|Dr. Z aka Mike Zaite|
|Dr. Z Carmen Ghia|
He got his start in the music business by building PA’s for local bands. Zaite admits to “studying and tweaking the inner workings of his band mate’s amplifiers, when the were not around.
|Kent State - Four Dead in Ohio|
He eventually went off to Kent State University and got a degree in electronics. It was during those years he became acquainted with another electronics student, Joe Walsh. This relationship became very eventful in later years.
Zaite went on to a lucrative job as a medical electronic engineer for General Electric. But Zaite’s first love was tinkering with analog electronics, such as amplifiers and P.A.’s.
This was a large boost for Dr. Z amps. This amplifier was originally conceived as a head, but later was sold as a reverb combo amplifier.
|Dr. Z SZR-65|
The SZR-65 is the only amplifier Zaite has built that has a cascading gain circuit. This was during an era when Marshall amplifiers ruled. Zaite used an ultralinear output transformer.
This gave the amplifier the smooth feel of triode tubes with the power of pentode tubes.
|Hammond Organ Reverb Unit|
Zaite's first guitar amplifiers, were based on a Hammond organ reverb amplifier. He made modifications to the schematic, so he could build his own version.
|Dr. Z Carmen Ghia|
His first commercially available amplifier was the 18-watt Carmen Ghia, which was powered by twin EL84 tubes, a 12AX7, and a 5751, both for the pre-amp section. The only two controls on the Carmen Ghia were for volume and tone.
This is the amp he based on the Hammond Reverb power amp. I assumed it was named for the VW sports car of the 1960’s, however it was named for his grandson, Carmen.
It was this amp catapulted on the fact that players had developed an interest in lower power amps that could be overdriven at low volumes.
|Dr. Z DB4|
|Check out those tidy leads|
Zaite follows these guidelines in his construction by using chromate converted aluminum for his amplifiers chassis. This improves the grounding of the amplifier, by raising the conductivity of the chassis. Some early Marshall amps used aluminum chassis and so did Ken Fisher’s Trainwreck amp as well as some other boutique amplifiers.
Dr. Z also uses specially designed coupling capacitors from Sprague. Because he purchases them in a very large batch, the company is possibly more concerned about consistency.
Zaite prefers Celestion speakers and most of the earlier models used Celestions.
However Dr. Z has created his own line of speakers. Some newer amps use Dr. Z speakers and other models come with Celestion speakers.
Zaite also offers the Z-Best speaker cabinet. This is a 2 – 12” ported specially designed cabinet that has an adjustable shelf behind the speakers and is based on the long throw ported Theile design.
Most of us are familiar with the fact that different style cabinets are just as important as tone controls. The adjustable shelf offers a variety of sounds to fit your style.
This closed-back cabinet comes with a variety of drivers, depending on your desired tone.
Dr. Z also offers a 2 – 12” open back cabinet and cabinets feature one, two or four 10” speakers.
The doctor also has developed a Lens for speakers on amps that have open-back cabinets. The Lens equates to the Tone Ring used on older Fender amps. Dr. Z’s Lens is adjustable, for desired sound projection.
|1930's Amp with a Conjunctive Filter|
The other feature is what Zaite refers to as a conjunctive filter, which affects the impedance of the transformer allowing frequencies to be balanced, thus providing even amplitude across the spectrum.
If the players picking is even on each string, he or she will get the same volume on each string, making the sound more dynamic.
This unusual tube is used on high end stereos for accurate transfer of signal, balance and headroom.
|Dr. Z Brake Lite|
Getting back to the Dr. Z amp featured in the Toyota Prius ad. I’m not certain if there was an actual connection with Zaite’s company. I am told the director was a fan of Dr. Z amps and thought the amp was cool looking and fit into the aesthetic nature of the advertisement.
|Dr. Z MAZ 18|