How to Get or Build a Zendrive Clone pedal

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:


USD 145.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-18 02:35:43

Original Hermida Audio Zendrive 2 Hand wired and signed, The real one.

USD 345.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-18 02:28:35


USD 95.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-23 14:20:25

"Original Hermida Audio Zendrive 2 Hand wired and signed, The real one.

USD 345.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-18 02:15:28

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.

Dumbleoid Pedal

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:

Wampler Euphoria

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

You might want to check out the harder to find Dumkodo pedal. Here’s a review if you’re interested.

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=””>Zenith Pro Kit from Pedal Parts and It looks like you can get the kit with drilled or undrilled pedal box for $60-$70 US.

Zendrive clone kit

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 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 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!

Pete Townsend “Who I Am” Book Review

Recently I heard someone say that they had been listening to the Pete Townsend book “Who I Am” on their daily commute. Since my commute to work is a little over an hour, it sounded like something that might be interesting to me. I am always interested in musicians lives, and learning more about how they create, how they live, and the people they interacted with through the rise to fame. Often if I read or listen to a book, I end up getting a whole new perspective on that person (or their band) – and I listen to their entire musical catalogue knowing more than I ever did about how it was created. It gives a new depth and meaning to the songs (for me).

Let me start by saying that I was never an avid fan of the Who. I don’t know why. In my own band I have played Can’t Explain, Squeeze Box, and probably Substitute. I know Magic Bus, Bargain, Baba O’Riley, Who Are You, and the other standard hits that have been reveled on radio for decades. To me they were just one of the standard rock bands you heard on the radio growing up.

When I downloaded the audiobook “Who I Am” from audible, I thought it was interesting that it was narrated by Pete Townsend himself (the entire book). This was not only unusual, but it provided a very unique backdrop for everything I was about to learn because it was entirely within his voice (literally). As Pete talks you can hear how excited he gets about certain parts, laughing away, and others when he reminiscently laments about mistakes, life lessons, and things he’s learned along the way.

Here’s a link to the audiobook should you decide to pick it up: Who I Am: Pete Townsend. If you prefer the hard copy – there’s that too: Who I Am: A Memoir

Who I Am:  Pete Townsend

There are so many things I could tell you about this book that would make you want to read it. As a musician, or just as a music lover. I can break down the reasons into 3 categories: artistry, musical history, and musicianship.

The Artistry of Pete Townsend

I have never read (or listened) to a biography where the author was able to recall his life in such uncanny detail decades later. Details of his childhood are available in startling detail, but his description of them results in a minds eye painting of unusually vivid imagery. You will hear about an event in a point and place in time, and the description might include the time of day, how he felt, weather or climate, and descriptions of the scenery that leave nothing to the imagination. He seems to remember not only his entire state of mind at any point in time, but also the entirety of his surroundings. Many people hire ghost writers for these sort of things, but I’m certain Pete did all his own writing, and the narration really brings it to life. I now have a great respect for him now as both a writer, and an orator having read this book.

Additionally there are so many things I did not know about Pete. I didn’t know that he was a true artist, having studied art in school, and attending an art college. He was not only a sculptor, but had his band at the time (The Detours) not been making so much money he would have alternatively become a graphic designer. He designed The Who logo (and many others).
Later when you read about how he concepted and wrote music, composed songs and lyrics, and the underlying themes and meanings of entire albums you will likely begin to understand the true meaning of the word “artist”. There are very few people that have done what he has – largely on his own apart from the band. Granted they ultimately performed what he created, but for the most part he had to take it to them to be interpreted.

As crazy as it sounds, before reading this book what I knew nothing of Pete beyond being the crazy guitar smashing guitar player for The Who, and his reputation for being somewhat of an asshole. Having read the book I now see him from the true artist and genius he is. I don’t say that lightly.

