School me on Dr. Z amps

TelePrankster

Member
Messages
989
I live in Italy and it's not easy (at least for me) to find one of these amps in a shop. I always wanted to try one of them but didn't have the chance. Are they SO good? Are they marketed for specific genres/guitars etc. or they're good all around?
I spent some time on Dr. Z website but I'd like to hear some comments from people who actually use one of them.
Thanks.
 

paddywhack

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,256
...they're great amps and there are a lot of different models to choose from....i've had about 8 or 9 different models...they have a great forum where you can find lots of info about the different models from players that use them...

http://ztalk.proboards.com

...my favorite Z is a Carmen Ghia...a two knob tone chameleon that can dial in any guitar in seconds...heres a video of one by a great guitar player....in this video he's just using a Les Paul but there are lots of Dr Z vids with other amps players and guitars..

 
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btjguitarman

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,033
Great amps, built like tanks, sound killer, and are loud. I had a Maz jr for a while which is their bestseller for good reason- SUPER versatile, sounds great anywhere on the volume dial, breaks up nicely but can pull some very nice cleans as well. The only reason I sold it was because I fell in love with the Suhr Bella and was looking for some more of that fendery sparkle. I've owned the Maz jr, played the Ghia, Z-Lux, Maz Sr, M12, Maz 8, and Route 66 and liked most of them (M12 and Maz 8 felt a little flat and uninspiring to me). They are very much worth the money and the customer service is excellent from what I've observed. Lots of demos linked to their site. Also check out the Z-talk forum... admittedly it's a bit fanboyish but it'll give you some good info.
 

SirGilmour

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,046
Well built. Loud. Best value in the boutique word.

Favorites? Carmen Ghia and Route 66.

Least favorites? Mini Z and M12
 
Messages
4,819
I have limited experience, but the Rte. 66 impressed me the most. If you are looking for a lower output amp, then don't go for this one. The circuit is different from the old Fender Bassman, but the sounds remind me of a strong 5F6A.
 

calfzilla

Cynical Hack
Messages
3,873
Except for a few models, they tend to get flipped a lot. That's no knock on their build or tonal quality. Each amp just usually has a specific sonic realm it likes to inhabit (from what I can gather) and, being hunter/gatherer/nomadic types, we like to play with knobs and buttons and love new sounds, so sometimes the "least flexible" thing goes out the door. Of course, everyone who's ever had a Carmen Ghia and sold it has always said "man, I wish I had that amp back". The Therapy and Antidote seem to be two of the least flipped Z amps. Some Z's are for cleans, some are for your mid gain, some are a little higher stuff. They are definitely fun amps. I had an original Rx that I'll regret ever having to let go. If I had the spare cash, I wouldn't hesitate to pick up a Ghia, a Therapy, or (if I was oh so lucky) a Mazerati.
 

bgio

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,087
As others have stated, they really tend to have their own thing going. That combined with having so many different models can make it hard to choose one, in my experience. I have liked all of them that I have plugged into save the Mini-Z.

That being said, I currently own a 2x10 Z-28 and that amp won't be going anywhere. It's the best amp I've played a Tele through. Also really like the Route 66 and Z-Wreck. Just haven't gotten around to saving up to buy either yet.
 

tele_jas

Member
Messages
3,730
I'd qualify as one of those Z-Fanboy's someone spoke about earlier ;)

I've been playing Z's for 10 years now, and I've owned about every EL84 offering Dr. Z has had out (except the Maz 8, M12, Maz GT and Monza)
Maz Jr
Maz Sr
Mazerati
Ghia
RxES
Rx (no ES)
RxJr
StangRay (currently on my 3rd one)
Z-Wreck

What can I tell you about these? They're all, loosely, based off an AC30 circuit....Some have other "flavors" (Fender, Marshall) thrown in there too and some are more AC30 with the Dr's twist on them.

