If you’ve been reading through my last few long-winded posts, wondering to yourself, ‘Is there ever going to be another gear review?’, then you have probably read about my plans for another overdrive shootout.

shootout.jpg picture by rypdal95
(Mmmm…. Tombstone shootout. Think they would have been happier then if they had electric guitar tone to soothe them and then instead of doing real shootouts where people die, they could do overdrive shootouts where it’s very rare for people to die. Actually, no, it’s beyond rare. If you die doing a gear shootout, then you did something very, very wrong. By the way, Val Kilmer did wonderfully in this film. And no, I don’t have a big boy crush…. well….. maybe a little. But did you see his acting in Heat?! Come on! I think Heat and Tombstone were his two best performances. And I also think I have spent way too much time discussing the nuances of Val Kilmer’s acting in a blog post about Zendrives. But hey…… it’s me.)

My last overdrive shootout was like, three months ago, and I now have a different amp and different guitars (shocker, I know.) You can read about that shootout, I believe, on the very last page of this blog. This time, though, the players will be a bit different:

–Menatone King of the Britains (newest version)
–Paul Cochrane Tim
–Ibanez TS7 (home TS808 mod)
–Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face clone (homemade, but not by me)
–Hermida Zendrive
–Keeley modded Boss BD-2 Blues Driver
–MI Audio Blue Boy (newest version)
–Danelectro FAB Metal

(Yes, I know everyone’s like, ‘FAB Metal?’ It was at Guitar Center one day, used for $5. I was like, ‘Wouldn’t that be cool if a $5 pedal just smoked all the boutique ones?’ Ya. It didn’t. But it’s still fun to keep in the shootouts for reference.)

But here’s the deal. The King of the Britains and the Blue Boy haven’t even arrived in the mail yet, and I’m already in love with the Hermida Zendrive.

Zendrive.jpg picture by rypdal95
(And when it is on, that led is bright blue. I have a thing for blue led’s. I don’t know why.)

I have always wanted to try one of these out, but the hype on these pedals is big, I really didn’t want to have one on my board and look like I just bought into all the hype. (Ya, my pride again, I know.) But just recently the guy who builds them has been getting caught up on his back-orders, so people are actually ordering directly from him now, which is driving down the used prices on these things, so I can finally afford one. 

And I meant to save it for the shootout, but I needed a more distortion-voiced overdrive on my board for a couple church sets this past week, and stuck it on there.

And yikes. This thing sings. It’s incredibly transparent, letting your tone come through very nicely (this is a huge deal for my tastes in pedals)… but it also adds compression for that big distortion sound. My first thought was….. that sounds like a Tim pedal with compression. It gives just a huge gutsy distortion sound, that honestly sounds too big to be a pedal. Just sweet, clear sustain on top of huge distortion that is retaining articulation. 

And the controls are very usable and very sensitive. I’ve had trouble before dialing in distortion pedals to not be too compressed to where it sounded like a volume drop from your clean in order to get the distortion sounding right. Then if you raised the volume, you’d lose that compressed sound. This one maintains the nice, compressed distortion at high volumes. The ‘voice’ knob helps with this. It’s an added knob in addition to ‘volume’, ‘gain’, and ‘tone’. And it sounded great with both my Les Paul and my Strat. And, for reference sake, I was using an EL84-based amp.

I should also mention that this is the Zendrive 1. He makes a Zendrive 2, that has a 12AX7 tube in it. I’m interested to try that one…. but I think the tube might make it a little too compressed for my tastes. But as soon as I see a good price on one, I’ll pick it up to try out.

And I’m running it on 12 volts. I do the same thing with my Tim pedal. Increases the headroom, and makes it sound a little bigger to my ears. You can run some of these boutique overdrives all the way up to 18 volts, and some even up to 24.

So….. ya…. I was a little blissfully annoyed (hmmm) tonight during a worship set when I turned on the Zendrive and was like, ‘Okay, that’s just not fair. I don’t even want to do the shootout now.’ But I smiled…. because it sounded so good…. hence, the blissful part of my annoyance.

So, you should probably go get one. Looks good… sounds good… and the prices are no longer causing you to choose between feeding your children or buying a Zendrive.

Splendid.
Karl.