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View Full Version : DR Z Carmen Ghia & Dr Z Maz 18 (my review)


Mika
11-03-2011, 02:14 PM
I have finally been able to own both these amps, and put them both through the works to see not which is better but to see which I prefer and for what.

To start they both are really great amps, but both have cons (possibly not universal issues but I will share what is wrong in my view with the models I own)

Dr Z Carmen Ghia. 18 watts. A loud 18 watts, that could be used for a gig, and even unmic'd gigs. But Do Not expect a clean sound. The amps natural overdrive is the best thing about this amp. It compresses beautifully and allows guitars especially single coils to breath and shine through.
Due to the fact it runs so hot it does sizzle a bit at gig volumes but nothing distracting. Using a reverb pedal is a bit hard as it increases the noise at higher volumes.... but what you get is GREAT overdrive. With pedals its great, overdrives especially. Fuzz (in my case a EQD tone reaper) can get a bit muffled (but you just have to correct with settings.

Dr Z Maz 18. 18 watts. more like 30. More volume, but not a great deal more. slightly cleaner, gives great edge of breakup sound, and if pushed with pedals (which is takes great) gets more mean.
This is in my opinion for me a better gigging amp, seems to just cater to a gigging musicians on the go. Whie the ghia is more of a Studio amp (but still super gig ready. The Maz's reverb is noisy (probably a tube that needs fixing) which I will do soon. Other than that there is very little to criticise except the Tube Rectifier blew very quick, and so did the Tube rectifer in the Carmen Ghia.

All in all Both are great amps, I think I prefer the Maz a bit more for its open dynamics and being a little less compressed. the ghia would work for a band, but a very specific sound, while the Maz genre hops a bit more in my opinion.

Advice: get both heads and one cab... then you have both in an easy etup, get them second hand.

tele_jas
11-03-2011, 02:38 PM
I've owned both amps and currently still have the Maz Jr NR. I don't have the noise issue with the reverb, so I have absolutely no complaints.

I'll agree with everything you've said here. The Maz Jr is my "go to" amp for most gigs... My Hayseed is still my #1 as for the tone I like, but the Maz is a little more gig friendly and easier to load in and load out (compared to an 80 pound combo).

The Ghia was a "darker" amp and the Maz Jr is about the perfect balance, once I finally got a decent cab. I played both through the same speaker (Weber Alnico Blue Dog) and the Maz just does "it" for me. The Mid control is powerful, works great to dial in different pickup configurations (along with the cut). If I played "overdriven" all the time, the Ghia would have probably stayed.... But I needed a cleaner tone. But you are correct, the Ghia has one of the sweetest overdriven tones I've ever heard.

I've said it before, I'll say it again... the Maz Jr reminds me of what it would sound like if the Dr (Z) took a Deluxe Reverb and an AC30 and blended the best qualities of both in to one amp. You get the Fender spank with the AC30 chime and grunt (when turned up).

smolder
11-03-2011, 02:41 PM
Cool Mika. Did you have them shipped to you? Odd that both recs would blow. I don't think I've ever even had a single rectifier blow in the 4-5 years I've been messing with tube amps. Maybe they were jared in shipping.

Great description. I had these two amps in the head version at the same time fro a while. If you haven't heard by now, an alnico speaker, especially the celestion blue is a killer match for the ghia. Cranking those tone knobs full on on the Maz will get you into marshall territory very quickly.

Have you tried them together? I really like supporting an amp that breaks up like the ghia with a complementary clean amp. It really makes is it sound huge.

hdahs143
11-03-2011, 02:46 PM
Both great amps. If you haven't had a rec tube blow in 4-5 years, you've been lucky, because most of the currently produced tubes are crap. The Sovtek got so bad I quit stocking it. Have had pretty good luck with JJ and TAD 5AR4/GZ34 types.

tele_jas
11-03-2011, 02:57 PM
Both great amps. If you haven't had a rec tube blow in 4-5 years, you've been lucky, because most of the currently produced tubes are crap. The Sovtek got so bad I quit stocking it. Have had pretty good luck with JJ and TAD 5AR4/GZ34 types.

I've played tube amps since 1993 and have only had one rectifier tube blow in 18 years and that was right after I received one of my amps (via UPS) and turned it on.. It took out the power tubes, fuses and the screen resistor grid (does that sound right?).

big mike
11-03-2011, 03:14 PM
Never had a maz, but I had a Ghia, and an early Mazerati. (and a Z28 my favorite of the 3).

LOVED the Ghia. (Wonder why I sold it ....damn gas probably). Sucha simple no frills tone machine. With buckers, it was much more my style. Ride the volume control and maybe kick it with a boost if needed.

smolder
11-03-2011, 03:35 PM
Both great amps. If you haven't had a rec tube blow in 4-5 years, you've been lucky, because most of the currently produced tubes are crap. The Sovtek got so bad I quit stocking it. Have had pretty good luck with JJ and TAD 5AR4/GZ34 types.

