Marshall vs Orange Amps | Which One Should You Choose?

Two of the most iconic brands in guitar amplifiers are Marshall vs Orange Amps. It’s hard to choose between the two because both companies offer such a wide selection of guitar amplifiers that deliver top quality sound, build, and features.

The differences between the two British amp companies are pretty subtle, since they’ve both got that British tone, and they do it well. If you want that stoner metal rock sound like Black Sabbath or Mastodon, then Orange gets you there. But if you want that classic hard rock sound, Marshall is the way to go.

This article will explore all the differences between these two brands of amps and help you figure out which one will best suit your needs. 

Marshall vs Orange Amps

Marshall and Orange Amps

Marshall and Orange are two of the most popular amplifier manufacturers globally, and both have been around since the 1960s. 

To many guitarists, Marshall is the defining rock ‘n’ roll amplifier. Introduced in 1962, Marshall amps were designed as a more affordable alternative to standard American-made models. Over the years, they’ve been used by everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Slash of Guns N’ Roses.

Meanwhile, Orange amps are newer on the market, having been founded in 1968. They have a smaller lineup of products than Marshall and specialize in guitar amplifiers and cabinets. Orange also has a reputation for quality and durability, with many older amps still in use today.

Differences Between Marshall and Orange Amps

Whether you’re looking for a great-sounding tube amp to pair with your Les Paul or a loud and proud solid-state model for your heavy metal band, you can’t go wrong with Marshall or Orange. But which one is better?

Let’s take a look at some key differences between Marshall and Orange amps, so you can decide for yourself.

Summary:

  • Marshall is generally more well-known than Orange.
  • Marshall’s signature sound is characterized by sizzling distortion and crunch, whereas Orange offers tons of gain but still maintain incredible clarity and definition.
  • Orange amps have a retro look with their choice of tolex color and black logo. Marshall sticks to its sleek design of black amps with white faceplates and gold knobs. 
  • Orange models tend to be cheaper than Marshall for similar wattage.
  • Marshall’s amplifiers are best for rock players who want to achieve a classic tone, while Orange products are especially good for modern heavy metal guitarists who like a more scooped sound. 

Popularity

Marshall is generally more well-known than Orange, with a wider market reach. There are also more famous bands who use Marshall amps than bands who play Orange. 

However, that doesn’t mean Marshall is better than Orange. Instead, it means Marshall amps have been around longer and have had more time to build their brand name and fan base. 

Orange was more successful in the early to mid-1970s, outselling Marshall and staying afloat in the amp business longer. It was then that Orange was able to compete with Marshall as a major amplifier brand. 

Orange amps, particularly the Tiny Terror, also achieved cult-classic status in the early 2000s with the help of endorsements from alt, indie, stoner, and metal musicians. 

But with all these, Marshall has been a more consistent mainstay of the industry.

Signature Sound

The Marshall vs Orange amps debate often comes down to their signature guitar tones.

Marshall’s signature sound is characterized by sizzling distortion and crunch resulting from a large amount of mids in their amps. The Marshall sound is a high gain, distorted and compressed tone. To put it simply, it’s the sound of rock ‘n’ roll. 

As a guitar player, you’re probably already familiar with this iconic tone. From the growling crunch of a Plexi stack to the high-gain roar of a JCM 800, Marshall amplifiers have been used to create some of the most legendary tones in rock history.

On the other hand, Orange amps are very popular with modern hard rock and metal players because they can deliver fizzier high-gain sounds. While Marshall amps have high upper mids, Orange models push lower frequencies more. Their tone is also characterized by a pronounced midrange that listeners can hear over the rest of the band, which will stand out in a mix.

Music Style

Most guitarists who use Marshall amps are rock players who want to achieve a classic tone. The Marshall sound has better sustain and a thicker tone with smoother highs, so it would be the more popular choice for classic and hard rock.

Orange amps are very versatile and can be used in various musical settings. However, these amps are particularly appealing to artists such as metal players since they offer tons of gain but still maintain incredible clarity and definition. 

In addition, Orange is more focused on cutting through the mix and is regarded for its distortion tones. Because of this, Orange amps are the best choice for modern metal and hard rock players. 

Design and Aesthetic

The difference is crystal clear when you see an Orange and a Marshall amp sitting next to each other. One’s bright, vibrant orange. The other’s black.

Orange amps have always had a distinct ’70s retro look that has become iconic in rock n’ roll. They’re made of orange Tolex and have black lettering on the front, with a simple control layout which includes knobs for volume and tone. 

While Orange has an eye-catching vintage vibe, Marshall sticks to the tried and tested approach of black amps, white faceplates, and gold knobs. As a result, Marshall tends to be more modern and sleek with its iconic look that has been around for decades.

Check out our Marshall Vs Fender comparison here.

Price Range 

When you look at these brands in terms of the price range, it’s easy to note that Orange amps are almost always cheaper than Marshall for similar wattage.

For example, an Orange Crush 35RT is $279, while a Marshall MG30GFX costs $299. You can generally get comparable sound from both amps with more wattage from Orange than from Marshall.

Let’s compare the other best-selling Marshall and Orange amp models ideal for beginners. 

Best Solid State Models

ModelWattagePrice
Orange Crush 1212W$99
Marshall MG1010W$139.99
Marshall MG15 15W $169.99
Orange Crush 20 RT20W$199
Orange Micro Dark20W$199
Marshall MG30FX30W$299.99
Orange Crush 35 RT35W$279
Marshall Code 5050W$399.99

Check out this comparison video and hear the differences between a Marshall and an Orange model. 

Marshall vs Orange Amps: Which One is Better?

Now that you know more about Marshall and Orange amps, which one is the right choice? 

Marshall is the way to go if you’re looking for the classic British sound. They’re best known for their models that have that raw, gritty, crunchy sound perfect for rock and blues.

Orange amps are especially good for heavy metal and hard rock, but you can also get some other great tones if you’re willing to experiment.

Conclusion

Ultimately, it’s impossible to say whether one particular brand is better than another because of so many factors. Much like other aspects of music gear, you need to consider what you want out of an amp before deciding which brand is better suited to your needs.

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!