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  1. #1

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    Hello everyone,

    I recently bought one of the new ZT Lunchbox Reverb amps, and have been loving it. I actually made an account here specifically to review the amp, since I've noticed there's basically zero reviews/info out there about it.

    I've got a Tweed Champ (5f1) clone as well, and have been comparing the two exhaustively (I bought the ZT as a potential replacement). In the end, the ZT won out for me.

    Also, I am one of those Tele purists, so I only tested it with my stock AVRI 64 Telecaster. Yes, I bought the Champ because of Julian Lage, I'm not afraid to admit it.

    Build quality: 9/10

    One of the first things I noticed about this amp was how solid it felt. It's a little heavy for its size (10lbs/4.5kg), but the weight is reassuring to me. I believe it has a wood cabinet under all of that silver paint. Anyway, everything from the knobs to the power switch to the cable feels high quality and durable. It should, since the amp is assembled in California.

    Sound: 9/10

    The main draw, obviously. This is definitely a solid state amp in terms of sound and functionality (yes there is hiss), but it is one of the better SS amps I have ever heard, particularly in terms of touch sensitivity. When comparing it to the Champ, I noticed that the Champ is of course a warmer, more "organic" sounding amp, but not necessarily better sounding. I found the ZT to be just as dynamic as the Champ, and to actually have better note separation. I would even describe the ZT as a bit fuller sounding, perhaps due to the "directness" of the amp. The best analogy I can think of is rosewood vs. mahogany: rosewood (like the Champ) has a rather impressive, ringing sort of sound with focus on harmonics, while mahogany (like the ZT) is more balanced and "fundamental" sounding. I don't know if others have had this problem with Champs, but I find that mine emphasizes the metallic qualities of the strings, perhaps because it picks up more of the acoustic qualities of the Tele than the ZT. Anyway, this was not a problem with the ZT, which perhaps contributes to its (to my ears) fuller sound. In short, I love the warm coloration of the Champ, but I really love the clear, balanced and neutral tone of the ZT, which I think makes it more versatile for jazz. Its neutral sound is a double edged sword: it highlights more of my mistakes than the Champ, but rewards careful technique.

    As I mentioned, I only have the Tele, so I couldn't test it with a humbucker guitar, but it responded very well to the single coils. I will say that the Champ sounds better for the classic overdriven Tele sounds (i.e. Keith Richards), but for my jazz purposes, I found the ZT more versatile.

    Additional notes: Much like the old version, this ZT is a very, very loud little amp. Most of the time I play it at around 25% volume and 50% gain, which is more than loud enough for my apartment.

    Also, the reverb is fantastic. I also owned a Tone Master Deluxe Reverb before this one, and I actually like the spring reverb on the ZT better. I've been using an EH Holy Grail pedal with the Champ, and again, I prefer the ZT's reverb.


    That's all I've got, never really done a review like this so let me know if I missed something. All I can say is that it's a fantastic amp. I've only owned a few other amps, so I can't claim to have much else to compare it to, but this one is my favorite so far for it's combination of build quality, size, practicality and sound.
    Attached Images Attached Images ZT Lunchbox Reverb Review-img_1740-jpg ZT Lunchbox Reverb Review-img_1741-jpg 

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  3. #2

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    Good post. I have the LB Jr. and have been wondering about these. It would be interesting if someone would compare it to the DV Mark Little Jazz as that seems to be a natural equivalent. Of course, around here most will want to know how it sounds with a hollow body guitar, but I primarily play solid bodies myself.
    I seem to recall that the original Lunchbox amp was supposed to have a reverb but somehow or other it got forgotten by the manufacturer! All they have is that 'ambient' thing which nobody seemed to be happy with. This should have happened long ago. Their recently released Jazz amp has a reverb but the price point is a killer, especially for a ZT.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by wyndham
    Good post. I have the LB Jr. and have been wondering about these. It would be interesting if someone would compare it to the DV Mark Little Jazz as that seems to be a natural equivalent. Of course, around here most will want to know how it sounds with a hollow body guitar, but I primarily play solid bodies myself.
    I seem to recall that the original Lunchbox amp was supposed to have a reverb but somehow or other it got forgotten by the manufacturer! All they have is that 'ambient' thing which nobody seemed to be happy with. This should have happened long ago. Their recently released Jazz amp has a reverb but the price point is a killer, especially for a ZT.
    I read that they intended the original to have reverb but couldn't implement it with the amount of memory they had on the chip. They ended up with the "ambience" control. Terrible, but they couldn't get any closer to reverb.

    I had the original LB and I think it is an awful product. I'm aware that there are some players on here who really like it.

