Another Trainwreck/Dumble Thread

wordsonyou

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1,124
Ok, I have recently heard a bunch of Trainwreck clone amps and they are seriously good sounding. The usual arguments about these amps center on whether Dumbles or Trainwrecks should really be worth that kind of huge dough.

I have a different question: was there any technical innovation behind Traniwreck or Dumble that made them such landmark amps that were destined to appreciate? I don't mean innovation as in they sound good, but in terms of circuit design. Did Dumble or Fischer do anything to revolutionize the way people built amps that was not done before? My inquiring mind needs to know (Perhaps the answer lies buried in the thousands of archived posts on the topic, but as most of us don't have 8 hours to review each thread about trainwreck or dumble I ask the question here).
 

aleclee

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Dunno about 'Wreck magic other than exceptional lead dress. I recall reading somewhere that moving a wire 1/4" made the difference between oscillation and great tone.

As for Dumble, he is often credited with inventing the cascading preamp thing (with Randall Smith being the other "inventor").
 

wordsonyou

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1,124
Originally posted by aleclee
Dunno about 'Wreck magic other than exceptional lead dress. I recall reading somewhere that moving a wire 1/4" made the difference between oscillation and great tone.

As for Dumble, he is often credited with inventing the cascading preamp thing (with Randall Smith being the other "inventor").
Wow if that 1/4 inch thing is true that kind of blows the mind because it seems a bit like voodoo. So do you think it is serendipity that made Wrecks appreciate so much?
 

martins3325

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Originally posted by wordsonyou
Wow if that 1/4 inch thing is true that kind of blows the mind because it seems a bit like voodoo. So do you think it is serendipity that made Wrecks appreciate so much?
That part is true..part of kens genius was that he tweaked each amplifier to be on the edge of out of control. Further he tweaked each one to the buyers taste..which is why there really never could be a production trainwreck even if you copied one from a schematic...he tweaked each one like Alec said by virtue of the way all the parts in the particular amp interacted. Probably why he gave each one a persons name.

PS: im not an amp guru but you can go to the trainwreck forum and read about guys posting who are trying to clone his amps and finding out that moving a wire closer or further from the chassis or other components effect the tone..or sends the amp out of control
 

axpro

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628
As someone who has done more than a vit of mp twiddloing over the last few years, AND tried cloning the wreck circuit all i can say is

DAMN!!!

Ken had some far out ideas, and the clone guys have had some far out ideas in trying to re-create the original ideas. Lead dress, spacing, part placement is CRITICAL! I had re-built old traynors into a number of classic circuits and had a lot of fun with it, but doing the wreck clone the right way, was insane, i actually never got it to work 100% , as i always endud up getting frustrated and building a spitfire with the parts....

Kind of funnny though, you look at a matchless spitfire, hand wired and litterally the circuit in the amps looks like a dog's breakfast... they sound great though. But the whole trainwreck idea calls for so much attention to detail in the construction phase that I was stunned by the results of moving one wire just an inch here or there...

As for *umble, I haven't had the urge to try and build the circuit... although I do have a dead traynor with good iron and nothing to do next week...:D

DAve Mc
 

martins3325

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394
Funny how two of the most revered builders have such opposite approaches. Im not a big dumble tone fan but I wont demean his work. Im just way more into the TWreck school of overdrive. I kinda wonder --since im not real crazy about the Dumble tone I probably dont hear the nuiances-- have other companies came closer to reproducing dumble or T-wrecks. My guess would be the dumble with the Fuchs, and 2 Rocks ..ect ect.
 

PlexiBreath

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1,205
I doubt Dumble invented cascading preamps because for a long time every city had it's amp guru that would mod a Fender to cascade the preamps, as least that was the case in the San Diego area. That said, Dumble may have been the first to offer an amp you could buy new with cascaded triodes, and with care to the global voicing of the amp, it wasn't the hack job you got from the modders, but a cohesive, well thought out design as a packaged product.
 

Red Planet

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How you get Dumbles and Trainwrecks in the same thread? I dont know though they both are expensive.

As to who did what on cascading gain. 20 years ago nobody knew who Dumble was.

Who were those other guys Leo and Jim?
 

bob-i

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First off... cascading gain stages has been done since the triode was invented. Cascading to OVERDRIVE the tube would be the question.

Dumble and Randall started doing this in the late 60's, but more as a result of what local techs were doing. The first I heard of it was when Leslie West, using a Sunn PA head, used the out of one channel plugged into the in of the next, then turned Peter Townsend on to this. I did a similar thing to my 67 SF Twin taking the output of the normal channel and connecting it to the input of the vibrato channel.

BTW, Dumble NEVER charged more than about $2500 for an amp. The outragous prices are from ebay and other used amp sources. I'd doubt if he became wealthy building roughly 200 amps at $2000 each.

