17 Best Overdrive Pedals in 2020 (All Price Ranges)

The three most impactful aspects of a guitarists rig are their chosen guitar model, amplifier, and which effects pedals are present on their pedalboard.

In the following article, I’ll list in detail the best overdrive pedals available today, and explain what makes them a worthy addition to your setup. Each model varies in capabilities, controls, and the tones they produce.

Some of the Best Overdrive Pedals

Purchasing new pedals can be a little overwhelming due to the sheer number of options available today. With new manufacturers seemingly popping up every week, you have to sift through the filler to get to the premium overdrive pedals that are worth buying. That’s why I’ve written this extensive guide, to outline the pros and cons of each option so you can make an informed decision.

If your experience with overdrive pedals is limited, don’t worry. We’ve included an in-depth overdrive pedal buying guide at the bottom of the article here explaining how overdrive works, what to look for in a pedal, and how to get the best out of your chosen one.

Name of ProductImage of ProductDescriptionPrice RangeFull Review
1. JHS Bonsai 9-Way Screamer (Best Overall)JHS Bonsai 9-Way ScreamerType: Analog
Effects: Overdrive
$230Read Full Review Below
2. TC Electronic MojoMojo (Best Value)TC Electronic MojoMojoType: Analog
Effects: Overdrive
$80Read Full Review Below
3. Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer (Best Under $100)Ibanez TS9 Tube ScreamerType: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
$95Read Full Review Below
4. BOSS Super Overdrive SD-1 (Best Under $50) BOSS Super Overdrive SD-1Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
$50Read Full Review Below
5. Diezel VH4-2 (Best for Metal)Diezel VH4-2Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
$300Read Full Review Below
6. Wampler Tumnus DeluxeWampler Tumnus DeluxeType: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
$200Read Full Review Below
7. Caline Digital OverdriveCaline Digital OverdriveType: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
$30Read Full Review Below
8. Pro Co RAT2Pro Co RAT2Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive, Distortion
$70Read Full Review Below
9. BOSS SD-1WBOSS SD-1WType: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
$150Read Full Review Below
10. Behringer Vintage Tube Monster VT999Behringer Vintage Tube Monster VT999Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
$95Read Full Review Below
11. Donner Blues DriveDonner Blues DriveType: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
$30Read Full Review Below
12. Behringer T0800Behringer T0800Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
$40Read Full Review Below
13. EarthQuaker Devices Plumes EarthQuaker Devices PlumesType: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
$100Read Full Review Below
14. Fulltone OCDFulltone OCDType: Digital
Effects: Overdrive, Distortion
$130Read Full Review Below
15. Friedman Amplification BE-ODFriedman Amplification BE-ODType: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
$200Read Full Review Below
16. Ibanez Tube Screamer MiniIbanez Tube Screamer MiniType: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
$80Read Full Review Below
17. Boss BD-2Boss BD-2Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
$100Read Full Review Below

Here Are the Best Overdrive Pedals

1. JHS Bonsai 9-Way Screamer (Best Overall)

JHS Bonsai 9-Way Screamer

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Estimated Price: $230

Type: Analog
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 1 x Outputs
Power: 9 Volt

My Review: To get our list started, we have the brilliant Bonsai 9-Way Screamer by JHS. With so many great options, it was difficult to pick a definite best pedal, but the Bonsai came out on top, in the end, thanks to its versatility and unrivaled tones.

Based upon the legendary Japanese-made Muffuletta pedal from the 1970s, the Bonsai produces screaming overdrive tones that bring your electric guitar to life. With nine detailed textures to choose from, you can create any variation of overdrive with this JHS pedal. Whether you want a boost in the mid-tones, a layer of thick dirt or gritty low-end growl, the Bonsai can do it all and more.

It’s quite amazing that a pedal with only four parameters and a slimline design houses 9 unique overdrive tones. Perhaps that’s the Bonsai’s greatest attribute – its simplicity. Usually, for a pedal to be capable of producing an array of sounds it would need to be crowded with knobs and fairly bulky in size. But the Bonsai, with its all-analog circuitry, manages to pull it off.

The fact that this pedal uses no digital technology whatsoever is equally as impressive. It stays true to the iconic Muffuletta, replicating all of the exceptional qualities that made that pedal one of the all-time greats. To pay homage to the glory days of rock n’ roll, the JHS Bonsai provides 4 decades worth of pedals so you can travel through the eras to find the perfect overdriven tone.

