Marshall and Orange are two huge British amplifier brands, but what’s the difference between them, and which is the best? In this article, I’ll compare the clean tone and distorted tone of both amp brands, as well as the controls and the specifications of some popular models.
The Quick Answer
Orange amps sound more hairy and fuzzy when distorted compared to Marshall amps which sound more saturated and crunchy. This tends to be why Marshall amps are considered more versatile and Orange amps more suitable for heavier genres of music like Metal. Marshall also has a larger range of amplifiers.
Here are some common differences between the clean tones on Marshall and Orange Amps:
- Marshall amps have more compression
- Marshall valve amps distort at lower volumes than Orange amps
- Orange amps sound fuller whilst Marshall amps sound sharper
Of course, this is hard to discuss without actually hearing them back to back. So check out this video comparing the clean tones on each amp in the video below. It’s time stamped to start at the relevant point in the video.
Here are the main differences between Marshall and Orange amps when using gain:
- Marshall amps have a grittier and crunchier tone
- Orange amps have a fuzzy and boomy tone when the gain is set high
Again, this is hard to talk about without hearing the differences. Here is a video comparing Marshall and Orange, I’ve time stamped it to start with the distorted Marshall tone, and it then moves onto the Orange distortion tone.
Often guitarists wonder which amp will be best for them if they play specific music styles.
Both Orange and Marshall amps are capable of playing a wide range of music styles. However, Marshall amps often have a crunchier tone, making them most suitable for rock and roll, whilst Orange amps sound more fuzzy and boomy, making them great for heavy metal.
If you’re looking to play heavier styles of music such as metal, then you might prefer an Orange amp, although it will depend on the exact tone you’re going for and the guitar you’re using. If you’re looking for something very versatile, then the Marshall might be the better choice. That’s not to say that you can’t play rock and indie on an Orange amp though.
As well as discussing the classic tone of each brand of amplifier, it’s also useful to look at the controls that they come with. If you are not into using pedal effects, then having versatility in terms of the amp settings can be really important, whilst others prefer to keep this really simple.
Marshall Amp Settings
Here are the most commonly seen controls on Marshall amps:
Orange Amp Settings
Here are the most commonly featured controls on Orange amps:
As a general rule, Marshall amps have more built-in controls than Orange amps. Marshall amps often have more EQ controls, allowing you to adjust the shape and balance more freely, whilst Orange amps usually keep things quite simple and straightforward.
I have some in-depth guides to the controls and settings of both amplifier brands so check them out if you’re looking for some more detail:
Comparing Specific Amps
I also wanted to look at the features and specifications of Marshall and Orange amplifiers at different price points so you can compare the options most suitable for you. Here are some tables to outline the key differences. The list goes in ascending order of price for each amp type. Prices are based on the Guitar Center prices at the time of writing. The tables include pretty much every model currently available from each brand.
- Entry level solid state combo amps ($100-$260)
- Mid level solid state combo amps ($270-$500)
- Tube (valve) combo amps ($550-$2600)
- Head unit amps ($200-$2850)
Entry-Level Solid State Combo Amps
|Orange Crush12||12W||$100||1 channel, 3 band EQ, overdrive, gain|
|Marshall MG10G||10W||$100||2 channels, gain, contour|
|Marshall MG15||15W||$120||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ|
|Orange Crush20||20W||$140||2 channels, dirty, 3 band EQ, gain|
|Marshall MG15DFX||15W||$180||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger|
|Orange Crush 20RT||20W||$190||2 channels (dual-voice), dirty, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, tuner|
|Marshall MG30GFX||30W||$240||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger, octave|
|Orange Crush 35RT||35W||$260||2 channels, dirty, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, tuner|
- Both entry-level solid state combo amps from Marshall and Orange start at around $100
- Marshall amps usually offer more effects on the more expensive entry-level MG series than the Orange Crush range
Mid-Level Solid State Combo Amps
|Marshall CODE 25W||25W||$270||14 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects|
|Marshall CODE 50W||50W||$320||14 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects|
|Marshall MG50GFX||50W||$420||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger, octave|
|Marshall CODE100W||100W||$450||14 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects|
|Orange Crush Pro CR60C||60W||$500||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
- Marshall offer the cheapest 100W and 50W solid state combo amps compared to Orange
- Marshall amps offer more effects than Orange amps
Tube Combo Amps
|Marshall Origin20C||20W||$550||Gain, 3 band EQ, boost, tilt, presence|
|Marshall DSL5CR||5W||$550||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Marshall DSL20CR||20W||$650||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance|
|Marshall Origin50C||50W||$700||Gain, 3 band EQ, boost, tilt, presence|
|Orange Rocker15||15w||$800||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ|
|Marshall DSL40CR||40W||$800||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance|
|Orange TremLord-30||30W||$1300||Bass, treble, tremolo, reverb|
|Marshall Studio Classic 20W||20W||$1700||3 band EQ, presence|
|Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee||20W||$1600||Gain, 3 band EQ|
|Marshall Studio Vintage 20W||20W||$1700||Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb|
|Orange AD30TC||30W||$2300||2 channels, 3 band EQ, gain|
|Orange Rockerverb 50||50W||$2350||2 channels, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Marshall JMV215C||50W||$2600||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance|
- Marshall offer the cheapest route to entry if you’re looking for a tube combo amp
- Marshall offers the cheapest high wattage tube combo amps
|Orange Terror Stamp||20W||Hybrid||$200||Shape, gain|
|Orange Crush Pro CR120H||120W||Solid State||$450||2 channels, gain 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Marshall CODE 100W||100W||Solid State||$400||14 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects|
|Marshall Origin20H||20W||Tube||$450||Gain, 3 band EQ, tilt, boost, presence|
|Marshall Origin50H||50W||Tube||$550||Gain, 3 band EQ, tilt, boost, presence|
|Marshall DSL20HR||20W||Tube||$550||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Orange Dark Terror 15||15W||Tube||$650||2 channels, shape, gain|
|Orange Rocker 15 Terror||15W||Tube||$650||2 channels, 3 band EQ, gain|
|Orange OR15H||15W||Tube||$700||2 channels, 3 band EQ, gain|
|Orange Dual Terror||30W||Tube||$900||2 channels, tone|
|Marshall DSL100HR||100W||Tube||$950||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance|
|Orange TH30H||30W||Tube||$1200||2 channels, gain, shape|
|Orange Rockerverb 50||50W||Tube||$1200||2 channels, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb|
|Marshall Studio Classic||20W||Tube||$1400||Presence, 3 band EQ|
|Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee||20W||Tube||$1400||Gain, presence, 3 band EQ|
|Marshall Vintage Studio||20W||Tube||$1500||Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb|
|Marshall Studio Classic||20W||Tube||$1500||Presence, 3 band EQ|
|Marshall JMV205H||50W||Tube||$2000||2 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb|
|Orange Rockerverb 100||100W||Tube||£2150||2 channels, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb|
|Marshall JMV210H||100W||Tube||$2200||2 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb|
|Marshall JMT45||45W||Tube||$2600||Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb|
|Marshall JMV410H||100W||Tube||$2850||2 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb|
- Orange offers the highest wattage solid state head unit for the lowest price
- Marshall offers the cheapest route to entry for tube head units
In the market for a new amplifier? Check out my complete amplifier buyer’s guide to help narrow down your selection and find the perfect amp for you.
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