Thunder 30 Review

manufacturer: Orange date: 07/10/2014 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Orange: Thunder 30
The new Thunder 30 is an all-valve, class A, 30-watt twin channel amplifier, powered by four EL84 power valves (two more than the Rocker 30).
 Sound: 9
 Overall Impression: 9
 Reliability & Durability: 8.3
 Features: 7.7
 Overall rating:
 8.7 
 Reviewer rating:
 8.5 
 Users rating:
 8.8 
 Votes:
 25 
reviews (3) pictures (2) 22 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 7.5
Thunder 30 Reviewed by: beckyjc, on september 28, 2010
4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 549.88

Purchased from: soundslive.co.uk

Features: Bit of background info on the amp: The Thunder 30 is the successor from the Rocker 30. The clean channel is from the Rockerverb MK1, re-voiced to suit the amp's EL84s. Treble and bass controls are interactve with each other, and the more bass you dial in the less mids you get, and vice versa. The dirty channel is the Rockerverb 4 gain stage lead channel with the shape control from channel B of the Thunderverb. The shape control adjusts between all midrange (o) and all treble and bass (10), and all points inbetween. It has the same power switching capabilities and output transformer as the Dual Terror. (Two tube/four tube Switch and pentode/triode switch, switchable from 30 to 15 to 7.5 watts.) It has a 12at7 buffered series FX loop (smileyface), 2 8 0hm/1 16 ohm cabinet input, footswitch jack to Switch between channels. 4 EL84s, 4 12ax7s It's made in china (With love), and is the first sleeved Orange head to be completely manufactured in china. Rather than the circuit board being put together in china, then sent to the UK for the rest of the assembly, like the rest of the higher end Orange line. :/ --- What I like Its orange, colour is important for tonez Cleans, im really glad this delivers a good clean sound, and the EQ on the clean channel had a really nice feel, made a pretty big difference to the sound. FX LOOPP!!!! Low gain crunch was nice Mid gain is decent High gain brings teh doom. What I don't like Its kinda noisy, especially with that 4th gain stage kicking in, I also find the FX loop adds its share of hiss, though the grail sounds nicer through it. The gain can get a bit fizzy, especially with the shape turned to the right And I'm pretty sure the above issues would be (at least partly) solved by improving the shit chinese valves. Sadddfaceee. I even tried my old crackly TADs out of the Laney in it, that even seemed to imrpove the sound and noise issues. Unfortunately I'm too poor to upgrade them atm... I'm not gunna lie here, I'm not digging the shape control too much, sure its nicer than a run of the mill tone control, but it sounds its best with the shape between 10 and 2 oclock. Anything after that is harsh and typical ick scooped sounds, and before that is a bit too middy and nasaly. I'm deffinately considering an EQ to stick in the loop. // 6

Sound: Switched on to the clean channel (its pretty much the law to start with the cleans), ub3r dark warm sounding cleans, even with my Fender jag. Much Warmer than my Laney vc30 was. That could be a problem in itself, the only way to get anything like a bright icepicky clean tone from it is to turn the bass down and crank the treble, which yeah, I don't reccomend. There isnt much chime to it. But personally, I'm really digging the cleans. Very deep, rich and round, sounds great with pedals, though probably not for everyone. Diming both the treble and bass knobs scoops the mids out a bit and delivers a really nice almost fendery spanky sound, reminds me a little of a bassman. I heard it start to break up about 12 oclock at full power. About 11 at with 2 valves. About 10.5 with 2 valves and half power. (Really the power switching doesn't make much difference to volume, just breakup, though its a nice feature.) A nice grit, pretty indie-ish. Played a bit of dashboard and switched to the dirty channel. Dirty Picked up my tele, dialed the gain in half way, same with the shape control. Got a some nice crunch. Very dynamic, cleaned up great with soft picking. Pretty satsifying, slayed my vc30, you can hear the Orange crunch still, but really, in that department, the R30 had a much fatter crunch. A few AC/DC tunes later pushed the gain again, rolled the shape back a bit and switched to the neck pup, some pretty smooth lead tones. Cranked the gain further, and wow, it really gets ridiculous, Orange claim it has more gain than any other one of their amps. I can deffinately see this, though personally, I disagree with Orange marketing this towards metal. Some old school metallica riffage is cool and all, but it isnt tight enough for modern metal really. Which is expected. It has a bit of a orangey fuzz around the sound, which is really just the nature of the amp. Sounds great, crunchy, tonnes of low end, some nicer valves would tidy it up a bit. I wouldn't want to be playing any Dream Theater with this thing though. I grabbed my strat, thats tuned to C standard with a high output humbucker, played dragonaut. It sings for stoner/sludge stuff. Sounds huge, loads of low end, some sweet grit and a decent amount of chug, really put a smile on my face. // 8

