Today in guitar amplifier worship we are going to look at something that seems just too rare to label a “holy grail”, simply too bespoke – the Dumble Manzamp preamp and 200-watt Odyssey power amp that once served in the master of the Stratocaster and tone connoisseur Eric Johnson’s backline in the mid ‘90s.
The setup, which also includes a pair of Dumble 2x12 speaker cabinets loaded with vintage Vox Alnico Blues and Hiwatt Heavy Duty drivers – both added to the rig by the subsequent owner – is up for sale via Techno Empire for a cool $399,999.99 – and Vertex Effects has just shot a demo video for its YouTube channel to show us what something like this sounds like.
Just what do you play when have a rig like this to demo? Well, first off, you get yourself a Strat. Cliffs Of Dover is a choice that is no less correct for it being obvious. But, quite honestly, this is the sort of amp rig that that would get you a standing ovation for simply playing an open A chord.
As Vertex’s Mason Marangella says, this Manzamp/Odyssey combo has all the Eric Johnson tones you need; they’re all right there. Gabriel Bergman is playing a Strat, and there is a greatest hits of Johnson-style pedals.
There’s a TC Electronic chorus pedal and a Boss delay pedal, and it’s blowing Marangella’s mind with a sound that already “has a mastered quality” coming out of the speaker. There is a Fuzz Face, ideal for comparing the clean tone and Fuzz Face into clean tones of Desert Rose.
Bergman and Marangella take us through the different tones, how it sounds with delay, with chorus, and most intriguingly, how it articulates the complex chord voicings of the classic Eric Johnson tune Friends.
There are still some mysteries surrounding the rig. How exactly did Johnson set it up? Well, the best clue comes from the May 1996 issue of Guitar Player, which published a diagram of Johnson’s triple guitar amp setup, and explained the this custom setup replaced Johnson’s Dumble Steel Stringer. Johnson favoured a Marshall 4x12.
Now, there is backline, and then there is an Eric Johnson three-amp backline. The three amp setup allowed Johnson to run a separate amp for rhythm, ‘distorted rhythm’ and lead guitar tones.
Johnson’s main rhythm tone was handled by a pair of Fender Vibroverbs. The lead was handled by either a Marshall or a Dumble Overdrive Special, with ’Distorted rhythm’ incorporating this Manzamp/Odyssey rig.
This is not the sort of amp you see every day, and it might be some time before we see it again. “If you are a fan of arguably the best clean tone ever, arguably the best lead tone and dirty rhythm ever, Eric Johnson, this is the amp,” says Marangella.
It could, of course, be yours if this year's amp budget is comfortably six sigures. Eric Johnson's Dumble Manzam/Odyssey rig is listed on Techno Empire and Techno Empire Reverb’s store for £331,333 / $399,999. All the components are original besides the custom footswitch.