3RD Power Wooly Coats Spanky vs Z-Lux vs…? (fender-ish 1x12 combo w/MV and a mid control)

Stikoun

Member
Messages
517
The main criteria in the title, but let me elaborate.

I gig regularly, and I have several nice amps, but none of them do the Fender thing. How could they - they’re all EL84-based: DR Z Maz 18, 65 Amps Lil’ Elvis, AC15C1, Pro Jr.

I need another amp like I need a hole in my head, but I don’t think I’ll be able to live without a Fender-style amp much longer. Notice how vague I’m being about what I mean by “Fender-style”. That’s because I love all the eras - blackface, brownface, tweed, you name it. That said, non-MV amps are of limited use to me, because I sometimes play venues with a bit ridiculous volume limitations, and I want to be able to get the amp to the point of breakup at any volume. That’s why I’m looking at modern variations on the BF theme, but not strictly BF.

This is what I want from my future “fendery amp”:

- a 1x12 combo with a master volume that doesn’t completely “kill the vibe”
- a mid control that would allow me to choose between a scooped and not-so-scooped sound
- pedal-friednly - for example, to my ears, a stock DRRI makes most drive pedals sound fizzy, mostly because of the bright cap - I would like to have some Fender sparkle without making every drive pedal buzz like a beehive
- lighter = better - I gig a lot, and lugging heavy gear gets real old real fast

I’ve been looking for quite some time, and these two amps keep coming back as worthy candidates:

3rd Power Wooly Coats Spanky Mk II - honestly, if I were to make an order today, this would be it. I really like how it sounds in online demos. The master volume seems to work very well, the mid control seems very effective, it’s light, it doesn't fart out when overdriven like the DRRI sometimes does. It simply ticks all the boxes. But then there’s:

Dr Z Z-Lux - I have a Maz 18, and I consider it the most pedal-friendly amp I’ve ever played through. The Z-Lux has a similar preamp topology to the Maz, so with the Z-Lux I know the amp will be as pedal-friednly as they come. The downside is that… well, I already have a Maz, so in a way I’m thinking that the Z-Lux might be too similar to scratch the Fender itch.

What do you think? Anybody tried both? Which one would you choose? And then there is the typical TGP can of worms: I’m sure that there are other amps that meet the criteria. What other amps should I look at?
 

Troglite

Member
Messages
413
I looked for a long time. Came down to a Magnatone Twilighter, 3rd power wooly coats, or a matchless Laurel canyon.

I went with the Matchless and couldn’t be happier. My friend recently picked up a used Twilighter. I have no regrets. But I think I would have been just as happy with the 3rd power.
 

Stikoun

Member
Messages
517
I looked for a long time. Came down to a Magnatone Twilighter, 3rd power wooly coats, or a matchless Laurel canyon.

I went with the Matchless and couldn’t be happier. My friend recently picked up a used Twilighter. I have no regrets. But I think I would have been just as happy with the 3rd power.
Didn’t know about the Laurel Canyon! Every Matchless I've ever heard sounded amazing, but I guess I pigeonholed them as mostly Vox-derived. A quick search tells me the LC is both heavier and more expensive than the 3rd Power, but the weight is still manageable, right? A great suggestion!
 

Troglite

Member
Messages
413
It is small but heavy, no doubt.

The laurel canyon has its own voice, but it’s fair to say it has some vox-like chime and a strong but tight bottom end. It’s not scooped, so the mids remind me more of an ampeg than a blackface … which in my book is high praise.

It’s fairly low gain but gets crunchy. Takes pedals well. I have a bright nos tube in V1 and a darker tube in V2. This works well for me as I get a brighter clean tone, but the highs roll off as more gain is added.
 

Stikoun

Member
Messages
517
I have a bright nos tube in V1 and a darker tube in V2. This works well for me as I get a brighter clean tone, but the highs roll off as more gain is added.
A clever trick! I'll be sure to try this approach, because I like sparkly cleans, but I can't stand fizzy overdriven sounds.
 

jamester

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,812
3rd Power Wooly Coats Spanky Mk II - honestly, if I were to make an order today, this would be it. I really like how it sounds in online demos. The master volume seems to work very well, the mid control seems very effective, it’s light, it doesn't fart out when overdriven like the DRRI sometimes does. It simply ticks all the boxes.
This is my main amp, and your description is right on. It's exactly the "F style" amp that I'd been wanting for a long time and I love it.

