january 2007

The Tiny Terror is 100% indicative of what its name implies. It’s both tiny and a terror, class A style.

Orange Tiny Terror

The new Orange Tiny Terror ventures into the review chamber this month. From the company that is synonymous with British voiced tube tone comes a new class “A” all-tube mini amp. Packing a lot of punch in a small pouch, the Tiny Terror is the latest brainchild of Orange Senior Designer, Adrian Emsley. The company claims that it has been able to squeeze every drop of that signature Orange tone into the Tiny Terror, providing guitarists with an affordable alternative to the company’s higherpriced models. Sounds like a great idea to me, so lets grab a six pack and start terrorizing, Orange style.

No Bigger Than A Lunchbox
They say it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but rather the size of the fight in the dog. Obviously this was the theory behind the design of the Tiny Terror. Literally no bigger than a lunch box, the Tiny Terror measures just 6” high, 5” deep and 1 foot long, and weighs in at just over 12 lbs. It features a cool, retro-looking white metal chassis with vented top plate, and the traditional orange logo and insignia.

There are front panel controls for volume, mini tone knob and gain, two rocker-style toggle switches for on-off-stand by and switching the output from 7 to 15 watts, and one 1/4” input, that’s all! Rear panel features are much the same, providing three 1/4” outputs, two rated for 8 ohms and one 16 ohm output. There’s also an 115v VAC power input and a 250mA recessed fuse housing, but that’s it. The Tiny Terror was designed to simply connect a speaker cab, allow you to plug your guitar in and start throwin’ down. No complicated programming or confusing menus to scroll through. Guitar to amp to speaker; you get the idea.

Inventing Terror
The Tiny Terror utilizes class A valve technology with a 100% analog signal path that eliminates any and all digital clipping output characteristics. Driven by a pair of EL84 power valves and a front end that utilizes a duct of 12AX7 preamp valves. Switchable from 7 to 15 watts of output, Orange designers have designed the gain structure of the Tiny Terror to work in a very unique way; utilizing a dual gang gain pot, one side turns up the first gain stage to the point of very heavy compression, while the other side changes the impedance of the second gain stage so that it to compresses to the same degree.

It utilizes a five section fully filmed interleaved output transformer that is very closely balanced to primary. The EL84 output tubes are cathode biased to around 90% in the 15w position, and 96% in the 7w position. In short, the Tiny Terror is designed to produce as much gain as a four stage gain pot, but the output tubes are driven evenly all the way through. The tone control is also designed in a unique way, where the tone circuit is not on the preamp side, but actually part of the phase inverter (power amp) so the gain structure of the amp is unaffected by the tone control.

Raising the Terror Alert
For testing purposes, I utilized two different cabs: an older Marshall (1966B) 2x12 cab with stock 75w Celestions, as well as a Marshall (1960B) 4x12 cab, loaded with Celestion Vintage 30s. From the guitar garage, a Les Paul Limited recently acquired at the Arlington Guitar Show and a mid ‘90s photo flame Telecaster were put into service.

The setup was literally the extent of plugging in three chords: power, speaker input, and instrument input. Before you know it, you’re ready to rock. After all, the tried and true technique of “straight into the amp” is the source of the purest tone. 

My first test was with the Telecaster. Using the 15w output setting, volume on seven, tone on eight and gain on three, the Telecaster sounded like a telecaster should after consuming a six pack of Red Bull. It was big, fat and ballsy, while still retaining an articulate high-end sparkle, supplying enough of the “twang thang” that we all love. I really appreciated clean tones that produce a fair amount of tube compression saturation. Though the tone is still clean and distinguishable, it’s got some nuts to it.

In experimenting with increasing the gain characteristics, the Tele really started to roar with the gain on six and reducing the main output to four. Don’t be fooled, fellow tone chasers, this is a loud 15 watts, and more than enough for most clubs. By engaging the 7 watt switch (lowering the plate on the power transformer), it was way cool to run the master on ten, tone on ten and gain on two. This provides a very nice power valve compression that is silky and smooth and breathes, all at a very comfortable output level that would be very desirable for recording.

Orange Tiny Terror With a quick change over to the 4x12 Marshall cab, and the new love of my life, a Les Paul Limited with an insane flametop in Santa Fe Sunrise (I had to throw that in), I am ready to let the rubber hit the road. Try setting the gain on six and the tone and volume on ten in the 15w mode, and the Tiny Terror transforms into a giant beast. Angus Young lives in this tone. Don’t let the small size fool you; the Tiny Terror is capable of producing a huge overdriven tone with an incredible amount of gain. It was pleasantly surprising, as I did not expect this amount of gain.With sustain forever, the Les Paul sings in this mode. 

The Tiny Terror still retains that trademarked vintage-voiced Orange tone, but adds enough gain to satisfy hard rockers. I really dig a tube amp when the tubes heat up to the point you can smell them. Oooh, oooh, that smell, the smell of tone surrounds you. You can tell the amp is biased a little hot, and that’s the smell of Tiny Terror.

