Alexander Howard Dumble RIP ?

telemnemonics

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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.
I think we need to define working class musician before we say he did not build amps for them/ us.
He charged something like the cost of a new LP and 335.
A lot of money, but can we agree that many working class musicians manage to buy at that price point?

Not for guys who struggle to pay for Squier and Epi, but we seem to "need" ten guitars, and if they are all made by the original company as opposed to being third world copies, we could also afford a Dumble amp price.
 

Telekarster

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I think we need to define working class musician before we say he did not build amps for them/ us.
He charged something like the cost of a new LP and 335.
A lot of money, but can we agree that many working class musicians manage to buy at that price point?

Not for guys who struggle to pay for Squier and Epi, but we seem to "need" ten guitars, and if they are all made by the original company as opposed to being third world copies, we could also afford a Dumble amp price.

Yep. I suppose it's all relative. I saw an old price sheet of his once, from the mid 80's I think, where he charged something in the hood of 5000.00+ for an ODS combo back then. That would've been real serious dough in them days for sure. But wow.... for those who hung onto em... not a bad investment today! Would kinda scare me to own one now LOL!!!
 

telemnemonics

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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.
This is more like the pop Dumble bashing community than useful info for a memorial.
Howard did not charge his customers "truckloads of money" for his amps.

The vintage gear market inflated the values of rare/ hard to find gear toured and recorded by famous players.
The initial leap up of prices on his used amps was comparable to something like a Hendrix Strat owned by Zappa and finally sold to Mayer before hitting Gruhns shop.
Once it was established that his famously toured and recorded amps commanded huge money, then his less famously used amps got similar pricing.
 

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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?

Agreed, I was about to post something similar. I suspect that Dumble could have made a ton more money partnering with Fender, Marshall, Boogie or some other amp manufacturer to market and sell an affordable 'designed by Dumble' amp. From everything I've read it appears that Dumble considered himself a bespoke amp builder who would build amps specifically catered to each of his customer's specific needs. I don't have any opinion about particular Dumble amps, but I certainly respect that Dumble put his money where his mouth was and refused to compromise his amp building philosophy to make more money.

As others have posted, the crazy prices people pay for Dumbles is nothing more than an example of very limited supply coupled with high demand.
 

Telekarster

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This is more like the pop Dumble bashing community than useful info for a memorial.
Howard did not charge his customers "truckloads of money" for his amps.

The vintage gear market inflated the values of rare/ hard to find gear toured and recorded by famous players.
The initial leap up of prices on his used amps was comparable to something like a Hendrix Strat owned by Zappa and finally sold to Mayer before hitting Gruhns shop.
Once it was established that his famously toured and recorded amps commanded huge money, then his less famously used amps got similar pricing.

Yep. I think I said it earlier but I never even heard of him until I started hanging around out here on TDPRI. I'm sure that if I had known of him back in the day, I have no doubt that I would've done whatever it took to get me into one of his ODS's. Back in the day I was always looking for something sweet, unusual, and unique. I'd have been all over a Dumble in 85 if I could've, and I'd no doubt still have it today ;)
 

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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.

I think the "castle" was actually part of Jackson Browne's property, he gave HAD a place to live and work for some years.

He had other patrons after the arrangement with Browne ended. In recent years, HAD benefited from having a few doctors as clients who were able to help with his medical needs. It's to their credit that he lived as long as he did, he didn't exactly take care of himself.
 

telemnemonics

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Yep. I suppose it's all relative. I saw an old price sheet of his once, from the mid 80's I think, where he charged something in the hood of 5000.00+ for an ODS combo back then. That would've been real serious dough in them days for sure. But wow.... for those who hung onto em... not a bad investment today! Would kinda scare me to own one now LOL!!!
Well remember also that he didn't just build and ship for that money at that peak pricing.
You got the equivalent of an amp psychoanalyst who spent time with you before building, to design for your tone and touch, then you got time with him to make final tweaks after the build. So you paid for an gear tech to help you craft your sound.

