As we’ve seen with the glut of talent shows on television over the last few years, not everybody is destined for stardom. There are always a few people who miss the mark despite being genuinely talented, often getting nowhere because their face didn’t fit. It’s the same in the world of guitar amps. Some amps are hardly ever seen on stages or are seldom discussed, and although they may sell steadily throughout their lifetime and bring untold pleasure to their owners, they never enjoy the limelight. When it comes to Orange, they certainly have their fair share of celebrity scene stealers in the shape of the Tiny and Dual Terrors and the Rockerverbs, which have all taken the guitar world by storm. However, they have another product – which has been around for 10 years – and which by rights should be appearing on finals night as well, the much ignored AD30TC.
The combo version of the AD30TC has been around since 2001 and is identical in specification to the original AD30H head and features two Celestion Vintage 30 speakers in an open-back, acoustically designed enclosure constructed from 13-ply, high density 18mm Birch plywood.
The AD30TC has a 30-watt output operating in Class A. There are two nearly identical channels featuring Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble and Volume which are switchable either by the large toggle on the top panel or by the (non included) Orange footswitch. It’s powered by four EL84 valves, producing classic British tone in the best traditions of another well known 212 30-watter, including the proper GZ34 valve rectifier. The AD30TC is really two vintage amps in one, with the facility to dial in as much gain as needed on either channel. Speaking of gain, there’s just enough for classic rock/blues but not really enough for metal, but then there’s the Orange Thunderverb that will fill those shoes.
The channels have slightly different voicing but both channels can produce a thick, creamy, classic tone reminiscent of the lower gain amps of the seventies, although Channel Two has a little more upper mid and a bit more gain, ideal to use for solos while still retaining your rhythm voice. This is an amp that really suits the more experienced player, who is capable of wringing out soulful, considered solos without having to resort to an overdrive pedal; I’m thinking in the Paul Kossoff, Mick Ralphs and Dickey Betts vein.
The Orange AD30TC has all the characteristics of the best boutique amps and sounds just as good, so why isn’t it better known? Jimmy Page used two AD30 heads at the Led Zeppelin reunion concerts in 2007 and you can’t get much more exposure than that, but here’s no getting away from the fact that modern hi-gain amps are taking centre stage at the moment, which is a shame, as the sensationally classic guitar tones that the AD30TC produces qualifies it for a piece of the action too.