Who This is Best Suited For: In all honesty, I’d recommend this pedal to anyone. Whether you play blues, rock n’ roll, funk, or metal, there’s an overdriven tone for you within the JHS Bonsai. It takes little effort to operate and once you’ve added it to your pedalboard you’ll wonder how you ever coped without it!

Bottom Line: The JHS Bonsai successfully pays tribute to arguably the most important overdrive pedal ever to be made, the Muffuletta. It gives you access to 9 classic overdrives in a compact housing. There are four adjustable parameters for tweaking the sound, and it’s built like a tank with hand-wired, analog inner circuitry.

2. TC Electronic MojoMojo (Best Value)

TC Electronic MojoMojo

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Estimated Price: $80

Type: Analog
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 1 x Output
Power: 9 Volts DC

My Review: If you’re looking for a class tube-amp style overdrive that sounds natural and authentic, TC-Electronics’ MojoMojo is definitely worth considering. This small pedal provides a wide range of overdriven tones, varying from old-school blues breakups to seething lead lines. Similar to an actual valve amp, the MojoMojo is responsive to the dynamics and velocity of your playing.

Indeed, the addition of analog circuitry adds to the tube-like overdrive that the MojoMojo produces. Another standout quality of this pedal is the sound-sculpting options you get with it. If you find a tone that you like, the Bass and Treble knobs can be adjusted to affect the frequency response of the pedal, giving you more control over its output.

The MojoMojo has true bypass switching for ensuring your dry signal is well preserved, and it also has a Drive parameter that changes the threshold of the compression. It’s a dynamic option that won’t break the bank but will give you access to high-quality tube-like overdrives.

Who This is Best Suited For: Blues and rock guitarists who play a lot of lead lines and solos. The MojoMojo is a replica of the naturally occurring overdrive of a tube amplifier, so this pedal will suit any purists who want to keep their tone as authentic as possible.

Bottom Line: The TC-Electronic MojoMojo is a great value overdrive pedal that sounds natural thanks to its all-analog circuitry. It’s highly responsive to the human elements of guitar playing, with very little unnecessary compression. There’s a multitude of tones available with this pedal, ranging from dirty low-end crunch to mild warm layers. It’s easy to operate and it won’t take long to familiarize yourself with the controls and functions. Overall, I would say this is the best overdrive pedal for the money right now.

3. Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer (Best Under $100)

Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer

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Estimated Price: $95

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 1 x Output
Power: 9 Volts DC

My Review: The Ibanez Tube Screamer has been imitated many times, but nothing comes close to the original. This reissue from the original manufacturer contains all of the best aspects of the original model, with some updates made to bring it into the modern era.

In terms of appearance, the TS9 Tube Screamer looks identical to the original. It’s housed in a green stompbox, with the classic TS9 aesthetics. In fact, it’s made in the same factory and with the exact same parts as the legendary original.

The simplistic design of this pedal makes it easy to get accustomed to. There are three onboard controls – Drive, Tone, and Level. The Tone control is responsive and allows you to manipulate the character of the overdrive to your liking. It provides you with a maximum gain of +30 dB and can be powered by a 9-volt battery pack or a singular 9-volt battery.

Who This is Best Suited For: The Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer is well suited to any genre of rock music. It’s capable of both distortion and overdrive, so if you intend to purchase both pedals this will save you the hassle.

Bottom Line: Ibanez’s pedals are known for their quality and simplicity, much like their range of instruments. At less than $100, the TS9 Tube screamer is great value for money. It gives you access to multiple overdriven and distorted tones without any unnecessary filler.

Popular Related Article: Our Favorite Guitar Amps (All Price Ranges)

4. BOSS Super Overdrive SD-1 (Best Under $50)

BOSS Super Overdrive SD-1

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Estimated Price: $50

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 1 x Output
Power: 9 Volts DC

My Review: With unique overdrive circuitry that is asymmetric, the BOSS Super Overdrive pedal is a straightforward, powerful booster for your electric guitar. The overdrive resembles a smooth distorted tone produced by a tube amplifier pushed to its limits, and highlights the slight nuances of your playing style.

