D-TONE AMPS D-Style sound

Who  was  Alexander  Howard  Dumble?

Alexander "Howard" Dumble (1944-2022) was a California builder / technican of tube guitar amplifiers and is considered creator one of the best sounding guitar amps in the world - Dumble amp. Of course, this statement is purely subjective, but Mr. Dumble went down in the history of music as a pioneer in creating a "creamy" tube overdrive called "Dumble sound" known, for ex. from solos of: Robben Ford, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa or John Mayer...

Alexander "Howard" Dumble (1944-2022)

*Alexander "Howard" Dumble and his Overdrive Special head and combo amps - photo by Michael Doyle

He started his adventure in the early 60s by modifying Fender Tweeds and Blackface era amplifiers. D-TONE AMPS recommend Rob Robinette page about creating sound in tube guitar amplifier. In an interview, Robben Ford said that Mr. Dumble got the idea for his amps after hearing a Fender Bassman amp playing live on stage along with an Ibanez Tube Screamer effect. This is how the idea of his most famous the Dumble Overdrive Special amp was supposedly born... commonly referred to as Dumble ODS amp. On this page we describe exactly about Overdrive Special and Steel String Singer model.

Dumble amp Overdrive Special #094

*Original Dumble Overdrive Special amp no. #094 from auction on Reverb.com

In the late 70s like Randall Smith (founder of Mesa / Boogie), he began building his amplifiers with two independent channels with more gain amplification. Mr. Dumble, however, was not interested in mass selling his products - he focused on getting the best possible sound. He made on order a few amplifiers a year by own hand. Mr. Dumble quickly gained a very good reputation, which is why his amplifiers were ordered by such stars as: Carlos Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robben Ford! It has also become an inspiration for many companies such as Two Rock, Fuchs or Amplified Nation and its amplifiers, next to the Fender Tweed Deluxe 5E3 model, are the most frequently amplifiers cloned in the world... On this page we describe about Dumble amp clone. Mr. Dumble produced around 300 own amplifiers. These were both head and combo versions. Buying original is a miracle, and even if there is one Dumble amp for sale, is very expensive, and Dumble amp price reach cosmic ranges - even up to 150,000$ !!!

What was the phenomenon of Dumble amps?

First of all, that he was a excellent electronic technician and has a specific vision for his amplifiers. Unlike amplifier builders like as Leo Fender or Jim Marshall, Mr. Dumble didn't stop at building one channel tube guitar amplifiers. He started experimenting with adding more tube stages and cascade construction on the preamp, which resulted in a strong tube overdrive. D-TONE AMPS recommen Rob Robinette page about creating tube guitar amp overdrive. Like Mike Soldano or Randall Smith, he set a new standard for building guitar amps with two independent channels. It should be emphasized that Marshall used this solution only in the model JCM800 Lead Series (2210) under the pressure of concurention, so much later than Dumble, Soldano or Mesa / Boogie... While the Overdrive Special Dumble amp, SLO100 or Mark II models already had pure tube overdrive, Marshall "took a shortcut" and instead of adding another stage of tube amplification, he used diode clipping. On Guitar Pedalx page the working principle of this solution is explained. Most guitar effects, such as the Ibanez Tube Screamer or Fulltone OCD, are based on this solution, and that is why it is still believed that it was not really a purely tube overdrive, but only "silicon" amplification, which directly translated in to harmonic components resembling transistor amplification. It was similar in the model Silver Jubilee (2555X) and Slash (because it is the same circuit). Unfortunately, neither the JCM900 nor JCM2000 model solved this problem - instead of focusing on strictly tube amplification, operational amplifiers were added, which further emphasized the unpleasant harmonics in overdrive channel. While the JCM2000 still held up (Gary Moore thought it was the best overdrive he'd ever played), the JCM900 wasn't necessarily so. To this day, many consider it the most "plastic" Marshall in history... Personally, we think that these "diode" overdrives have something in them - are they worse / better? Not necessarily - they are just different! Neither Fender nor VOX went the way of two channels amplifiers - they stayed with crystal sounds and kudos to them for that! Personally, we think the AC30 is the best sounding "clean" guitar amp in the world! Of course, we leaving out all the Fender and VOX models that were made in the 80's and later - we know what happened to these companies when they were sold... The short history of the development of guitar amplifiers described above is to show the great role Mr. Dumble haved and what influence he had, alongside Randall Smith and Mike Soldano, on companies such as Marshall and many others...

Overdrive Specialist by D-TONE AMPS, based on Dumble Style amp

Dumble Overdrive Special Robben Ford #102

*Robben Ford 1982 Dumble amp Overdrive Special head - photo by Neil Zlozower/VG Archive

Mesa/Boogie MKII - probably one of the world's first two intenpendet channels guitar amplifier

Soldano SLO 100 - groundbreaking two independent channels layout that started history of hi-gain amplifiers

Marshall JCM800 Lead Series (2210) - two intenpendet channels guitar amplifier with diode clipping overdrive

Who plays on Dumble guitar amps?

First of all, Dumble amp users are guitarists who want to stand out and look for their own sound. Yes - it sounds like a slogan but it's true! Dumble amps are so specific that we can always tell them apart from standard Marshall and Fender sounds. The following list shows the most famous users of the Dumble amplifiers:

1. Robben Ford - Dumble Overdrive Special amp (bought in 1982) and famous no. #102 (bought in 1983)
2. Joe Bonamassa - Dumble amps Overdrive Special head and combo no. #014 and #080
3. Stevie Ray Vaughan "SRV" - three Dumble amp Steel String Singer and Dumbleland Special 300SL no. #005
4. John Mayer - Dumble amp Overdrive Special no. #009; Steel String Singer no. #004 and Dumbleland no. #005 (which was once used by Stevie Ray Vaughan to record Texas Flood)
5. Carlos Santana - two Overdrive Special and Steel String Singer Dumble amp
6. Eric Johnson - Steel String Singer and Overdrive Special
7. Eric Clapton - Overdrive Special combo and Dumble modified Fender amps
8. Kenny Wayne Shepherd - Dumble modified Fender Pro Reverb (called the Ultra/Rockphonix), Bassman (called the Slidewinder) and  Band-Master (called the AC763)
9. Larry Carlton - two Overdrive Special
10. David Lindley - two Overdrive Special no. #002 and #008
11. Ben Harper - Overdrive Specials head no. #008 and combo no. #109
12. Henry Kaiser - Overdrive Special, Steel String Singer no. #004
13. Lowell George - Overdrive Special no. #078
14. Sonny Landreth - Overdrive Special
15. Stephen Bruton - Overdrive Special + 1x12" Dumble cabinet
16. Jackson Browne - Dumbleland no. #001, and Steel String Singer no. #002
17. Ry Cooder - Borderline Special (Overdrive Special with added tremolo)
18. Steve Kimock - Overdrive Special
19. Keith Urban - Overdrive Special
20. Jason Isbell - Overdrive Specials no. #022
21. Kirk Hammett - Steel String Singer

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*D-TONE AMPS doesn't own of photos - we only shares them and not copy. Original source is under each photo.