision, as well as its tradition of good-natured irreverence. It's also Orange's first guitar pedal design since the '60s, so its very existence is something special, but beyond that, the Bax is just a marvelous sounding, cleverly designed, and very useful pedal that nails the sound of a roaring Orange stack. Its gain range is quite broad, from clean-ish boosting to full-on mayhem, and the Baxandall parametric mid-range EQ allows for unprecedented tone sculpting capabilities that match the Bax Bangeetar beautifully to any guitar and amp rig. It can even be used direct to a recorder or PA system, as its CabSim output realistically mimics the sound and response of a mic'd Orange 4x12 cabinet loaded with Celestion G12-H30's. This output can be used alone, or parallel to the main output, adding further versatility to this comprehensively badass dirt box.

EarthQuaker Devices Monarch

EarthQuaker Devices got into the Orange amp-in-a-box game early on, and its Monarch overdrive is still a top pick for thick, hairy British amp tones. Its FET-based circuit recreates the input section of a vintage Orange, and especially when run at 18 volts, it can produce a very convincing, high-headroom roar with a wide range of gain settings. This also reduces compression, giving the Monarch a very natural, amp-like response that is the next best thing to plugging into a '70s OR120. Its treble and bass controls actually boost frequencies, rather than simply rolling them off, giving the pedal great ability to brighten up its attack, add a solid gut-punch to its low-end, or just do some subtle shaping of the overdrive characteristics to better match the amp or guitar being used. The EarthQuaker Monarch is a venerable and inspiring choice for the player that wants to spice up their overdrive options with a dash of that Orange special sauce.

Tech 21 Character Series Oxford

Tech 21 invented the amp-in-a-box concept with the game-changing SansAmp, and in many regards, the company is still doing it better than anyone else. Its Character Series encompasses a diverse range of amp-styled stomps to cover nearly every classic tone from the U.S. and the U.K., with the Oxford pedal from this line handling Orange emulation duties very convincingly. The Oxford can conjure up a multiplicity of vintage Orange tones with aplomb, whether one wants a warm bark, a slightly furry, Sabbath-like grind, or a modern, high-gain lead tone. Its three-band equalization circuit is supremely useful, and Tech 21's switchable speaker simulation (which emulates a 4x12 loaded with Celestion Greenbacks) makes the Oxford perfect for recording direct, or running straight into the PA when playing live. For realistic, direct-to-the-board Orange tones, one cannot do better than the Oxford.

Wampler cataPulp

Wampler is well-known for its many splendid amp-in-a-box pedals, and its newest entry into the field is an Orange-hued offering that is most impressive in its flexibility, going from light, sparkly overdrive to menacing, bottom-heavy distortion tones with just a few knob twists. Wampler's previous Orange pedal circuit, the limited-edition Crush, is a highly respected and much sought-after stompbox, lauded for its vintage-style cranked Orange tones. The cataPulp, however, is designed to emulate the tone and feel of a more modern Rockerverb, and it is outfitted with Wampler's very musical sounding three-band equalizer, making it ideal for doom-mongers and other high-gain fanatics looking for a pedal that doesn't flinch when tasked with summoning the "brootal tonez." 9–18 volt operation provides a high-headroom option and less compression, and Wampler's usual lofty standards of design and construction make the cataPulp a winner.

AMT Electronics USA Legend Amp Series II O2

AMT Electronics USA Legend Amp Series II O2

AMT Electronics is a well-known Russian guitar effects company that has recently expanded its operations to the USA, and quickly developed a formidable reputation based mostly on its brilliant stompbox preamps. Among these aforementioned preamplifiers, the Legend Amp Series O2 is especially superb, with a range of fresh-squeezed Orange flavors that include warm, glassy clean tones, vintage, T-Rex-style crunch, and higher gain modern sounds. Its unique features include a three-band EQ section, a clean volume boost/buffer switch, and a clean gain level knob for adjusting the buffered output of the bypassed signal. Its most useful feature, however, is probably its three separate output jacks, which can be used individually or simultaneously, allowing the player to route the signal to, for example, a recorder, a power amp, and a guitar amp, all at the same time. Its recording output also includes speaker cab simulation for very convincing direct tones. These features make the AMT Electronics O2 a highly useful recording and gigging companion for the guitarist that wants big, burly Orange tones, but doesn't want to lug around a big, burly Orange stack to get them.

Orange's tube amps will likely never have the level of mass appeal that Fender and Marshall amps have achieved, but their unique sonic footprint brings something to the table that no other amplifier can achieve, and the company itself has certainly cultivated a very distinct niche for itself among guitarists that like to do things a little differently. Players that are all-in on the Orange thang should probably just buy one of the company's many fine amplifiers, but for everyone else, there are a number of pedals that can satisfyingly evoke the aura of Orange with a much smaller investment, as well as less heavy lifting.

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