Recently I had an opportunity to play through an actual Dumble amp via a thegearpage.net member-organized Amp Fest/Tone Fest/whatever you want to call it. It was the first time I’d heard a Dumble, or even a Dumble-style amp, in person, so this is definitely a raw, unschooled, unsophisticated impression.
Bearing in mind that I’m an old-school Marshall kind of guy, here’s what I thought:
> When I got there and the Fest’s host was playing through either the real Dumble or one of the Bludo-Drive Dumble clones stacked beneath it – folks were frequently changing between those amps and a Glaswerks Overdrive Deluxe (also a Dumble-style amp). The tone sounded very new to me in some ways. Big, round, raw-ish yet compressed. It also sounded like those distinct fuzzy/octavia overtones were in there. So I’d heard those Dumble-like tones before, but not in that way exactly, if you know what I mean.
> Single-string noodling sounded very full (compression again?). Two strings, okay. Three-note or power Chords, not so much – to my ears. Not saying it was bad, just different than I was used to or wanted to hear.
I can’t give you the specifics on the Bludo-Drives, but the tan one in the picture was set up to be an exact clone of Robben Ford’s Dumble Overdrive Special, and wow did it have a unique voice. I’m not a diehard Ford fan so can’t speak to whether it nailed his sound in the room I was in, but wow.
Now, I said above that any more than two strings wasn’t sounding so good. Well, one of the other Festers grabbed a mutt Strat and a slide, and proceeded to milk some ultra-sweet chordal, bluesy, semi-gnarly tones out of the Ford Bludo-Drive. I think he had experience with that kind of amp before, which may have helped. I wanted him to keep playing!
Very interesting because it showed that while many Dumble-style amps sell at high prices, they aren’t just for “light blues” or jazz or so-called cork-sniffers. These amps can motor too (more on that in a future post).
After playing through the two Bludos, the actual Dumble Overdrive Special and a Glaswerks Overdrive Deluxe, I have to say that I preferred the Dumble. This may have been because the Dumble had Marshall-like EL34s, which I understand is a bit unusual for Dumbles (usually 6L6-based, like Fender amps). It was darker and what I would call “clearer” somehow than the other amps. But all the amps were all great.
I definitely want to spend some time with a Dumble-like amp (actual Dumbles go for at least 5 figures!) to see what I can do with it. Someday…. GAS!
Many thanks to Jason, the host, and Scott, the Dumble expert, at the Fest.
Here’s Jason noodling through the Glaswerks. You should be able to hear some of what I was talking about above, but though all the amps had similar characteristics, they were all a different.