Thunder 30 review by Orange

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  • Features: 8
  • Sound: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.5 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (26 votes)
Orange: Thunder 30
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Price paid: $ 700

Purchased from: Trademe (like ebay)

Features — 8
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).

Sound — 9
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!!! :-)

Reliability & Durability — 8
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.

Overall Impression — 9
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.

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