Ten years ago Dr. Z launched the original Z Wreck amplifier in close collaboration with the late Ken Fischer of Trainwreck Amps and Brad Paisley, who collectively parlayed their deep experience and passion for tone to assist Z in creating the Z Wreck. Even in the midst of our troubles here in America, Z found time to build and ship a Z Wreck Jr. for review. Respect…
The Z Wreck Junior is a half-powered version of the 30 watt original with a post phase inverter master volume circuit found in the Dr. Z MAZ amps, Jetta and Nova that in Z’s words, “Controls loudness without compromising the character and harmonic overtones of the original Z Wreck.” Z uses the same turret board construction and aircraft grade aluminum chassis of the original Z Wreck, with excellent reissue Tung Sol preamp tubes and NOS military grade Russian 6N14N (EL84) power tubes as originally specified by Ken Fischer, with a 5Y3 rectifier reproducing the plate voltages and tactile bloom of the original amp.
At 44 lbs. this amplifier is solidly built, yet still a portable one-hander, and when pulling the chassis for pictures we noted how smoothly and tight everything went together. The hand wired chassis layout is meticulously crafted with premium Sprague Atom and Mallory 150 caps, and Z’s selection of a Celestion Greenback seemed perfect for this 15 watt amp.
Our first impression was just how formidable and seemingly bold the Junior is. You won’t be thinking “Junior” when you plug in… The Z Wreck possesses a strong fundamental tone that frankly sounds more like 20 or 25 watts. Headroom is adequate for cleaner rhythm playing in a full band setting with the Volume and Master controls set roughly equal at or below 6. Advancing the Master Volume creates a gradually more intense overdriven tone that can be dramatically ramped up and boosted with the Volume control.
The overdriven sound ranges from subtle and suggestive with a rich edge, to a hotter burn that is pure and melodious even at higher settings with intense sustain. You get no dissonant distorted tones from this amp whatsoever. Managing the Master Volume, you can also
acquire a solid overdriven sound at lower volume settings. Bass and Treble controls set EQ with precision, and the Presence control shapes brightness and shimmer. This amp is also very touch sensitive and emotive, making it suitable for bluesy rhythms and solos with cleaner tones and less grit, to full on rockers with a steady burn. Call it versatile to the extreme. In terms of overall tonality, we would classify the Z Wreck as being more in the vein of a Marshall 20 watt amp than a Fender, yet clean tones are far more abundant than anything Marshall ever built. Perhaps we should call the Z Wreck Jr. a versatile chameleon… Quest forth… TQ
1×12 Combo $1899, $1649 Head