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Dumble - An Unpopular Opinion

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Veltek, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO

    True....but it was pretty funny.

    Now he has me thinking about doing crystal lattice work swaps in my SS amps. ;) :lol:
    pondcaster likes this.

  2. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    I have only heard/seen two, Eric Johnson's and the late Stephen Bruton's.
    Eric's was only part of his rig, but OMG!
    Stephen's was the only amp on stage, and he too made it sound astounding.
    I can only assume that, with the exception of Hank Kaiser's, they are great sounding amps.
    Hank's might sound good too, but I'd have to hear it with another operator.
    That Lindley fella's sounds swell, too.
    I'd love to play through one someday, just to see what this ol' man sounds like through one.
    Maybe when I grow up, or pull off the Brinks truck heist.
    P Thought likes this.

  3. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    I think Dumbles may he like The Highlander. There can be only one. And that one seems to be it.

  4. chemobrain

    chemobrain Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Nov 5, 2016
    oakland ca.
    this is a direct quote from a very talented amp builder, guitar tech," Dumble is the new jesus.
    what is a dumble? usually, an amp that is tweaked to a players type of sound/tone style of playing,
    bonnie raits dumble will probably sound different than "__________" (insert name) or "__________" (insert name) or
    Mr. Dumble apparently really knows how to tweak a fender twin/super , let say, and people are willing to pay a lot for the skills that he uses to build your custom amp.
    not unlike a Saville Row Suite.
    me? my budget is T-shirts and Jeans, and Birkinstock sandles
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017

  5. Jules78

    Jules78 Tele-Holic

    Dec 12, 2016
    Northern VA
    Yesterday I read an article about the gap between the rich and the rest of us. It said it isn't what it used to be. A $2,000 used Honda Civic will get you from point A to point B in the same time and "relative" comfort as a rolls Royce. Let's face it they both have a/c or heat and will reach the same legal highway speeds. We've come a long way from the times when one dude had to slug it through the mud while a rich guy passed him on his horse drawn carriage. A $10 digital watch tells time just as well as a $10k Cartier. But some things like housing in exclusive areas will always be exclusive to the rich because of low supply. I'm paraphrasing the article. Alexander Dumble keeps supply low. He sells his amps based on their price on the used market. You are paying for the exclusivity. But just like the car analogy a $2,000 amp will get it done just as well as a $150k one.

    Bludotone makes great copies for a reasonable price. These are amps that can be copied. So there's that as well. And that is a huge point to make. Why are they fetching so much money if they are using the same caps, resistors and transformers as other amps? It's not like Dumble makes his own electronic parts. Marshall copied the bass man, did a few tweaks and here we are today. There's plenty of guys who can take one look at a Dumble and copy the circuit. There really is nothing exclusive about it other than the name. They probably get you close, real close. And no two dumbles are alike which is odd because people love the Dumble sound but there is no "Dumble" sound if they are all slightly different.

  6. homesick345

    homesick345 Poster Extraordinaire

    Jan 20, 2012
    Beirut, Lebanon
    The current prices of Dumble are irrational, like a 59 Paul, or a 57 tweed twin, or a vintage bugatti or ferrari relatively. Music in itself deals with with emotions, and is irrational. Do we want our trade to be completely rational? I have no problem with some mystique and irrationality... It's not the end of the world if some pieces of music gear are out of reach. Would a car enthusiast curse all day because of Rolls Royce or Bugatti prices? Why do so many here on this forum feel the need to put down Dumble and his admirers? What is so threatening about Dumble prices? What industry doesn't have its niche products?

    Stradivarii violins were widely debunked in blind tests, yet they are still respected...

    Finally, there is something to be said about Howard Dumble not selling out for some millions to some big corporations, thus securing his old age pension. Nobody thinks this is commendable?

    Sweat shops are the norm, but Dumble is the crook... The real problem seems that he has the nerve and insolence to be still alive!
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017

  7. 6BQ5

    6BQ5 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    May 31, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Yeah. . . BUT the vast majority of those extolling the virtues of Dumble amps on gear forums have never heard or played one in person either. So the across-the-board worship of the thing is equally skewed.
    MilwMark and Staypuft1652 like this.

