Dumble - An Unpopular Opinion

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

  1. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    from what I've heard, I don't care for the Dumble sound

    to me it just sounds "nice," like the amp version of a BMW

    it's obviously great for a certain style, and if you have a use for it, good for you
     
  2. dlew919

    dlew919 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I’ve not knowingly heard a dumble on record. Unless I’ve been told. Nor a 52 tele or a 59 Les Paul, unless I’ve been told. Until I got into guitars Brian mays red special meant nothing to me except he built it at home. I don’t know anyone who can listen to say Slash and say ‘man that 1989 Les Paul sounds sweeter than the 1985 Paul he played on the last track.’ (Eric Johnson May be the exception here)

    It’s about the response of the player. Is a dumble a great amp? Unquestionably. But it’s built for the player. Once you sound good the details don’t matter to most listeners. But they do matter to the player.






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  3. L.A. Mike

    L.A. Mike Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't understand why you quoted my post and then made the comment you did. Did you actually mean to quote someone else?
    As I stated, I really don't want to get drawn into another Dumble "debate".

    However, you have made some statements that are often posted on the internet and I'll offer my 2 cents.

    Not all Dumble ODS amps are "dialed in" for a particular player. In fact, he used to advertise in Guitar Player magazine and take orders for his amps that way. He also had some on consignment at West L.A. Music. Most of those amps are standard issue ODS amps which are great by the way.
    He did modify some of his amps (not a lot) for professional players who needed something a little different. He didn't build them a custom ODS, he just tweaked it a bit for their style and type of guitar used. A lot of the tweaking was EQ adjustments and range of gain available. Sometimes it just required a different preamp tube type and/or a rebias of the amp. That required them to bring their guitars to his shop. Something he only allowed for certain people. Otherwise you received an standard ODS.
    I've played a few Dumbles owned by different players. They all sound basically the same to me. Except one of them had more headroom and less gain/distortion available. The other 2 had an earlier onset of gain because the player wanted some distortion all the time.
    I spoke to Mr. Dumble about building me an amp in the early 1980s. When I mentioned the differences I'd heard in those amps, he said that his standard ODS could get close to them, in fact it would be hard to hear the differences. But the players in those cases may have had a specific sound in mind. And they may have had special requirements, like loud clean sustaining slide playing ala Lowell George.

    The Urei 1176 compressor/limiter made in 1970 had a new LN (low noise) circuit added to it which was developed by Brad Plunkett. They encapsulated it in epoxy to stabilize the components and more importantly, protect the circuit until their patent was approved.
    So, we can see Mr. Dumble wasn't the first to use this process.

    Why would Mr. Dumble do that?
    In the 1980s there was a company in Germany called Kitty Hawk. They imported Mesa Boogies amps to Europe. Somehow Mr. Dumble got involved with them and started sending chassis' to them. They were responsible for the cabinet work and speakers. They did very bad cabinet work which Mr. Dumble wasn't aware of at first. The Dumble amps proved to be popular and they wanted more chassis. But Mr. Dumble was still a one man operation and couldn't supply them fast enough (for them). So they got the bright idea to clone his amps without telling him. They actually sold some with Dumble faceplates on them. That's why it is very dangerous to buy a second hand Dumble if you can't tell the difference by looking at the guts. Mr. Dumble got wind of this and cut them off. They started making a Kitty Hawk clone of the Dumble ODS at that point. Very poor sounding amps in my opinion.
    I think Mr. Dumble didn't know what to do when he realized he was being ripped off. So, he started covering the preamp section of the amp in epoxy to hide his work. Too little too late I guess. Some builders started copying his ODS amps and continue to this day. Some base their whole product line on his amps.
    One builder even went so far as to get a Trademark on the "ODS" acronym that everybody uses as a descriptor for the Over Drive Special. Now Mr. Dumble can't use that in his business. It's sort of like what DiMarzio did with PAF. They own the trademark even though it came from Patent Applied For Gibson pickups.
    That same builder bought the website name Dumble.com and used it as a link to his Dumble clone amp line and amp repair business. He has taken down that link info after getting lots of flack about it on other guitar forums.
    I'm sure it's all legal but in my opinion that doesn't always make something right.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
  4. Lynxtrap

    Lynxtrap Tele-Holic

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    IMO enough is known about a large enough sample of different amps to line out general circuits. Amps within a certain line from a certain era, say the later day ODS amps, have very similar circuits. The sound is easy to identify, and this is what most people mean when they talk about a "Dumble tone".
    That tone certainly has a character of its own, at least as much as, say the "Blackface tone" that people refer to all the time and most of us know what they mean.

    Then there are other amps that are completely different, like the Steel String Singers. That tone doesn't have anything in common with the sound of an ODS amp, so in that respect, "Dumble tone" is not really a valid term. These cleaner amps are also not so easy to identify.
    Everyone who has heard the "Texas Flood" album has heard a Dumble amp. But that's not what people generally think of as a "Dumble tone".

    So I guess a "Dumble tone" doesn't exist any more - or less - than a "Fender tone", "Vox tone" or "Marshall tone". Yet, we often know what people mean when they use these descriptions.

    So basically, people are upset because he came up with some great sounding amps and didn't want others to copy them..? I can understand that techs trying to do service on them would be frustrated, though, but that problem can't be very widespread as very few techs will ever see a Dumble amp.

    Trainwreck might have been a regional thing back in the 80's, but today there are people making clones of them around the globe and there are internet forums dedicated to these amps. And prices reflects the hype.