My only criticism would be that the reverb has a bit too long a tail for my taste, but it's not an issue because I prefer to use my Flint for plate reverb with all my amps. I've never been much into spring reverb, and it was not even a consideration when deciding on this amp.
 

beboy711

Member
Messages
87
You’ve just described what the 3rd Power Wooly Coats is to me, OP. Only thing I would say is keep your expectations realistic. The mid knob gets “tweedy” but it’s not at all like the real thing. I keep my mid knob at about 10 o’clock for a blackface flavor and it nails that well. And like the person above me, I like more control over my reverb. The reverb on the amp is just a tad bit too long for my tastes, but I do like to dial a lot of it in. That’s what the Flint is for.
 

Stikoun

Member
Messages
517
You’ve just described what the 3rd Power Wooly Coats is to me, OP. Only thing I would say is keep your expectations realistic. The mid knob gets “tweedy” but it’s not at all like the real thing. I keep my mid knob at about 10 o’clock for a blackface flavor and it nails that well. And like the person above me, I like more control over my reverb. The reverb on the amp is just a tad bit too long for my tastes, but I do like to dial a lot of it in. That’s what the Flint is for.
It really sounds like the Wooly Coats is the amp for me. And of course you're right, one cannot expect a mid control to magically turn a blackface type circuit into a tweed one. I just like to be able to dial in a little more midrange than a typical BF amp has to offer - I don't really expect a tweed sound, more like a BF sound with slightly fuller midrange. After all, I mentioned pedal-friendliness as one of the things I'm after, and really scooped midrange doesn't typically make for a good pedal amp IME.

Which brings me to the question - how well do you find it responds to OD pedals? Do you have to work hard to prevent them from sounding fizzy (this is a problem I have with a stock DRRI, although it can be fixed pretty easily)?
 
Last edited:

jim lavender

Member
Messages
1,223
It really sounds like the Wooly Coats is the amp for me. And of course you're right, one cannot expect a mid control to magically turn a blackface type circuit into a tweed one. I just like to be able to dial in a little more midrange than a typical BF amp has to offer - I don't really expect a tweed sound, more like a BF sound with slightly fuller midrange. After all, I mentioned pedal-friendliness as one of the things I'm after, and really scooped midrange doesn't typically make for a good pedal amp IME.

Which brings me to the question - how well do you find it responds to OD pedals? Do you have to work hard to prevent them from sounding fizzy (this is a problem I have with a stock DRRI, although it can be fixed pretty easily)?
Just wanted to chime in with an oddball suggestion but you might want to give the Quilter Aviator Cub a test run. I'm a Fender guy all the way and have been blessed with some great Blackface amps (Louis Deltone, Vintage Sound 15, Lil Dawg WonderDawg) . While the Quilter doesn't get you all the way there, it offers a ton of clean headroom ,a mid knob and has tweed, blonde, and blackface voices. It's feather Light and cost a third of your other options. I've A/B'd it with my other amps and really dig it .
 

silver surfer

Member
Messages
2,103
I am on a similar search and ran across the IronHorse Heritage amps. Has mid and master, but no reverb. A lot of demos on YouTube by Gary Roberts (Groberts on TGP). The Extra Spanky MKii and new 6VEL is also on my list).
 

Stikoun

Member
Messages
517
Just wanted to chime in with an oddball suggestion but you might want to give the Quilter Aviator Cub a test run. I'm a Fender guy all the way and have been blessed with some great Blackface amps (Louis Deltone, Vintage Sound 15, Lil Dawg WonderDawg) . While the Quilter doesn't get you all the way there, it offers a ton of clean headroom ,a mid knob and has tweed, blonde, and blackface voices. It's feather Light and cost a third of your other options. I've A/B'd it with my other amps and really dig it .
Very interesting! I'm a sucker for lightweight amps, simply because I have to carry mine so often. I've never actually played through a Quilter, but they've been really popular lately, and I'm sure it's more than just hype.

