Redesigned with the help of a few old tea-stained original schematics, the Orange Vintage Series Sustain effects pedal is a classic '70s compressor reborn! Orange kept the Sustain's basic design as close as possible to the original, with only a few minor changes being introduced for improved tone and functionality. The introduction of a differential sidechain results in a smoother bloom. The LED in the centre now provides visual feedback, switching colours depending on your gain reduction level. Apart from that, it's simply a world-class 2-knob compressor. Here's Nick Jennison to tell us more.
Compression is perhaps the most misunderstood (and unfairly overlooked) effect in a guitarist's toolkit. We look upon compression pedals with suspicion, covetous of an imagined dynamic range that is already being evened out by all but the absolute cleanest and stiffest of amps. That, or we just don't really know what a compressor even does.
Well, dear reader, let us consider a term that's doing the rounds right now - "a compressor is an overdrive for your clean sound". While this is a little simplistic, it certainly gets the point across. A compressor adds sustain, makes the guitar feel easier to play, and evens out the dynamic extremes of your playing style. The only difference is it doesn't add any distortion of its own.
Enter Orange, with a re-issue of their 1970s "Sustain" pedal. A compressor by a different, more guitarist-friendly name, this big slab of orange-coloured metal has been re-engineered for a smoother bloom and a lower noise floor than the originals, but it's fundamentally the same beast. It has a very simple two-knob interface, with "sustain" and "output" knobs and that's it. This may have some snobs out there turning their noses up at the lack of attack, release, ratio, mix, knee, sidechain HPF, key input and any number of other fancy accoutrements found on more modern compressor pedals, but let's not forget that some of the most coveted studio compressors in the world have just two knobs, and nobody's turning their nose up at an LA-2A (apart from at the price, that is!).
In use, the Orange Sustain does exactly what it purports to: it adds deliciously spongy sustain to your guitar signal, without fundamentally changing the sound of your guitar even at extreme settings. It's great for a little subtle levelling for funk rhythms and ambient clean, while dialling up a more extreme squish is perfect for frenetic country playing. Throw it into a broken-up amp and you can get some of that "always on" magic that makes your blues and slide playing feel effortless, and there's more than enough output range to take an 800 into screaming lead territory.
The Orange Sustain is a pedal that does exactly what it says on the tin with a minimum of fuss. It's a little on the large side, but it's robust, easy to use and sounds fantastic in a variety of settings. If your sustain has been lacking, this might be the very thing you've been missing.
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