    First, build quality. It looks and feels great. But with very light use a chunk of the outside of the amp simply fell off.

    Next, volume. I found that it had to be on the floor to avoid sounding screechy. It needed to be coupled to the floor to produce any bass. But, on the floor, in most playing situations, the dispersion of the sound was poor. On a gig, it faced everybody's ankles. A lot of the volume simply got lost. And, turning it up didn't make it sound any better. I wanted a clean tone, fwiw. I compared it to my 12 watt solid state Crate GFX15. That Crate amp sounds fine off the floor. To my ear, it has about as much usable volume (because I can get it off the floor) as the LB and sounds much better.

    Tone: This is taste. I couldn't get a sound out of it that I could stand at any volume. Others have been much happier.

    Comparison with the LJ. I have been using an LJ for nearly two years. I use it for almost everything I do. I think it sounds great. It is dramatically better, to my ears, than the LB. Usable volume is much greater on the LJ. The LJ is cheaper. The LB is lighter, 10 lbs vs 15 lbs. The LB offers a nice carrying bag (which I still have, because GC wouldn't buy it). But, the LJ is in the category of "plenty light enough".

    This is the only piece of gear I've ever criticized much on-line. I think that's because I'm angry at myself for falling for the hype. Although, it wasn't just the hype. A fine NYC player, Joe Giglio, wrote on line that he was using it for gigs with a Zoom FX processor (PX5D?) on gigs and was happy with the rig. So I bought both. Joe always sounds great, but they didn't work for me. Joe, btw, does solo performances on FB every Sunday -- guitar and vocals - really entertaining.

  5. #4

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    Yikes! I would say you didn't bond with the Lunchbox! I didn't fall for hype, I just purchased a used LB Jr. for 115$ and thought it had a nice usable tone. Plus, I can power two pedals with the built in power supply. It only weighs five pounds and has a surprisingly warm tone. I own a number of small amps and I've always thought the LB Jr. was a lot of fun. To each their own.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by betchaker
    Hello everyone,

    I recently bought one of the new ZT Lunchbox Reverb amps, and have been loving it. I actually made an account here specifically to review the amp, since I've noticed there's basically zero reviews/info out there about it.

    I've got a Tweed Champ (5f1) clone as well, and have been comparing the two exhaustively (I bought the ZT as a potential replacement). In the end, the ZT won out for me.

    Also, I am one of those Tele purists, so I only tested it with my stock AVRI 64 Telecaster. Yes, I bought the Champ because of Julian Lage, I'm not afraid to admit it.

    Build quality: 9/10

    One of the first things I noticed about this amp was how solid it felt. It's a little heavy for its size (10lbs/4.5kg), but the weight is reassuring to me. I believe it has a wood cabinet under all of that silver paint. Anyway, everything from the knobs to the power switch to the cable feels high quality and durable. It should, since the amp is assembled in California.

    Sound: 9/10

    The main draw, obviously. This is definitely a solid state amp in terms of sound and functionality (yes there is hiss), but it is one of the better SS amps I have ever heard, particularly in terms of touch sensitivity. When comparing it to the Champ, I noticed that the Champ is of course a warmer, more "organic" sounding amp, but not necessarily better sounding. I found the ZT to be just as dynamic as the Champ, and to actually have better note separation. I would even describe the ZT as a bit fuller sounding, perhaps due to the "directness" of the amp. The best analogy I can think of is rosewood vs. mahogany: rosewood (like the Champ) has a rather impressive, ringing sort of sound with focus on harmonics, while mahogany (like the ZT) is more balanced and "fundamental" sounding. I don't know if others have had this problem with Champs, but I find that mine emphasizes the metallic qualities of the strings, perhaps because it picks up more of the acoustic qualities of the Tele than the ZT. Anyway, this was not a problem with the ZT, which perhaps contributes to its (to my ears) fuller sound. In short, I love the warm coloration of the Champ, but I really love the clear, balanced and neutral tone of the ZT, which I think makes it more versatile for jazz. Its neutral sound is a double edged sword: it highlights more of my mistakes than the Champ, but rewards careful technique.

    As I mentioned, I only have the Tele, so I couldn't test it with a humbucker guitar, but it responded very well to the single coils. I will say that the Champ sounds better for the classic overdriven Tele sounds (i.e. Keith Richards), but for my jazz purposes, I found the ZT more versatile.

    Additional notes: Much like the old version, this ZT is a very, very loud little amp. Most of the time I play it at around 25% volume and 50% gain, which is more than loud enough for my apartment.

    Also, the reverb is fantastic. I also owned a Tone Master Deluxe Reverb before this one, and I actually like the spring reverb on the ZT better. I've been using an EH Holy Grail pedal with the Champ, and again, I prefer the ZT's reverb.