Btw seeing you have a Vintage Sound 15, which would be on my list if I didn't want a master volume, your paise for the Quilter is a strong endorsement!
 

jkg

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,369
Another option would be a 65 amps Tupelo if you can find one used.
 

Stikoun

Member
Messages
517
Another option would be a 65 amps Tupelo if you can find one used.
Well, I love my 65 Amps Lil' Elvis. Just spent about 3 hours playing through it almost cranked. My ears are ringing but there's a smile on my face. I'm sure the Tupelo is just as good!
 
  • Like
Reactions: jkg

jamester

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,812
I just like to be able to dial in a little more midrange than a typical BF amp has to offer - I don't really expect a tweed sound, more like a BF sound with slightly fuller midrange.
This is exactly what it does. They claim "tweed" tone but it's not IMO, it's more about being able to fill in the mids to fit your taste and compliment your instrument, while retaining a BF sound overall. I basically have mine in the 9-11:00 range, a little more or less to suit the guitar I'm playing.

Which brings me to the question - how well do you find it responds to OD pedals? Do you have to work hard to prevent them from sounding fizzy (this is a problem I have with a stock DRRI, although it can be fixed pretty easily)?
This amp eats pedals alive! Between the gain control, mids knob and the treble damping knob on the back, I think you would have to actually work at making it fizzy. I'm all about a fat, punchy F-tone and this is why I love this amp so much.

There's really no comparing it to a DRRI IMHO. Nothing wrong with them, but they are what they are. With the WC Spanky, you have the control to make it what you want it to be...
 

sanhozay

klon free since 2009
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
12,275
I have a 3rd power dream weaver - I think it's the mk11; no verb. incredible amp! literally, three amps in one. I'm going through a closed back cab with one 1x12 heritage greenback. I am looking at a grab and go from 3rd power and it's a bit overwhelming. there's no way to play one - although I think sound pure has a program. the hybrid master is genius. DNS is a total superstar! everything she designs & builds is off the charts amazing. the only issue I have would be for servicing should I need it. I'm easy on my stuff but once you start moving amps the gremlins are never far behind
 

jim lavender

Member
Messages
1,223
Very interesting! I'm a sucker for lightweight amps, simply because I have to carry mine so often. I've never actually played through a Quilter, but they've been really popular lately, and I'm sure it's more than just hype.

Btw seeing you have a Vintage Sound 15, which would be on my list if I didn't want a master volume, your paise for the Quilter is a strong endorsement!
I just took it to jam with a drummer and after playing for about three hours I remain happy with the amp. I love it’s clean headroom and I goosed it with a Wampler Belle which is a Nobels ODR type pedal. I mostly used the Blonde input today and ran some slap back delay as well. While I won’t be selling my other amps the Quilter gets me where I want to go and I would gladly take it to the gig. Good luck with your search
 

Prince

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,966
I have a Wooly Coats Spanky MKII and I fully recommend it.
-Mids control doesn't get Tweedy, rather it just adds a lot more range and control over your tone.
-Mids control does have a greater/more Tweedy effect when using humbuckers rather than single coils.
-Amp gets some good but not great overdriven tones, but excels at cleans and edge-of-breakup tones.
-Master Volume is perfect and highly usable.
-Reverb: I have no problems with the tail length, rather I feel it lacks the depth/level that my PRRI can reach. Compared to the PRRI, the Spanky's Reverb is pretty subtle.
-GA-SC64 is a phenomenal speaker, but I might consider swapping it out for the alnico GA-SC59.
-High quality amp with top notch customer service.
 

Stikoun

Member
Messages
517
-Amp gets some good but not great overdriven tones, but excels at cleans and edge-of-breakup tones.
Interesting! The overdriven tones I hear in online demos of this amp sound really good to me! Then again, I almost always dial in gain that is low enough to clean up with pick attack, so maybe what I call "overdrive" is what you call "edge-of-breakup". Do you prefer overdriven tones you get when pushing the amp with pedals then?
 




Trending Topics

Top Bottom