Dr. Z Amps - The Boutique Amplifier

The Boutique Amplifier - Dr. Z Amps

For all your tubular amplifier needs, Midwood is proud to offer Dr. Z Amps. As the son of a 1950s television repairman, Michael Zaite grew up surrounded by vacuum tubes. As a teen, he was a drummer in garage bands, and performed modifications on his bandmate's amps. He went on to pursue a career in electronics, focusing on medical equipment (thus the “Dr.” moniker). Though the technology of his day was largely transistor-based, Zaite still harbored a more-than-sentimental attachment to tubes, especially in a musical context. In the late 80s, he began repairing and modifying amplifiers for blues musicians in the Cleveland area, and before long, he developed his own prototype out of a former Hammond organ reverb amp. Through a mutual friendship, Zaite conveyed one of his amps to Joe Walsh of The Eagles around 1990. It’s clear, articulate, Vox-inspired tone won him over and it became his go-to touring amp. Dr. Z was in business!

It is the seemingly effortless pairing of simplicity and originality that makes Dr. Z Amps so special. For example, the first amp to bear his name, the Carmen Gia, is an 18-watt, EL-84 masterpiece with nothing but a tone and volume knob. A broad dynamic range is hidden within these simple controls. The louder it gets, the more each note blooms. It retains complexity while cutting beautifully through a mix. What more do you need?

Inspired by the success of the Carmen Gia, Z Amps gradually advanced and expanded his company and catalogue to include a dedicated team of amp-smiths and 14 different models. They also boast a back catalogue of designs that they occasionally resurrect upon request. Each builder specializes in certain models to increase efficiency and keep costs low. They are still located in Cleveland, Ohio.

One of Midwood’s favorite Dr Z Amps is the Jetta. This amp uniquely features 7591 power tubes, the kind they put in old Ampeg's. Its voicing is uncannily hi-fi, foregrounding and fortifying your guitar’s natural tone. It’s also the most affordable amp in the Dr. Z line.

No stranger to artist endorsement and collaboration, Dr. Z also makes an amp designed for Brad Paisley that he conceived of with the late founder of Trainwreck amps, Ken Fischer. Upon Fischer’s death, he shelved the “Z-Wreck” as a production unit, but the 2010 Nashville flood destroyed the original, and the good doctor was obliged to build another one for Mr. Paisley. At that point, he decided to start building them for the public as well. Two of the Z-Wreck’s most desirable features are a comfort/speed voltage tap switch and rare, NOS 6n14n power tubes, which are long-lasting, sweet, and articulate drop-ins for EL-84s.

Midwood is beyond proud to join the Dr. Z Amplification family of dealers, and we cannot get enough of the amps we’ve received so far. A long history of listening, learning, and creating has resulted in a line that stands distinguished among its rivals. These are the amps that offered reliability and sparkling clean headroom in an era when established artists were just beginning to embrace “boutique” over “vintage”. These are amps that draw from vintage tube-amp history while still being uniquely themselves. Our shared values and insatiable appetites for tonal invention make Dr. Z Amps and Midwood Guitar Studio a perfectly matched pair. Stop by and play one today!

Mar 4th 2020 Robinson Earle

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