The Final Mojo
The Tiny Terror is 100% indicative of what its name implies. It’s both tiny and a terror, class A style. Refreshingly simplistic and straight forward in finding a tone suitable for any style of playing, from highly compressed clean tones to an incredible vintage-voiced British overdrive, the Tiny Terror is a bad motor scooter. Great for recording and yes, more than enough for live gigs. Don’t let the size fool you, because in this case, size doesn’t matter. The Tiny Terror will kick your ass, but at a list price of $699 and a street price of $549, complete with custom form-fit padded case, the Tiny Terror will save your ears, your back and your wallet.

An effects loop would be a welcomed feature, but would understandably drive up the price.

Rating: Golden M

Golden M

Orange USA
MSRP $699.00
2065 Peachtree Industrial Court
Suite 208
Atlanta, GA 30341

Dave Amato is a musician with incredible range; he’s played with everyone from Ted Nugent and Richie Sambora to Cher and Kim Carnes en route to his current gig with the legendary REO Speedwagon.

Rollin With the Changes

Rollin With the Changes

Dave Amato is a musician with incredible range; he’s played with everyone from Ted Nugent and Richie Sambora to Cher and Kim Carnes en route to his current gig with the legendary REO Speedwagon. Along the way, he’s had a chance to amass one of the largest Marshall collections around, and a few guitars too. Dave spoke with us about his history, his gear and REO Speedwagon’s newest album.

You’ve had a pretty long and successful career as a professional musician. Could you talk about some of your more memorable gigs, and who you played with? Who left an impression?

The impression was definitely from Ted Nugent, like ’85 to the end of ‘87.We did two records, Little Miss Dangerous and If You Can’t Lick Em … Lick Em. It was a great experience; we went out with Aerosmith in ‘86, and did five months opening for them. It was an incredible experience and we played all the big ones … Madison Square Garden and the Philadelphia Spectrum, it was amazing. I was a lead singer then too, so I sang one half of the show and Ted sang the other half. That was an amazing time.

I did do a little live stuff with Kim Carnes, believe it or not … I mean, from Nugent to Kim Carnes is kind of nuts. It was fantastic; she was like a female version of Rod Stewart. Real raspy and a great lady. I had a lot of fun with that, and was lucky to do that. Is versatility a big thing for you?

Oh yeah! That was great, sure. It was a great experience to get to play in a bunch of different styles. It was a real challenge.

Rollin With the ChangesWhat’s going on with REO Speedwagon right now?

Actually, I’m heading down to the studio in a few hours to hear the first mix of our new record.We’re mixing it right now.

Have you set a track listing?

Yeah, we’ve got 10 songs, maybe 11 on it. Today is the first time I’ll get to hear it. I know I’m gonna hear it and say, “Hey man, turn my guitar up a little bit more.” That’s all.

When it comes to writing, where do you fit into the mix?

Well, Kevin [Cronin, lead vocals and guitar] usually does the bulk of it, as he did in the heyday … but Gary [Richrath, former guitarist] did a lot of it too. Since then, Kevin has kind of taken over everything. On this one, all of us co-wrote a song on it, and Bruce [Hall, bass player] has a song on it, but the rest is pretty much Kevin. He’s a great writer.

Rollin With the ChangesWhen you approach these songs that Kevin’s already written, do you have to fit your style to the song, or does he write with your style in mind?

He kind of writes … folksy [laughs]. He’s kind of a folksy guy. That’s sort of where he came from; he used to play solo gigs at clubs, by himself with an acoustic. He writes a lot on acoustic, and we kind of adapt it … I know the old REO did the same thing. He came in with a bunch of folksy songs, and they said, “What the hell is this?” So, when the band gets a hold of it, it definitely changes. I kind of rock it up a bit, you know, because I come from the Nugent days. And I gotta say, Gary was rock too, so he kind of changed it, and I feel like I fit into that slot really well.We change it, and make it like REO … great rock!

Since we’re talking about old REO vs. new REO, how was your transition into the band? You came on kind of late in their career span … was it difficult fitting into these guitar parts that Gary had already written?

No, it was easy, because I’ve done a whole bunch of stuff, from Kim Carnes to Nugent, and everything in between, so it wasn’t really hard at all. I kind of caught the band on their downhill side, which was unfortunate for me, because they had already peaked with Hi Infidelity, but when I came in and the drummer [Bryan Hitt] came in, we kind of turned it around.We didn’t start from scratch, but we did claw our way up to where we’re at now.We kept going up a little every year, we kept getting better gigs, and we made a couple of records that were pretty good. It’s a classic rock band, and sometimes its tough to sell records out there. But we could tour in the Midwest, which was still huge, and in the ‘90s we did some great tours with Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benatar and Peter Frampton.We kind of really kicked it there, and jump-started it about 10 years ago, and it’s been going great ever since. 

Everyone has that artist or band that makes him or her pick up the guitar for the first time and start picking. Who was that for you?

