Review: Budda ZenMan OD/Boost Pedal

The following content is related to the October 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

Over the course of its 15-plus years, Budda has mostly focused on crafting sublime tube amplifiers imbued with a grunting low end, purring mids and a harmonically dense top end. But the company has also made its mark with the Budwah, a wah pedal that has an almost cult-like fan base.

Now comes the company’s new ZenMan OD/Boost, an overdrive/boost pedal that lets you create everything from clean boost to smooth overdrive to crunch and grind. With its integrated EQ circuit, the ZenMan allows an additional measure of tone shaping that goes beyond what similar pedals offer.


The ZenMan joins two personalities in one pedal—hence its yin-yang graphic motif—offering a stand-alone boost circuit and a phenomenal overdrive. The boost is activated with the footswitch, and the dedicated boost knob lets you dial in the exact amount you want. The overdrive controls include tone, gain, level, and a switch for selecting between Phat and Vintage EQ curves. The Vintage mode sounds clearer and more transparent, while the Phat mode engages Budda’s famously dark and rich spectrum of gain. The boost and overdrive features can be used alone or in conjunction. In addition, the ZenMan can be powered either with an internal nine-volt battery or an external power supply.


I could fill pages talking about the ZenMan’s permutable overdrive and tonal abilities, but the main point is that it produces sounds akin to richly developed power-amp distortion rather than the more compressed, screaming-preamp style of overdrive. The Phat mode delivers satanically dark tones with more character and low-mid bloom. Conversely, the Vintage mode opens the gates to heavenly, full-spectrum overtones while it preserves your guitar’s natural character. Boost is clear, uncolored and notably uncompressed on its own, and it’s great for igniting a gain-fueled tonal explosion and extra attack in conjunction with the overdrive circuit.

The Bottom Line

Budda’s boutique ZenMan OD/Boost is a purist’s pedal, whether you want an uncompromising clean boost or the blossoming tones and harmonics normally experienced from overdriven power tubes.

List Price $239.99

Manufacturer Budda Amplification,

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Chris Gill, Video by Paul Riario

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.