When it comes to amps, I am a fan of small
and easy—and I don’t think it would be possible
to get smaller and easier than the new
acoustic addition to the ZT Lunchbox line.
I burst out laughing when I saw it, but in a
good way. It recalled the days of yore, when
men were men, women were scarce, and
acoustic amps were gi-normous. These days,
miniaturization seems to be the norm, and it’s
about damn time. Let’s unpack this Lunchbox
and see what goodies it contains.
Slightly smaller than a cooler that holds
a six-pack and some ice, the 200-watt ZT
Lunchbox Acoustic features an instrument
channel and a vocal-mic channel—with independent
Gain, Bass, Treble, and Reverb for
each—in addition to a Master Volume and
a Feedback Cut. All controls, as well as the
1/4” instrument jack and LED indicator, are
intuitively arranged on top so you can easily
view them. The amp itself is made of an
attractive medium-density fiberboard that
looks folksy and appealing, and the top and
back panels are made of very robust-feeling
The back of the cabinet is covered with featurey
goodness. There’s an XLR input and
another 1/4”, with a phantom power on/
off switch between them (wuhoo—phantom
power!). There’s also an 1/8” input for an
mp3 player, an effect loop send/return, a
headphone jack with an independent volume
control, a 1/4” external speaker jack with a
switch for selecting between internal and
external speakers, a power-cord jack, and the
on/off switch. Whew! That’s a lot of stuff on
this one little box.
The Proof Is in the Pudding…
I plugged into the ZT at home in the living
room and spent some time walking around
with my guitar on a 20’ tether. I was able to
get the volume up pretty far without feedback
in that enclosed space, though I think I
was at the very limit. I had the Gain at three
o’clock, and the Volume at just over one
o’clock, and it was comfortably loud. The
bass was remarkably present without muddiness.
The treble was clear and present
with plenty of sparkle, and I had no trouble
hearing everything clear as a bell. If you are
behind it or right beside it, the tone is a little
bit brittle, but out in front it’s lovely. Just
don’t push the volume way up—it gets a little
The real test of an acoustic amp, of course,
is whether it will work at a real gig. There’s a
busy little bagel joint just up the street where
they let me test gear whenever I want—I call
it the Gear with a Schmeer Concert Series.
So I took the ZT over there on a lively Sunday
afternoon to see how it stood up to a room
full of hungry folks. Setup was almost too
easy. I found that setting the amp on a table
or a chair was better than on the floor. On
the floor, it lost some definition. Unlike some
small amps that are engineered to use the floor to compensate for lack of bass
response, the Lunchbox Acoustic has plenty
of bass, even with the sixth string tuned
down to a C. I handed the guitar to my son
to play while I walked around, and I could
hear the sound clearly around the whole
L-shaped room. The gain on the guitar channel
was set at three o’clock and the master
volume was at one o’clock, just like I’d had it
at home, and it cut through all the conversation
and background noise nicely.
The Feedback Cut has three settings to notch
out the most common frequency offenders.
In the venue’s high-ceilinged room with
windows all around, I had two problem frequencies.
So I used the ZT’s Feedback Cut
to notch out the ringing from the vocal mic
and my L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic D.I. to clean
up the persistent ringing around the E on my
guitar’s fourth string. I left the bass and treble
flat on both channels, and the amp sounded
just terrific. A mid-cut would be handy, but
the ZT isn’t honky or greasy sounding, so it’s
not absolutely necessary.
The plate-style reverb was very lush, pleasant,
and natural sounding for both vocal and
guitar, and it added that little extra bit of
faerie dust to the tone.
The Final Mojo
The ZT Lunchbox Acoustic is a terrific amp
for small to medium-sized venues, especially
those where people really want to listen. It’s
full featured, very functional, incredibly portable,
and intuitive to use. Ladies and gentlemen,
lunch is served.
you need a great-sounding amp
for small to medium-sized rooms
and you don’t have a big budget.
you need more than two channels or
independent feedback controls.