The saying says big surprises come in small packages, and usually it is applies to diamond rings.  But the ZT Amplifier’s Lunchbox amp proves that idiom true for guitarists as well as potential brides-to-be: a combo amp the size of the elementary school lunchbox with enough power to gig with.

It woudn’t mean a thing if it ain’t got the swing.  And, it does.  This diminutive monster (200 watts!) has tone.  Plugging a telecaster mutant (P-90 in the bridge, Humbucker in the neck) into the Lunchbox, I was rewarded with smooth warm tube-like tone.  Messing with the gain, volume and the mid-range frequency selecting ambience knob revealed several blackface and tweed-type tones.  One its own, It doesn’t capture high-gain colors or metal guitar distortion.  It leans more on clean tones (Jazz cats will love this amp) and overdrive textures, that will appeal to most rock, blues, country, Americana and others with a more roots-oriented sound.

However, the input and gain structure of this amp is set up to accept signal from pedals whole heartedly.  I tried a variety of pedals and a couple of multi-effect units and was pleased with the results and able to generate reasonable metal and fusion tones, as well as some of the classic sounds with tremolo, echo and reverb.

The 6 ½” speaker really kicks, and the closed back cabinet helps to Lunchbox produce a surprising amount of low-end thump.  There is an external speaker jack so the player could drive different cabinet if they so desired.  ZT also makes a matching Lunchbox cab and a Club amp that shares many of the Lunchbox’s features with a 12” speaker for seeking other ways to push more air.

And did I say this thing is loud?

As if the size and weight of this amp wasn’t enough, there are still some other features:  Headphone jack with its own volume knob, speaker on and off switch, and a 1/8”th Aux input for a MP3 player and other such device (the Lunchbox makes a fairly nifty boombox its own).

The Lunchbox weighs in at just under 10 lbs, which is enough weight to make it feel study and solid enough to not have to worry about tripping on a cable and having the amp tumble to the floor or fly across the room.

What do I not like about the Lunchbox?   When powering down the amp, there is a audible click/clunk sound through the speakers even if the volume and gain are turned to zero.  The look of the amp is slightly industrial, and personally I’d prefer a vintage vibe to match the tonal characteristics the amp possesses.

But a loud gigable amp, the size of a practice amp that has tone that you can record with…those issues don’t bother me so much.  An added plus is the look on the faces of your band mates when it’s not only is it all the amp you brought, it’s all the amp you need.