How to Get or Build a Zendrive Clone pedal
As long as I can remember I have wanted a Zendrive pedal. I don’t know why I never purchased one, it seems like guitars, amps, and other things have always taken precedence. For those of you that don’t know, the Zendrive is a highly sought after as the key to the “Robben Ford sound”. It’s also sometimes called the Dumble in a box. Dumble is a boutique amp used by Robben Ford, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, Mark Tremonti, and John Mayer (among others). They usually cost $20-$30K new, and can run $40-$60K used (because of the waiting list). You can see why guitar players seek out the lower cost alternative of having the Dumble sound in a pedal.
As an example, listen to the solo passage of nearly any Robben Ford song and you’ll hear the biting yet stunningly clear subtle overdrive boost of the Zendrive:
The Zendrive was built by Hermida Audio. Alfonso Hermida had been building the pedals in Germany by hand for years, and had built up quite the backlog of orders. So much so that you would see people selling them on eBay for $400-$500. You can still find auctions of his original builds going for high dollar amounts, even though the original purchased directly from Hermida was only $199:
|$138.50 (3 Bids)|
End Date: Monday Nov-5-2018 16:15:05 PST
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End Date: Monday Nov-26-2018 10:32:50 PST
Buy It Now for only: $319.00
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End Date: Monday Nov-5-2018 22:07:53 PST
Buy It Now for only: $620.00
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End Date: Thursday Nov-1-2018 16:20:42 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $142.50
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|$300.00 (0 Bids)|
End Date: Thursday Nov-1-2018 11:42:11 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $400.00
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Then back in 2013 Lovepedal announced it would take over production of Zendrive from Hermida audio. Lovepedal raised the cost of Zendrive up to $239.00. I really want a Zendrive – I really do. But having paid so little for so many of my great pedals (either in auctions or things like Joyo), I just don’t know if I want to pay that much for a single pedal. Especially because I’m interested in so many pedals (like Klon, Timmy, etc) I can’t afford to have them all.
This began my quest to see if there was a decent Zendrive clone out there or not. It turns out there are some pedals that are “similar” on the market. You really have 2 ways to get a Zendrive clone – you can either buy one or build one. First we’ll review the ones you can buy and play right out of the box.
Dumble Pedal Clones You Can Buy
Hotone Grass Overdrive
The most surprising thing about this little bugger is the fact that it’s only about $79 on Amazon. I like to buy pedals on Amazon – shipping is free with Prime! =)
Here’s a video comparing the Zendrive Red with the Hotone Grass:
Mooer Rumble Drive
The Mooer Rumble Drive is another little green overdrive that claims to be the “Dumble in a box”. It’s also available for the insanely cheap price of $66 on Amazon right now.
If you think that’s a crazy price, you should watch this video comparing a Zendrive to the Mooer Rumble Drive. I was shocked at how near identical they were on tone and sound. The only thing they aren’t alike on is the pricetag.
*UPDATE* I have now had the Mooer Rumble drive on my pedal board for over a year, and I use it at almost every gig. It has replaced my (well used) Route 66 American overdrive pedal by Visual Sound.
So, you might be wondering – what is the other end of the spectrum? Shin Suziki makes a pedal called the Dumbleoid. Shin is actually a respected Dumble amp tech, so he might just know a thing or two. He created the Dumbloid pedal to recreate the authentic Dumble sound, but it comes with a pricetag of $599.
Is it worth it? You be the judge:
In the mid-range price tag area comes the Wampler Euphoria pedal. This clocks in with a pricetag of about $199.
I personally don’t like the sound of this pedal, but they say that you can get John Mayer like tones with it (a known Dumble and Two-Rock player):
Special Mention: Dumkudo
Zendrive Clone Kits You Can Build
You may not know this (if you’re not into electronics), but there is a whole network of people online that buy pedals, tear down the circuits, and then attempt to rebuild (clone) the pedals themselves. Then, many of them share their circuit findings online – and many sell kits where you can build your own replica.
First I’ll show you somme places you can buy a Zendrive clone kit.
Zenith Pro Kit
This the a href=”http://www.pedalpartsandkits.com/zenith/”>Zenith Pro Kit from Pedal Parts and Kits.com. It looks like you can get the kit with drilled or undrilled pedal box for $60-$70 US.
Here’s a video of the Zenith Zendrive clone in action:
MEK UK Zendrive Clone
MEK UK apparently had a Zendrive clone for sale a few years back. I don’t see it on their website currently, but Guitar Kid Builder has an old review of it. Maybe if you contact MEK UK directly, they can still get you one.
Zen Tone Overdrive
3PDT.com out of China has a full clone kit of sale for under $50 US. It includes all instructions for the build, case, parts, literally everything except for knobs. I have not been able to find a YouTube review of this pedal yet, but I was able to find a few favorable reviews of their kits on reddit. They seem to have a decent Klon Centaur clone kit for sale there as well.
The Zen Overdrive
Musikding.de has The Zen Overdrive kit for sale for 23 euros (which currently amounts to about $25 USD). Looks like costs vary depending how you want your kit configured. I was not able to find a video review of this pedal either, but there are plenty of them to the other pedal kits they sell. At this low pricepoint, it might be worth a try.
If you’re looking for a Zendrive clone or Dumble type guitar pedal there sure are a lot of options out there. While there are some great clone kits for sale that you can assemble yourself, just keep in mind that you’ll need to have basic electronics and soldering experience to put them together and troubleshoot any issues you have during the build.
While you might save a few bucks by getting a kit, it is interesting to note that you can get a comparable pedal completely ready to go out of the box for just $20 more. It looks like the Mooer and Hotone options are a great value for the money! My money is on the Mooer (because that’s the one I have).