If you’re familiar with BOSS’ range of high quality, affordable FX pedals, you’ll recognize the classic stompbox design of the SD-1 instantly. Known for their durability, BOSS pedals are a popular choice amongst guitarists looking for premium tones without spending a fortune.

Onboard the Super Overdrive pedal is three standard controls. There’s the Tone knob that adjusts the color and frequency response of the pedal, the Level knob which adds or removes volume, and the Drive knob which adds more distortion to the sound. The compact size of this pedal makes it easy to place on your pedalboard, and BOSS’ generous 5-year warranty ensures that it will stand the test of time.

Who This is Best Suited For: If you’re looking for a simple overdrive pedal that will easily slot onto your pedalboard, the BOSS SD-1 Super Overdrive is a great option. It’s well suited to rock n’ roll, blues, or any genre that features warm, smooth guitars. It’s also a good option for those who are shopping on a tight budget but still want authentic sounding tube overdrive.

Bottom Line: The BOSS SD-1 Overdrive provides you with a range of smooth overdriven sounds. It produces a natural sounding growl in a similar vein to a vintage tube amplifier that’s had the gain cranked up. There are three basic controls on the face of the pedal, providing you with adequate tone-sculpting possibilities to create your own unique sounds.

5. Diezel VH4-2 (Best for Metal)

Diezel VH4-2

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Estimated Price: $300

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 2 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 1 x Output
Power: 9 Volts DC

My Review: If you’re into Metal, chances are you’ve heard the legendary Diezel VH4 amplifier. Made famous by some of the most iconic metal guitarists of all time such as James Hetfield, Adam Jones, and Neal Schol, the amp was famous for its burning tube sound.

The VH4-2 overdrive pedal brings that legendary tone onto your pedalboard. It’s a preamp/overdrive pedal that mimics the exact tone, feels, and warmth of the amplifiers renowned third channel. With two footswitches controlling the separate channels, you get access to a variety of exquisite lead and rhythm tones ideal for metal and heavy rock. It performs best when you run it directly into a clean amp, transforming the sound in an instant.

Onboard this Diezel pedal there is plenty of tone-shaping controls. The additional second channel increases the versatility of the pedal too. On the first channel, you have the familiar overdriven sound of the VH4 amplifier, and on the second channel, you have a gain-heavy output perfect for mind-bending solos.

Who This is Best Suited For: All metal guitarists should strongly consider adding the Diezel VH4-2 to their pedalboard. It’s one of the best metal pedals out there. If you are a fan of Metallica or Rush, you’ll be blown away by the accurate representation of the original VH4 amp.

Bottom Line: I’m always a little skeptical when a pedal is modeled on the specific sound of an amplifier, but in this instance, my skepticism has been quashed by Diezel. The VH4-2 gives you access to huge tones that are perfect for metal and heavy rock. The two switchable modes are activated by footswitch, so you can quickly transform your tone when on stage. And to top it all off, the preamp circuit is made from the highest quality components based on those of the original amp. Overall, I would say this is the best overdrive pedal for metal.

Popular Related Article: The 14 Best Guitars Made in America

6. Wampler Tumnus Deluxe

Wampler Tumnus Deluxe

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Estimated Price: $200

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 2 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 1 x Output
Power: 9 Volts DC

My Review: I’ve grown very fond of Wampler in recent years, as they’ve made massive strides towards becoming one of the classiest pedal manufacturers in the USA. Their range of effects pedals is filled with unique and individual features, making them a popular choice for guitarists and bassists across all genres.

The Tumnus Deluxe is their best overdrive pedal. With an articulate buffer, it produces immaculate clarity with plenty of distorted power. The original Tumnus pedal was known for its slightly random break-up, and this newly improved version retains that quality but gives you the option of a more clean sound when you switch over to the True Bypass circuitry mode.

On the face of the pedal are five adjustable parameters. The top row acts like a 3-band EQ, with Bass, Mid, and Treble adjusters. These knobs are ideal for removing problem frequencies or making sure that the wet signal is consistent enough with the dry signal of your electric guitar.

Along the bottom row of controls, we have Level and Gain. You can adjust the level to keep the dynamics from being overpowering when the pedal is activated, and the gain control allows you to turn the pedal into a distorted monster if you so wish. The built-in buffer actually boosts the gain of your clean signal if you choose to use it in Normal Mode rather than True Bypass.

