Laney Lionheart LT20-112: What is it?
This Laney Lionheart 20-watt combo should look familiar. In 2015, we reviewed its 2x12 sibling, the LT20-212, taking minor issue with the blue vinyl aesthetic while simultaneously going weak at the knees when confronted with its boutique-grade tube amp tone.
Expectations for its 1x12 counterpart are therefore suitably high. Again, the LT20-112 is decked out in a royal blue vinyl covering with a beige and blue grille covering the speaker, in this case, a premium Celestion’s G12H-30 70th Anniversary, a design with a powerful ceramic magnet and a voice profile that’s ideal for rock styles.
If ancillary speakers are needed, there are another two spare fixed-impedance speaker jacks on the rear of the amplifier. The LT20-112 has the same arrangement of valves in the power amp, with four EL84s wired in parallel and doing all the heavy lifting in supplying the amp’s 20-watts of power. The preamp, meanwhile, houses a trio of 12AX7s.
The LT20-112 is ostensibly a two-channel combo courtesy of its footswitchable drive section. The control panel has Hi and Lo instrument inputs, handy for preserving headroom if swapping in a guitar with hotter pickups or integrating pedals. Pedalboard jockeys also have the services of a series effects loop to bring their favourite stompboxes to the party.
With white chickenhead knobs on brushed stainless steel, the control panel is pretty smart. Some might find it difficult to read the legends under each knob, particularly in stage conditions or when the glasses go a little foggy, but understanding the layout is child’s play and it's one that presents us with plenty of opportunity for tweaking.
There are dials for Clean Volume, Drive, Drive Volume, Bass, Middle, Treble, Reverb and Tone, plus a Bright switch, a toggle for engaging the drive section, and an on/off/standby toggle.
The top of the amplifier has a pair of neat, stainless steel vents to encourage airflow. The white piping finishes the amp nicely. That blue colourway is growing on us. And the build and finish are typically astute. That solidity comes at a price, however, and not necessarily financial; the LT20-112 is a hefty 54lbs.
Laney Lionheart LT20-112: Performance and verdict
The vibe of the Lionheart series is all about touch-sensitive electric guitar tone with a British accent. But what it doesn’t say is how versatile these amps are in action, and the LT20-112 is no exception. Not only is it adequately powered for a number of musical scenarios, certainly with enough power amp muscle to be heard during a gig, with a kick-stand to help spread the sound, but there is also depth and range to its tone.
• Laney Cub-Super12
A more affordable tube amp combo from Laney might just change our expectations of the kind of tones we can get for the money. Again, this is a British voiced combo and super-musical.
• Laney Lionheart LT20-212
If you like the idea of the LT20-112 but fancy a large-format 2x12 combo, this is the one to get, and it's got that same British boutique Class-A tone.
The cleans can accommodate a number of styles. As a pedalboard platform, the LT20-112 makes for an excellent blank slate, with its switchable effects loop on hand for those time-sensitive stompboxes. But it’s easy to dial in sounds for jazz or to put a Midlands accent on Nashville country.
The reverb is digital but like all the sounds on this amp is warm and tactile. Laney was not lying with those promises of a dynamic performance. Pushing the amp into overdrive is where it starts to sing and the impression builds that the royal blue Tolex would be a more appropriate shade of stonewashed denim. The classic rock crunch is exceptional.
You can get into nosebleed territory with the mids if you like, putting plenty of meat on those powerchords, or keep it lithe and bright and spangly, and use the LT20-112 to evoke the British rock ’n’ roll sounds of the ‘60s.
What’s interesting about the LT20-112’s setup is that it offers a master tone control to complement its EQ. Making these global adjustments to the sound can be hugely convenient and/or a lifesaver if swapping a a darker-sounding guitar and need to season accordingly.
Sometimes tube amps that profess a boutique experience present players with limitations, doing one thing well to the point of tonal myopia. The Lionheart LT20-112 sees things a little differently, offering superb control over your tone. As such, it will flatter an array of different guitars, with single-coils and humbuckers alike.
Its low-noise floor makes it an excellent option for recording, and on its tilted stand, with 20-watts behind it, there’s no reason it can’t be a champion on the road, too. Here’s hoping there aren’t too many stairs up to the venue.
MusicRadar verdict: Impeccably constructed and voiced to give us the best of vintage British guitar tone and then some, the Lionheart LT20-112 is an incredible tube combo at a very fair price.
Laney Lionheart LT20-112: The web says
"We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time with Laney’s L20T-112. For British blues invasion and classic rock tones it’s a sonically rewarding performer with more than enough power for live gigs, delivering the elusive dynamics of a pushed single-ended valve power stage at sensible volumes.
"The tones lurking within the Lionheart’s precision crafted heavy-duty cabinet are versatile and wide ranging, sounding impressively authentic in a wide range of genres, from country and jazz to blues and hard rock. And yet thanks to impressively low noise levels, it’s also just as capable in the studio or at home."
Laney Lionheart LT20-112: Hands-on demos
Laney Lionheart LT20-112: Specifications
- ORIGIN: UK
- TYPE: Valve preamp, parallel single-ended valve power amp
- OUTPUT: 20W
- VALVES: 3x 12AX7, 4x EL84
- DIMENSIONS: 465 (h) x 565 (w) x 255mm (d)
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 24.5/54
- CABINET: Birch ply
- LOUDSPEAKERS: 1x Celestion G12H-30 12”
- CHANNELS: 2
- CONTROLS: Clean volume, drive gain, drive volume, bass, mid, treble, reverb level, master tone, Bright on/off, Drive on/off
- ADDITIONAL FEATURES: Built-in digital reverb, series effects loop with switchable levels and bypass
- FOOTSWITCH: 2-button footswitch (supplied) toggles drive and reverb
- OPTIONS: None
- RANGE OPTIONS: L20H head version sells for £799. There’s also a L5T-112 combo (£849), L5 Studio head (£649) and L20T-212 combo (£1,299). A matching 1x12 extension cabinet costs £399; the 2x12 version costs £599
- CONTACT: Laney