I've got a couple of new production rectifiers that have come in amps I've purchased, but I don't use them. NOS is the only way to go... it cost to much over the long haul with newer tubes.

Never had a maz, but I had a Ghia, and an early Mazerati. (and a Z28 my favorite of the 3).

Me too... still have a Ghia and really like the Z28, it's my most played amp right now. I'd like to revisit the Maz as its been a few years, and I know a heck of a lot more now.

stephenyi
11-03-2011, 03:42 PM
I have owned a Maz Jr 2x10 combo and now own a Carmen Ghia head. The Maz was a great amp but I was never in love with the reverb or master volume. I agree that the Maz is more versatile (loved the cut control) but I prefer the simplicity and pure tone of the Ghia.

Dave_C
11-03-2011, 06:21 PM
Strange, I've had a Maz 18 Jr NR since 2002 and have nothing but Sovtek 5AR4s in it and have never had one blow. Tried a $250 NOS Mullard in it and actually preferred the Sovtek! Yeah, I must be :nuts.

Mika
11-03-2011, 08:02 PM
I have a NOS rectifier in the maz now and lets hope i lasts a long time...

Mickey64
11-07-2011, 02:58 PM
Strange, I've had a Maz 18 Jr NR since 2002 and have nothing but Sovtek 5AR4s in it and have never had one blow. Tried a $250 NOS Mullard in it and actually preferred the Sovtek! Yeah, I must be :nuts.

I own a Maz 38 in which I tried a NOS Mullard GZ34 rectifier which I bought specifically for that amp. After one gig I put the Sovtek back in, I just preferred the feel of the amp with that tube. I replaced it with another Sovtek when I changed the power tubes, and haven't had any problems. Also, my Ghia came with a NOS rectifier, a GE 5Y3GT; I thought they all did.

Dave_C
11-07-2011, 03:03 PM
I own a Maz 38 in which I tried a NOS Mullard GZ34 rectifier which I bought specifically for that amp. After one gig I put the Sovtek back in, I just preferred the feel of the amp with that tube. I replaced it with another Sovtek when I changed the power tubes, and haven't had any problems. Also, my Ghia came with a NOS rectifier, a GE 5Y3GT; I thought they all did.

What didn't you like about the NOS Mullard? I felt the amp got mushy and lost all its balls when cranked with the NOS Mullard in there. I had a hard time believing what I heard and went back-n-forth a bunch of times to confirm it.

If the Russians are using "crap" materials, it sure turned out to be a happy accident in my case!

aarondavis
11-07-2011, 03:09 PM
Yeah, from what I've read, rectifier tubes either work or they don't. Not much inbetween. Altough Dr. Z does do a great job of picking tubes for his production amps (not just throw in Sovtek or JJ everything, there's a some R&D on the ones to use) you could have simply gotten some bad tubes. Good luck with the NOS one.

big mike
11-07-2011, 03:16 PM
very likely the mullard voltage drop is quite a difference from the Sovtek, thus the percieved changed.

One of these days I'm going to compare voltage readings from a REAL GE 5AR4 verses a Sovtek and see how much differecne there is. I bet the Sovtek is 10 volts hotter at least, huge change.

Dave_C
11-07-2011, 03:27 PM
very likely the mullard voltage drop is quite a difference from the Sovtek, thus the percieved changed.

One of these days I'm going to compare voltage readings from a REAL GE 5AR4 verses a Sovtek and see how much differecne there is. I bet the Sovtek is 10 volts hotter at least, huge change.

Yep, this is what I assumed too. It was almost like going from a 5AR4 to 5Y3...or like going from SS to 5AR4 (which I was able to do realtime on my Hot Cat). If the amps in question were designed and voiced with the [probably] higher voltage of the Sovtek, then moving to NOS will move you away from the original voicing of the amp...not really the "happy accident" I unthoughtfully posited earlier!

Mickey64
11-28-2011, 12:38 AM
What didn't you like about the NOS Mullard? I felt the amp got mushy and lost all its balls when cranked with the NOS Mullard in there. I had a hard time believing what I heard and went back-n-forth a bunch of times to confirm it.

If the Russians are using "crap" materials, it sure turned out to be a happy accident in my case!

Sorry about the delay in responding....well the Mullard made the amp sound a little harder and less responsive. The Sovtek produced a little more sag, maybe due to the fact that it's not so tightly within spec for that model rectifier. I think you guys have probably nailed it when you say the amp was designed around the Sovtek.

lakesider
11-28-2011, 07:06 AM
I have both amps too. You can get some great cleans out of a Ghia if you use the guitar's volume control.