When speaking of guitar amplifiers that have become part of rock-and-roll lore, you best mention the iconic Orange brand as helping pave the way – their bright tolex and pictographed control panels being immediately recognizable, but more remembered for raucous tones.
The two-channel Super Crush 100 is the newest version of Orange’s solid-state Crush series, with JFET circuitry designed to produce valve-like tone and response. A fully featured head, it has an effects loop, direct-out with cab simulation, and footswitchable reverb and channel selection.
Tested using a Les Paul with PAF-style humbuckers and a Les Paul Deluxe with mini humbuckers, the amp’s Clean channel (with Treble, Bass, and Volume set to straight-up 12 o’clock) yielded a warm, round, musical tone that was responsive and easy to play. As Volume increased, clean sounds transitioned to a light crunch, good for playing rhythm. While the PAFs yielded a clear, round tone, the mini humbuckers were brighter, with a more-percussive tone, closer to what you’d expect from a single-coil pickup. You won’t get sparkling cleans from this amp, but the EQ section does allow dialing-in a slightly brighter tone. The amp also responded well to Volume- and Tone-knob variations on both guitars. The onboard digital reverb adds pleasant spaciousness without washing-out overall tone.
The Dirty channel is where the magic really happens. With Bass, Mid, and Treble set at 12 o’clock and Gain at 10 o’clock, the Super Crush delivered an open tone with slight breakup. Moving Gain to 1 o’clock created a thick, muscular sound with sustain and harmonics for days. With the gain dimed, palm mutes and pick harmonics were executed with ease. You won’t get super tight low-end response for metal tones, but you will get dark, grungier tones – perfect for stoner rock. And while it’s voiced on the darker side, the sound retained string-to-string definition and clarity.
Has Orange cracked the code for getting authentic tube-like tones from solid-state circuits? In our tests, the Super Crush 100 never sounded artificial, and at times was downright convincing; notes bloomed as you’d expect, with dynamics traditionally delivered only by tubes. Low-end response was ample but lacked a bit of the thump you’d get from a 100-watt tube amp.
Tone is subjective, of course, so you’ll have to judge for yourself, but here, we offer kudos.
This article originally appeared in VG’s July 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.