Reliability & Durability: Out of the box it was well packed (double boxed with polystyrene), switches are good quality with a satisfying click, the pots are smooth, handle feels strong and durable, overall everythings sturdy, no underpaid chinese workers in the back either. Not had it too long, so I can't judge it yet but seems to live up to the Orange name and be built like a tank. // 8

Overall Impression: I've been playing for around 7 years, played a fair amount of gear and I know my stuff really. Play lots of genres, everything from some soft jazz to melo-death. Granted it wont cover the heavier end of the spectrum, but the cleans are great, the crunch is big and raw, mid gain is smooth and high gain can chug or flub how you like. Everything else I have my pedalboard for, but it will cover the majority of what I want to play. It's a versatile amp, I'm really happy with it, if it were lost or stolen I'd go on a manhunt and rampage to find it. I can't think of a better amp to suit me in the price range. Though the Rocker 30 has a nicer crunch, its no where near as versatile, and the cleans are garbage in comparison to this. // 8

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overall: 9.5
Thunder 30 Reviewed by: unregistered, on july 12, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 547

Purchased from: DV247

Features: Class A two channel combo amp, FX loop (valve driven), switchable output (30,15,7 watts), no reverb. 12 inch celestian speaker. The clean channel has volume, bass and treble controls. The bass also controls the mids in that as you increases the bass it reduces the mids. I found that the treble needs to be quite high in order to get a nice twang. The dirty channel has gain, mid shape and volume. Don't be mislead by lack of tonal function though - see below. There is a half/full output swtich at front and a 2/4 tube Switch at the back - therefore you can have: 2 tubes, half output - 7 watts 2 tubes, full output - 15 watts 4 tubes, half output - 15 watts 4 tubes, full output - 30 watts Various speaker outputs at the back, send and reutn for FX loop and a footswitch input (not supplied). While you may think there is a lack of features - the high rating is because it is the ease of use and dialling in of sounds that makes this worthy! // 9

Sound: I use a Fender Strat plus and Gibson Les Paul Standard, and play a variety of stuff as I am in a covers band - from funk, to rock and pop. This amp put a serious smile on my face the instant I plugged it in. The clean channel chimes nicely and has a lot of headroom, even at low wattage. Used as a home practice amp, you will find it difficult to dial in overdriven crunch from the channel without being loud, but that is overcome by using the dirty channels versatitlity. I did find it lacked some brightness on the Les Paul and without a bright Switch does need a lot of treble dialled in but nothing much to worry about there. If you play around with the output, you will get clean sounds at very loud volumes, so great for gigging. The dirty channel is where this amp is at and I LOVE it. Do not be put off by the lack of dedicated EQ - the mid shape allows everything from classic 70'2 rock with loads of mids to serious metal mid scooped sounds. When used with the gain setting, there is so much tonal range to be found its mad. As this is a Class A amp, it reacts very well to using your guitar volume to dial in tone/gain changes. With the gain at 10 o'clock and teh volume on either guitar at 3-5, you can get that rhythm crunch sound you are looking for without any serious loss of tone or listening volume. Crank your guitar up and you dial in a lovely overdrivven distortion sound even at this low gain setting. Start pushing the gain upwards and you get more gain than you'll ever need in my opionion. Even metal nuts will not be dissapointed. I had this thing doing Gary Moore - "Parisean Walkways" so beautifully with gain at around 4 oclock and mid shape at 2oclock. It made everything good again. Playing around with the output does make a lot of difference tonally too - for example, the clean channel in 2v4 output gives a very different galssiness to the sound. As you would expect, less compression with the more tubes - so you can get a sound to suit your style. The half/full output was less noticeable in terms of overall sound change but clearly gives that bit more oopmh. // 10