Musical History, As Influenced by Pete Townsend

I like to read musicians biographies because I learn tidbits of information the help me to understand a bit about what happened “behind the scenes”. You find out what circumstances might have caused certain songs or albums to come to be. I learned so many things in this book, I can’t list them all here. Suffice to say if you read it as well you will find out as much as I did – but here are the things that really stood out to me:

Pete Townsend invented the Marshall stack. This is something I truly knew nothing of. Moving away from Vox amplifiers in search of something louder and more aggressive Pete was one of the very first customers of James Marshall. We all know about the first JTM45 combo being produced for Eric Clapton, but you may not know about Pete using the very first Marshall heads with giant 8×10 speaker cabinets. Pete would haul 2 heads and 2 8×10 cabs with him to every gig. The were so huge and hard to transport, he asked James Marshall could he cut them in half and make two 4×12 cabinets that he could “stack”. And this is how the “Marshall stack” was created.

Pete Townsend turned Jimi Hendrix on to Marshall amps. Consider everything that you know about Jimi Hendrix. Chas Chandler brought him from New York to England to create a band and record him. But he had yet to find or define his signature sound using Marshall amps and feedback. In fact Pete had been breaking ground on stage for a few years creating feedback live with his giant amps and Rickenbacker guitars – something he was known for. He and John Entwistle had been using 200 watt Marshall Major heads live and had one of the loudest stage volumes heard, rivalled by maybe only one band (Vanilla Fudge). Because of this Chas asked Pete to help Jimi select what amps might be best for him, and Pete recommended him using either Marshall or Sound City. Eventually Pete moved on to use Sound City (which eventually became of course Hiwatt). When Cream and Hendrix toured the states with Marshall stacks, they because known for their adoption (even though the “stack” was basically created by Pete Townsend and John Entwistle, and the Marshall Major amps (which were experimental) were pioneered by them as well.

Pete Townsend 8x10 speaker cab

Pete Townsend’s Affect on Stage Performance. There are definitely some assertations within the book where Pete may express his opinion about what his affect was on others. There is no denying that the influence of both Pete and The Who has had direct impact on generations of musicians all over the world. Pete claims that “Live at Leeds” (released in 1970) was the first guitar driven heavy rock album of its time – even stating that he believes it to be the beginning of the heavy metal movement (pre-dating Sabbath). It seems Pete believes this because of a review at the time stating that Live at Leeds was the heaviest guitar album of all time to date. I believe that it certainly contributed in a way that I hadn’t thought about before, but I don’t think of it as a defining metal record.

I do, however, believe that Pete took stage performance to a new level. Now, decades later, the music stands solely on its own. But unless you were actually there seeing them live pre-1980, or view old performance footage you miss the entire performance and entertainment factor. Even though he stole the “windmill” from Keith Richards, without his 4 foot vertical stage leaps and stage antics would there ever have been a David Lee Roth or Eddie Van Halen performing the way they did? They pretty much were the first to set the bar for how a rock band should perform on stage. There is a nod in the book describing how David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust were directly created by Bowie attending a Who show.

Beyond the stage performance they were certainly the first to use volume, stacks of amps, and feedback the way that they did. They also invented destroying your instruments and gear on stage. I think that some people see this as a schtick – much like the makeup of Kiss. When you read the book you’ll see not only does Pete see this as peformance art, but direct references to the artist which influenced him to start doing it on stage.

Here’s a 1966 video showing his use of the huge 8×10 stacks of Marshalls with Rickenbacker guitar, examples of feedback, destroying gear on stage, along with all the preliminary examples of stage prowess:

Here’s a later performance of them on stage at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1976:

The Musicianship of Pete Townsend (and The Who)

Vere rarely do we talk about the musicianship of somebody who plays only one instrument. Such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, a virtuoso – but only known for playing one instrument within one genre. I think that true artistry and musicianship is unusual when it transcends and spills over to other areas. If you didn’t know anything about Pete Townsend or The Who you might not think of him as a much of a ground breaker…until you read this book.

We already talked about Pete pushing the barriers of live performance, including volume, feedback, and destructive performance. He was also able to drive music concepts to new levels with his song writing abilities and album themes like Tommy and Quadrophenia.

What you probably don’t know about is Pete’s experience creating home recording studios from the early to mid 60’s and beyond. He had so much success recording with his own home studio, he set up a separate company to install and configure them for other musicians. He was one of the first musicians to have and use a multi-track tape recorder in a home studio.

