As time goes on the legend of the Howard Dumble / Dumble Overdrive Special amplifier continues to grow. Even those players who know nothing about the real workings or sound of a Dumble tube amp have a gleam in there eye when Dumble Amps are mentioned. This kind of mystic has led to the insane amount of money individuals will pay for a “real” Dumble amplifier.
In all my 12+ years of building amplifiers, I have never spent much time trying to emulate these amplifiers as many of my competitors have done. I may have listened to sound clips provided by customer to emulate the tones, but never used the exact circuit in any of my amps. Many of my competitors have built successful careers off building straight Dumble Overdrive Special clones or versions with a slight variation.
I recently had the opportunely to build a Dumble style overdrive amp in a vinatge blackface Fender Bassman chassis that was provided by a customer who begged me to build him a Dumble clone. It wasn’t a straight clone, as the EQ structure was different (I feel the stock Dumble EQ stack is a one trick pony with a boxy sounding mid range hump). I also used elements from my Fargen Hot Mods Santa Cruz Overdrive mod, but the overdrive circuit was based off all the Dumble documentation I have gathered over the years.
I was pleasantly surprised once I spent some time with the amp and was able to understand why many players are drawn to this type of amp design. It offers a sweet sustain at all volumes and and a dynamic violin type sound. The flip side is you have to know how to play a Dumble style amp. It’s all about pick dynamics and subtle nuances that are not apparent with other tube amps. Chord bashers need not apply. They would hate this style amp and never understand the $10k + price tag that a real Dumble commands.
I have acquired some misfit Blackface Fender bassmans that no one seems to care about. I am considering converting a few of these into some affordable and sweet sounding Dumble clones for some of my best customers. Could be cool.