My favorites are the top three on my list below:
StangRay - is like a good, "clean" AC30 with about double the low end available. One of the BEST clean tones you'll ever hear. Everytime I sell one, I get another one.
Z-Wreck - is closer to a "classic" AC30, but with more girth and attitude. Just an all around amazing amp. THE one amp I wish I didn't let get away, but I still like the StantRay better.
Maz Jr (Maz18) - It's like a good AC30 and a Fender Deluxe mixed together, with a hit of classic Marshall (all in the mid and cut knobs) - and all at 18w + a great master volume
Maz Sr - just a beefed up Maz Jr (double the power)
Mazerati - Very simple, clean, loud, stiff amp.. One of the best "pedal" amps I've played. Based off the non-topboost side of an AC30
Ghia - Started as a lower powered Mazerati (or actually the other way around, the Mazerati was labeled as a double powered Ghia). I found this close to the Marsahll 1974x I had, slightly darker and lower headroom - The Ghia is my least favorite Z, but is one if his #1 selling amps to this day.
RxES and RxJr - Both bright and percussive amps and have some AC30 chime, but Marshall grind. The Jr has a master volume and is 15-ish watts, where the ES is 45 watts (and no master volume). Both have a gain boost switch
Rx (non ES) - Very similar to the ES, but not as "hi-fi" sounding and a stronger mid-range. Also has a gain boost (expand) switch.

Most of these fit into the realm of "Clean to clean with a bit of grit".....But crank any of these and you'll get a good overdrive tone. Well, the StangRay may not get a much as the rest, but something like the Z-Wreck sounds better than any overdrive pedal you could ever use, with the Maz Jr right behind it. Even though I didn't bond with the Ghia, it had an amazing overdrive sound..... I'd almost keep that amp for just that tone.

Some other things to consider, if you don't have access to EF86 tubes... The StangRay, RxES and RxJr all use an EF86 which can be pricey for a good NOS one.

You'll also see some mention of a Stingray...This is the same amp as the StangRay, just had to change names due to another company already having a product called a "Stingray" (Music Man "Stingray" Bass guitar). There was also 1 or 2 MantaRay's in the transition, before StangRay stuck.

I haven't tried any of his other amps, yet.... Would love to try a Z-Lux (Blackface Fender tone, on steroids).

Also, most of these amps listed don't have an master volume (with the exception of the Maz Jr/Sr & RxJr)....So, you'll need an attenuator for home playing or small-medium gigs if you like to turn them up to get "gritty".
 
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rhinocaster

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
23,131
Sir Gilmour nailed it...they really are best bang for the buck. And the bang is righteous!
 
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DrainBamage

Member
Messages
2,388
Dr Z is the mad scientist who often takes the head of a Fox and grafts it to the rear of a Cardinal err I mean the preamp of a Vox and sticks it to the power section of a Marshall or vice versa. Zs are kind of a mix up of a lot of great classic amps on quite a few models.
 

el34junior

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
410
Great amps.. Route 66 is the best one of them all..
Except for that amp they are EQ'd bright..
Not a bad thing unless you're me.. You'll never take a big hit if you don't like a Z amp.
Good resale, about as good as it gets..
 

communarchy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
606
Great amps.. Route 66 is the best one of them all..
Except for that amp they are EQ'd bright..
Not a bad thing unless you're me.. You'll never take a big hit if you don't like a Z amp.
Good resale, about as good as it gets..

I agree with what most of the folks have said. Note, some bad cat is PC board, hence the price difference in some models. This is not the case with ANY Dr. Z. Everything is built by hand, in house, on hand drilled turret board for approaching 30 years.

Feel free to ask me any questions. SEE SIGNATURE. Indeed, they are EQ'ed bright, to sit in a mix. They will shine in a live situation without any problem and need minimal EQ(if any) in a recording mix because of that voicing. The Doc is a drummer, not a guitarist, so his ear is tuned to getting the guitar to sit in the mix against a loud drummer, within the din of a rock n roll club. If you are an "at home" player, we have superb attenuators... or load your cab with a creamback or greenback or eminence Z12, and you'll be fine, as our customers will attest.

Since we use custom cut, medical grade aluminum for our chassises, you'll experience signal clarity like you have likely never heard before. Play an open chord at any volume, dirty or clean, and hear harmonics sustain and sing. It's the mark of a Z. That's not hyperbole, every amp that leaves the shop gets play-tested to that standard.
 
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taken

Member
Messages
151
I never really paid them much attention until I tried a Maz 38 at a local shop one day. Absolutely floored me. I think it was the best guitar straight into amp tone I've ever heard. The reverb on it sounded really nice too.
 
Messages
99
Probably the best amp maker out there. The guy's constantly delving into new tone palates. Built like tanks and he's got tons of distinct models to choose from. Doc's been in business a long time and his designs have stood the test of time. I can't think of a more prolific boutique builder out there with as many models. Some of the best amps I've ever played. I still get chills when I play a Dr Z Stangray... it turns your telecaster into a grand piano of chime with such authority to the tone.
BTW.... im in the market for Dr Z again.. I'm down to one amp, though it's a beauty by divided by 13.
 




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