The “Concept Album” and Rock Opera: If you were a child of 70’s or 80’s (or after), then The who rock opera Tommy (1969) may have escaped you altogether. But at the time, nothing like it had ever been created other than maybe Sgt. Pepper. The concept album Quadrophenia came after that – with its own story to tell. It goes well beyond being a musician or song writer when you’re able to create an entire production such as this.

The Synthesizer Alchemist: Another barrier broken by Pete was the use of synthesizers, and one of the first to use them on a recorded rock album. Most of the discerning listening public do not know that all of these tracks, such as the entire sequenced backing track to Baba O’Riley – were entirely created by him in his home studio. Then he brought them to the band studio, where they played their parts to his track. Pete used and programmed some of the first sythesizers ever created and firmly believed that people with nearly no musical ability would be able to use them to create music. So does this also make Pete the definitive founder of all of EDM by default?



If you are a Who fan – you should love this book. If you are not a Who fan, you may become one by reading this book. If you like to read and get different discerning points of view and insight into tight musical communities of the 60’s and 70’s you will enjoy this. Especially the tales of interaction with Hendrix, the Stones, Eric Clapton, Bill Graham, and many, many others. You even get the unique blow by blow of the legendary Woodstock performance including how The Who almost didn’t sign on to perform (and how they got them to).

I highly recommend this book both as a guitarist and a musician, but most as a lover of rock history and those who defined it.

Again – here’s a link to the audiobook should you decide to pick it up: Who I Am: Pete Townsend. If you prefer the hard copy – there’s that too: Who I Am: A Memoir

Why I Love My EVH Wolfgang Special

This isn’t a review as much as it is they story of how I came to own my favorite and most played guitar of all time. My white EVH Wolfgang special. This is what it looked like the day it arrived in the mail. I had seen pictures of it online, but I had no idea the case was red crush velvet. Every time I open this bad boy in front of someone that hasn’t seen me open the case, they are wide eyed and say “wow!”. Beyond the way the inside looks, this is a high quality ATA approved SKB flight case with snap latches and professional locks.

EVH Wolfgang Special White

Now that you’ve seen what it looks like when you open it, let’s talk about how it plays. My wife showed me this guitar online, and I had never played it before. I watched several videos online to get a sense of what it would sound like. You never know how that will work, because different amps and pedals, even different hands make a difference in how a guitar sounds. Even the equipment used to record it can change the sound. Having said that, I viewed some videos that at least showed me the guitar could easily be used for everything from Jazz and blues to hardcore metal – and everything in between.

Now let’s talk about how this thing plays. For years I had been in search of a better playing guitar. Better for me anyway. I had Strats and Teles – lots of them. I tried Schecter, Ibanez – both old and new. I had Washburn, Peavey, even a Les Paul and an SG. You name it – I tried it. I had made in Mexico, Korea, China, Indonesia, Japan, even made in America.

I read the specs of this guitar and the two things that stood out for me were the pickups and the frets. The frets the model I purchased were stainless steel. Almost all guitars have nickel frets (that wear out over time). Stainless steel frets don’t wear down – they’re good forever. The difference between these and most guitars is that they are medium-small frets (which is what Eddie prefers and they’re called “vintage frets”). Most guitars have medium-large frets – which are better for bending strings (and normally called “jumbo frets”). Medium small frets are better for hammer-ons, pull-offs, and legato style playing. Before getting this guitar I don’t think I realized that this was the way I prefer to play. Also, the neck is super smooth, and playing is almost like playing on glass.

*UPDATE 2016* The Wolfgang Special guitar has been made in multiple locations including Japan, China (Indonesia), and (now) Mexico. Be aware that while the guitar is essentially the same, all of the new ones made in Mexico appear to have jumbo nickel frets and not stainless steel. Depending on what your preferences are, just be aware of that when making your purchase.

The pickups are so incredible they are hard to describe. They are high gain – but not like you think. They are high gain in the sense that if you plug in this guitar and set your amp to the perfect volume setting, and then plugin a different guitar (like a strat, tele, or paul) you’ll find you have to increase the volume quite a bit to be at the same level. But they aren’t hi-gain like EMG’s or Dimarzio Super Distortion, or even Pearly Gates. At every single volume level they are clear as a bell. But they will take on the characteristics of whatever you put them through. You can play using your volume as the main control for distortion and lead volume, or keep it at one consistent volume and let your pedals do the work – it works equally as well either way.

