Posts Tagged ‘wtf’


I know, when I discuss what I’m going to discuss here, I’m probably going to sound like a broken record, but so be it. If it needs to be said, it needs to be said:

High-price doesn’t guarantee “better.” But sometimes…

Yeah, what-the-f$%k. For the most part, we gear freaks look in the more inexpensive direction, for we know that in lots of cases with gear, you can get similar or even better performance from something that costs far less than its competitors’ offerings. For instance, for Tube Screamer-like overdrives, the DigiTech Bad Monkey will give you similar performance. But where the TS will cost you in the neighborhood of $160+, the Bad Monkey will cost you all of $50 new (I got mine for $29 used in pristine condition). For that price, you can get a couple and use one as a backup just in case the first one goes south. I actually gave mine away to a kid in my band, but he still has it and uses it regularly, and that pedal’s now a few years old, so inexpensive doesn’t really mean cheaply made either…

But circling back to the “sometimes…” To get that sound that you’ve got in your head, you have to pay for it. And even if you find a “deal,” it’s still going to cost you a significant amount of money. It was that way with my Les Paul ’58 Re-issue. I got a deal in the low $2k’s, but that was still quite a bit of money. The Les Paul sound was/is unique to me. I’ve had and still have other guitars that sound “like” a Les Paul, and most people would probably never be able to tell the difference between the guitars when I play, but there’s really nothing quite as distinctive to my ears. It’s subtle for sure, but I can hear it. Most importantly, it’s a sound that inspires me, and I’m willing to pay the relatively higher price for that to get that sound.

It’s the same thing for people who buy and play a PRS. I’ve personally never gotten into the smooth tones of a PRS, but I have plenty of friends who have one as their main guitar. Their reasoning is exactly the same as mine: The sound inspires them and they’re willing to pay the price to get it.

So how does that apply to the super-expensive gear like a Dumble amp?

I suppose that if you have the means to get one and the sound appeals to you, then by all means get one. But bear in mind that if you’re getting a used one that that amp was custom-tailored for a specific player. From reading various forum posts over the years about people’s experience either playing or owning one, they’ve experienced a bit of a let-down as they didn’t get the response nor feel the magic. I got lucky in my own experience with it, as the amp I played was absolutely incredible. The dynamics were out of this world, there was a subtle high-end shimmer that I had never heard from an amp before. But despite that, ultimately, the Dumble sound wasn’t for me. I’m more of a Marshall-esque type of guy, and I found that with my Aracom amps. And having Jeff Aragaki so close by, he has tweaked my amps to my own personal preferences so that they’re custom-tailored to how I play.

But even still, discussion of a Dumble amp almost invariably evokes a “WTF” from people. Most of us just couldn’t fathom nor justify paying the price of a car for an amplifier. A Dumble amp is to guitars as Screaming Eagle is to wine. They’re both expensive, but enjoyed and praised by those who have the means to obtain them. The rest of us will just scratch our heads and say, “WTF.”

A final word though… There’s a LOT of gear on the market today; literally thousands of pedals, hundreds of types of guitars and amps. If you can’t get inspiration from the pool of gear that’s out there within your immediate reach, I don’t know what to tell you. That too is a “WTF” situation – how CAN’T you find gear? 🙂

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