This book on amplifier builder Howard Dumble is more a labor of love than anything else. Dumble himself is an elusive character who eschews press and, more than that, seems to delight in making things difficult for the journalism community. This writer interviewed Howard back in the
'80s and found him to be a pretty cheerful, if secretive, interviewee. When asked about how he built his amps and things, he was pretty sensitive in not wanting to talk about it.
Recently, I was approached by someone to try and interview Dumble again. After much searching, I tracked down a business partner of his. I sent an email (actually multiple emails) to this person, who then forwarded them on to Dumble. Here is Howard's response (two months later):
I'm not quite sure how a "chain of interviews" can be exclusive since exclusive usually means one interview given to an exclusive person/outlet. Anyway, that's the type of person Dumble is (he changed his name to Alexander for no good reason). In fact, the interview I was turned down for would probably have ended up in this very book.
Yes, I did receive your e-mails; however, work load and obligations here must take precedence. Also, I've already committed to a chain of interviews that are exclusive. So there's not a chance that I could provide an interview to you. This is firm.
Please don't waste your time on trying obtain any material from me, as I just cannot provide it to you. As well, I do ask that you refrain from writing anything on my amplifiers and/or using the Dumble name.
Still, this is a book full of interesting information and photographs. My interview and photos appear in the book along with interviews from other distinguished writers. Schwarz has tracked down some excellent photos of Dumble's amps, and the book provides a comprehensive history of the development of these amplifiers.
Dumble built amps that were used by everyone from Jackson Browne, David Lindley, and Rick Vito to Lowell George, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Christopher Cross. His amps were expensive, and if you annoyed him in any fashion, he wouldn't return your call or query and many times wouldn't build your amp for you.
Still, there is no denying that his Overdrive and Steel String Singer units are some of the best-sounding amps ever designed. The book talks all about the gear's sonic qualities and what
makes them unique.
The book is available only through the author's website - www.dumblebook.com - and because it comes from Europe will set you back over $200. It's a terrific book and cheers go out to author Jesse Schwarz for seeing the project through. It's just a shame so much time and effort had to be dedicated to an amp designer who doesn't really deserve it.