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Zendrive Special Edition Review

slopeshoulder

Senior Member
Messages
7,867
I got my Zendrive Special Edition tonight and played for three hours, with boutique tele, strat, and Collings CL. Amp is clean Bruno Cowtipper (very revealing and detailed).
I have had a Zendrive for 2-3 years and also have a Hermida Distortion and Dual Booster on my board.

Here's what I heard:

- the original zendrive is wonderful and a modern classic for a reason. But the SE is even "better." (But I'm NOT selling my original ZD; see below). I was fully prepared to say "meh" and send it back. But no, it's staying, forever.
- the original ZD doesn't have a mid "hump" but it does a have a beautiful mid "peak." The SE doesn't really have that peak and is more open in the mids. BUT it replaces that peak with more "push," a more forward and amp-like presence across the mids. So it still has cut and bigness, but more like the real deal amp.
- the SE has a bit more audible bloom
- the SE has more gain (it's not very very high gain, but plenty for most uses)
- the SE is even more articluate and even less grainy. The thing I first and always loved about the Dumble thing was how it could sound saturated and complex, with great sustain, but with no fuzz/fizz/grain, and the ability to maintain the sound of your guitar. The SE really delivers here. The woodiness really comes though.
- Lastly, I like the SE more with strats than the original ZD. I always liked the ZD for everything but strats, and preferred an Eternty for strats because 1. it was more woody, and 2. it had more high end on the low notes: the pick attack and bite came though more on lower atrings and lower notes. I sold my burst E, so couldn't compare, but I noticed that the SE was delivering here more than the ZD. I cancelled plans I had to get another E. YMMV.
- Bonus: I stacked the ZD (volume and gain at 10:00 or less, voice backed off a hair) in front of the SE, and WOW! Not only did I get more gain and nearly infinite sustain, but the tone was UNCHANGED. Not even the transparent and wonderful Hermida boost was so transparent when used to push the SE (the booster added a hint of low end, as it "should"). But the ZD added in only added sustain, no more, no less.
- vs. Distortion. This is interesting, as the higher gain SE, especially stacked with ZD before it, can really rock, the Distortion has a different voice: more lows, more hair (harmonics), wider mids. A different beast.
- editorial comment: No offense to anyone, but I'm sorta sick of the cartlon-ford-chirp-smooth sound that permeates the zendrive clips online. Personally, I prefer the more open and hard hitting but musical live landreth tone. These pedals give it to me, in several flavors.

Alf is making great pedals. Between this and my about-to-grow Menatone stable, I may have to finally nail those altered pentatonics that have eluded me for so long.

I hope that helps.
Thanks ALF!

PS: oh yeah, it's in a cherry box. Slightly taller and longer.
 

Last Nerve

Shop Smart. Shop S-Mart.
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,463
Great review, slope.
Have you tried the Zen2 at all?
Just wondering the best option for a nice, smooth lead tone out of the three.
My amp gets all the rhythm tones I need, and I'm wondering about something smooth for a Tele.
 

johan

Member
Messages
2,565
Great review. I was going to order but since I have a ZD I thought....nah, I don't need it. Maybe I have to think twice. Sounds like a winner. I'm surprised there's not more talk about the Hermida pedals here.

(I agree on the SMOOTH Dumble tones. I don't know what they are looking for really. I've seen Robben 7 times and he's anything but smooth. It's not really what these amps are about. They are harmonically rich and dynamic, has sustain and bloom but also kind of bright and hard to play if you don't know how to work them.)

 

slopeshoulder

Senior Member
Messages
7,867
Great review, slope.
Have you tried the Zen2 at all?
Just wondering the best option for a nice, smooth lead tone out of the three.
My amp gets all the rhythm tones I need, and I'm wondering about something smooth for a Tele.
Never played a zen2. but that's the same circuit with a tube, this is a "refined" circuit. Believe me, people shouldn't dump their zendrives, but this thing is special.
 

slopeshoulder

Senior Member
Messages
7,867
Have you ever played a Mosferatu?
I owned 2 of them at one time (4 knob), but I found that Fetto and Menatone KOTB satisfied me more for that Marshall thing. But I love the new Hermida Distortion. I'm not anti-Mosferatu. I just didn't feel I had to keep it.
 




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