Marshall vs Orange Amps: Which are the Best?


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.

Clean Tone

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.

Distorted Tone

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.

Music Styles

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.

The Controls

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:

  • Gain
  • Bass
  • Middle
  • Treble
  • Contour
  • Presence
  • Reverb
  • Tilt

Orange Amp Settings

Here are the most commonly featured controls on Orange amps:

  • Gain
  • Bass
  • Middle
  • Treble
  • Reverb
  • Shape

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.

Contents:

  • 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

AmplifierWattagePriceSettings
Orange Crush1212W$1001 channel, 3 band EQ, overdrive, gain
Marshall MG10G10W$1002 channels, gain, contour
Marshall MG1515W$1202 channels, gain, 3 band EQ
Orange Crush2020W$1402 channels, dirty, 3 band EQ, gain
Marshall MG15DFX15W$1802 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger
Orange Crush 20RT20W$1902 channels (dual-voice), dirty, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, tuner
Marshall MG30GFX30W$2402 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger, octave
Orange Crush 35RT35W$2602 channels, dirty, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, tuner
Entry-level Marshall and Orange amps compared.

Key Points:

  • 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

AmplifierWattagePriceSettings
Marshall CODE 25W25W$27014 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects
Marshall CODE 50W50W$32014 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects
Marshall MG50GFX50W$4202 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger, octave
Marshall CODE100W100W$45014 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects
Orange Crush Pro CR60C60W$5002 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb
Mid-level Marshall and Orange amps compared.

Key Points:

  • 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

AmplifierWattagePriceSettings
Marshall Origin20C20W$550Gain, 3 band EQ, boost, tilt, presence
Marshall DSL5CR5W$5502 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb
Marshall DSL20CR20W$6502 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance
Marshall Origin50C50W$700Gain, 3 band EQ, boost, tilt, presence
Orange Rocker1515w$8002 channels, gain, 3 band EQ
Marshall DSL40CR40W$8002 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance
Orange TremLord-3030W$1300Bass, treble, tremolo, reverb
Marshall Studio Classic 20W20W$17003 band EQ, presence
Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee20W$1600Gain, 3 band EQ
Marshall Studio Vintage 20W20W$1700Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb
Orange AD30TC30W$23002 channels, 3 band EQ, gain
Orange Rockerverb 5050W$23502 channels, 3 band EQ, reverb
Marshall JMV215C50W$26002 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance
Marshall and Orange Tube Combo amps compared.

Key Points:

  • 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

Head Units

AmplifierWattageTypePriceSettings
Orange Terror Stamp20WHybrid$200Shape, gain
Orange Crush Pro CR120H120WSolid State$4502 channels, gain  3 band EQ, reverb
Marshall CODE 100W100WSolid State$40014 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects
Marshall Origin20H20WTube$450Gain, 3 band EQ, tilt, boost, presence
Marshall Origin50H50WTube$550Gain, 3 band EQ, tilt, boost, presence
Marshall DSL20HR20WTube$5502 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb
Orange Dark Terror 1515WTube$6502 channels, shape, gain
Orange Rocker 15 Terror15WTube$6502 channels, 3 band EQ, gain
Orange OR15H15WTube$7002 channels, 3 band EQ, gain
Orange Dual Terror30WTube$9002 channels, tone
Marshall DSL100HR100WTube$9502 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance
Orange TH30H30WTube$12002 channels, gain, shape
Orange Rockerverb 5050WTube$12002 channels, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb
Marshall Studio Classic20WTube$1400Presence, 3 band EQ
Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee20WTube$1400Gain, presence, 3 band EQ
Marshall Vintage Studio20WTube$1500Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb
Marshall Studio Classic20WTube$1500Presence, 3 band EQ
Marshall JMV205H50WTube$20002 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb
Orange Rockerverb 100100WTube£21502 channels, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb
Marshall JMV210H100WTube$22002 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb
Marshall JMT4545WTube$2600Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb
Marshall JMV410H100WTube$28502 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb
Marshall and Orange amp head units compared.

Key Points:

  • 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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Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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