Have you heard about the Dr. Z Z Wreck Jr 1×12 combo amp, and do you know what makes it different from its big brother, the Z Wreck standalone head? This article will explain all that plus everything you want to know about its design and performance.
Who Is Dr. Z?
Hello again, my guitar fanatics, and welcome back to the lair! I know you couldn’t stay away long. Do you know who Dr. Z really is? Every once in a while, someone truly amazing comes along and blesses the guitar world with sonic riches. Today, the guest of honor is the good doctor. Read on to learn more.
Dr. Z is a corporation in Ohio that makes tube amps for guitar players. The CEO of this magnificent company is Michael Zaite (aka Dr. Z. Zaite), the son of a TV repairman who developed an interest in vacuum tubes. He worked as an electronic technician for GE Medical Systems while perfecting his amplifier design ideas and eventually built boutique tube amps for Joe Walsh and Brad Paisley.
Fast forward to the present day, and Dr. Z amps have become some of the most sought-after sound equipment on the market today. Why do they call him “Dr.” Z? Probably because his first and middle name’s initials are M.D.
What Is The Dr. Z Z Wreck Jr 1×12 Combo Amplifier?
So, what’s with the crazy name “Z Wreck Jr?” It’s the next version of the Z Wreck Amp that was originally designed from Ken Fischer’s famous (or infamous) Trainwreck amp.
The Dr. Z Z Wreck Amp was designed by the collaboration of Ken Fischer of Trainwreck Amps, Dr. Z, and Brad Paisley. Dr. Z calls the original Trainwreck’s circuit DNA “priceless.”
The Dr Z Z Wreck Jr model has half the wattage than the Z Wreck amp and a lower price tag. The junior model is available as a 1×12 combo and a stand-alone head. It features Ken’s writing font that he designed for the Z Wreck.
How Is The Z Wreck Jr Different From The Z Wreck?
Both amps have three 12AX7 tubes in the preamp section. The junior model has 15 watts powered by two military-grade 6n14n tubes in comparison to the original Z Wreck’s 30 watts from four 6n14n tubes. The 6n14n tubes are similar to an EL-84 but are supposed to be more articulate and melodic.
Both amps sport tube rectifiers for yummy power sag. The Z Wreck Jr has a 5Y3 rectifier tube, while the Z Wreck amp uses a 5AR4.
The Z Wreck Jr does not have the “Comfort/Speed” switch that is present on the Z Wreck amp, which allows you to changes the amp’s response to saggy (comfort) versus quicker (speed) by adjusting the plate voltage settings.
The 5Y3 rectifier in the Z Wreck Jr gives a sound equivalent to the “Comfort” setting on the Z Wreck amp, which is closer in sound to Ken Fischer’s original Trainwreck amp design.
The Z Wreck Jr has a master volume (the Z Wreck amp does not), which allows the Jr to remain harmonically reach and dynamic, even at low power levels.
The Dr. Z Z Wreck Jr Combo Looks As Great As It Sounds
For those of you who have not gotten a good look at the Dr. Z Z Wreck Jr combo amp here are some high-resolution photos with brief explanations.
The front of the Z Wreck Jr is very sharp-looking! It has a nice charcoal top that looks great with the typical “Z” logo and grayish grill cloth.
I really like the way Dr Z uses the “blackout” color scheme. It makes the amp look classy and expensive, even to someone unfamiliar with Dr Z amps.
Control Panel (Top) View
The Z Wreck Jr combo amp has a top-loaded control panel with a very straightforward layout.
Facing the front of the amp, the power light with on/off and standby switches are to the right.
The amp controls feature “cut,” master, bass, treble, and volume controls, with a single guitar input jack to the left.
There is no “middle” tone control, which is very much in line with the Dr. Z design philosophy of “quality with simplicity.” Believe me; you won’t even miss it.
The rear of the Z Wreck Jr features an open back, which exposures its 12-inch Celestion Green Back speaker.
There is nothing else really going on back here.
The power cord gets neatly tucked away inside.
Aerial Angular View
Here is what the amp looks like from the top and at an angle.
It has a nice compact design.
I would have preferred it if the control panel was flipped the other way around so that the writing under the controls is facing the guitar player standing in front of the amp.
It’s not a big deal but it just makes more sense that way.