    Still, I have (thankfully) never seen a debate about how somebody who hasn't even heard the amps "doesn't get" the Trainwreck sound, "my [name of $250 solid state amp] sounds better", or "some guy on Youtube recorded a demo using his phone, nothing special about those amps".
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
  5. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Tele-Afflicted

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    I remember Kitty Hawk. I was working at G-K in the late 80's and was always reading Guitar Player magazine at work. One of the ad pages in GP for GP merch featured a photo of one of their writers, Art Thompson, holding a guitar and leaping into the air. A few months later a Kitty Hawk ad appeared using that image, but just as an outline of a solid color generic rock and roll person leaping into the air. It was pretty clear to me, putting them side by side, that it was based on the same image or really an incredible coincidence.
     
  6. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    If you think so.

    I've played several ODS over the past 30+ years. A few were for sale; others owned by friends.A couple were somewhat similar in clean tones and "touch response" but had different breakup points and smoothness of transition.

    A couple others were very different - the overall clean tones were "Fender-ish" but varied in midrange response (i.e. the amount of "de-scooping" of the mids) , but completely different pick attack was necessary and they were far more difficult to use with a light touch. One specifically required a stiff attack with a huge amount of headroom and abrupt transition into breakup - because it was made that way for a specific player. If you play with a light touch you'd probably dislike it and wonder what all the "hype" was about.

    The point is there *IS* no "typical Dumble tone" that anyone can point out. There is no "general Dumble amp tone/response"

    However, there ARE "tones of particular Dumble amps when used by particular players" you can point out - and that have been copied.

    Yep - and there are a few techs that Dumble "allows" to work on them, but it's really not necessary. Players that own them are either collectors who bought them as investments and rarely use them or professionals (or semi-pros that have had them for years) and have other amps. General service is easy - filter caps aren't "gooped" - just the proprietary parts of the preamp, which is what "individualizes" each one.

    Those parts are not old enough to be subject to failure, and if an amp is sold Dumble is known to "dial it in" for the new owner. For a price. Eventually.

    Hey, I think the hype/used pricing is completely ridiculous. But I DO think he knows how to very specifically "tune" an amp to a player's tonal preferences, pick attack, left hand touch - recognize, understand and respond to the needs of players who understand their tone and touch *themselves* - which is a VERY small group.

    Some players are willing...and able...to pay for very specialized gear AND are able to use it at an optimum level, while some can and will play just about anything - and sound great doing it.

    There's nothing wrong with either approach.
     
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  7. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Structure vs. embellishments. I think people are claiming that Dumble ODS amps are close in sound, due to the circuit. When someone claims that every amp is different (Dumble ODS), are they focusing on differences in design and operation or on the embellishments that certain players have wanted?
     
  8. Richie-string

    Richie-string Tele-Meister

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    I'm just curious to know how much these amps cost in the first place for the original buyer? i Have seen the sort of figures they command on the second hand market but i have no idea how much they cost new, can anyone enlighten me? Just for general interest only. I realise a lot would depend on the model but maybe someone knows what price they kicked off at and went up to? Ball park sort of figure?
     
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  9. dlew919

    dlew919 Poster Extraordinaire

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    According to premier guitar around 1250-1300.

    https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/The_House_Where_Dumble_Built


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  10. Richie-string

    Richie-string Tele-Meister

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    Thank you for satisfying my curiosity dude. I doubt i'll ever get to see one let alone play one but i've heard people talk about them so many times in interviews and the like that my curiosity was getting the better of me. These amps do seem to attract a lot of attention - i mean 19 pages of discussion about amps that aren't even in production anymore.
     
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  11. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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    He may still take an order for an Overdrive Special, under the right conditions, for the right person. He's doing mostly blackface and tweed Fender conversions and Marshall hotrods. A doctor in my area took delivery of a Magnatone and a Deluxe from HAD within the past year. After an almost ten year wait...
     
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  12. Lynxtrap

    Lynxtrap Tele-Holic

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    Judging from the schematics of known individual amps, there seems to be a certain consistency and a basic formula for the circuit, or structure if you like, being followed at a particular time. Seems likely that, say two ODS amps made in '84 would be very similar.
    Even if tailored for individual players, they are not one-offs but a line of amps just like the Steel String Singer is another line.
    There were changes and developments in the line over the years, and some players had their amps updated along with that.
     
  13. cousinpaul

    cousinpaul Friend of Leo's

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    HAD's Guitar Player interview (September of '85) is an interesting read. He talks about tweaking the amps a bit for Lindley and SRV but seems to downplay it like it wasn't anything major. He also describes some of his innovations in layman's terms.

    Regarding inconsistencies, I imagine replacement tubes, biasing, speakers, etc, could also be contributing factors; all typical things you'd run into with any vintage amp.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
  14. Carl_Tone

    Carl_Tone Tele-Meister

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  15. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Feel is as important as tone, to me anyway. You can't feel what another player is feeling by listening. Tube amps are responsive, that's why they are generally superior to Solid State amps, at least for Guitar. Also, to a rich guy, the cost of a Dumble is pocket change.
     
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  16. KnopflerStyle

    KnopflerStyle Tele-Afflicted

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    Dumble, i have never seen one live. Who used them live?
     
  17. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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    Lowell George, David Lindley, Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Randy California, Steve Lukather
     
  18. cyclopean

    cyclopean Friend of Leo's

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    i don't get it either but i'm not really into any of the guitarists known for using that amp. which is better for me because why sweat rare expensive gear if you don't need to?

    edit: looking over this thread, i'm not even sure i could name a song by anyone known for using this amp.
     
  19. L.A. Mike

    L.A. Mike Tele-Afflicted

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    Texas Flood by SRV (his first album)
    ever heard of that or him (SRV)?
     
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  20. cyclopean

    cyclopean Friend of Leo's

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    yeah but i don't really care for him.

    outside of using thickish strings and liking fender products, i'm going out of my way to not sound like him.

    to each their own.
     
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