Hermida Technology Zendrive

Close your eyes. Inhale. Now exhale. Okay, now you’re ready to experience the enlightening grind of the Zendrive ($150 direct/street price N/A), the smoothest sounding distortion pedal in this roundup.

Sporting a seriously bright neon-blue LED, along with Volume, Gain, Tone, and Voice controls, the Zendrive’s inner being was inspired by Robben Ford and Larry Carlton.

And it shows, as their signature chirp and dynamic touch are a huge part of the Zendrive’s character. With all of the controls at high noon, the Zendrive is one of the most elegant sounding overdrives I’ve ever heard. The way it cleans up just by lightening up your touch is breathtaking. Funnily enough, the Zendrive doesn’t clean up particularly well when you lower your guitar’s volume. But with the Gain turned very low and the Volume cranked, I conjured a sweet lead boost that turned my Fender amps into sustain machines. The Voice control is essential to unlocking the Zendrive’s tonal nirvana, as it lets you fine-tune the pedal’s graceful bite. With my Gibson SG and the Marshall, I dialed-in the Zendrive’s Tone control for maximum sting, rolled off some of the rough edges with the Voice control, and got a stunning tone. Whether you’re seeking a glass-smooth overdriver with flawless string-to-string clarity or a clean booster/sweetener for a medium-wattage combo, your search is over.