Who This is Best Suited For: Guitarists who enjoy a little bit of unpredictability from their distortion-based pedals will enjoy using the Wampler Tumnus. It lends itself to all varieties of rock and metal or acts as a simple gain booster if set to Normal mode.

Bottom Line: The Wampler Tumnus is a premium quality overdrive pedal that benefits from an articulate buffer. It gives you the option of True Bypass or the gritty preset of the original model. It’s not cheap, but the old adage of paying for what you get definitely rings true here.

7. Caline Digital Overdrive

Caline Digital Overdrive

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Estimated Price: $30

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 1 x Output, 1x MIDI Output
Power: 9 Volts DC

My Review: Caline produces a range of low-price, entry-level effects pedals that have a quality belying their price. The CP-18 is their digital overdrive offering, with a concise design and 4-control layout.

Onboard this Caline pedal is a Gain control, Treble control, Volume control, and Bass control. The gain adds more overdrive to the output, causing it to vary between warm and subtle to harsh and aggressive. The volume control obviously affects the level of the overdrive. The treble and bass controls form a 2-band EQ that is useful for adjusting the frequency output of the pedal, especially if you are combining it with other effects.

The Digital Distortion pedal also gives you 30dB+ of clean boost, so you can use it as a gain pedal too. There’s true bypass switching that keeps your tone transparent. The housing is made from durable aluminum, and the small dimensions of this pedal won’t overcrowd a pedalboard.

Who This is Best Suited For: If you’re shopping on a tight budget, the Caline CP-18 Digital Distortion pedal is a great choice. It produces a decent number of overdriven tones and is nice and easy to operate.

Bottom Line: The Caline Digital Distortion pedal has most of the capabilities found on more expensive models. The 2-band EQ is very useful for keeping your tone tamed and blending the effect with other pedals. It also has true bypass switching and an interesting orange aesthetic.

Popular Related Article: Our Favorite Looper Pedals at All Price Ranges

8. Pro Co RAT2

Pro Co RAT2

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Estimated Price: $70

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive, Distortion
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 1 x Output
Power: 9 Volts DC

My Review: The ProCo Rat 2 is an innovative overdrive and distortion pedal that produces an array of versatile tones. Whether you want to add slight warmth to your rhythm playing or make your solos stand out by cutting through the mix, the Rat 2 is capable of both and everything in between.

In my opinion, the versatility of the Rat 2 is its greatest quality. If you use it as a simple distortion pedal, it’s perfect for rhythm rock guitar and high-flying lead lines. Alternatively, you can use it to achieve that elusive sweet spot between the clean sound of a tube amp and its natural overdriven tone. It also doubles up as a gain booster for your clean channel.

Not to mention the inclusion of the legendary RAT Filter control. This parameter gives you dominion over the frequency response of the pedal, allowing the natural brightness of your guitar to flourish or deadening the treble to create a lo-fi rock sound.

Who This is Best Suited For: The Rat 2 pedal is for guitarists who want complete control over their tone. It’s pretty straightforward to use, but I’d recommend it to musicians who have an idea of their ideal overdriven sound already in mind.

Bottom Line: The ProCo Rat 2 has been a staple on guitarist’s pedalboards since it was first manufactured. It’s regarded as one of the most versatile distortions and overdrive pedals available and is equally well suited to the studio or stage. With numerous adjustable parameters and the renowned RAT filter, it’s full of sound-shaping possibilities.

9. BOSS SD-1W

BOSS SD-1W

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Estimated Price: $150

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 1 x Output
Power: 9 Volts DC

My Review: Designed meticulously by Boss’ expert engineers in Japan, the SD-1W Super Overdrive pedal provides you with premium stompbox effects. The total output is refined and tidy, making this pedal perfect for guitarists who like to sit back in the pocket.

Of course, the SD-1W is built like a tank. You wouldn’t expect anything less from a Boss pedal. It’s kitted out with a newly revised discrete amplifier circuit that’s all-analog. There are two modes that can be selected, Standard and Custom. Standard gives you access to classic tube-style overdrive that will turn your guitar into a warm, smooth instrument.

Custom control allows you to sculpt the output with pinpoint precision. You can tweak the amount of bass and treble present, and ramp up the drive to create more extreme versions of distortion that are sure to turn some heads in a crowd.

