The Amp Chronicles; pt 1

Greetings- faithful readers. Here is a post! I know its been awhile, but hopefully we can catch up soon!

My search for an amp begins now:
I began my search at one of the greatest guitar shops I’ve had the pleasure of going into. Fat Sound Guitars in Cary, NC! (Their website is awesome as well!) Stu (the owner) had responded to my emails several times, so I made the hour trek up to the store and sat around for a few hours. I poked, I prodded, and plugged the ‘ol Les Paul into several amps. I also brought along my trusty Zendrive and the King Of Tone.
Now, the pleasure of talking to another guitarist is that they know what you mean when we say “i like this amp, but its missing this…….. y’know” and Stu says, “yea, try this one, it has that.”
Very cool.

My only thoughts while looking were- I want an amp that has a good clean sound, with some sparkle. I want it to be able to overdrive easy, but dynamically clean up. I would like more than my 15w Fender Champ, like 30 watts. But I don’t want an uncontrollably loud amp, so It should have a 1/2 switch if 30 watts.  I want 30 watts, even though I would probably only use it 2-3x a year. Amp should accept pedals fairly well.
After playing everything in the store I settled on two amps. In no particular order:

1) Dr Z Maz 18 Non Reverb

Pretty good, and sounds great too!

There it is– the “wow, does it really get that loud” 18 watt Dr Z Maz. This amp had a touch of sparkle, had incredible dynamics, and a great sustain that seemed to drip harmonics. Even the clean sound is sustained well. The dynamics were special; play lightly and it is clean, play hard or turn up some volume and it overdrives!
The KOT sounded great through this, very classic rock-like. The Zendrive colored the amp a bit, but sounded really good at lower gain setting than I normally play while it pushed the amp a bit. I was very impressed.
This Z also has an effects loop which might check out with some delay and my own crazy ambient-inspired reverbs.
This Z is a rocker!
Upside of things: per the Dr Z website: She will self-bias her tubes!! YES! That makes things tons easier!

The “cons” was I expected a bit more of an overdrive from the amp. It did overdrive, but not quite as heavy as I thought.
Then, Brad Paisley plays through Dr Z’s (and that gearmandude from and youtube). I’m not a country player, by ANY stretch. But, this amp sounds GOOD.

2) Matchless Avalon

Also pretty....

Wow, this amp is loud. But not like the Z was- you expect this amp to be loud. What can I say about this amp: it had beautiful, beautiful cleans. Great sparkle that also had harmonics. Not much sustain. I guess that’s the trade-off, the Z has less harmonics but more sustain and this one has all the harmonics? I liked the idea of a defeat-able master volume, the swell looking plexi-glass plate on the front (see the tubes???) and the 15 to 30w switch in the back.
The overdrive was fantastic. Heavier and richer than the Z, but still clean and sparkly at the same time. True rock potential.

The Zen sounded pretty good through this amp, but the KOT really shined. I had some great ‘cleanish’ rock’in distortion after just a few minutes of plugging in. Oh, this amp has that vibe to it. Its cool to have a Matchless!

The only downsides to this amp are the weight of it (almost 70 lbs!) and its just a ‘tad’ bit more moolah than the Dr Z.

I probably went back and forth on these amps about 10 times. They are not even in the same leagues, sound different, but sound so good.

After looking at my face of glee while playing these amps, Stu asks “So which do you think you want?”

to be continued…..


8 Responses

  1. haha … that’s the problem having tried too many great amps is to finally pick one from the bunch 🙂

    btw, I had a chance to play with a Carmen Ghia and it sounded great and really loud, too! hehe

  2. Hi Larry, thank you for post…

    It’s hard to say, what is better… But for me is winner Dr.Z. I’m dreamin’ about this amp a long time 😀

  3. Hey guys! Yeah, I seriously am in love with BOTH of these amps. We’ll see how it turns out in the end. Both have high points, and both have a special feel/sound to them. OOOOoooo. I’m excited!

  4. Nice story!
    Have you gone to Indoor Storm?

  5. So you can buy both and play in stereo 😀 😀 😀

    And what your pedalboard? A long time without change? 🙂

  6. @Dan… not YET! I promise to do so soon. I can’t wait to check it out. FatSound Guitars is just sooo awesome 🙂

    @ Martin— GREAT IDEA!! Stereo with these two would be sweet.
    And the pedalboard really hasn’t changed. I’ll get to it soon if you want to know more about it.

  7. Hey rhoy, I thought I’d let you know, I was trying to click on your blog and norton kept pegging it as a “malicious site.” It said it had 21 examples of HTTP Fake AV Redirect Request–thought I’d let you know.

    I don’t know if you can access this link, but here:

  8. Dude… weird. Maybe Norton is set a bit too high security? No probs on my end. Rhoy is a pretty stand-up guy 🙂
    Anyway, thanks for checking out the site.

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