The gear market views gear as product, but he provided services as much as product.
And we know that the players who wanted and paid for his services, seemed to rely on what he did for them, in terms of they lugged those amps all over the world when they could have just had rental amps delivered to venues and saved the hassle.

I seldom like Robben Fords playing but what I DO relate to is his attempt to explain why he keeps or kept using the amp Howard built him.
He refers to clarity over and over.

I hear tons of famous players sounds where a searing tone comes with a loss of clarity.
Or sometimes in the studio they spend three days getting searing clarity on each track, but it's a challenge.
Today it seems like we have lots of products that allow minute tone tweaks, but back then you had to find a tech who had the patience and skills to tweak in the circuit, if you wanted more control than a Marshall or Boogie afforded.
 

Telekarster

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I think the "castle" was actually part of Jackson Browne's property, he gave HAD a place to live and work for some years.

He had other patrons after the arrangement with Browne ended. In recent years, HAD benefited from having a few doctors as clients who were able to help with his medical needs. It's to their credit that he lived as long as he did, he didn't exactly take care of himself.

Ahh.... you may be right then. It's been a long time ago that I read that article so I might've gotten some of the stuff mixed up in my noodle... which happens more and more with each passing year LOL!! :)
 

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Ahh.... you may be right then. It's been a long time ago that I read that article so I might've gotten some of the stuff mixed up in my noodle... which happens more and more with each passing year LOL!! :)

And we're probably dealing with an "unreliable narrator". Much of the Dumble mystique was created by the man himself. Fascinating character at any rate.
 

David Barnett

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Ahh.... you may be right then. It's been a long time ago that I read that article so I might've gotten some of the stuff mixed up in my noodle... which happens more and more with each passing year LOL!! :)

...or your comprehension is just fine but the article may have misrepresented reality. :)
 

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I work at a museum in Austin, TX where we hosted an exhibit of SRV's gear several years back, including his #1 Strat, and one of his Dumbles. They never let me plug either of them in, as much as I begged, but it was cool to see that stuff up close and personal. I'm sorry to hear of Mr. Dumble's passing. I imagine he and Bill Finnegan (the guy who designed the Klon Centaur) were probably very similar characters and hopefully got together for drinks on occasion to celebrate their very effective marketing tactics and trade recipes for epoxy goop.
 

Ron R

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His amps were never in my realm of affordability, but man do they sound great!
And once I found a decent Dumble emulation patch for my POD HD400 (yes, I am well aware it will never match a real Dumble), it quickly became my favorite patch to use.
Rest In Peace, good sir.
 
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Esquire Jones

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Yep. I suppose it's all relative. I saw an old price sheet of his once, from the mid 80's I think, where he charged something in the hood of 5000.00+ for an ODS combo back then. That would've been real serious dough in them days for sure. But wow.... for those who hung onto em... not a bad investment today! Would kinda scare me to own one now LOL!!!
The amp that I stumbled across 35 years ago was around $5K. Basically a Billion Dollars to me at the time.
 

Telekarster

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The amp that I stumbled across 35 years ago was around $5K. Basically a Billion Dollars to me at the time.

Yep.... that makes 2 of us. Still, had I known of him, I'm sure I would've tried to find some way of getting on his build list, if that was even possible back then. I was really into strange and unusual guitars and amps back then, so I'm sure I would've loved to have had the op for one
 

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Very nice guy; sorry to hear of his passing.
He didn't create the craziness surrounding him; he was an artist and it just happens sometimes.
(I remember playing with him at a jam at the Alley one night... he was cool; played completely clean and never touched the overdrive))
 

Telekarster

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Very nice guy; sorry to hear of his passing.
He didn't create the craziness surrounding him; he was an artist and it just happens sometimes.
(I remember playing with him at a jam at the Alley one night... he was cool; played completely clean and never touched the overdrive))

Whoa! Now that right there is something! What a rare treat to have played with the man! Wow...

They never let me plug either of them in, as much as I begged

Man! I don't blame you, I would've too ;) I suppose there was no way to sneak in there after hours and jam??? Oh wait.... I forgot... that's when things come to life in there. Ok, nevermind ;) :)
 




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