With its low price, portability, and deafening tones, the ZT Amplifiers Lunchbox is a must have amplifier for the discerning guitar player’s gear arsenal.
An amp that is portable, loud, and responsive (i.e. tube-like) is the holy grail of guitar amplification. It always seems that you have to sacrifice one for the other. If an amp is portable, it will likely be volume deficient. If an amp is loud, then it’s going to break your back. Enter the ZT Amplification Lunchbox.
The ZT Amplification Lunchbox was designed to fulfill all three goals – portable, loud, and responsive. Given that the amplifier is literally the size of a lunchbox, it’s definitely got the portability aspect down. But seriously? How loud can it be? And even if it’s loud, does it sound like a real guitar amplifier? Let’s find out.
The Lunchbox is a 200W single channel amplifier with single 6.5″ speaker. The top panel sports controls for Gain, Volume, Tone, and Ambience. The rear panel (closed back) features an 8-ohm speaker out, headphone out with volume control, auxiliary input, and speaker on/off switch. The amp weighs in at only 9.5 lbs.
Testing the Lunchbox with a new Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster and a Historic Reissue Les Paul, the first thing I did – I admit – was simply crank it up and see if it’s really as loud as the company claims. While I didn’t use a meter to check the loudness, I have to say it really is – pound for pound – one of the loudest amplifiers you’ll ever encounter. If you stand directly in front of the Lunchbox and crank it, you’ll probably hurt your ears. It’s not only loud. It’s big sounding, so this amp can definitely push some air.
But how does it sound?
One thing I really respect about ZT Amplification is that they don’t try to push this amp as an emulation as a Fender, Vox, Marshall, or other classic amplifier. As the saying goes, “it is what it is.” The Lunchbox produces a loud, clear, yet full clean tone that, on its own merits, is perfect for jazz or country guitar. I’m happy to say that it does indeed respond like a tube amplifier. The response and note attack sounds very tube-like, so much so that I wager most gear snobs wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. The built-in ambience control isn’t really a reverb, but does add a spatial dimension I found useful in small doses.
If you’re looking for excellent built-in overdrive or distortion, you won’t find it here, but that’s not the point of the amp. With such a loud, clear, and responsive clean tone, the amp takes effects pedals very well. So, if you want an amp that you can sculpt using your pedalboard, the Lunchbox is right up your alley.
I used the amp for a few sets with a cover band I play with occasionally, and the guys were amazed at how much air gets pushed by this little amp. By using the amp as a stage monitor and micing it through the P.A., I was able to compete with the drummer and other guitar player easily, and without breaking my back.
The Lunchbox is a great amplifier in its own right. You’ll be happy if you’re primarily a jazz or country player or if you get your overdrive and distortion sounds from effects pedals. It’s portable, inexpensive, and loud. This is one book that should not be judged by its cover. It can hold its own in a band and in more venues than you’d think. With its low price, portability, and deafening tones, the ZT Amplifiers Lunchbox is a must have amplifier for the discerning guitar player’s gear arsenal.
Name of Gear: ZT Amplification Lunchbox
List Price: $399.00
Manufacturer Info: ZT Amplifiers; ztamplifiers.com
Pros: Powerfuly loud clean sounds; pedal friendly; inexpensive; portable
Cons: No inspiring distortion tones