I’ve played a Dumble ODS. The sound and dynamics are, in a word, magic, and I haven’t found anything in all the amps I’ve played since capture that magic. In the videos I made of the amp, I said that I think based upon playing it that it was worth the money.
But here’s the catch: while I think it is certainly worth the money, I’m not sure if my audience would be able to tell the difference. Up close and personal, the amp is absolutely incredible. But on a stage mixed in with a band? Not sure that playing a Dumble versus a Fuchs or Two Rock would make much of a difference. The only person who would be able to tell would be me. But if another amp inspires me while I’m playing, then having a Dumble wouldn’t make a difference in any case. I guess the point is that inspiration doesn’t have to cost fifty grand…
Sebago Sound PrototypeSummary: I don’t know what an original Steel String Singer sounds like, but if Sebago’s take on that amp is any indication, we have a winner here! This is an incredibly versatile amp that can fit any genre of music. This is my next amp.Pros: Versatility is the key with this amp. The notch High and Low notch filters let you dial in your tone to fit the genre or help fine tune the amp to your guitar.
Cons: None. But not a 5.0? I’ll explain below…
100-150 Watts (150 with 6550′s) from 4 power tubes
Reverb “loop” with send and receive knobs (send is signal gain into tank, receive is similar to mix)
Single input with switchable FET circuit
Bright, Mid, Rock/Jazz mini toggles
Individual High and Low notch filter knobs.
Power and Standby switches
Price: TBD, but will probably be somewhere between $2500 and $3000
Tone Bone Score: 4.75 ~ The only reason I took off a quarter point is because the reverb receive circuit was a bit noisy. I was able to dial back the hum by upping the send gain and dialing down the receive signal, but this is a prototype, so it’s understandable that there would be some tiny issues, and believe me, this is tiny.
My First Impressions article pretty much said everything that I had to say about this amp. My opinion hasn’t changed. This is an absolutely SUPERB amp that has me GAS-ing VERY BADLY. And after playing with this amp for the last few days, I’m in a dream state from the hypnotic tone that this amp produces – with all my guitars.
One thing I will add is that Bill Dunham emphasized that the amp is a great pedal platform. I still agree with that assessment, but frankly, this amp produces almost all the tones that I need, so I haven’t hooked my pedal board once this past week. The reverb is fantastic, and when I’ve taken the amp into overdrive, I just haven’t seen the need to use a pedal. The only exception to that is with the last clip I recorded where I ran my Strat through my Timmy overdrive before going into the amp, which was not quite at the breakup level; just slightly below.
Granted, at 100 Watts, I couldn’t take the amp into breakup without an attenuator. But luckily, my trusty Aracom PRX150-Pro comes to the rescue yet again in that department. A quick note on the distortion. I wasn’t really liking the fully cranked up tone of the amp with my Strat. It’s an entirely different matter with my Les Paul. The lead tone – which you’ll hear shortly – is just incredible. With the FET activated, and both Gain and Master cranked up (Gain at 9, Master at 10), the sustain, harmonics and overtones create this absolutely gorgeous lead tone. Now by itself, this amp won’t do metal. It’s not made for that, and I don’t think it was ever intended to do that. But crank it up and throw a distortion pedal in front of it, and I believe you could easily do metal.
Fit and Finish
I really won’t comment on this much because the final face plate is being produced so Bill modified a Double Trouble face plate. That’s also why I didn’t take pictures. It’s not finished, and I don’t want people to get the wrong idea that the amp will be in the condition in which it was tested. It looks great, but I’d rather get pictures of the finished product.
How It Sounds
Bill kept on saying when he dropped off the amp that it’s real strong point was clean. After playing with it, I heartily disagree. Clean, dirty, it don’t matter. I dug the sound. In any case, I’ve recorded three clips to give you a general idea of the amp’s tonal possibilities. Mind you, I don’t have a mild breakup clip with a Strat. Once I get the real thing, I’ll share lots more clips. For now, you check out the ones I’ve recorded thus far. Note that these tracks are raw tracks. I used no EQ nor compression because I wanted to ensure that I’d capture all the dynamics of the amp.
Clean, Gretsch Electromatic (thin body)
Clean, Les Paul
Rock, Crunchy Rhythm (left), Solo (right)
Clip from an SRV tribute song I wrote called “In The Vibe”
All the clips were recorded using an Avatar 1 X 12 closed back cabinet with the fantastic Fane Medusa 150 speaker. I used a single mic – a Sennheiser e609 – positioned about 18″ from the cabinet pointed directly at the center of the cone. Part of why you might hear a little static is the ambient room noise from my garage. Barely detectable, but it’s there.
With the rock clip, one thing I had to get used to was the note separation in touch sensitivity of the amp when I’ve got it cranked; actually, even in heavy overdrive. I didn’t really have to change the way I play, I just had to make sure that if I was chording, then I needed to be smooth with my strums, otherwise you’d hear every dang string being plucked. It was a pretty easy adjustment.
