Does the mythic quest for Dumble-style tones culminate in this boutique box?

The mythology that surrounds Alexander Dumble’s creations has led to an entire cottage industry of builders trying to replicate that sound, but without the five-figure price tag. Vertex Effects’ take on a Dumble Steel String Singer is billed as a “clean drive,” but I found the latter descriptor to be more apt. In addition to the volume and gain controls, there’s a filter knob that helps to focus the midrange.

I was quite surprised with how much gain the SS could churn out. In front of a clean amp, the pedal got very growly and, at times, heavy on the low end. Even with rather bright T-style pickups, I found myself fiddling with the filter control to help clear up some muddiness. The volume knob tended to really bring the best out when pushed past noon. The thick D-style feel and warm, smooth compression was there, but I think it really shined in rougher, grittier tones—with the gain knob at least at 2 o'clock. If your tastes are more Texas Flood than In Step, then the SS might be the best way to save $90,000 on your rig for the next blues jam.

Test gear: Schroeder Chopper TL, Gibson Les Paul, Fender ML212, Supro Statesman


Clips recorded with a Schroeder Chopper TL and Wooly Coats Spanky MkII.
Clip 1: All controls at noon.
Clip 2: Volume at 1 o'clock, filter at 3 o'clock, gain at 3 o'clock.


Ratings

Pros:
More versatile than I expected. Nice amount of gain.

Cons:
Somewhat unbalanced on the low end. Filter control is surprisingly subtle.

Street:
$199

Vertex Effects Steel String
vertexeffects.com

 

Tones:

Ease of Use:

Build/Design:

Value:

Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!

Read MoreShow less

Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.

Read MoreShow less

October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.

Read MoreShow less