  8. SURF

    SURF Tele-Holic

    Jan 23, 2010
    Can you name what that 20 controls were doing? It is interesting.

  9. Stratohacker

    Stratohacker Tele-Holic

    Apr 18, 2013
    I think its like a lot of things in music. Its a personal choice for the artist.

    If they can afford it and it gets them where they want to be then its worth it for them.

    Skip to 12:00 minutes and you can hear Robben Ford talking about his Dumble.


  10. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    That's a fair point, and I suspect that a huge percentage of internet debate is just the next guy taking a swing without even bothering to find out who or why he's punching.

    But I would also argue that for some of us, maybe we love several different players sounds that happen to be made on a Dumble, and that alone is enough for us to respect a builder of custom amps for top pro guitarists who play great and have great guitar sound.
    Maybe we are also able to separate "the market" from "the maker" and not blame Dumble for the prices his older amps bring on the used market.

    Yet on the other side, if we don't happen to like what has been pigeonholed as "the Dumble sound", maybe because our musical taste leans more toward Hound Dog Taylor than Larry Carlton; it might be a pretty fair question to ask: Why the hell is an amp that sounds like it was designed for making advertising jingles and sitcom intros so damp popular and valuable?

    And a more useful question might be:
    What are some great sounds associated with Dumble amps that are not that compressed polished corporate Rock sound many of us loathe?

    Then we might go on to ask: Where can I play one to find out for myself if they really are mind blowingly special, or maybe just market phenoms like the '59 Burst?

    Sadly, it's almost impossible to try one out because they are rare and not many sit in guitar shops amongst the teen shredders left by Mom in lieu of a babysitter.

    Further, I'd guess that a player needs to be pretty mature in their sound crafting to be able to figure out what settings might bring their sound beyond what they can get with a very nice sounding $500 Chinese PCB amp.
    And then the player would need to learn to play an amp that requires a very refined touch.

    One clue as to what might be special about a Dumble that fits you, is the mass OD pedal buying and selling by players who struggle to get a distorted guitar sound they really like.
    I wonder how many players that can't get (and keep) distortion satisfaction think Dumbles are dumb?

  11. GearHund

    GearHund Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Apr 9, 2008
    East, Tx
    I don't think it matters much why someone is willing to spend that kind of cash on an amp - it's their money to spend. I may or may not shell out that kind of dough (assuming I had it) for an amp.
    What I really want to know is that a Dumble on the lead lines in "You Love the Thunder" by Jackson Browne? Now that's some kind of tone.... sounds like the amp is fixing to blow.

  12. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    Front panel knobs left to right:
    1) Presence, 2) master, 3) level, 4) drive, 5) bass, 6) mid, 7) treble, 8) volume
    Front panel switches left to right:
    9) Rock/ Jazz, 10) mid boost, 11) deep, 12) bright
    Back panel switches:
    Footswitchable 13) PAB (preamp boost, removes tone stack), 14) OD
    Back panel knobs:
    15) Gain trim, 16) bias (bias is not exactly a control you'd use at a gig, but a control you can choose how you like it set. Arguably a 20th "control")
    Internal knobs:
    17) Bass, 18) middle, 19) treble (for fine tuning OD since you're otherwise stuck with your clean tone settings or a compromise between the two sounds. Also controls the eq when you bypass the tone stack in PAB mode- I think?), 20) PI balance (the PI tube sends the signal alternately to one and the other side of the push pull output section, and because a 12ax7 seldom has balanced sections, it will push the sine wave up harder than it pulls the sine wave down. The PI balance allows you to run both sides of the power section in balance, which apparently improves the sound)

    This one has no FX loop or box.
    SURF likes this.

  13. MA6200

    MA6200 Tele-Meister

    May 12, 2017
    I think with many things audio related there are diminishing returns, but that doesn't mean the product isn't great.

    I remember going to an audiophile convention in Chicago years ago and listening to setups that cost 150k. They were absolutely amazing components but a good amp and pair of speakers for around 2-3k still sounds damn good

    Guess my point is you probably aren't missing much, and most of us aren't in the demographic they are catering to, but I bet these amps sound fantastic.