    That's all I've got, never really done a review like this so let me know if I missed something. All I can say is that it's a fantastic amp. I've only owned a few other amps, so I can't claim to have much else to compare it to, but this one is my favorite so far for it's combination of build quality, size, practicality and sound.

  7. #6

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    Thanks for the review. I wonder how louder the new model is, compared to the old one. They have the same speaker i think, and i feel the old one pushed the speaker to its limits, so i 'm wondering if there actually is more usable headroom on the new one (or even slightly distorted volume).

    Its been one and a half years since they introduced it in 2019 Namm, and it still isn't available in Europe.., although with the covid thing, there's not really that much need for an ultra portable amp.

    For the record i really loved the previous model. One of my most loved pieces of music gear, the ability to do a gig with a backpack amp is great in many situations for me.

  8. #7

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    I’ve got a Lunchbox that I bought used and I’m happy with it. I’ve taken it to jam sessions and gigs and I had compliments on the tone I got out of it (more than on my playing, sadly). I’ve always played it with hollow and semi hollow guitars. One thing I’ve got to say is that guitars tend to sound quite similar, so if you like the tone, great, if you don’t, then obviously you hate it.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro

  9. #8

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    I have an original and like it a lot, especially for keys and bass. It sounds much better with guitar if you use an extension speaker.

  10. #9

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    I picked-up the Reverb with the Cab II and I am still working through my feelings. It is a nice amp. The tone is good, it is loud and the extension cab is wonderful. I was on the fence but decided to pull the trigger because Charlie Apicella gave it a thumbs up. The only thing that gives me pause is the slight hiss that isn't present in the ZT Acoustic. The Acoustic as a small hum, but no hiss. The Reverb has a hum and a hiss. It isn't huge, but it is there. If you are recording, it might give you second thoughts. I did a totally non-scientific measurement with my phone and the ZT Acoustic kicks out about 4dB with no cables attached and the gain/volume at zero. The ZT Reverb measures about 7dB with no cables attached and gain/volume at zero. Not earth-shattering, but I would have thought that an amp that came out years later would be a bit tighter in the construction. I was considering the Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb, but my positive experience with the ZT Acoustic, the reduced size/weight and the lower price pushed me toward the ZT Reverb. I think it is fine as-is, but I am letting my entitled self whine like a little baby. It is a nice setup.

  11. #10

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    Is it possibly because the Zt acoustic has much lower gain? The lunchbox reverb has quite a bit of overdrive when maxed, so i would expect more noise out of it. Is it problematic when actually playing?

  12. #11

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    The should just build a micro head with reverb already. What’s wrong with these amp companies?

    You get either small combos with reverb and micro heads with no reverb. Why?

    When me and Rob Chapman agree on something it’s probably true

    Alos ZT gear feels solid but that doesn’t mean it actually is. I gigged two of their amps to destruction fairly quickly. My AER survived. I am a clumsy oaf, but I would advise treating the amp well if you want it to last.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter View Post
    Is it possibly because the Zt acoustic has much lower gain? The lunchbox reverb has quite a bit of overdrive when maxed, so i would expect more noise out of it. Is it problematic when actually playing?
    ZT lunchbox acoustic is much quieter. I think it uses a lot of power to get the bass response.

  14. #13

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    I wish I knew. I think the total output is comparable, but with the Acoustic it is split over two channels. That might account for it, but I really can't say for sure.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    The should just build a micro head with reverb already. What’s wrong with these amp companies?

    You get either small combos with reverb and micro heads with no reverb. Why?.
    That's what I've been asking around for years, also from makers like Gallien-Krueger and TC Electronic, whose bass amps tick all the boxes apart from reverb. No response. However, there's light at the end of the tunnel: I'm aware of one well-known amp manufacturer and two small developers likely to launch micro amps with on-board reverb in 2021. At the pricier/physically bulkier end of the scale, you already have e.g. DV Mark, Milkman, BluGuitar Amp1, Quilter 101R and Henriksen Bud head. The HotOne floor amps looked promising but don't quite deliver the tone. This is subjective, of course. Furthermore, today's rock guitarists are keen to crowd the floor with stomp boxes, so an external reverb is no issue for them. The small Class D bass amps from G+K, Trace Elliot and TC Electronic are neutral and flat-response across a broad frequency range, hence "smart" power amps for many purposes with their eq settings.

    The new ones I'm referring to will be substantially smaller and lighter. In this category, an external power unit is actually desirable, as it can be replaced by a rechargeable battery pack making buskers' lives easier. Imagine a 12-21V DC outlet on your getaway electric scooter...