Dr. Z Mini-Z

With players such as Brad Paisley and Buddy Whittington touting the wonders of Dr. Z amps, it’s a good bet that even the smallest model in the Dr. Z line is going to be pretty hip. It’s hard to get more basic than the 1x8 Mini-Z ($699 retail/street price N/A).
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In fact, the good doctor himself likens it to a distortion pedal attached to a speaker. With that in mind, it’s fair to call the Mini-Z an overdrive amplifier. Yes, it can sound clean at very low settings (or by turning it up all the way and using a low setting on your guitar), but once you nudge the Volume control beyond the quarter mark, the grind comes on, and it just gets thicker and richer from there—think non-master Marshall in a lunch box and you’ve got the idea.

The Mini-Z sounds a lot bigger than its size would portend, and a goodly share of the credit goes to its Weber Signature 8" speaker, which is amazingly balanced to begin with, and is able to remain focused and coherent even when running flat out. Dr. Z reports that even after experimenting with various 10s and 12s, it was the little Weber that won the day in this amp. Unlike so many pint-sized combos, the Mini-Z never descends into the flub zone when pushed to the rails. And even when raging with all the corpulent distortion it can muster—which is a lot—you can always count on hearing the essential stringy detail from your guitar. Feature-wise, the Mini-Z is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get affair, but, honestly, I have never heard an amp so small sound so huge. If you’re looking for maximum bang for the bucks in a handwired low-power amp (and who isn’t?), the Mini-Z is an unbeatable choice.