Metallica’s Kirk Hammett has been talking guitar amplifiers with Canadian music retail giant Cosmo Music and revealed his current setup, the magic of his Fender Princeton, and that someone offered a ridiculous $750,000 for a Dumble he previously owned.
Shot as part of Cosmo Music's Rockstars In Cars interview series, and part of the retailer’s anniversary celebrations that saw Hammett play classic rock and disco covers with Metallica bandmate Rob Trujillo in The Wedding Band, Hammett was talking about his favourite amps.
In the video segment he reveals his current setup, which sees a Randall-Fortin amp, built by Mike Fortin, blended with a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier. He then uses a Fractal to model that tone so that he can use it in all kinds of environments.
“It always sounds the same,” says Hammett. “Because that is the beauty of a Fractal. It’s super-consistent.”
In the studio, it’s open season, with a modded late ’70s, early ‘80s Marshall among his favourites. He also has an 18-watt Marshall in his collection and a variety of Vox amps.
His Fender Princeton, however, sounds great no matter what guitar he is using. “I’ve never had an amp like that, y’know!” he says. “It’s like, literally, I can grab any guitar and plug it in and it will just sound amazing.”
But the conversation soon turns to the mystery of Kirk Hammett’s Dumble. He tells of a time when producer Bob Rock and him would try and get a tune out of it, but it never sounded good enough as a standalone amp. “We would just wonder why this didn’t sound as kick-ass as we thought Dumbles should sound,” says Hammett. "I was agonising over it for the longest time.”
Apparently, his Dumble was previously owned by Jesse Colin Young of the Youngbloods, and had been tossed around in a traffic accident.
Hammett eventually sold it, and for a “crazy amount of money”, noting with some amazement – justified amazement – that he then heard that someone had offered $750,000 for that very same amp. “I mean, that much money for an amp!? No way. No way! That guy must have been fucking with me.”
No way, indeed, but is this where the overheated market for second-hand vintage boutique amps is headed, where added celebrity cache can inflate prices towards such sums?
Surely not. This has to be a freak case, or maybe Hammett was having his leg pulled. There were no archived auctions that would even get close to such a figure.
But continuing in the Dumble theme, Robben Ford’s 1966 Fender Super Reverb amp, serviced by Alexander Dumble is up for sale on Reverb for £12,698.18.
The amp comes with service notes from Dumble himself, who notes that he left the amplifier as stock but give it a thorough service, using higher quality filter and cathode bypass capacitors installed “which cleaned up the ‘tubby bass’ sounds”. The note states that a more comprehensive job on the amplifiers was stymied by Ford’s touring schedule.
You can check out the listing here. Now, this is expensive, but given what Hammett has just said, maybe we should be looking at this as a bargain.