The Beatles. Cut and dry, that’s it. I mean, I’m a little bit older, so Elvis was big. I listened to Elvis when I was really, really small, and I just loved rock and roll.

I was an Elvis fan, until the Beatles came along. Then I was gone; I wanted to be in a band, grow my hair out, just like everyone. Actually, I just got a 12-string John Lennon Rickenbacker 235 a few days ago. I keep trying to collect the Beatles stuff.

Rollin With the ChangesSince you brought it up, you’re admittedly a huge collector. It had to have started early. Do you remember your first guitar and amp?

Oh, boy [laughs]. I think it was a Harmony, a big-bodied acoustic. I think I added a pickup that bolted on the back behind the bridge, with the cable just hanging down all over. And the amp? It was really a Radio Shack kind of thing too, called LaFayette Radio, with a 12” speaker and 15 watts. Those Harmonys are probably worth something now. When you were a kid, everyone played Harmonys.

In your collection now, is it mostly Strats and Les Pauls?

Yeah, pretty much. It’s got to be at least 20 Les Pauls and at least 20-25 Strats.

Is there one that really screams for your attention when you walk in the room?

Yeah, the first year Strat. The 1954 sunburst Strat, maple neck … it just kills me, slays me every time. I bought it for a song from Norm [of Norman’s Rare Guitars, in California], and it’s worth a stupid amount of money.

Is there a guitar you let get away, that you always think about?

That’s actually why I started collecting.When I was a kid, I played a little Les Paul Junior model, the little student guitar, and they were from the ‘50s … they didn’t stay in tune for me. I traded them for new Stratocasters, but now most of those Juniors I let go of I’ve gotten back. Not the exact guitars, but the same things. I just got a ’54 prototype Les Paul Junior at the shop. Norm got it, and it was a prototype; I didn’t even know, I just liked the look of it.We put it under a black light and everything was right on. I got it right away.

Do you play those?

Oh no, man. They’re worth too much money!

Like a Spinal Tap thing? Don’t even look at it?

Yeah, man [laughs]! Don’t dare look at it. Spinal Tap actually got all their guitars from Norm too.

Word on the street is you have a pretty sick collection of Marshalls. What is it about those amps?

Yeah, I have over 100 pieces of Marshall gear. I think it’s all about Jimi Hendrix. I just loved the look of those basket weaved cabinets with Jimmi’s silhouette on the front. I tried to put that on my website, I tried to get the same type of shot.

“I was an Elvis fan, until the Beatles came along. Then I was gone; I wanted to be in a band, grow my hair out, just like everyone.”

Rollin With the ChangesWhen you have that “tone” in your head, is that the tone that you’re hearing? A Marshall and a Strat, or a Les Paul?

Oh yeah, just like Jimmy Page. It’s that British crunch. I use a lot of Les Pauls with REO. It cuts through the mix. I could do any situation with a Marshall. Of course I’ve had other amps; a Soldano and a Boogie for a while. Soldano makes a tremendous amplifier, but I really just stick with the Marshalls; I’m getting too old to use anything else. I’ve used them so long, and I know what they can do. People get other amps and say, “It can get a Marshall sound.”Why don’t you just get a Marshall then?

I do have to mention, I do love Vox amplifiers too. I’ve got a bunch of AC30’s, which Marshall makes now anyway.

Do you ever mess around with modifying your gear?

Nope. Absolutely, positively stock! I’m a real fan of stock. On the Les Pauls, I play Historics live, and Custom Shop Relic Strats and Teles. I don’t really change anything; maybe if a guitar just doesn’t make it sound-wise, but I still like the feel of it, I’ll throw a Seymour Duncan pickup in there. I love Duncan; he’s a good friend of mine, and makes an unbelievable pickup. But I’ve been using a Seymour ’59 for a long time.

What is your formula for rock and roll?

A Strat and a Marshall or a Les Paul and a Marshall. It’s classic. Some of these kids use the off-brands, and I just want to say, “Come on, man. This is where it all started.” I mean, I went to Jackson in the ‘80s, because I thought Fender and Gibson were making some crap, and they really were. So I went to Jackson for a while, it was a little flashier for the whole Nugent thing, but then I eventually went back to the rock roots. Putting the Strat or the Les Paul with a Marshall is where it’s at.

Dave’s Gearbox
When Dave is playing in front of thousands of fans, here’s what he plugs in for those great tones.

Gibson Historic Les Pauls
Fender CS Stratocasters
Amps & Cabs
Marshall Plexis
Marshall JCM 800s
Marshall 4x12 Straight Cabinets
Celestion 75 watt speakers
Pedals & Effects
Dunlop Cry Baby Wah Dunlop Univibe Controller
TC Electronics 1210 & 2290
Rocktron Hush 2C
Yamaha SPX90
Roland SRV-2000
Eventide Harmonizer
Lexicon PCM70
Bradshaw Switching System
Dean Markley strings
Nady wireless system
Korg tuners

Dave Amato