The 11 Best Overdrive Pedals
Compared to hard-clipping fuzz and the harsher sounding distortion pedals, the overdrive pedal is warmer and tamer. The soft-clipping overdrive effect allows more of your playing dynamics to pass through, resulting in expressive guitar tones as heard on countless blues and rock records.
Because of this flexibility, manufacturers have flooded the market with every type of overdrive imaginable. We have waded through these pedals to pick out worthy units that will help you create your signature overdriven tone. From affordable workhorse pedals that produce classic tones, to the newer multi-knob stompboxes that provide insane flexibility and tone shaping, the best overdrive pedals are all here.
Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer
The top spot in this list belongs to the mother of all overdrive pedals, the Tube Screamer. It has stood the test of time, and continues to be the most sought after and most copied overdrive pedal in the market. As proof, many of the mass-produced and boutique pedals today are based on the TS808, with some even directly cloning the pedal. In fact, most of the pedals in this list are influenced by the design of the Tube Screamer!
By preserving the dynamics of the original guitar signal, this overdrive effect won the hearts of guitarists from various musical styles. It is especially popular among blues players, thanks to its emphasis on dynamics and mid-range.
Among the long line of artists that use the Tubescreamer, the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughn with his aggressive playing style is the most prominent. If you are looking for an overdrive for blues and rock, don't settle for anything less than the best and original overdrive pedal - The TS808 Tubescreamer.
Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Fulltone Fulldrive2 Mosfet
What's better than overdrive? The answer according to Fulltone is simple, add another layer of overdrive! The Fulldrive2 Mosfet pedal features two independent overdrive channels, one for classic overdrive tones while the boost channel adds more gain and sustain.
At lower gain settings, the pedal behaves like a transparent classic OD pedal. As you raise the gain level, you get more intense and gritty overdrive tones for intense riff and lead work. And if that is not enough, you can switch to Boost mode to unleash high gain and sustain that crosses the border between rock and metal.
The FD2 Mosfet is one of the most versatile OD pedals in the market, and it continues to be the favorite of tone geeks everywhere. Fulltone also makes one of the best Wah Pedals. Get the latest Fulldrive2 Mosfet price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive
Thanks to its affordability and accessibility, the Boss SD-1 has found its way on to countless pedalboards. Its plug and play operation and smooth overdriven tones have satisfied many, from hobbyists to big name artists like The Edge and Johnny Greenwood. Although comparable to Ibanez' TubeScreamer, the SD-1 has an angrier tone with more presence.
It is popularly used to drive tube amps to produce singing lead tones, by setting the drive low and increasing the level. It also works great as stand-alone, you can add subtle grit, or increase the drive to add more crunch.
The pedal's ability to preserve pick attack and dynamics is well loved, especially considering its cheap price tag. If you are looking for a budget friendly overdrive pedal, then we highly recommend the Boss SD-1.Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Electro-Harmonix Soul Food
The Klon Centaur is the equivalent of Dumble amps in the world of pedals. It is an overdrive pedal surrounded by so much hype and mystery that sells for an unbelievably high price. Since the Klon is only accessible for the privileged few, we decided to feature a mass produced clone of the Klon (pun intended), the EHX Soul Food.
Electro-Harmonix was quick to admit that this pedal is their attempt at reproducing the Klon Centaur at a much more reasonable price, in response to requests for an affordable alternative. And based on the many favorable reviews, it looks like Soul Food, with its impressive definition and headroom, is a success.
Soul Food's impressive touch response and dynamic transparency shines best when working with an overdriven amp or another overdrive pedal. Affordable alternatives like the Soul Food are welcome because it helps keep the price of pedals in check. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Fulltone OCD Obsessive Compulsive Overdrive Pedal
Although not as popular, Fulltone has some big name artists that stand for their products, this includes Joe Perry, Keith Richards, Stone Gossard, Lou Reed and many more. Even the great Nigel Tufnel allows his guitar signal to go through Fulltone gear - their pedals are that good.
Michael Fuller, the guitarist and tone meister behind Fulltone, created the OCD pedal for those that obsess about minute details of their sound. It is a pedal that behaves like a tube amp, known for rich overtones when cranked up. The overtones even ring into feedback like real amps and cleans well when you back off your guitar's volume.