Let me explain. My amp has one clean and two dirty channels. If I stay on the clean channel by itself, and the volume in the guitar is all the way up – you might get a tiny bit of breakup, but for the most part it’s clear as a bell. Tone for days and days. If I turn up the gain a little on the clean channel I can do anything from Stones tone to country, or even blues. Turn up the gain a little more and we’re in classic rock territory. If I switch over to the crunch channel I can get everything from Def Leppard to Judas Priest, Foo Fighters to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, with some higher gain you can even get Slipknot, Korn, Avenged Sevenfold – you name it. On my channel the thing just sings and sings.

All of this is just through my amp. I think that many people (at first look) would classify this as a rock guitar (which it can be). However, it can adapt to the sound of nearly any amp or pedal. I should say that it complements the sound of any pedal or amp (and makes it better). I have pedals that go from light crunch to full stack and they all sound awesome through the EVH Wolfgang special. I’ve been in cover bands where I needed to sound like country, rock, pop, metal, 80’s hair metal, blues, emo – and I’ve had no problems at all making the same guitar sound like all those styles (and more).

The last thing I’ll say about this guitar is the price. Nearly all the guitars I’ve had were under $1,000. This was one of the first ones I ever paid more than $1,000 for. It appears that the price has gone down since they first came out on some models, find them from about $900 – $1,500 today depending on model. It was the best investment I ever made for a quality instrument.

One last thing you could consider is getting one from eBay. Sometimes you can get a great deal used. Just click on one of the pictures below to explore what’s currently listed and for sale.

Who Played the Peavey Mace Amp?

Seems like I end up hearing classic songs lately and wonder “what amp did they use on that?” That very thought came to my mind when playing “Any Way You Want It”, I wondered – what did Neal Schon use for those screaming lead solos on that classic song?

A few Google’s later I found that the first few Journey albums were recorded with none other than the Peavey Mace amp. This is crazy considering it’s a solid state preamp with tube power amp (a 160 watt amp with 6 power tubes!!).

Here’s Neal Schon playing on the Departure tour (used the Peavey Mace for that entire tour):

But guess who else used the Peavey Mace? Lynyrd Skynyrd! Turns out that amp is “THE Lynyrd Skynyrd sound”.

here’s an example of exactly what I mean:

and another one here:

That’s insane~! Who would’ve thought the sound some of the greatest classic rock hits could be a Peavey amp (let alone solid state preamp)???

Doesn’t look like there are a lot of these around, but you can find one or two every now and again on ebay:

Peavey MACE 160 Watt Vintage TUBE Guitar Amplifier RARE 2 x 12" Lynrd Skynrd

USD 450.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-17 04:05:27

PEAVEY VT Deuce/Mace Primo Tube Set 6L6GC

USD 97.48 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-22 06:42:09


USD 32.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-20 18:47:40

Tuki Padded Amp Cover for Peavey Mace 320T Amplifier Head 1/2" Foam

USD 55.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-20 18:33:28

70's Vintage Peavey VT Series Mace Tube 160 Watt Amp Head - 6 X 6L6

USD 479.95 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-19 22:48:37

Tung-Sol Tube Upgrade Kit For Peavey Mace Amps 6L6GCSTR

USD 139.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-20 17:27:26


USD 30.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-17 21:03:50

Kramer 84 Baretta Guitar (EVH) now on sale

Vintage 84 Kramer Guitar

It’s hard for me to say this (because I’m 43), but remember the (now) “vintage” 84 Kramer Baretta guitar? The Kramer Baretta was the famed hockey stick neck one pickup, one volume pot Floyd Rose masterpiece played by Eddie Van Halen.

Remember the guitar magazine ads with EVH holding the Baretta like this?

EVH Baretta

There were actually a whole series of Kramer ads like that, there’s another one with him holding a Kramer Pacer like this:

Eddie Van Halen Kramerr Pacer

So you’re probably wondering already why I’m lamenting about Kramer guitars of years gone by? Recently my wife picked me up a Kramer Focus 3000 from 1983-4 at a yard sale for a rediculous price with OHSC and stock pickups and floyd rose (and working coil tap). I’ll blog about that in another post.

