Watch the moment John Mayer’s Dumble Overdrive Special breaks mid-song – and gets replaced with another Dumble

John Mayer
(Image credit: Justin Jeske/YouTube)

It's perhaps a performing guitarist’s worst nightmare: to be mid-song in front of a live audience, gearing up to launch into some fretboard fireworks on your electric guitar, only to find your guitar amp has completely packed it in. Kaput. Dead. Finished.

For amateurs and semi-pros, the ensuing response would probably be something similar. A few stressful moments of shock, followed by some frantic, last-ditch attempt to salvage your sound from the jaws of defeat.

For John Mayer, however, it was a totally different tale, one that he was forced to experience during a gig with Dead & Company when his $200,000 pride-and-joy Dumble inexplicably broke on stage.

As discussed by YouTuber Justin Jeske, the concert in question took place on September 17 earlier this year, during Dead & Company’s gig at Wrigley Field, Chicago. After flexing some supremely dynamic playing on the ‘board of his PRS Silver Sky for Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Mayer can be seen momentarily rolling down his volume knob for some vocal passages.

Upon cranking his volume back up, however, an audible pop precedes a few moments of panic for Mayer, who quickly comes to terms with the predicament he’s in: his Dumbleland Overdrive Special, serial number 006, has bowed out for the evening.

How does Mayer respond to the setback? By keeping proceedings as professional as ever, of course. Oh, and by having a spare Dumble handy, ready to be brought onto the stage. That also helped.

After summoning his guitar tech Jeremy Nielsen to appraise the situation, the pair make the decision to whisk off the Overdrive Special and replace it with another Dumbleland, which sported the serial number 009.

The amp wasn’t the only piece of gear that was swapped out, either, with Mayer also deciding to briefly hang up his PRS Silver Sky in favor of his PRS McCarty 594 “Honey”, before reverting back to the Silver Sky for the remainder of the track.

We know we described having an amp break mid-gig as a guitarist’s worst nightmare – but the knowledge you have a high-end Dumble waiting in the wings probably makes the situation ever-so-slightly less traumatic.

To be fair, Nielsen could have brought on a Roland combo and Mayer still would have sounded spectacular. After all, the Sob Rock mastermind was recently spotted playing an Epiphone Les Paul through that exact amp, and it sounded, well, exactly like Mayer.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.