For what it's worth: MY DUMBLE EXPERIENCES

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by JB Eckl, Jan 14, 2008.


  1. JB Eckl

    JB Eckl Member

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    Well, I can see that the Dumble phenomenon has become a bit of a lightning rod on this and other forums. As someone who's been around these amps a bit and heard them on a lot of gigs, recorded them etc.... here's my take on the whole thing.

    I propose that while it's a little frustrating not to be able to get our hands on this Holy Grail kind of gear ('59 Les Paul, vintage Telefunken 251 mic, a Stradivarius violin), it's not necessarily a bad thing to have an "ideal" in something, however unrealistic it may be. The pursuit of that ideal can get us a lot closer to it, whether we're playing a Peavey Classic 50 (which was good enough to make it on the Page & Plant tour) or a Trainwreck. In a more general sense, it's good to have a Mother Theresa or Gandhi or Hendrix or Robert Johnson around, even if you don't think you can measure up.

    It's a temptation to dismiss Holy Grails and say, 'whatever, who needs 'em.' But when the smoke clears, Stradivari sound better than every damn other violin, for whatever reason... hundreds of years later. And to that I say 'Hallalujah'.

    In the case of Hendrix... yes, it was a pain in the ass to have him around the scene, especially for English guitar heroes (who immediately started drinking together when Hendrix was in town). Does it mean that Clapton and Townshend sucked? Certainly not; in fact they were both respected by Jimi. But did he up the whole game? Did he serve a purpose??

    Anyway, Dumbles.

    I've had the opportunity to collaborate with Carlos Santana, producing and recording his guitar sessions on several occasions. He was also gracious enough to leave me alone with his rig - including his #1 PRS guitar - to really investigate the sound on my own. We used his classic Boogie setup, as well as various killer Twins, Marshalls etc. And then he borrowed somebody's Dumble just to check it out. Needless to say, pretty soon Carlos had a few Dumbles of his own on the road, and he even introduced Mr. Dumble himself to me backstage at the Hollywood Bowl as though he were some kind of Tone Guru.

    These amps all rocked, and we used different ones in different situations... I'm here to tell ya, there is something to the hype. With no EQ, compression or reverb, and with almost any mic placement and any guitar - including Strats - he was able to quickly nail the best aspect of his sound, which is really not the highly saturated 'wooo' tone that he's made famous, but a certain creamy singing sustain that retains a bit of bite while never, ever crossing into ice-pick territory, even on the treble pickup with the tone wide open. You can hear this tone on his early records when he was playing SGs and modded Princetons. The saturation is there, but it's transparent - it's all in the picking dynamics, and you can hear every bit of the guitar. Fans of Cream, the Bluesbreakers with Clapton or Peter Green, and the Stones with Mick Taylor, know this tone too and how hard it is to achieve.

    Anyway, I stood in front of that amp and blazed away for an hour without the slightest ear fatigue, and the tones Carlos got on the song 'One of These Days' (Shaman, 2002) were really cool, old-school, not-too-distorted Santana tones that hold up well over time.

    Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I saw Sonny Landreth play in a tiny place called Mississippi Studios in Portland, Oregon. I was pleased to see an Overdrive Special onstage and found a seat right in the line of fire, knowing that it would be loud as hell but not rip my head off because it was a Dumble. Sonny played a long, loud, brilliant set in this small room with a heavy-hitting drummer and believe me, it was wall-to-wall guitar from beginning to end. Sonny plays slide of course, all on Strats, and isn't afraid of the bridge pickup. The sound was... awesome. My ears didn't flinch, and the tone was inspiring to the end of the 2nd encore.

    I just played 20 or 30 sweet amps at the Portland Tone Party, and some of them really blew me away (I forsee an Aiken Tomkat and a Blueverb in my future!), but for my part I've never gotten over the whole Dumble thing since I had a chance to get up close & personal with one. Some things just are what they are, like Hendrix, Hawaii, the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Lord of the Rings, and the amps of a certain reclusive cat whose name rhymes with Rumble.

    For those of us tonehounds who have any economic realities in our lives whatsoever, the existence of Dumble amps is An Inconvenient Truth. So... if anyone does know how to nail that tone on the cheap... why the hell not? We may not quite make it, but as with playing as good as Robert Johnson, it's better to die tryin'.
     
  2. lostcause

    lostcause Member

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    Thanks for the post. Its easy to rubbish things we have no experience with.
    You're right we all need something to aspire to
     
  3. gainiac

    gainiac Senior Member

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    "The saturation is there, but it's transparent - it's all in the picking dynamics, and you can hear every bit of the guitar. Fans of Cream, the Bluesbreakers with Clapton or Peter Green, and the Stones with Mick Taylor, know this tone too and how hard it is to achieve."



    They had Dumbles back then?


    :eek:
     
  4. Red Suede

    Red Suede Member

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    I saw a TV show on Saturday where Herbie Hancock and Carlos were collaborating on some tune with an African singer. His tone was really good, sustain with bite, not screechy, really well balanced. I don't know which amp it was, but it sure was good. Were you in on that session Mink?
     
  5. parker

    parker Member

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    Very cool post mink! Thanks for sharing...must have been a real treat to play through Carlos' rig, fwiw, I love the Landreth/Dumble sound myself also, it really has a primal, voice like, other-worldly sound..
     
  6. scottl

    scottl Member

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    I agree. Best tone I have heard from CS.

    Also agree with Mink.

     
  7. Tonefish

    Tonefish Member

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    The man can be reclusive, but how can the tone be so illusive?
     
  8. cmaciag

    cmaciag Supporting Member

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    Excellent writing my friend! Lot's of truth in that. The other piece of the puzzle is having the instrument in the hands of someone who can actually make it sing.... A Stradivarius in my hand would sound like crap... hopefully a dumble in my hands would sound better than a twin! :)
     
  9. parker

    parker Member

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    This would make a neat signature....:D
     
  10. slopeshoulder

    slopeshoulder Senior Member

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    The wisest Dumble post yet. Uh, you nailed it.
     
  11. Red Planet

    Red Planet Member

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    I say we ban all other threads that dont pertain to Dumble.:p
     
  12. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks for sharing!
     
  13. JB Eckl

    JB Eckl Member

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    Oooops, sorry if I implied that Clapton, Green & Taylor had this particular amp... definitely not the case! But the tone, the vibe, is definitely what Dumble went for. And he found it.
     
  14. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    See!!! It's in the hands!

    [/quote]But the tone, the vibe, is definitely what Dumble went for. And he found it.[/quote]

    See!!! It's in the gear!:rotflmao
     
  15. JB Eckl

    JB Eckl Member

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  16. * velcro-fly *

    * velcro-fly * Supporting Member

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    Agreed ;)

    Great post J.B....puts it into perspective, puts the whole "chasing tones" thing into perspective.

    Steve E
     
  17. jspax7

    jspax7 Member

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    Thanks for an incredibly insightful post.

    A fitting tribute to a great builder is in the number of great amps that he has inspired. In that respect, even if some of us never play the real thing, we have still benefited.
     
  18. Squigglefunk

    Squigglefunk Senior Member

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    the grass is always greener
     
  19. Drowned Rabbit

    Drowned Rabbit Black Beauty Beats Burst

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    Thanks.

    And you're right about the Aiken Tomcat.
     
  20. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

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    Ah, the essential koan of musical gear...

    ...thanks for sharing your insights, the mink. Having recently spent an evening in the firing line of Mr. Landreth's Dumble, I know whereof you speak. There is some mighty powerful mojo going on, and it isn't all in Sonny's hands. (although those are some pretty special hands!)
     

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