A number of years ago, I reviewed Alfonso
Hermida’s Zendrive overdrive pedal, at
which time I called it: “Robben-in-a-box.”
Since then, multitudes seeking Robben
Ford’s creamy tone—and lacking the wherewithal for a Dumble amplifier—have sought
out this amazing sounding pedal. Ford himself has been spied playing through a standard Fender Twin for a clean sound, while
using the Zendrive for his distorted tone.
Hermida recently released two new pedals:
the Nu-Valve overdrive, using rare miniature tubes, and a super simple but amazing
sounding reverb called, uh, Reverb. He is a
BY MICHAEL ROSS
full-time effects manufacturer, but for him it
is more than a job.
“This is a business for me because I have
to make a living, but the way I look at it is
I am trying to make a difference,” he says.
“My approach has been to forget the bottom line and just design the stuff for the
musician—even if it is at the expense making a dollar more here or there.”
I called Alfonso in his Florida shop to delve
into the origins of a master effects builder.
What is your musical background?
I am a mostly self-taught guitarist. I have
been playing since I was eight. I played in
bands, but at one point I had to decide
whether to stay in music or engineering.
Guess which one won?
What is your engineering background?
I have two master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. After graduation I was
teaching, then a few months later NASA
in Maryland called me. I was an aerospace
How did you get into designing pedals?