For something compact and straightforward, the OCD carries a good variety of tones, thanks to its hi and lo peak gain switch. This may just be the cure for you if you find yourself obsessing over your overdriven tone too often. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Joyo JF-02 Ultimate Overdrive Pedal
Normally cheap knock-offs are not even worth mentioning in a list like this, but because of the notoriety and controversy behind this pedal, it has become an exception. From the control settings, it is easy to see that the JF-02 Ultimate Overdrive pedal is based on the Fulltone OCD. The sound however is a bit different, with this clone emphasizing more of the low-end frequencies.
What's interesting about this clone is that there have been allegations that a certain boutique pedal maker repainted/rebranded the JF-02 and sold it as an expensive boutique pedal! I won't spoil the details for you but the stories are interesting, and I can understand why it would spark such a controversy because the JF-02 really does sound exceptionally good for something so cheap.
As expected, Joyo did not recreate the same tube response as the OCD, but this failure turned out to be a good thing, giving the JF-02 the punch of a solidstate amp. With its interesting back story, great tone and ultra-affordable price, the JF-02 is a tempting piece gear. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Vox Tone Garage Straight 6 Overdrive
If you want to get real tube tones from a pedal, then best get it from a pedal with actual tubes. The Straight 6 Overdrive pedal does just that and more, taking advantage of Vox's Hi-Volt technology to reproduce the warm tone, feel and dynamics expected from a tube amp.
This compact pedal has an analog circuit that delivers high voltage (200V) to a 12AX7 vacuum tube by using 6x AA batteries or the DC9V power supply. This results in a true analog tube tone that is derived from Vox's own overdriven AC30 amps. It even comes with a bright switch to give you authentic sparkling British flavored tones with defined highs.
Finally, Vox was able to fit everything into a compact pedal, which is impressively small for a pedal with a real working 12AX7 tube inside. If Brit-style tones is your thing, then you should save up for this pedal. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Electro-Harmonix Germanium Overdrive Pedal
Instead of just creating another conventional overdrive or a TS clone, EHX decided to be creative and came up with a vintage-style overdrive pedal with front access bias and voltage controls. This allows for a wide range of tonality while staying within the realm of '60s era gritty overdrive.
The Electro-Harmonix Germanium Overdrive Pedal is built using actual Germanium transistors to accurately reproduce the grit and dirt sound of vintage overdrive pedals from the '60s. As expected the tone is impressive, but the fun part starts when you mess with the pedal's Bias and Voltage control, which lets you starve out the transistor to give you a heavily gated dead battery tone.
Lower gain levels give you the sound of a slightly torn speaker, while turning it up will give you an all out dirty boost. The Germanium Overdrive is simply an impressive versatile pedal with old-school tone. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
DigiTech Bad Monkey Tube Overdrive
The Digitech Bad Monkey is another affordable overdrive pedal that produces impressively transparent overdriven tones. It is ideal for juicing up a tube amp, or for boosting your sound, without masking the distinct tonality of your guitar. Compared to the TubeScreamer and SD-1, this pedal features a smoother more rounded tonality.
For its small size and cheap price, the pedal surprisingly comes with added features like EQ knobs (Low and High) and dual output. The mixer output even features cabinet emulation. These added features allow for good tone shaping, while still maintaining the integrity of your guitar sound.
If you are into juicy riffs and smooth solo lines, the affordable and unassuming Digitech Bad Monkey will definitely suffice. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
MXR Custom Badass Modified Overdrive
The MXR Custom Badass Modifified O.D. gives you classic overdrive sounds with modern tone shaping enhancements. The Custom Badass Modified OD features a 100Hz cut and boost knob that lets you fine-tune the sound, as well as a bump switch that gives you a separate voicing that emphasizes the lower midrange.
It provides great sustain and gain without hurting your natural guitar tone, and it gives you more room to tweak the sound. This versatile overdrive pedal comes in a compact form, with boutique-like appearance that matches the quality of its tone.
This is the ideal pedal for the adventurous guitarists, that don't want to stray too far away from classic tones. It also works well when paired with other overdrive and distortion pedals. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Visual Sound V2DT Double Trouble
Taking advantage of how two different overdrive pedals work well together, Visual Sound designed the V2DT to be just like that, having two distinct overdrive effects in one stompbox. The company combined two of their great sounding overdrive pedals - the VS Jeckyll & Hyde, and the VS Route 66.
By playing with its Volume, Tone, Drive and Bass Boost controls, you can create a variety of overdrive tones and combinations that will keep you busy for days. The sturdy chassis and switches are just as impressive as the sounds it can produce.
With its two distinct sounding overdrives, you can get everything from subtle crunch for your riffs to searing overdrive for your leads. The V2 Double Trouble is highly recommended for those that love to play with overdrive combinations. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
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