As wordpress is so awesome (for those of you who don’t know, I started this site on blog.com and it sucked very much a lot), you can actually see what people search to get to your blog. And one of the biggest searches is for the Zendrive overdrive pedal. The Zendrive is like the celebrity of boutique overdrives right now, I guess. I remember when Alfonso Hermida first started building them, they were like the underground sleeper pedal that was whispered about in hushed tones…not too loud, so as not to ruin the magic. Now, it’s become the kind of in-crowd password into the ‘handmade, boutique guitarist’ world. ‘Hey, nice board there. Have you tried the Zendrive?’ ‘Dude! I’ve so wanted to. I’m on the waiting list.’ There you go. You’re in the club. But if you would have answered, ‘The Zendrive? What’s that?’ Automatic shun. Seriously, I’ve unfortunately seen it happen; and, regrettably, probably done it a few times myself. We guitarists are such snobs. It’s terrible. But anyway, I’ve been so surprised at the popularity of this pedal. Oh, ya, and there is another response to that question. It’s: ‘Ya, I’ve tried the Zendrive, but it just didn’t do it for me.’ Then you are automatically worshiped, because you’re too good for the celebrity pedal.
So, a few months back, I got the Zendrive 1 and the Zendrive 2 (same pedal, but with a 12AX7 tube in it), just to see what all the hype was about. And they were both good, but…they didn’t really do it for me………… Just kidding. When I first tried them, I was really hoping those would be my sentiments, so that I could be hailed as the guitarist who not even ‘independently built handmade boutique junk was good enough for’, but alas, they unfortunately sounded really, really good.
And then I ran across, the older brother of the Zendrives, the Mosferatu. Sounds almost like the same circuit, just able to achieve higher gain levels and stay saturated. I found the Zendrives to like to be in that low overdrive, bluesy range. They sounded fantastic, too, at higher gains; they just would get a little more raspy and less full up there. So when I tried the Mosferatu, it was like a higher gain Zendrive. And that’s the one I decided to keep, as that was the application I needed. If money was of no consequence, I’d still have one of the Zendrives as a bluesy overdrive pedal. But it has been rare (if at any time at all) in my life that money has been of no consequence. So I put together a little video of the two Zendrives demo’d together, and then promptly sold them. And it wasn’t until after I returned from the post office, that I actually listened to the video. And it sucked…very much so. More accurately, my playing sucked. And if you’ve seen my videos, you know I’m not the greatest player in the world, and that I also screw up and hit clunkers or tune in the middle of a demo, or what-not. I’m not too picky. But with this video…well, let’s just say I didn’t want to be responsible for single-handedly killing the Zendrive craze. It was that bad.
But this past week, I was finally able to get my hands on the Zendrive 1 and the Zendrive 2 again, and do some ‘better’ videos. Oh ya, and the Mosferatu, which I’ve already had. See, the Mosferatu is my favorite, but it still gets forgotten. It’s like Adam, U2’s bass player. You just always forget he’s there. Sometimes I play a game with myself while looking at U2 pictures. It’s called, ‘Find Adam.’ And it’s surprisingly challenging. And you can play too, whilst gazing at photos of your favorite band (again, it’s entirely possible that I’m the only one who ‘gazes’ at photos of their favorite bands). Just find out who the bass player is, and then try to find him or her in the various photos. And if the band has a keyboardist (who isn’t the lead singer), then score! That adds a whole new level of difficulty. And bassists and keyboardists, again, my apologies. I love you, and everyone would go ‘What happened to the music?!’ if you weren’t there. But when you are there…well, you get the picture. It’s the life you chose.
Anyway, here’s the demo videos of the Hermida Audio overdrive pedals, the Zendrive 1, the Zendrive 2, and the Mosferatu. And for the interested parties, the Zen 2 has a Tung Sol tube in it, as opposed to the stock one.
So hopefully the videos showed what they can do, and the differences between them. But to summarize, I’ll just say they are all 3 incredibly sounding pedals, in my humble opinion. Very lifelike, dynamic, and able to let your guitar’s and amp’s tones shine through, while adding their own respective flavors of really full-bodied, yet clear, overdrive. Here’s the rundown:
Zendrive 2: probably the bluesiest of the bunch, and the most amp-like. Good for low overdriven, saggy tones, and great dynamic response. Very touch sensitive, and if an amp’s bluesy, low overdriven tube sound is what you’re after, I’ve yet to hear a pedal like this one. Also has a blue led, which adds a lot to the tone…in my mind. Love those blue led’s.
Mosferatu: probably the best for a high gain, overdrive/distortion sound. Retains its full character at high gain settings. Can also do low gain settings very nicely. Some say this pedal in essence, ‘has a Zendrive in it’, meaning it can sound just like a Zendrive, but also get the high gain stuff. I didn’t think it was right on with sounding like a Zen at low gain settings, but it did sound great at low gains, with its own character. It also really opens up at 12 volts, as opposed to the 9. And it has a red led, which sucks, because I love this pedal.
Zendrive 1: probably somewhere in between the Zen 2 and the Mosferatu. Excels at bluesy, low overdrive sounds, but is a little stauncher sounding than the Zendrive 2, with less sag. This isn’t good or bad, it’s just for whatever your preference is. And it can cop some high gain sounds…not quite as good as the Mos, but still very good. Again, opens up and gets a lot more clean headroom when run at 12 volts. And another beautiful, blue led. Just shines.
And for what it’s worth, I’m keeping the Mosferatu. But everyone’s different. Not everyone’s right, but everyone’s different. hehe I’m kidding, of course. If I had the money, I’d be keeping all of them. Maybe not to play, but at least to gaze at. Cuddle with only every once in a while.