Alexander Howard Dumble RIP ?

beyer160

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I could never figure out how much of his "mad genius" thing was madness, and how much was genius. Still, if high caliber players were willing to give him truckloads of money he must have been doing something right.

Out of respect for the man's passing, I'll refrain from posting the "crystal lettuce" clip where he's playing second banana to certified whack job Henry Kaiser.
 

Cloodie

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Wonder what sort of price jump we're likely to see whenever a Dumble comes up for sale now.
 

Telekarster

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I had never even heard of him until I started hanging around here. After that, I got intrigued about the man and learned all I could about him. He was a genius in our time and whether or not a person liked him, one cannot deny his special ability with all things electronic. RIP Mr. Dumble, and thank you for your contributions and mystery!

 

warrent

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RIP Howard you certainly brought the magic.
had.jpg
 

Telekarster

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One serious question that I have.... created a thread about this question so removing it here since no one responded to it ;)
 
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Telekarster

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Did he ever make a anything for a working class musician?

Nope. He was strictly boutique and his amps were always expensive. I think he priced things like that to weed out non-serious musicians at first but, over time, his tone sort of led to famous folk following. He would still do work for the non-famous (assuming you could even get a hold of him) but he had to want to work with you, first and foremost, and then you had to pony up the $$$ in full.... and expect to not get your amp for maybe years later, if ever. If you ticked him off by hounding him about it etc., you'd get nothing. I read a story once were a guy waited over 5 years before he finally got his amp.
 

archetype

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I'm not 100% certain but I'm pretty damn sure this is Dumble tone, not a great recording but the searing tone of the SSS is just so good.
Of course David is such a master player he is a big part of the sound but Dumble amps were quietly bought and used by master guitar players for decades before most of us ever heard of the amp builder.



I've played that vid many times just to marvel at Lindly's steel chops and tone. Yeah, that compressed, liquid tone has got to be a Dumble.
 

fenderchamp

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WGAS. Did he ever make a anything for a working class musician? Or just rich ones. There’s a good saying how the “music industry” caters to the rich players and takes advantage of shills like us middle class or lower who have to actually pay.
If I wanted to make money building multi gain stage amplifiers and speaker cabinets by hand, I'd certainly target people that couldn't afford them. Is it moral requirement to make amplifiers for the "working class" musician? Would it be better if he would have shilled some amp designs for "monoprice"? Maybe all the amplifier makers should be forced to work for Fender for a couple of years to bring them down a peg or two? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_to_the_Countryside_Movement
 

Telekarster

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and speaker cabinets by hand,

FWIW I built a D style cab earlier last year, complete with genuine suede covering and the whole 9 yards, and I can tell you that it was a TON of work! It was my first cab build ever but still.... it was a heck of a lot more work than I had ever thought it would be, that's for sure. If I had to do it all over again, I'd probably have just paid someone to build it for me. Then again, I wouldn't have learned anything either ;) Just sayin' - Yep! Building a cab by hand, especially a D style, is no joke.
 

beyer160

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One serious question that I have, now that Mr. Dumble's passing has left a void, is how would one fix their Dumble amp if something should happen to it i.e. if someone were to walk into a shop and say "Hey man, my 1982 ODS has a problem..." would it be something that an experienced amp tech could fix, or is it kaput? Just curious. Given the fact it was so hard for someone to get with Dumble to begin with, I suppose not much has changed in this regard but still... If I owned an actual Dumble, I'd be concerned about this.

You would have had a hell of a time getting Dumble to work on the thing when he was alive, so that hasn't changed a whole lot.

Interesting point though- at what point will "original" Dumbles no longer be functional without routine maintenance, and what happens to the value then? Imagine you have an '82 ODS that gets a non-Dumble cap job in 2040 so it's no longer an "original", but by then any "original" Dumbles won't be playable.

Oh, who am I kidding... no one will be playing tube amps by then, anyway.
 

getbent

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RIP

It will be interesting to discover if he left any documentation somewhere in his hoard of gear (besides his amplifier work he amassed a huge collection of vintage gear). Each amp he built, modified or serviced was unique and tweaked to the needs of each player.

"Dumble Overdrive Special" is like saying "Chevrolet" - more a brand name than a specific amp, and one made for (as examples) Robben Ford will not have the same touch response or tone as one made for Jackson Browne. I've played through several ODS and each one was very different in its breakup point, touch sensitivity and overall harmonic emphasis.

Some techs have removed the epoxy he "gooped" his preamp circuits with (except for early ones not really representative of his best-known work), but very few parts were readable after "de-gooping" and the removal process made LCR meter readings unreliable. *IF* he left records and *IF* they are made available to anyone - even at premium prices - my guess is there will be a mad scramble for schematics of ones owned by the most famous players.
I do know of one Dumble authorized repairman. He is in Orange County. I think he keeps a low profile, but I think he knows exactly how everything works and how to configure.
 

loopfinding

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Did he ever make a anything for a working class musician? Or just rich ones.

i don't think he is that "untouchable" for that reason or the secrecy stuff, or the overblowing of what he even brought to the table design-wise in the grand scheme of audio design. but i admit that's mostly a personal politics/philosophy thing.

but i can't knock his hustle for conning rich people into thinking that any amp should cost more than 4-5 grand. i would probably do the same if i could.

electronics are accessible, and there's plenty of ways to do and build exactly what you want tonally. or get someone who knows their stuff to do it for you on your scale. even a wacky "guru" like ken fischer did not charge much. so yeah, it's not like he maliciously kept some unobtainable clandestine magic from us schmucks. he was just getting his money from people loaded enough to blow it.
 
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Telekarster

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I've played through several ODS and each one was very different in its breakup point, touch sensitivity and overall harmonic emphasis.

Wow.... that's pretty cool man. I've never had the priv to actually play through a legit D. Kudos! I was wondering the same regarding repairs and if he may have left some docs etc. behind. Pondered those questions in my thread about all that. Indeed it will be interesting if anything ever surfaces about all that.
 

getbent

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WGAS. Did he ever make a anything for a working class musician? Or just rich ones. There’s a good saying how the “music industry” caters to the rich players and takes advantage of shills like us middle class or lower who have to actually pay.
He didn't make amps just for rich people. When Jackson Browne started buying amps from Dumble, he wasn't rich, he was a touring musician as was David Lindley. His work was his art. He created an amp (like most an improvisation on a theme) that amp makers could emulate (and did in HUGE numbers) and provide at cost to the masses.

You are asking a guy who had no interest in being Fender in size to be someone he wasn't. He was a quiet, introverted guy who was on a search for the sound in his head, not to make millions or be a businessman, but to design amps.

Why should he have to do what you want? Why couldn't he pursue his own dream?
 

Telekarster

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I highly doubt Mr. Dumble or any other boutique amp builders were rolling in dough. If you're in it for the money, there are much easier ways to make a buck.

I read an old article about him once, a rare interview from the early 80's I believe, and it said he lived in a "castle" that was oceanfront in California, which is also where his first shop was, that he was actually independently wealthy, and built amps only cause it interested him to do so.
 




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