Orange Sustain review

The Vintage Series from Orange Amps revisits the archive for a trio of retro stompboxes – none more classic than this optical compressor

Orange Sustain
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Guitar World Verdict

A welcome return for a vintage pedalboard staple – and one that offers today's player high-quality compression in an easy-to-use format.

Pros

  • +

    Preset attack and release times make it easy to dial in.

  • +

    Smooth compression.

  • +

    Retro looks.

Cons

  • -

    Size still could be an issue for some with less pedalboard space.

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Back in the 1970s, pedals offering compression were often marketed as ‘sustainers’. Electro-Harmonix had the Black Finger, Colorsound had the Sustain Module, and Orange simply plumped for Sustain as its catchy name. Today’s Sustain is an optical compressor pedal with just two control knobs. 

The attack and release times are preset so you have a pedal that’s very easy to dial in: the Depth knob sets the gain reduction and hence the amount of sustain, while the Level knob, with a detente position at 12 o’clock, sets the overall output volume. With the Depth at minimum, that detente position is at unity gain so there’s scope beyond that to use the pedal as a booster with minimal compression.

As you ease in the compression, it’s smooth and transparent with no extreme alteration of the note attack; it’s more about consistency and eking out the length of the note. With higher settings of the Depth knob you’ll be wanting to turn down the Level knob to keep things clean, but bring up the Level with compression applied and this will do the job of a low-level overdrive as a great amp driver.

Specs

Orange Sustain

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
  • PRICE: $249 / £199
  • ORIGIN: UK
  • TYPE: Sustain pedal (compressor)
  • FEATURES: Buffered bypass, LED indication of gain reduction
  • CONTROLS: Level, Depth, Bypass footswitch
  • CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output
  • POWER: 9V DC adaptor (not supplied) 7mA 
  • DIMENSIONS: 93 (w) x 120 (d) x 75mm (h) 
  • CONTACT: Orange (opens in new tab)

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Trevor Curwen has played guitar for several decades – he's also mimed it on the UK's Top of the Pops. Much of his working life, though, has been spent behind the mixing desk, during which time he has built up a solid collection of the guitars, amps and pedals needed to cover just about any studio session. He writes pedal reviews for Guitarist and has contributed to Total Guitar, MusicRadar and Future Music among others.