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This article was originally published in issue #4
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Orange took everything they'd learned from their pioneering micro amps and poured it all into the new pint-sized TH30 Thunder Combo. Aimed at the Pubs and Clubs gigging player who demands a valve amp, it looks like a perfect package. But can such a small combo really cut it? We asked Rick Graham to find out.
One of the amp makers looking to deliver the goods for the mobility-conscious gigging musician is Orange, whose new Class A TH30 combo has followed on where its previous models, the Tiny/Dual Terror and the Rocker 30, left-off, whilst adding some brand new features along the way.
Personally, being all too aware of the need for portability, the first thing I was keen to find out was the weight of the TH30. A rather hefty 52lbs (24kg) is quite surprising for a combo with such a diminutive stature and while in no way was it back-breaking to lift, it was a touch heavier than I'd anticipated. For that reason alone you may want to take a close look at the combo rather than the Head and Cab versions as they would constitute quite a hefty pair. Against this, it's a typically sturdily-built Orange, so it's going to weigh more than a cheaply built amp.
The TH30 delivers a beefy 30 Watts, pushed out by the combo's single Celestion 1x12 G12H speaker, derived from four EL84 power tubes with the preamp section using four ECC83 tubes - in other words, the classic AC40-style arrangement. The effects loop is also powered by an additional ECC81 valve. While 30 Watts will handle most small club and pub gigs without a problem, Orange has chosen to add a mightily useful half power option which is controllable by the flick of a switch on the front panel. For the situation where volume needs to be kept to the absolute minimum, a further switch on the rear of the amp enables you to engage just two of the four power tubes thus reducing the power output by half again.
Running the amp on its clean channel it's impressive, with lots of room for sparkling versatility when combining the onboard EQ in juxtaposition with the variable output modes and your guitar's volume control. Switch over to the Dirty channel and the TH30 delivers gain - and then some. But don't be fooled into thinking that this is just another high gain amp and neither is it an AC30, as the TH30 retains a clarity and punchiness even with the gain controls on full. I took it through its paces, playing heavy chugging rhythms right up to soaring, modern rock lead lines and I never felt that the TH30 was out of its depth. It responded exceptional well to everything I threw at it and did so with a character all of it's own. Again you can get a variety of different tones with this channel and with the addition of the Dirty shape control you can achieve sounds that will take you from harmonic rich mids, right through to modern new metal scooped sounds. Check out our accompanying video to hear it for yourself.
If you are a player who spends a lot of time tweaking, you may feel little disappointed with the TH30's simplistic controls. Of course it doesn't mean that you can't spend time tweaking it, but those who need more controls to manipulate will probably be better looking elsewhere. On the other hand, for those who like to keep things as simple and user friendly as possible and just want great tone straight out of the box, this amp may just be the amp you are looking for. Its price may seem a little on the high side too but don't be fooled, this is a great sounding, well made, Class A valve/tube amp with a lot of new new features coupled with that all important portability factor. It looks like Orange are onto a winner with this one.