What surprised me in a few google searches was the fact that Gibson now owns the Kramer name and has been reissuing various guitars, like the Kramer 84 Baretta, and the Kramer Pacer (among others). I can’t believe they did the reissue with the hockey stick necks (also AWESOME!). Note in the EVH pics above that one with Ed has the hockey stick neck, but the Pacer has the pointy headstock.

Check out this fabulous Kramer 84 Baretta reissue:

84 Kramer Baretta reissue

Either this thing must be so very new that not everyone has it (yet), because you can’t even get it at Musician’s Friend or Guitar Center. You can find it however at American Musical right now in stock. In fact they even have this new 8 payment plan (that I just used to get mine) so you can get this axe for just $84/mo if you do that deal (and have it to play in just a few days).

*UPDATE*: you can also now get the 84 Kramer Baretta at ZZounds for the same prices with 8 payments as well!!

84 Kramer Baretta

They also have the Vintage Kramer Pacer dual humbucker model for sale too (in Tiger stripe!):

vintage Kramer Pacer

They also have the Kramer Pacer there too, which comes in a both a cool burst or “Tiger Stripe” version (AWESOME!). I like this Baretta because it has the maple fingerboard, and I prefer that to the rosewood. What version would you get?

You can also still find quite a few Kramer Baretta guitars on ebay now as well:

Kramer 84 Baretta Electric Guitar w Floyd Rose Tremolo & Seymour Duncan JB White

USD / 592.90 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-22 15:40:20

Kramer Baretta Style Body.

USD 145.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-17 20:41:00

Vintage '80s Custom Snakeskin KRAMER BARETTA! One-of-a-kind!

USD 1700.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-20 02:10:08

Kramer American Baretta Floyd Rose Waterslide Neck Decals CHOOSE any 2

USD 17.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-18 01:00:49

1985 Kramer Baretta Factory Modified OHSC W/Case candy 1 of 1

USD / 1100.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-17 02:04:33

Vintage Kramer Baretta Re-Issue

USD 775.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-22 07:07:26

1987 Kramer Baretta electric guitar GLOSS BLACK American EMG Floyd Rose E serial

USD 899.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-19 21:45:11

Kramer Guitars -Chokum / Bones / Brooks - Baretta & Striker - 2000 Advertisement

USD 5.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-19 19:09:09

1987-88 Kramer Baretta Schaller R2 1 5/8" Made In Germany Black Locking Nut #3

USD 13.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-21 16:32:47

1987-88 Kramer USA Baretta Guitar Factory Semi Electronics, Volume Pot, Knob

USD 13.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-21 16:39:50

ZT Lunchbox Combo Guitar Amp Review

ZT Combo amp review
In the last few years boutique amps have fallen into favor quite a bit, but as a sub-segment of that “lunchbox” style amps have become even more popular with guitar players. When you think of a lunchbox style guitar amp the Vox Nightrain comes to mind, or the Mesa Transatlantic. But more than likely you’ve seen one of the little ZT amps, because they look just like a lunchbox with a speaker in it (basically the same size). These have been very popular little amps for a long time, and we’ve seen all kinds of manufacturers come out in the last year or two with little 5 watt amps now two. Kustom has a 5 watt stack, the Ephiphone valve junior has been around 5+ years, even Fender came out this year with a “pawn shop” series of amps.

The amp I’m reviewing today is one that just came on my radar – the ZT Lunchbox Combo. It’s basically the lunchbox amp concept taken to the next level. It’s a larger size, with a 12″ speaker, and the housing (the entire amp really) is just barely bigger than the speaker itself. This is a solid state amp boasting 200 watts, with just barebones features, treble, mid, bass, volume, and gain. It even has effects loop on the rear and 8 ohm supported speaker out.

If you read the reviews of this amp online you’ll find nearly everyone says that it’s very beefy sounding (which we found to be the case). This is despite the fact that it’s in very tiny metal housing and the entire unit is only 22 lbs. And yet at that size and weight it’s perfect (at 200 watts) for nearly any type of gig you might want to take it too.

