Cost: $139.00 new
How it Works and Final Score: 8.6
The Orange Crush 20 is a stripped down and straightforward solid state combo amp. While solid state amps often get a bad rap, most gear snobs will be impressed by the bruising crunch of the dirty channel that really captures that signature Orange tone. While this amp doesn’t feature the suite of onboard effects other budgets modeling amps do, it has the overall best tone of any sub-$200 amp I’ve ever tried and makes a perfect practice or backup amp with 20 watts of output thanks to it’s 1×8 Orange Voice of the World speaker. Featuring a clean and dirty channel, that can alternated with an affordable Orange foot switch, a 3 band EQ, and gain control, there are plenty of great tonal options at the tip of your fingers.
While it’s hard to capture the touch sensitivity of traditional tube amps, this solid state amp comes the closest to replicating a classic Orange tone. Like most solid state clean tones, you can turn down the gain and get crystal clear notes, however, most players outside of the Jazz world are not big fans of that perfect clean tone. What’s nice about this clean channel though is the ability to dial in just a little crunch and drive by turning up the gain and using a humbucker equipped guitar. However without an effects loop, I would only recommend running minimal pedals such as a drive, fuzz, or delay into the amp to reduce potential noise.
The amp really shines once you engage the the dirty channel and produces spectacular, though one dimensional, sounds. The 3 band EQ and gain knob help you replicate a number of Orange tube amp tones for a fraction of the price, and the amp even produces some of that typical tube sizzle. This is by far the best overdrive or dirty sound I’ve ever heard come from a solid state or affordable amp. From Nirvana to The Clash to Led Zeppelin, I got every sound I could imagine out this amp with a cheap Telecaster, Guild Jetstar, and an ES-335 style guitar. Ultimately, the only thing really holding this amp back is that you can’t use it for much outside of these fantastic dirty and overdriven tones without a full pedalboard. And if you’re gonna spend hundreds or thousands on a full pedalboard, you can probably afford even the cheapest tube amp.
Construction & Reliability: 10
Orange is no small time amp company and has a history of reliability and customer satisfaction. In general I think most customers, including myself, should feel comfortable in trusting an Orange Amplifier to last a long time, especially if cared for properly. Solid states also have don’t have tubes to wear out and replace, meaning you should be able to preserve that classic orange grit for years to come via the Orange Crush 20. So far, I’ve had zero issues with it and expect to zero issues with it.
This is definitely one of the best affordable amps I’ve ever played and I will certainly be putting it to good use as a practice amp and small gig amp in the future. The fact of the matter is that it just sounds so good and costs so little and you can’t find better value than that. It lacks on-board effects, a common feature on most budget solid state amps, but I actually think that may be a good thing. Ultimately, it’s super simple to use with no effect knobs to get in the way, and delivers a straightforward, ballsy rock sound. It’s definitely not a good beginner amp for a want to be shoegazer, but if adding a few external pedals is something you can do, this is a phenomenal beginner or bedroom amp. Check back soon for a full demo video and to see how I’ve been using it to play live or in the studio!