The new Orange Vintage Pedals line by the British amp builder is presented as a return to the simpler days of fewer knobs, greater tone – and bigger stompboxes.
Inspired by a photo that circulated on the internet in 2019 about an old Orange Sustain pedal from the ’70s that made some pedal geeks go nuts, the new line consists of updated reissues of the line that circuit belonged to, which included a Distortion and a Phaser.
The Orange team remade these devices, retaining their most-loved qualities and incorporating modern features like LEDs, DC inputs etc.
The Orange Sustain is a compressor that can also add some saturation, chime and warmth to your tone.
The one-knobbed Orange Phaser does what you’d expect it to do, delivering psychedelic swirl at various speeds.
The Orange Distortion, finally, unlike the previous two models, underwent major surgery: the original’s back-to-back diode design was replaced with an amp circuit and tone stack with a treble control, but the sound remains faithful to the original, with all the bite and growl and warmth and howl of its 1970s forefather.
At $249, the knob-by-dollar ratio is a little steep, but if the tone delivered by these pedals is as good as promised, finely-eared tone-chasers will find value in them.
Orange Vintage Pedals, Builder’s Notes
Orange Amplification announces the return of three iconic effects pedals — the Orange Phaser, Orange Sustain and Orange Distortion — with the trio’s vintage characteristics reworked for the present day.
The modern story of these classic units starts in 2019, when an Orange message board went crazy for a photo of the long-discontinued Sustain pedal from the early 1970s, with its outsized form-factor and art nouveau typography. Not long after, a hand-drawn schematic diagram, complete with teacup ring marks, scribbled-out Biro and wobbly writing, emerged following an online call for help about what was inside the sturdy orange box.
The rest of the story writes itself: as more evidence was unearthed about the Sustain and its two brothers the Distortion and Phaser, the wizards in the Orange workshop set about remaking these beasts, retaining their most-loved qualities and incorporating the contemporary features — LEDs, DC inputs etc — expected on 21st-century effects pedals. The result is three seasoned UK-made pros retuned and ready for the modern age.
First up is the Orange Sustain, which smooths and regulates guitar sounds, acting like an overdrive for clean tones with added chime and warmth. Boosting volume without scuffing purity, and making soft parts louder and loud parts softer, it offers an expressive, nuanced and three-dimensional take on the sustain/compressor effect.
Then there’s the Orange Phaser, the most elegantly simple of the reboots, with just one knob and one job: to bring sweet psychedelic swirl to any rig, its dial modulating guitar tones from woozy sweeps to choppy stabs via kaleidoscopic insistent, whirling pulses. With four-stage circuitry rebirthed from the original schematics combined with modern techniques inside the box to reduce the noise floor, the Orange Phaser adds maximum spin with minimum fuss.
And finally there’s the Orange Distortion, with vintage appearance up top but all-new circuitry below deck, replacing the original’s back-to-back diode design with an amp circuit and tone stack with a user-adjustable treble. New design doesn’t mean new sound though — the Orange Distortion retains all the bite and growl and warmth and howl of its 1970s forefather, from fat gravelly textures to red-hot screamers and maximum saturation.
That’s quite the box set: together, they make up a trio of effects pedals that’s not just a perfect homage to one of rock’s golden ages, but also ripe for any modern set-up. With a large-footprint, tank-strength aluminium chassis and classic looks, a mere glance at the pedals will offer a 50-year-back teleportation. Then, stomping on the footswitches completes the time-travel: these might be new for 2022, but with the Orange vintage pedals, the song remains the same.