Being a solid state amp, another thing you’ll find is that it’s VERY pedal friendly. I’ve heard some people say that this would make a good jazz amp, but I found it equally as useful for a country or rock guy in a working blues or wedding cover band. With the right pedals you can easily go from SRV to Judas Priest, and back to dance rock or Skynyrd. Some say that the covering on the metal starts to peel over time, but then again this thing is metal – and I haven’t owned a traditional amp that didn’t have some type of damage or tolex coming off in places.

Here’s a video with some blues rock through the ZT Lunchbox combo amp:

Here’s another video review that shows the combo along with the extension cab and some pedals:

You can find all kind of versions of this amp (small and combo, new and used) on ebay right now:

ZT Amplifiers - Lunchbox Junior 35W Electric Guitar Combo Amplifier, New LBJ1S

USD 178.20 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-19 19:59:04

Genuine Nissan Sentra Combo Lamp Assembly 26550-ZT50B

USD 97.16 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-19 20:37:06

Genuine Nissan Sentra Combo Lamp Assembly 26550-ZT50A

USD 97.16 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-19 20:37:19

Genuine Nissan Sentra Combo Lamp Assembly 26555-ZT50A

USD 97.16 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-19 20:37:15

Genuine Nissan Sentra Combo Lamp Assembly 26555-ZT50B

USD 97.16 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-19 20:37:15


USD 77.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-17 07:51:13

ZT Amp combo amp LunchBox Jr. P/O

USD 435.79 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-21 09:29:53

ZT Amp combo amp LUNCHBOX lunch box P/O

USD 708.42 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-21 09:19:15

NISSAN OEM 10-12 Sentra Taillight Tail Light-Rear-Combo Assy Left 26555ZT50A

USD 131.44 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-20 01:30:50

NISSAN OEM 10-12 Sentra Taillight Tail Light-Rear-Combo Assy Right 26550ZT50B

USD 105.74 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-20 01:30:55

Bare Knuckle Pickups The Mule Review

If you’re been reading any of the guitar magazines over the last few years, odds are you’ve seen that ad with the shirtless gentleman with a handlebar mustache about to bare knuckle fist fight. It’s a great logo, and “Bare Knuckle Pickups” is just about the greatest description for a brand I could think of. There’s really no thinking about what they well, or what their pickups sound like – it speaks for itself.

the mule pickups review

Today we’re going to review the “Mule” humbucker pickups because I’ve been researching some options for PAF ’59 pickups. There are so many options, Seymour Duncan, Dimarzio, and even original Gibson re-issue PAF ’59’s. PAF is the famous “patent applied for” name given the pickups first made famous in Les Paul guitars – and the SG’s and others. They had a 100% nickel silver baseplate, maple spacers, and nickel plated slugs, and Alnico magnets.

So the question is – could a modern pickup sound as good as the original ’59 PAF? I want you to see something that floored me, check out this video from a parts guitar with The Mule pickups installed:

here’s another video of The Mule installed in a ’59 burst replica:

I’ll warn you now – they cost about $300 (and they’re worth every penny).

Here’s some on ebay right now:

NEW! Bare Knuckle The Mule humbucker BRIDGE pickup with aged nickel cover 4 con

USD 164.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-22 19:57:35

Bare Knuckle The Mule Humbucker Pickpup Set Raw Nickel Covers Short Legs

USD 295.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-19 03:38:32

Bare Knuckle The Mule Vintage Output Humbucker Bridge Pickup Cream Coil

USD 169.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-21 03:18:28

NEW! Bare Knuckle The Mule humbucker covered calibrated set w/ raw nickel covers

USD 279.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-18 21:27:23

Bare Knuckle The Mule 6-String Calibrated Humbucker Set 50mm Long Leg Aged Nickl

USD 374.85 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-22 08:25:43

Joyo Vintage Overdrive Pedal with JRC4588 Chip (like TS808)

I’ve been buying expensive guitar effects pedals for years. Fulltone, Visual Sound, TC Electronics, Voodo, Boss, DOD – and I’ve always steered away from cheap pedals (like Axion, Yamaha, Danelectro, etc.).

