The (not so) Tiny Terror: Hell’s Holy Grail

During the late nineties and into the new millennium, touring guitarists and studio musicians were returning the glory of a low wattage amp. In Rock n Roll’s infancy, guitarists were forced to use low wattage amps because they had no choice. As manufacturers continued to push the watts higher and higher, guitarists followed suit blindly believing that more watts meant a better sound. Eventually, guitarists came back to their roots after the fall of “metal” and “grunge.” Manufacturers like Matchless and Top Hat seemed to lead the charge with amazing boutique amps usually modeled after the Vox AC30. Before you knew it, custom amp companies were popping up all over the country sporting 30, 15 and even 5 watt amplifiers. Some of these were very good, some of them not so good, but nearly all of them priced above the price range of your average player. So, when Orange came along with the Tiny Terror, guitarists rejoiced… and rightfully so.

My Experience With the Tiny Terror

I bought my Tiny Terror used on eBay about 2 years ago, admittedly behind the “boom” of low wattage amps, but I haven’t looked back since. This 15 watt amp (switchable to 7 watts) was the exact fit for the sound I have been searching for. I play rock, blues and some pop and the Tiny Terror delivers in every one of these arenas. I mostly play a Stratocaster with Kinman pickups and a ’74 Les Paul Goldtop. The Tiny Terror plays well with both guitars, as well as nearly any pedal I put in front of it. I won’t get into the specs of the amp; you can check the Orange site for that. I will tell you that the gorgeous tone is delivered through (2) 12ax7’s in the pre-gain stage, and (2) el84’s in the post, and the size of the Tiny Terror makes it easily transportable with the added gigbag.

Live Performance

Whether I’m playing a mid-sized club, practicing in my bedroom or leading at church, the Tiny Terror has plenty of voice to be heard but retains a decent volume level without the use of sound curtains. Anything larger than a mid-sized club and you’ll need to mic it, but nearly any sound guy would do that to any amp in a larger venue. I leave the volume and gain controls both at about 12 o’clock. To my ear, this is the perfect amount of volume and adds just enough break-up to the tone to get you excited. With PLENTY of gain on top, you could very easily pump the gain up and simply back off on your guitar’s volume to clean up the tone when necessary, or throw a nice overdrive pedal in front of it. Orange describes the tone as a “clean crunch” and I couldn’t agree more. It’s that perfect tube saturation that countless guitarists search for, but rarely find in an amp priced under $1400 (around $550 from most Orange dealers).

In the Studio

In the studio, the Tiny Terror simply performs. The single flaw I find with the TT is that it is hard to get a squeaky clean tone out of it. If you’re looking for clean tones turned up to 11 you’re barking up the wrong tree. This amp was specifically designed to breakup early so guitarists could get that wonderful tube crunch at lower volumes. I ran the TT in parallel with a Fender Twin on my last recording in order to pull up clean tones when needed. For rock, blues, pop and even some jazz, the Tiny Terror will stick with and even outperform many of the boutique amps on the market today.

Tiny Terror Variations

A few variations of the Tiny Terror have been added to the lineup including the Tiny Terror Handwired edition, the 2 channel 30 watt Dual Terror and the Dark Terror due for release at the end of May. Whatever your flavor, when you’re looking for a great sounding, affordable, low-wattage amplifier check out the Terror lineup.

About Austin

Austin is an avid guitar player and blogger. He has been playing guitar for 17 years and loves to write about music, guitar gear and travel.

Comments

  1. I agree, the TT is a great little amp! I wouldn’t trade mine for the world, but I gotta have my Fender Deluxe for the sweet clean tones.

  2. I completely understand. That’s the single complaint, if you can call it that, that I have about the TT. But it sounds like you’ve got it figured out, just add a Fender to the mix!

  3. Hey, Change out the 12Ax7 for a 12AU7 and you may get a bit of a cleaner tone, or, cleaner at higher levels (later breakup). I hand made a Bassman 5f6a amp and change from 12AX7 to any of the family of 12Ax7s including ..AU7, ..AT7 and wired the heaters to handle six volt tubes as well, 6N2p, 6N1p and they all work great. 6 volt tubes won’t work in the TT. This will not hurt your amp because the 12v heaters all draw the same current technically speaking.

  4. Mark, I’ve heard people argue on both sides of that fence. Some say that it does actually increase clean headroom while others say that, although you are turning the volume knob higher, the actual volume is no greater and that the au7 simply runs at lower volumes. But hey, why not give it a try? Is there a particular brand you’d suggest? I’m running JJ’s in it right now.

  5. Hey
    I am a guitar enthusiast from vintageandrare.com. I am really like considering getting one of these after reading your post.

  6. You won’t be sorry, believe me. You can usually snag a used one on eBay for under $400!

  7. I had a buddy that played one live, but he felt like it didn’t have the “tough” look of a marshall stack so he hid it behind his Marshall JCM 800 stacks (which he didn’t even play through) because he liked the tone that much better. He’s been writing for Guitar Gear Boutique lately to help build out the site. He said they are pumping it full of content right now including a new Orange Tiny Terror video demo. Should be ready to go around the middle of January.

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