Dr. Z Monza

Head/Combo: 
Head
Price Paid: 
$1149 USD
Condition: 
New
Country of origin: 
USA
Tube Type: 
EL84
Features: 

Volume, Drive, Tone, Input, 4 ohm output, 8 ohm output, two cathode biased EL84s (power tubes), two 12ax7s (preamp tubes), one 5AR4 (rectifier); 20 LOUD watts, surf green tolex...

Pros: 

Incredible sustain, classic/hard rock grind, touch sensitive. Works equally well with vintage-style and modern-style humbuckers and any type of single coil. You could get through virtually any type of blues, classic rock or hard rock gig (provided you don't need Fender Twin-like clean tones) with just a guitar, a cable, and the Monza.

Cons: 

LOUD!!! All Dr. Z amps are loud beyond their output ratings, which has you running for an attenuator or trying to find that spot between a whisper and OHMYGOD on the Master Volume (Volume) knob. I use Dr. Z's Airbrake attenuator, and it does the trick. But really: there is no practical way to crank out the power tubes on this amp. You will melt your drummer even trying. I can compete with a drummer that turns his sticks to sawdust every rehearsal by setting the Drive knob between 1 and 2 o'clock, and the volume knob between 9 and 10...with the attenuator on at almost full attenuation. Yes. It's LOUD.

Sound Quality: 
5 (excellent)
Reliability: 

Handwired. Minimal components. Dr. Z reputedly overbuilds his amps from a quality component standpoint. Obviously, tubes are tricky little monkeys, but that's the nature of tubes. This amp is built like a brick house from the head's cabinet to to application of the tolex. You can feel the durability in the damned KNOBS as you turn them. The input jacks take a cable like, well, I leave that visual up to you. Needless to say, your cables ain't comin' loose when you need them most!

Customer Support: 

I also have a Dr. Z MAZ 18 NR head. Humidity tarnished a screw. I called thenm to find out the screw size, as I have OCD and wanted to maybe replace the screw. They sent me a screw set to replace every screw in the head if I wanted to. Dr. Z (Mike Zaite) himself hangs out at the fan forum, and replies to questions and joins in on discussions about his amps. He also listens to his fanbase. He's got a top notch crew and company.

Summary: 

The Monza was billed "Billy In a Box" at Z-Fest. That sparked my interest before the amp was even available. I've sought out a classic rock grind from a single piece of gear for quite some time, and have found some wonderful compromises. I purchased the MAZ 18 for it's versatility (a virtual Swiss Army knife of tone, but needs an OD kick for the harder stuff), tone and build quality thinking I wouldn't own another amp in it's league. Fate intervened and I could get a 2nd more "specific" amp. I purchased the Monza from Humbucker Music's website, and paired it with my open back Lopoline cabinet (loaded with a Celestion 30). The speaker was a good match for the Monza, as the amp leans more towards dirty Vox/Marshall/ sounds like England in 1976. The amp indeed delivers on it's promise of the Reverend Gibbons' dirtier moments: harmonics jump off your pick, notes sustain like a violin, and chords grind in a wonderful way. The amp is also tailor-made for your AC/DC tendencies as well, so anything from High Voltage through Back In Black is on tap with the right guitar. I found myself dialing up $200 OD pedals as a slight volume boost for leads. And sometimes I wasn't even doing that (even when needing to cut through a 2nd rhythm guitar). The 5AR4 tube offers the least amount of sag you can get from a tube rectifier (as far as I can hear), and to be honest you could still probably swing cassic metal rhythms with the Monza and the right guitar.

This is definitely one of those amps you have to play, as it reacts to how hard you press down on the strings with your fretting hand as well as how hard you hit the string with your pick. I managed to do quieter, bluesier leadwork over part of a song at rehearsal, but simply picking softly. The amp actually cleaned up in reaction to my pick attack alone.

If your tonal tendencies range from the Allmans live, to classic ZZ, to AC/DC, the Monza is your amp. I'm certainly thrilled that it's mine.

Overall Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)