“There's cool and then there's this”: Joe Bonamassa tracks down Lowell George's Dumble Overdrive Special after a 15-year search

Lowell George's Dumble Overdrive Special (left), Joe Bonamassa performing onstage
(Image credit: Joe Bonamassa Instagram / Getty Images)

Joe Bonamassa has just bought “the crown jewel” of his guitar amp collection, bringing Lowell Georges's Dumble Overdrive Special to Nerdville.

Taking to Instagram to celebrate his latest purchase and revel in the relief of ending a “15-year quest” to get his hands on the amp, the bluesman has given details of its interesting history. 

The amp, Bonamassa says, hasn't been played since June 28, 1979, at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington by Lowell George himself. 

The next night, the Little Feat guitarist tragically passed away aged just 34, meaning the amp has laid dormant for nearly 45 years. 

George, who Bonamassa paints as “one of the most talented and significant musicians in rock and roll,” left a formidable legacy of work with Little Feat and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. 

But this is no mere vanity purchase, with Bonamassa saying the head and its matching cab “will be back on the road as early as this July but most likely fall.”

In 2024, tracking down any Dumble Overdrive Special amp, let alone George’s trusted workhorse, is far from a little feat – hence the 15-year wait.

“Well there's cool and there's this,” Bonamassa’s Instagram post reads. “The Lowell George Dumble Overdrive Special Reverb serial number 009 has finally made it to the Nerdville green shag after a 15-year quest.

“Little Feat is a hall of fame group and they belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – end of story,” he adds. 

Though the amp may look like a time-worn museum piece, it seems Bonamassa is keen to show the amp the love it has been bereft of for nearly half a century.

Lowell George performs onstage

(Image credit: Getty Images)

George and legendary amp-builder Howard Alexander Dumble had a strong and well-documented relationship. The revered slide guitar master played a number of his builds, with this a very early example of an original Dumble amp – the kind hordes of amp builders try to channel the magic of with their creations. 

During a 1977 interview with Guitar Player, George called the custom Dumble he was using at the time “the best amp I’ve ever played through,” adding that it was “like a Fender made right.”

It makes the fact the amp won’t be getting comfortable on Bonamassa’s famous green shag all the more exciting, with the guitarist calling the conclusion of his tireless quest a “once-in-a-lifetime event.”

Lowell George's Dumble Overdrive Special

(Image credit: Joe Bonamassa Instagram)

“The opportunity to own one of your top guitar hero's amplifiers made by Alexander Dumble is a once-in-a-lifetime event. I feel very blessed to have it,” he says. “It is certainly the crown jewel of my amplifier collection.”

Readers wanting to hear Bonamassa dust the amp off and put it through its paces would be wise to keep an eye on his Instagram account – we’re sure it won’t be long until we get to hear it.

Bonamassa’s vast collection – minus this latest luxury purchase – was the subject of a recent Reverb documentary (the second of its kind), with tales of séances with Tommy Bolin and trash bag flying Vs amongst the film's stand-out stories.  

Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to ProgGuitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.