  14. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    May 9, 2015
    Seekonk, MA
    LOL. 20 years! NO AMP FOR YOU!

  15. GoldDeluxe5E3

    GoldDeluxe5E3 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Aug 5, 2015
    Concord CA
    Dumble is the Smuckers of the amp world.
    With a name like Dumble, it's got to be good.
    Veltek, Zepfan and Staypuft1652 like this.

  16. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    May 9, 2015
    Seekonk, MA
    Are Dumble amps worth it? That question answers itself. The value of anything is established by what someone else has already paid and the trending that exists. Do I think they're worth it? I have never played through one, but if I farted money, sure, I would by one. If nothing more than as an investment.

  17. Sjnoring

    Sjnoring Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 26, 2017
    I know, totally subjective because how much something is worth comes down to how much you can get for it. But yes I would also say buyers are gouged on signature model and vintage guitars. Not that they aren't good, but you're paying more because someone's name is on it or because it's old.

  18. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 22, 2009
    New York
    I disagree. I've stated several times that Alexander Dumble DOES NOT sell amps for $100K that is the USED market. If you can get a hold of him, it's actually probably closer to 10K for an ODS, now. Which isn't cheap, but not terribly unreasonable, considering how much time needs to be put into the build and tuning..

    Around me it's about 100/hr for tech work. That's basically average, non amp wizard rates. Let's think about that for a second. How long does a D style amp alone take to build? About 8-10 hours, if you're building a clone and know what you're doing...

    But then you have to factor all that time that goes into tweeking. You can easily put 60+ hours into tuning an amp. Then cost of parts.. Calculate those labor rates, and tell me the Dumble (bought directly from Alex) is overpriced.

    BTW, HAD is not keeping supply low intentionally to get better prices. It's because he's not mass producing amps. When I tune my prototype amps I'm usually going back and forth for weeks, making component changes, playing and listening. He's not trying to crank out as many amps as possible. He wants to give his customers the product they asked for, and that usually takes a good amount of time. Even if you get a mass produced Dumble clone, requiring no tuning, from a shop that has multiple guys building amps (unlike Dumble) you often have to wait over a month for your amp to come after you order it. Call Redplate, Jelle Welagen, ceriatone, glaswerks, if you dont believe me... Now imagine, that operation, is one single guy, and he needs to take the time to tune each amp to each customer he receives.

    Dumble is one guy, not a factory, and I'm sure he has a life and hobbies outside of building amps 24/7. So there's no wonder he's only kicked out under 400 amps in his lifetime, that's actually still pretty impressive, if you think about it.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
    jpandolfo, homesick345 and Bill Ladd like this.

  19. blowery

    blowery Tele-Meister

    Nov 10, 2015
    Here's a fairly recent, and decently recorded review of a Dumble.

    pondcaster likes this.

  20. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 15, 2010
    I've heard a couple of Dumbles in person.
    They sounded very, very good--but I had heard those same guitarists through Fender, Dr. Z and Marshall amps and was equally impressed.

    It boils down to this--the musician makes the instrument what it is. If it is a good-quality instrument and the musician feels comfortable with it, then he/she will play better with it.

    I have some nice guitars, pedals and amps. Nothing outrageously rare or valuable (except to me), and I enjoy playing them, looking at them and owning them.

    Would owning or having access to a Dumble or a 1959 Les Paul or a vintage No-caster or a Klon pedal make me play better?
    I doubt it. It might make certain sounds easier to attain, but I'm still going to be limited by my level of talent and abilities.

    I have owned some amps, pedals and guitars (vintage and otherwise) that other people proclaim as "amazing and awesome" that really did very little for me--but that was just my expectations and experience; other folks were ecstatic to get them when I sold them off.

    If I were suddenly outrageously wealthy or were able to attain a collection of instruments á la Bonnamassa's "Nerdville", would I say, "No, that crap's overrated and I won't buy them!“?
    No, because I'd need to give it spin before I say they don't work well or they're not worth their hype...I wouldn't keep an instrument just because it's "valuable", though(*). If it doesn't work for me, out the door it goes.

    (*)a few exceptions would be Muddy's Telecaster or Jimmie Vaughan's white Stratocaster, etc., if I were to be able to attain one of those.

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