Small-footprint amp heads – tube and solidstate – are all the rage and getting better all the time. Case in point, the Orange Rocker 15 Terror. At just 15 pounds, it’s a full-bore tube amp with two channels and plenty of kick, not to mention an attenuator that takes it down to 7, 1, and even 0.5 watts for jamming on the down-low.
Basic specs include a Dirty channel with three-band EQ (with those cool Orange hieroglyphs), and a Natural channel with a single Volume knob. Around back, look for 8- and 16-ohm speaker outputs, a tube-buffered effects loop, and a jack for a channel-switching pedal. A Bedroom/Headroom switch works in tandem with the Half/Standby/Full switch out front. In Half mode, the switch takes you from 0.5 to 1 watt; in Full, it goes from 7 to 15. The tube complement includes three ECC83s (12AX7) and one ECC81 (12AT7) in the preamp and two EL84s in the power section.
With a Tele and an ES-335 semi-hollow, the Rocker 15 Terror made a wonderful racket. The Natural channel works much like a vintage tube amp – no muss, no fuss. Given that the Rocker tops out at 15 watts, the Natural channel breaks up sweetly as you push the volume, so keep in mind that if you desire pristine cleans, this probably isn’t the amp for you.
However, if you want authentic tube persona…
The Dirty channel will take you deeper into crunch territory, from ’70s Rolling Stones and Aerosmith to ’80s AC/DC and Guns ’N Roses. You’ll want to put it through a PA for club gigs; even so, it’s more than enough amp for the job with a truly organic tone and the kind of natural compression and dynamics you can’t fake. – Pete Prown
This article originally appeared in VG’s June 2018 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.