Reliability & Durability: Built like a brick sh*t house - not had it long enough to comment on reliability but I doubt that will be an issue given Orange's reputation. Tubes look easy to service and are very well shielded - got no background noise (unlike my Marshall Haze which buzzed like mad as you cranked it up). // 9

Overall Impression: It is a brilliant versatile amp that I can't wait to get out on the road and in to the studio with. With the variable output, it can adapt to any situation you have. The sounds are lovely and I have fallen in love with my guitars again, as I find a whole new tonal quality to them I never realised were possible. The thing about this amp is there is no room for mistakes - it will make you a better player. Because the gain channel still allows you to hear the individual notes, you simply have to be on your game. It just rings out. I looked at loads of amps before settling on this - and quite simply it was the sound it made that made me buy it. Forget what you think is right on paper - you MUST listen to the amp. When I did, it was so far ahead of the others (Blackstar, Fender, Engl - OK, Mesa Boogie was ona par but it is almost 3 times the price!) in terms of quality of sound. Lack of reverb may be a issue for some, but then buy a pedal and throw it on the FX loop. I have never written a review on my amp before and I had to to let others know about this one - I think that speaks volumes. // 10

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overall: 8.5
Thunder 30 Reviewed by: Phaffman, on july 10, 2014
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 700

Purchased from: Trademe (like ebay)

Features: The TH30 (aka Thunder 30) is a 30 watt, two-channel, all tube amp. It's got a shape control on the dirty channel, treble and bass on the clean channel. Around the back it's got an effects loop, channel switching and outputs for 16 ohm (x1) or 8 ohm (x2 cabs). I'm sure I've forgotten something - best to check out the Orange Amps website. 

As far as things that aren't there - it'd be nice to have more EQ control over the sound... But I gather Orange's ethos is less circuits equals purer sound, so their amps tend to be less-is-more affairs. Plus I suppose if you really desperately want to meddle, you can always stick an EQ pedal in front of it. It has foot-switchable channel selection, but didn't come a footswitch... But that's kinda okay. I ended up buying a Loopi Pedals switch aftermarket that literally takes up a quarter of the pedal board real estate (from what I can gather, the Orange FS1's are just a big empty box?!?!?). It comes as a combo, but I've got the head version and run it through a closed back 1x12 cab (Orange PPC112). // 8

Sound: If I had my way I'd just play new-school blues (think: Black Keys, White Stripes etc) but I live in a small town so I have a pretty limited choice of people to jam with... and so end up playing folk, nineties alt-rock, classic rock, jazz, soul, old-school blues... even a spot of reggae (I flatly refuse to play country). And that's the thing with this amp, with a little help from a few pedals (compressor, overdrive, reverb and wah) it pretty happily jumps between styles beautifully - it is, without getting into LOTR cliches, ONE AMP TO RULE THEM ALL!!! :-) // 9

Reliability & Durability: At 15kg, if weight is an indicator of quality, then this thing will last into the next ice age! I bought it second-hand from a guy who gigged it pretty hard, and in my hands it's in and out of cars going to jams a couple of times a week. So it's had a reasonable amount of rough and tumble and never missed a beat (with one tiny exception: the indicator light is a bit intermittent - I suspect it's time for a new globe). Would I gig it without a backup? Tube amps are a box full of light bulbs, so I think if I was being paid to play I'd get myself a Micro-Terror head as a backup. I've never needed to have any repair work done to it, but I've emailed the Orange tech guys a couple of times and they've been really helpful. // 8

Overall Impression: Most of the video review/demos you see of the TH30 online are of Euro-shredders doing their finest Kirk Hammet impersonations. But that's a little bit misleading. In truth this amp is far more versatile and even with my limited abilities can produce a pretty amazing array of sounds. If someone ran off with it, I wouldn't chase them - if you can run with a 15kg amp under your arm, then you're not someone to be trifled with! I would replace it though... I might look at the Fender Hot Rods at about the same price, but I suspect I'd probably end up going back to the TH30 - for the dollars it's pretty hard to go past. // 9

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