So I’m surfing ebay earlier this year for new pedals, and I come across this pedal company called “Joyo” out of China I’ve never heard of and it caught my eye because it had a JRC4588 chip like the old TS808 Ibanez Tube Screamers (AND I was looking to replace my old Yngvie Overdrive by DOD).

I did some googling, and a half dozen videos and reviews later I had ordered the “Joyo Vintage Overdrive” for a paltry $38 + shipping (new). I figured if it sucks, for that money – I can’t go wrong. In the reviews I liked the tone, it was solid construction, with true bypass – and every review was stellar.

Even though it pisses me off (as an American) – I have to give it to those bastards in China, this GD pedal is every bit as good as any vintage Tubescreamer I’ve ever tried. The construction is every bit as good (if not BETTER) than the old MXR pedals from the 80’s – the thing is just quality.

So I plug this thing in on my pedalboard, and I use mainly my Visual Sound Route 66 for distortion, and then the Joyo Vintage Overdrive over it for leads. It just sings, and (in my opinion) it’s so much better than the Yngwie preamp overdrive was I’d had for years.

I also use it a LOT on it’s own. Say you want the stones dirty clean sound, run this pedal by itself with the volume rolled back a bit and your Brown Sugar and Honky Tonk Woman all day long!

You can View the Joyo Company website here

Here’s a Video review of the Joyo Vintage Overdrive with a Strat and an Orange amp:

Here’s a video of a Gibson SG Standard and the Joyo Vintage overdrive (excellent video!)

Best place to find the Joyo Vintage Overdrive is on eBay (just like I did). Just know that because there are a lot of people wanting these now some people are overcharging. Beware buying directly from Hong Kong and China – you might get burned. There’s a guy I buy from San Diego called “Slide Meister” who’s the cheapest and in the US. If you’re international, there’s a buy in Australia who sells them for great prices, and always bundles free stuff with them.

joyo vintage overdrive tube screamer

USD 13.50 (5 Bids) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-18 06:28:00

High Quality Joyo JF-01 Vintage Overdrive Guitar Effect Pedal True Bypass T6F7

USD 27.65 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-17 03:43:37

Joyo JF-01 Vintage Overdrive Guitar Effect Pedal Green Aluminum Alloy Body M0M8

USD 27.78 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-23 04:50:26

Joyo JF 01 Vintage Overdrive Guitar Perfect Effect Pedal True Bypass JRC4588Chip

USD 16.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-17 17:14:40

Joyo JF-01 Vintage Overdrive Guitar Effect Pedal True Bypass+Free Ship K1A1

USD 27.77 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-23 04:50:21

Mini Joyo JF-01 Vintage Overdrive Guitar Effect Pedal True Bypass+Free Fast Ship

USD 25.20 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-18 07:55:29

Army Green JOYO JF-01 Vintage Overdrive Effects Pedal Drive Tone Volume Controls

USD 16.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-21 09:04:05

Joyo Vintage Overdrive Guitar Effect Pedal with True Bypass 9v Battery included

USD 53.85 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-23 06:48:28

Joyo JF-01 Green Vintage Overdrive Guitar Effect Pedal True Bypass Gift New H3S0

USD 26.97 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-23 17:28:06

Joyo JF 01 Vintage Overdrive Full Sound Guitar Effect Pedal With True Bypass

USD 20.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-18 03:36:28

Butler Silver Hammer Amp Video Review

This is a video review and demo of my Butler Silver Hammer guitar amp – which is a PTP (point to point) hand wired Plexi style amp. It’s like a Marshall Plexi, but the difference is that this amp actually has 2 channels (one clean, one overdrive), AND this amp has a master volume control on BOTH channels!

In the video I do a full walk through, including the controls on the front and the back, before doing a demo on each channel (straight in), and then I demo it with my pedalboard. Sorry about all the banter (some people complain that they just want to hear the amp, not all the specs), but I wanted to be sure to include everything I could think of for somebody actually interested in buying one of the amps.


Here’s the video of the Butler Silver Hammer built by Max Butler of Eaton Rapids, MI. If you’re interested in seeing more about his amps, visit


Visual Sound Route 66 Pedal Review – It’s American Overdrive!