With the SRV tribute song, as with the other clips, I didn’t EQ the guitars at all, though with the lead, I did add some reverb and a touch of delay to give the tone some air. I also ran the guitar through my Timmy overdrive in front of the amp. Other than that, what you hear is what the amp and the Strat are producing naturally though the final recording has a touch of compression. With the first part of the clip, I’m playing through the neck pickup, then switch to the bridge pickup and turn the volume of the guitar up a couple of notches.
In any case, to me, the clips I’ve provided tell a good story of what this amp is capable of. As I mentioned, in a clips, what I’ve laid down is the raw amp sound, completely unprocessed except for the SRV tribute. The tones are absolutely gorgeous!
I suppose you can pretty much guess what my impression is of this amp. Once Bill gets this into production, it’ll be my next amp. Better start saving my pennies.
Got a call over the weekend from Bill Dunham at Sebago Sound who wanted to tell me that he was releasing a Steel String Slinger based upon the topology of a SSS owned by a well-known, grammy-award-winning, blues/pop artist (I know who it is, and based upon the description, you should be able to figure it out).
Don’t have a lot of details on it right now, though I will be doing a demo/review of his pre-production prototype. I’m excited about playing around with the on-board reverb that is in its own loop to control the signal going in and out of the reverb unit. Very cool.
From what I know of the original SSS, the amp is a single-channel amp, but has two inputs: Normal and FET. The FET input is like having an on-board overdrive. Having played with a real Dumble, that FET circuit is pretty special. The prototype will not have this feature, though Bill does have plans to put that in.
For more information on the Sebago SSS, check out Sebago Sound!
In other news with Sebago, Bill has done a fantastic job of creating Dumble clones with his Double Trouble 50 and 100 Watt amps based upon the Dumble Overdrive Special. But more importantly, unlike other boutique Dumble cloners out there such as Two Rock and Bludotone, Bill’s mission is to create Dumble-style amps and not charge a premium. For instance, Sebago’s 50 Watt Double Trouble is only $1995. Believe me, it’s a well-made amp, and the retailers who carry that amp can’t keep it on their shelves for more than a couple of days. I’m not quite sure what the price-point for the SSS will be, but it will be far less than the competition; and you won’t have to wait more than a couple of weeks at most to get one, as opposed to having to wait up 18 months for other builders’ Dumble-style amps.
So lower price, short wait time (if any, if you get it from one of the local retailers)? Kind of a no-brainer, if you ask me… In any case, stay tuned for my review! I’m getting the amp tomorrow evening and will be playing with it for the rest of the week.
Dynamics. It’s what separates a mechanical and boring piece from something that can move an audience to tears. In this episode, Doug talks about the incredible dynamics of the Dumble Overdrive Special.
This is the last video in the series of Doug Doppler on the Dumble Overdrive Special, but it’s not the last. I’ve got many more “Doppler on…” videos to come, so stay tuned!!!
That’s right! As I mentioned in episode 1 of the series, the Dumble can shred, and it sound unbelievable. In this part, Doug talks in-depth of the tonal capabilities of the Dumble amp and demonstrates it versatility by shredding on it!
Wow! I’m having A LOT of fun editing this series because I’m just blown away by Doug’s incredible talent! What a gift! In any case, this part of the series has Doug discussing tone shaping with the ODS pre-amp section, and talking about playing a Strat through the amp. Plus, there’s a little surprise at the end. Cheers!
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the privilege and honor to spend some time with one of the great guitar talents in the world, Doug Doppler. I originally was just going to just do a behind-the-scenes look of his new, upcoming DVD series, “Get Killer Tone,” and it kind of took on a life of its own, much to my surprise and pleasure. One of the highlights of our first meeting was having Doug demonstrate the Dumble amp he has on loan for the DVD. After we did the first taping, Doug contacted me and said he wasn’t satisfied with what we did for the first Dumble demonstration, so he invited me back to do a more organized and focused session. How incredible is that?!!
As it turns out, I’ve got enough footage to do a mini-series just on our single Dumble session, so that’s what I’m going to be providing over the next few weeks. This first video is just a quick overview of the Dumble Overdrive Special’s features, plus Doug demonstrating how incredible it sounds clean with a classic archtop guitar. Enjoy!
Sorry if you could hear my breathing in the video. Had the camera a bit too close to me…
Finally, what is a very positive fallout of this series is that it provides a much more in-depth look at the performance characteristics of a Dumble amp as opposed to just doing a “demo.” I think Doug wanted to share why the Dumble is so special, and not just by doing clips, but by providing demonstration as well as discussion. That’s not something anyone has done – at least not that I’ve seen – and I’m completely overwhelmed by the opportunity to provide this!