John Tomaszewicz had a career as an electrical engineer before he decided to venture into the world of amp building. The TZZ-35H head on review here is powered by two EL34s in cathode bias, and features Preamp Gain, Drive, and Sustain controls, 3-band EQ (Bass, Middle, Treble), Presence and Cut controls, and a Master Volume. Tomaszewicz points out that this amp is unique in its overall design and contains “many original circuits not found anywhere else.” His focus on reliability has also led to the use of high-grade components, such as PEC pots, Sprague and/or SBE “orange drop” capacitors, and over-rated power and output transformers that can handle double the wattage that this amp puts out. The PC board construction is clean and rugged, and the chassis-mounted tube sockets are wired point-to-point for reliability and ease of servicing. As you might expect, the TZZ-35H is entirely U.S. made.
Tomaszewicz says that the design of this amp was born out of frustration he experienced while trying to record the sounds he was hearing in his head. The tonal goals he sought were rich distortion and tight response when your guitar is turned up. High Drive settings will summon lots of overdrive, and the Preamp Gain setting also makes a big difference in the overall response of the Drive control. Lastly, the Sustain control slathers on compression to give the notes even more sing factor. What’s cool is that the dynamics don’t feel overly compressed—even at high settings—so you can use this control to make even lower-gain tones sound thicker and more sustaining. In the gonzo gain modes, however, turning up the Sustain knob makes it super easy to get feedback just by hammering notes or digging in slightly with your pick. Another benefit of the Sustain function is how it makes the tones sound smoother and more “produced,” which is perhaps what Tomaszewicz was really looking for when recording his guitar tracks.
The tonal signature of the TZZ-35H is in the Marshall camp, but the cathode biasing and the addition of Presence and Cut controls allows for some livelier tonalities that are a little left of Marshall—perhaps even edging toward the Matchless side of town. Here too, by using a wide open presence setting while rolling back the brights via the Cut control, you can squeeze a bit more juicy sustain from the power stage at higher volumes. And another plus of the cathode biasing is that you can swap in different output tubes—such as 6L6s or KT66s—without having to rebias.
The TZZ-35H is fun to play and has some unique tonal aspects. It’s more of an overdrive machine, but if that’s what you’re aiming for, you’ll dig what it has to offer.
CONTACT Tomaszewicz Amps, (954) 752-8737; jtsoundinc.com
PRICE $1,799 retail/street N/A
CONTROLS Preamp Gain, Drive, Sustain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Presence, Cut, Master.
POWER 35 watts
TUBES JJ 12DW7, JJ 12AT7, two JJ 12AX7s, two Mullard (reissue) EL34 power tubes
EXTRAS Dual speaker outs (4Ω, 8Ω). Tube buffered TRS-style effects loop.
WEIGHT 32 lbs
KUDOS Excellent distortion tones. Sustain function works great.
CONCERNS The use of flat-blade screws and nuts to secure the chassis makes removal and reassembly tedious. (Tomaszewicz reports that this has been updated.)
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