Interesting way to evaluate your amp


I've cut and pasted this from another website and out of respect for the poster (who's a famous player) I will NOT disclose his name> Nonetheless there's some really interesting stuff here:

"OK, how to dial up a Dumble? I do it the same way I dial up ANY amp, which begins by listenting to just the amp, not the guitar through the amp.

1. Plug in your guitar, turn the guitar volume off.

2. Turn the amp control off, everything all the way down.

3. Get right down next to the speaker.

4. Open up your post effect master 50-75%. Listen to the amp blow through the speaker, anything?

5. Open up the front master a little bit, listen to the blow.

6. Open up the gain to 1

7. Open up the tone controls to 2 or 3

8. OK, now you should hear something. Hissshhhhpopshhh etc.

9. Rotate the input volume. Listen, you'll hear when the control starts to respond. At different places around the rotation of the pot, you'll hear the amp come on.

Most volume controls exhibit similar behavior, but the exact place they start to become active varies with the individual pot, taper, value, and circuit.

The first sweet spot is where the amp goes from nothing at all happening, to a little blow that normally starts at a pretty high frequency and then begins to pick up a little volume and low end. Take note of that orientation of the pot and remind yourself that that setting is a threshold setting, on one side one behavior, on the other side a different behavior. With whatever voltage you get from the output of your guitar, backing off on your right hand touch or digging in should give you a little change in the way the amp responds. See where this is going? We're looking for settings that exhibit this threshold or touch-sensitive behavior. That first mark on your input volume is going to be almost ridiculously low, but don't discount it yet. If something is happening there, and the amp is telling you that it is, you can exploit it in combination with the other controls.

So anyway, you get a mark around 1 or 2, or between 8 and 9 o'clock chicken head time if that's your knob. Keep going. You should hear another change in the blow coming through the speaker at around 10 o'clock chicken head. This is a real sweet spot on the Dumble, and in a very narrow range around this spot are the only good overdrive tones when you stack the gain. Much past that is just fuzz box.

Keep going!

Up around 1 or 2 o'clock will be another location on the pot where if you sweep back and forth a little you will hear the characteristic oooh-waaa of one behavior of the amp above the spot and another below. This is the territory I do the majority of me clean playing in. I can back off with my right hand and be using a wonderful clean sound or dig in and get the amp to sing, not high gain mind you, but two different sounds.

Keep going!

Past 3 o'clock on my amp the sound doesn't change much but does pick up in volume. Some amps or maybe preamp tubes will actually go into oscillation at this point, and the volume will go down, so pay attention when you get to the higher gain stuff, to check to make sure the control is doing what you think it should.

Now pick anyone of these "threshold" locations and go through the same process with the tone controls. Listen carefully for the blow to change as you work each control through its rotation by itself and in combination with the other controls. You might be surprised what you learn.

This approach will let you know when the amp is "doing something". Regardless of tube type or guitar, etc... the amp can't hide from this kind of scrutiny, and it can't lie to you either, so do it, and center your efforts in those areas where a little voltage swing from your guitar will move the amp around a little.

OK, that having been said, remember that the controls don't always do what they say they do. Volume adds bass when you turn it up, adds treble when you turn it down, with the bright switch on. Treble adds gain, mids don't work without bass, deep switches lose gain. Check your bass control! For a lot of stuff, you can just turn it off. Wack your low E and advance the bass control to its first threshold and leave it. That should be plenty. "


Don't mean to hi-jack your thread,but not only do I know who posted this......But I had the pleasure of seeing him preform this on one of my Homebrew works,the amp was nothing like a Dumble....

It probably was a combination of things.......Hands,guitar,amp,speaker,room.......Anyway this method does work!!!!! It does help to have this guy's ears.

Jon Silberman

10Q Jerry & Dickey
Silver Supporting Member
I don't understand why copying and pasting someone's words but not his name to another place when the originator's already posted both himself in the public domain has anything to do with respect but thanks for the info.


Jon: In a way you are right but I still am reluctant to do so and name this player. I will send you a private message.



Wow - someone's got way too much thinking time on their hands :) I just start with everything at 12-oclock and go from there.


well I have never heard of or heard Steve Kimock, but that's probably a good way to understand an amp. For me, however, that does not work at all because I have to set the amp up to handle the bass and treble extremes. But since he is playing much cleaner than me, probably works for him or people like him. Sounds like a pain though. :)

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