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This article was originally published in issue #52
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Much like Technical Director Ade Emsley, Orange amps and pedals represent a dichotomy. On the one hand they’re all about simplicity and first-class British engineering. On the other, they represent the spirit of rock & roll - eccentric, cool and a little bit dangerous.
Nick Jennison tests the latest new release from Orange Amps' pedal range – the Getaway Driver and the Fur Coat Fuzz.
Some companies make products that are all about getting the job done efficiently and reliably. You can count on them, but they’re not exactly exciting. Some companies make fun stuff. Quirky devices that serve to inspire, amuse and occasionally infuriate.
Then there’s Orange. Much like Technical Director Ade Emsley, Orange amps and pedals represent a dichotomy. On the one hand they’re all about simplicity and first-class British engineering. On the other, they represent the spirit of rock & roll - eccentric, cool and a little bit dangerous. The kind of company that will fit a baxandall EQ to an amp because it’s more effective, then label it with funky little pictures because words are for losers.
The Getaway Driver and Fur Coat encapsulate this spirit perfectly. They’re built to withstand a lifetime of stomping and feature some simple but effective optimisations and wrapped up in evocative little boxes that’ll make you grin just looking at them.
In recent years we’ve seen a proliferation of “Amp In A Box” style pedals, designed to turn the most mild-mannered of clean amps into a fire-breathing monster. The Getaway Driver is probably best described as an “Orange In A Box”. Based on the sound of the 70s “pics-only” Orange head, this cracking little pedal lets you take the unique Orange sound wherever you go. Going on tour where you’ll be using house/hired amps? No problem. Perhaps you want to add that signature Orange growl to your existing rig, or maybe you’ve got an Orange amp but wish it had an extra channel? This little fella has you covered.
There’s a fair amount of gain available, but this is not a tight and saturated “metal” sound. The low end is loose and plentiful, and the mids are gritty and grinding in a pleasing way. It’s not forgiving to play, but if you’ve got your chops together, you’ll be rewarded with a wide and expansive roar that’s full of character. There’s also a handy speaker emulated output that just might save your bacon if your amp goes up in smoke; just plug the pedal straight into a mixing desk or audio interface, and you’re in business. It even works with headphones so that you can write or practice just about anywhere!
It’s no secret that I love a bit of fuzz, and I’m definitely not alone. There are some tonal itches that only a good fuzz will scratch, and the Orange Fur Coat is just the thing for when you want to colour outside the lines. Based on the classic Foxx Tone Machine (so 70s that it’s covered in fur!) with a few subtle but important tweaks, the Fur Coat offers up a tone that’s wonderfully destructive. It’s not a subtle beast, but it’s really good fun. The tone control is pretty powerful, and key to making the pedal work with a variety of amps. Set low, it tames the hairy high end to stop clean amps from becoming scratchy and harsh. Higher settings focus and emphasise the upper mids and highs for use with a distorted amp, where some fuzzes can sound muddy and indistinct.
Probably my favourite feature, however, is the octave. Only active when the fuzz is engaged, the octave up is musical and highly interactive with your guitar’s volume and tone controls. Whereas some octave fuzzes only really work with some settings and in some areas of the fretboard (typically a neck pickup and around the 12th fret), the one found here is every bit at home with Rival Sons riffing as it is with Hendrix-esque leads. The inclusion of a mix control is incredibly useful, and I’m left wondering why I haven't seen it on more pedals of this ilk. It’s really easy to dial in the perfect amount of screaming upper octave for your guitar and amp, which you can then manage on the fly using the guitar’s volume pot. Great stuff!