Dr. Z Z Wreck Jr Specifications
Here are the specs for the Z Wreck Jr 1×12 combo and stand-alone head unit.
|Power Output||15 Watts|
|Rectifier Tube||One 5Y3 tube|
|Preamp Tubes||Three Tung-Sol reissue 12 AX7 tubes (cathode-biased)|
|Power Tubes||Two NOS Military Grade 6n14n tubes|
|Controls||Cut, Master, Bass, Treble, and Volume|
|Guitar Input||Single jack|
|Availablity||1. Stand-alone head|
2. 1×12 combo with 8 ohm Celestion Greenback speaker
|Dimensions & Weight||1. Head: 20 5/8”W x 9 1/2”D x 9 1/8”H – weight 32 lbs|
2. 1×12 combo: 22 1/2″W x 10 1/2″D x 20″H – weight 44 lbs
|Speaker Outputs||4, 8, or 16 ohms (only one output at a time can be used)|
This is the official demo video for the Dr. Z Z Wreck Jr with Dave Baker playing various guitars. It features the head with a separate cabinet design unit.
Features And Benefits
Master Volume Control
The addition of a master volume control on the Wreck Jr makes all the difference. The Wreck standard model, which only has a volume control, is a lot more challenging to dial in your sound at a soft volume.
The Z Wreck Jr master volume is situated post phase inverter, which keeps the amp’s dynamics consistent at all volume levels.
The junior model really begins to come alive with the volume control above three o’clock, even with the master volume control dialed way down. Just the thing to mellow out those angry neighbors.
The “cut” control modifies the amp’s high-end sound characteristics. It basically behaves like a “presence” control but with more character and tonal shaping. Turning it clockwise past twelve o’clock cranks up the chime while turning in the other direction makes the overall sound smoother.
External Speaker Configuration Jacks On The Dr. Z Z Wreck Jr Amp
The Z Wreck Jr has the ability to connect to 4, 8, and 16-ohm speakers, but only one speaker configuration at a time.
I can’t even imagine what this amp sounds like connected to a 4×12 8-ohm cabinet!
As with all-tube amps, never run it without connecting it to a speaker load.
Quality Components And Assembly
The Z Wreck Jr is built right and made in the U.S.A. Its hand-wired on a phenolic turret board with an aircraft-grade aluminum chassis and high-quality components like Mallory capacitors, metal-film resistors, and custom-wound transformers.
Although it’s unlikely this amp will need to be looked at regularly, I didn’t find any complaints on the Internet regarding this company’s service.
What I like About The Dr. Z Z Wreck Jr 1×12 Combo
This combo amp can easily be used at a “bedroom friendly” volume level while creating its outstanding sound with plenty of overdrive.
Don’t be fooled by the diminutive size of the Z Wreck Jr. It packs plenty of punch and can easily be used in a small club scenario without miking to the PA system.
This amp has an incredibly dynamic response and harmonic-rich notes that seem to explode off the tips of the fingers, especially with the master volume turned down and the volume knob cranked.
What I Don’t Like About The Dr. Z Z Wreck Jr 1×12 Combo
Although the Z Wreck Jr combo amp is obviously made to be sturdy, it’s a little heavy at 44 pounds, even with its aircraft-grade aluminum chassis.
I know they consider it on the light side for a 1×12 combo, but I would not be happy carrying it with me wherever I play. I must be getting old. I used to carry 4×12 cabinets and never give it a second thought.
I wish it had the comfort/speed switch configuration of the standard Z Wreck amp to provide the option of having an output with less sag for more modern sounds.
The amp is a little on the pricey side, even for all its quality construction and sound quality, but that’s just my opinion. If you compare it to other boutique combos in its price range, it is definitely in the ballpark.
All-in-all, it’s certainly not easy to find too many things about this amp to complain about.
Final Thoughts About The Dr. Z Z Wreck Jr Combo
I really love low-powered combo amps. They don’t take up a lot of room, and you won’t throw your back out carrying them up a flight of stairs or two. When you find one that is truly exceptional and fits all your needs, it can be like a match made in heaven.
The Dr. Z Z Wreck Jr 1×12 combo amp is an extremely versatile amp that can deliver great sound in any working situation, from a small club to a large arena. It’s an excellent option to its 30-watt higher-powered brother, the Z Wreck, when you need the same great sound and dynamics with a master volume option.
If you’re looking for an amp that can do it all, is fun to play, and you have the money to spend, then give this combo a try! You’ll see why Brad Paisley favors Dr. Z. Also, see my Brad Paisley (Secret Agent Esquire Pickup) Guitar Review.
Tell Us What You Think
Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this Dr. Z Z Wreck Jr combo review or want to leave your own personal review.
If you have any questions about this Dr. Z product, I will be happy to help you.
- Do you own a Z Wreck Jr combo amp, and if so, what do you think of it?
- If not, do you own a different “boutique” amp? Please tell us about it.
- After reading this review, are you thinking about playing one?
- What’s your favorite guitar amp of all time?
If you’re looking for an awesome battery-powered practice amp, then see Blackstar Fly 3 Review – You won’t really believe your ears!