Electric guitar great Eric Johnson has paid tribute to Howard Alexander Dumble, the master amp-maker who passed away earlier this week.
In a post on his Facebook page, Johnson discussed how he met Dumble, just as he was putting together what would eventually become his 1986 debut album, Tones.
Eventually becoming fast friends with Dumble – a relationship Johnson likened to that of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis – Johnson would go on to use two of his guitar amps, an Overdrive Special and a Steel String Singer.
“My friends Christopher Cross and Richard Mullen were jubilantly praising how wonderful Alexander Dumble’s amps were," Johnson explained. "They suggested that I meet him and procure an amp.
“Alexander worked in a space over at the Abbey rehearsal studios and I have such fond memories of going over there and talking tone and inspirational visions of music. Alexander had a wonderful passion for music and sound and guitar tone.
“I would always leave there so excited, kind of like when C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien would get together and rev each other up to go be artistic on their own after their meeting and do their best work.”
“I was lucky and honored to be able to play an amp made by Alexander – actually, two amps," Johnson continued. "The song, 'Zap,' on the record Tones, was recorded on an Overdrive Special and Roscoe Beck’s [Gibson ES-]335. The Steel String Singer that I eventually got from Alexander was such a magical amp, there’s been nothing quite like it since.”
“I regret that I let go of it many years ago during a period when I was going through a traumatic time in my life suffering from loud exposure and thought that I would never, never want to be around or play through an amp of that caliber of wattage.
“It was one of my shortcomings not to have the insight to put it in the closet and wait for another graceful day when I could have figured out a way to use it, baffling speaker cabinets or using lower efficiency speakers or simply turning the master volume down!”
"He is one of a kind," Johnson wrote. "There'll never be another one like him."
To read Guitar Player's full 1985 interview with Dumble, step right this way.
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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.