I used a DOD digital effects pedal for years on a solid state amp, and one day a friend came over to jam – and he had his pedal board with him. He plugged it into one of my amps and we were playing some classic rock, and he was using this overdrive pedal that looked like home plate on a ball field. Actually, it had some scratchy pots – and he asked me if I would clean it for him.

Cleaning electronics isn’t my favorite thing, but I agreed to do it mainly just to have the pedal to play around with for a week or so. The version he had was from the 80’s or 90’s I believe, and the pedal was built like a tank. It looked like this one:


All I really did was take the pedal apart, and then spray the volume pots with De-Oxit (to take the scratchiness out), and then I tightened the input jacks a bit, and bent them in a tiny bit (to make the connections tighter). Then it was time to fire it up and check it out!

You can see in the image above that the Route 66 is actually two pedals in the same unit. You have an overdrive distortion pedal on the left, and a compressor on the right. Even though both pedals are in the same box, you just have one input and one output jack, and 3 separate pot controls for each, in addition to a switch.

First off, I want to point out that this pedal is still being made new (by Visual Sound) today, and it looks nearly the same, with the exception of the the raised backplate, and the broader foot control switches (that look like smushed mushrooms):


You can see in the image above that all knobs and controls are the same in both versions. I plugged the pedal into my tube amp, which at the time was a Carvin Legacy. I started with the overdrive side, and the drive and tone at about 2 o’clock, and the volume at 10 o’clock.

I have to say I immediately fell in love with the overdrive side of this pedal. Since testing this pedal, I have bought one for my own pedal board, and the settings are the exact same to this day. There is a “bass boost” switch (which I never use). You can swing the gain up or down and get from Tom Petty and ZZ top sounds, all the up to Metallica, Judas Priest, AC/DC – you truly have nearly every single American “classic rock” sound covered. With the volume you can choose to use it only as a straight overdrive, or to boost the signal for a lead / overdrive. Generally I use it as an distortion overdrive only – and I’ll tell you why next.

The other side of this pedal is a “compressor”. A compressor is an effect that “compresses” the signal and makes it louder. You can think of it as a boost, but it also gives it a bigger, fatter, rounder character as well. The compressor also has it’s own sustain, tone, and gain knobs. The switch is whether the tone is on or off. The sustain knob controls how compressed the signal is, the higher it is the longer the notes “sing”. The gain isn’t exactly an overdrive, but it does make the signal more dirty. So you can choose if the compressor is more of a dirty or clean boost for your signal.

The reason that this pedal is so unique, is because you can just use the clean channel on your amp, and then use the compressor to get a rolling stones type dirty sound. It’s also great for country, and even blues. On the other hand, you can use the overdrive side for an entire song “on”, and then hit the compressor for leads. This is great for that “little change in your pocket, going jang-a-lang-a-lang” type songs, or even heavier stuff. I also own a Tubeworks Realtube pedal that I use a lot that is more Bluesbreaker-ish – and I like to play with that on blues songs, but then use the Route 66 overdrive (with the Tubeworks pedal still on) for just searing, stinging leads.

I think it’s unbelievable that you can get the Route 66 for only $149 brand new, and compared to all the boutique pedals on the market, this thing is priced quite affordably for what you get. I’m a pedal addict, but I can’t get rid of this one no matter what I find. It just blends with any amp I use (solid state or tube), it sounds great with every guitar I own, and combines well with all other pedals I try it with. In the future I’ll review the other Visual Sound pedal that’s on my board.

You can get the Route 66 Pedal at Musician’s Friend:

Route 66 Pedal

Visual Sound Route 66 Compressor Guitar Effect Pedal

USD / 10.50 (2 Bids) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-19 01:30:36

Truetone Visual Sound Route 66 American Overdrive Compression Pedal

USD 179.95 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-22 19:24:23

TrueTone Route 66 V3 Overdrive / Compressor Guitar Effects Pedal P-04520

USD / 136.50 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-23 01:20:29

Visual Sound Route 66 V2 Overdrive / Compressor Guitar Effects Pedal P-04523

USD / 73.13 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-23 01:20:25

Putting the metal to the pedal: Cycling Route 66 with Love Hope and Strength by

USD 19.44 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-20 13:55:15