The primary difference between Mesas and Dumbles is the position of the tone stack. Mesa puts the tone stack after the overdrive, Dumble puts it before. I've done it both ways and honestly I can make both sound as good.
 

doctord02

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1,061
20 years ago nobody knew who Dumble was.
Hmmm, I'm not so sure of that. 20 yrs ago I was 24 and had read about Dumble and even exchanged coorespondance with him. He was getting mentioned in Guitar Player magazine and had ads running.
 

57special

Silver Supporting Member
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4,804
I think for the TW amps, you have to put them in the context of their time, which was mid 80's when the amps being sold and "pumped' were Mesa Boogie mark 2's and 3's, Roland JC 120's, and some of the worst Fenders,Marshalls, Ampegs and Hiwatts ever produced. Anyone remember a Fernandez SS amp that looked like a Boogie/ or the Acoustic 1x12's? Features were loaded onto amps, whether you wanted them or not. Guitars were pointy, and tending towards the Fluourescent. Trainwrecks , with their simplicity, AND quality of sound, were a refreshing change.
 

aleclee

TGP Tech Wrangler
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Originally posted by Red Planet
As to who did what on cascading gain. 20 years ago nobody knew who Dumble was.
SRV did and sung his praises mightily. Who knew who SRV was 20 years ago? ;)
 

Red Planet

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Excuse me I forgot to mention I speak in generalities.

20 years ago there wasnt an internet buzz. 20 years ago he was a little known nobody. Yes he was here and there but most folks didnt get thier feathers ruffled over a few amps.

Flame away. :)
 
F

fin

You can move the components in the F5/6 circuit around without the amp going "out of control" (meaning oscillation?)...

is there something specific about TW circuit that makes it more sensitive to component placement?
 

aleclee

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Originally posted by Red Planet
Yes he was here and there but most folks didnt get thier feathers ruffled over a few amps.
I bet they did when people pointed out their facts were wrong. :rolleyes:
 

Mike

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2,539
Originally posted by bob-i
BTW, Dumble NEVER charged more than about $2500 for an amp. The outragous prices are from ebay and other used amp sources. I'd doubt if he became wealthy building roughly 200 amps at $2000 each.
Wow, my friend here in Santa Cruz who ordered and got one from him in 1989 (he sold me his amp because he was finally taking delivery) will sure be pissed that he paid $5k and waited 2 years when he finds this out.... :)

Mike
 

axpro

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628
which circuit are you referring ti f5/6???

as tothe wreck circuit... fewer gain stages, driven a little harder, as the term is "ready to go out of control"

if you've ever built a higher gain amp, you know that component placement is crucial. this ups the ante' by not having a long cascadedx4 circuit adding a little gain each time. it's only 2 or 3 stages ( i think 2 with a cathode follower)

dave mc
 

Red Planet

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I allways speak in generalisations most of the time. Sorry if that bugs some folks.

Thats just me and it aint changing.


At no time will your feet leave your ankles.
 

Geetarpicker

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2,874
I have an '89 Express that I got new back "in the day". It was a welcome change from the Plexi 100 (into an attenuator) I had been playing from about 1980-1989. With the wreck I could get away with running it without an attenuator, and yeah it was a little loud but doable. I remember during the 80s hating the Boogie stuff, Preamp this and that, as I NEEDED an amp that was controllable from the guitar. There is something cool about a guitar with great volume pots and pickups, and all the control you have right there IF you have a responsive amp. When I borrowed an Express back in the late 80s, it was the only "new" amp I had played that was very high gain, but would also "clean up" like nobodys business. Kind of like a Marshall with a built-in exceptional Germanium fuzz face, sort of...

All that said I still have my Express and love it. Would like to use it more, but a little afraid to gig with it much though I do on occasion. However I also get some very comparable tones out of either my '68 100w Superbass Plexi, or new 1974x combo. Though both of those amps need external help (boost pedal of some sort) if you really want a high gain singing lead tone. The Express really is such high gain you almost never need or want to run it flat out. The Express sure is magic when you run it as Guitar-cord-amp.

Still it is quite finicky about speakers. Not a ton of lows, and ample highs mean you need big warm speakers. I use two '68 BW cabs, with 25s. The wrong cab will kill the wreck tone and make it worthless. The right combination of speakers and cab and you can get awesome tone and have better controlled feedback than anything I've ever experienced. A very touch sensitive amp, though on occasions I've almost felt the amp "felt" better than it actually sounds if you can understand what I mean.

On an instability note my Express had an issue with HF oscillations. Two wires needed to be held down tight against the chassis to stabilize the circuit. I put a small piece of foam rubber in just the right place, to keep the wires down tight. So, yes the circuit is right on the edge of trouble at all times. But trouble is good!

Yep, Ken Fischer was doing something that "at the time" was way opposite of the mainstream. But a traditionalist like myself dug it for it's simplicity and tone. Heck I didn't use any stomp boxes period from 1980-1997. With the Express you really didn't need to.
 
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