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The Dr. Z Z-Wreck is the third collaboration between Dr. Z and Brad Paisley to create an amp with unparalleled touch response and tone. To achieve this, Dr. Z worked together with Ken Fischer (of Trainwreck fame) on the circuit, which features a transformer designed by Ken for Dr. Z. The circuit was meticulously laid out with great attention to detail and minimal wire lengths to squeeze every bit of potential out of it. The result was nothing short of extraordinary! The amp has an amazing amount of clarity and cut, but not so much that it's unforgiving. For such a high-end amp it's very controllable, which is not always the case (such as with the Dr. Z Stingray). This allows the guitar player to easily determine the amount of bite and grit by the degree of his pick attack.
Note: This Z-Wreck head features the half-power switch upgrade (+$200). As the name implies, this switch cuts the output in half allowing for that great Z-Wreck tone at lower volumes without the use of an Air Brake, Brake Lite, or any other attenuator.
With the addition of the half-power switch, the Speed/Comfort feature is disabled and the amp is continuously in the Speed mode. Across the board it has been practically unanimous that people like the Speed setting with the half-power switch better than Comfort.
At a little past 12 o'clock on the volume the amp seems to reach peak "loudness" and from then on the amp's volume knob seems to dial in more gain. Obviously this can also be altered by the volume on the guitar, but for the purpose of testing we mostly ran the guitar wide open. We should mention though that manipulations in the guitar's volume did yield good results, and not nearly the loss of tone and dynamics one would expect.
Overall, we were very impressed at the different achievable tones from the Z-Wreck. It's controls are deceptively simple, but incredibly interactive. We must say that we were happy to see a "cut" knob make an appearance on the Z wreck. This control seems to be the key on many of Dr.Z's offerings to dialing in the most desired tones. The "cut" allows you to pull out or accentuate some treble and upper mids, but it is subtle enough that it doesn't seem to really change the overall voice. You almost have to hear to understand. It's as though the desired frequencies can be found without changing the voicing of the amp, and that's harder to design in an amp than one might think.
The break up on the amp is very rich and never gets overwhelmingly dirty. As the volume is increased, it just seems to get more powerful. This allows the amp to stay easily usable at any volume and maintain the integrity of it's tone at every position of the knobs. Basically, the amp sounds great from low volumes to higher ones. It just gets louder, chimier, and fuller. The response sensitivity increases with the volume, but the amp still retains a percussiveness as well. It sounds incredibly big with the volume all the way up.
We think that this amp is not limited to a particular style. It equally at home with rock, country, blues, etc.
30 Watts (15 with half-power switch)
4 x 7189 (EL84's - Rare NOS Russian 6P14P-EV tubes)
3 x 12AX7
Volume, Bass, Treble, Cut
20 5/8" Wide x 9 1/2" Deep x 9 1/8" High, 32 lbs
Background Information About Z-Wreck
Starting in 2006 Brad Paisley contacted Dr Z about building another amp. After talking about the design and the desired outcome Z asked his friend Ken Fischer to lend a hand. Dr Z built up the prototype amp and sent it off to Ken. Ken did his thing to it and sent it back including naming the amp the Z Wreck. After a few more tweaks the amp was sent off to Brad and it has become a mainstay in his rig since 2006. When Ken passed away at the end of 2006, Dr Z put the amp on a shelf and walked away.
Over the past few years the Z Wreck was mentioned by Brad in various interviews and appeared on a few TV shows and of course quite a few album tracks. Dr Z got numerous requests to put the amp into production, but always declined. Fast forward to May 5th 2010 and the Nashville flood. Brad's original Z Wreck was not harmed in the flood, but all of his road amps were destroyed. Dr Z quickly built 2 replacement Z Wrecks for Brad as the show must go on. This got him thinking, why should such a fine sounding amp be left only for one person to play? With encouragement from Brad to release the amp Dr Z went over the notes he and Ken had exchanged via fax. Dr Z took into account all of the layout and design tweaks he could incorporate and laid the amp out on a clean sheet of paper with an all new aluminum chassis and birch head cabinet.
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Model:Z-Wreck Head - Half Power Switch -
Made In:United States