Dr Z orders a heavy dose of gain for its Carol Ann Amps collaboration, the CAZ-45 guitar amp head

Dr Z CAZ-45
(Image credit: Dr. Z)

Dr Z Amplification has launched the CAZ-45, the boutique guitar amplifier company's first modern-voiced, high-gain amp head. 

Developed over a year-long collaboration with Alan Phillips, owner of Carol Ann Amps, the CAZ-45 is a 45-watt head, equipped with a pair of 6L6 tubes in a cathode-biased power section, with a trio of 12AX7 tubes and a 12DW7 in the preamp.

Dr Z promises it will be "exceptionally responsive to dynamics and fun to play at any volume level." 

The front panel features white chicken-head control knobs for Sensitivity, Gain, Treble, Middle, Bass, Aggression, Presence and Level. The Aggression control bears further attention. 

It is the sort of feature that we have seen before – on Revv's lineup of high-gain amps, most recently as a button on its new Generator MkIII Series – but this is the first time we can remember seeing it on a control knob.

Not only did it sound right, it felt incredible. Tight and together with incredible dynamics, yet bouncy

Alan Phillips, owner of Carol Ann Amps

Aggression allows you to dial in overdrive in the power amp section, tightening up the lows and adding focus to the top end. The more you dial in, the more of that contemporary bite you have in your tone. Roll it back and the CAZ-45 will have a more vintage, open tone.

With an Alan Phillips-designed, tube-driven effects loop, the CAZ-45 is built to take pedals. Other contemporary concerns, such as how to have face-melting tone at neighbourly volumes, have been addressed by the Level control, which offers volume scaling as seen on other Dr Z amps such as the Cure and Jetta.

As you would expect from Dr Z, the CAZ-45 has a hand-wired turret board, and was hand-built in Cleveland, Ohio, incorporating high-quality Heyboer transformers in the build. With that in mind, we'd bet good money on this being as quiet as a mouse with regards hum and other undesirables.

In a statement, Phillips said it was "an honour" to work with Mike Zaite – the eponymous Dr Z – on an all-new design.

“We have been friends in the same business for a long time and share a lot of the same views,“ said Phillips. “The idea was right up my alley and coming up with schematic design was very easy and natural. I asked Mike to use only the components he currently uses in his amplifiers, keeping as much of the Dr Z DNA in there as possible.

“What actually blew me away was how good even the first prototype sounded. I had lived under a rock thinking only I could create an amp with the characteristic Carol Ann overdrive tone. Apparently I was very wrong! Not only did it sound right, it felt incredible. Tight and together with incredible dynamics, yet bouncy and, to be honest, easier to play than a Carol Ann.“

The CAZ-45 is available as a standalone head, and is available to order now, priced £/$2,499. With the recommended Z-Best ported 2x12 cab, loaded with a Celestion Creamback M65 and Vintage 30 speakers, it retails at £/$3,348. The Z-Best cab on its own should set you back £849 street.

See Dr Z Amplification for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.