Another noteworthy quality of this overdrive pedal is its responsiveness to your individual playing style. Unlike some overdrive and distortion pedals, it isn’t overly compressed so there’s still plenty of headroom for your playing velocity and dynamics to be expressed. It;’s based on the popular SD-1 pedal, and in my opinion, it’s an improvement.

Who This is Best Suited For: The Boss SD-1W is ideal for guitarists that like to switch between understated forms of distortion, and more aggressive, biting tones. The two built-in modes give you access to a variety of sounds, so if you like to change things up a bit, this could well be the pedal for you.

Bottom Line: Boss continually pumps out reliable and affordable stompboxes, and the SD-1W is no different. The only criticism some musicians have of Boss pedals is that they can be slightly one-dimensional, but the SD-1W proves this wrong with its array of versatile tone-adjusting capabilities.

Recommended Popular Article: The Best Fuzz Pedals at All Price Ranges

10. Behringer Vintage Tube Monster VT999

Behringer Vintage Tube Monster VT999

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Estimated Price: $95

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 1 x Output
Power: 9 Volts DC

My Review: The Behringer Vintage Tube Monster is appropriately named. This powerful pedal gives your signal a boost by utilizing a specifically chosen 12AX7 vacuum tube. The addition of a genuine tube really accentuates the overdrive effect, making it sound more natural and warm.

The VT999 provides ample gain, harmonics, and sustain for your electric guitar. Its wide-based design stands out amongst other overdrive pedals, and the detailed set of controls give you plenty of options when it comes to finding the perfect sound. The controls included on the pedal are Threshold, Gain Noise-Gate, Treble, Mid, Master, and Bass. Let’s look at them in more detail.

The Threshold control that is positioned on the back of the pedal affects the compression. If you turn it down, the compressor will flatten the output dramatically, removing a lot of the dynamic range. When turned up, the pedal will be allowed to express its dynamics more freely. The Gain control adds more distortion to the signal, while the Master affects the overall volume.

The three-band EQ gives you power over the frequency output of the Vintage Tube Monster. You can roll off some of the high-end, mids, or low-end by simply turning the respective knob. There’s also a noise gate switch on the back of the pedal which is useful for blocking out harsh high-end frequencies that may mar the output.

Who This is Best Suited For: The Vintage Tube Monster is a great choice for guitarists across all styles, thanks to the extensive number of controls it houses. It’s a bulky option, so if you’re running short of space on your pedalboard you might need to get a new one or consider a smaller option.

Bottom Line: This Behringer pedal gives you plenty of options for tweaking its performance. The threshold control and noise gate are very useful, and a rarity among overdrive pedals. It uses a genuine vacuum tube to produce authentic overdriven tones.

11. Donner Blues Drive

Donner Blues Drive

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Estimated Price: $30

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 1 x Output
Power: 9 Volts DC

My Review: Donner is a recently established producer of FX pedals. Their Blues Drive offering is nothing flashy, but for the price, it’s well worth considering. With a small and narrow design, it can squeeze onto even the busiest of pedalboards with no problems.

The pedal features two distinctive models classical overdrive and slightly more distorted. There are three controls present on the face, one for Tone, one for Level, and large Gain control. The Tone control allows you to manipulate the coloration of the pedal. The Level control adjusts the overall volume, and the Gain control transforms the pedal from understated to furious!

The switch at the top allows you to toggle between either Hot or Warm settings. As you can probably guess, the Hot setting adds fire to your guitar, making it perfect for wild solos and low-end riffs. The Warm preset takes some of the bite out and is better suited to rhythm playing.

Who This is Best Suited For: Donner pedals are great for guitarists who don’t have much experience with effects and audio processing. They’re also very affordable, so if you’re looking for a cheap option I’d recommend this pedal.

Bottom Line: The Donner Blues Drive isn’t the best or most detailed pedal on this list, but for such a low price it’s worth considering. The two switchable modes come in handy when you want to quickly change the characteristics of your tone. It’s also a very small and compact option.

12. Behringer T0800

Behringer T0800

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Estimated Price: $40

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 1 x Output
Power: 9 Volts DC

My Review: The Behringer TO800 is a vintage tube overdrive pedal that embodies the rock n’ roll essence. It produces burning, overdriven vacuum tube tones that sound like they’re straight out of the 1960s.

To recreate the sound of authentic tube crunch, Behringer has included original 4588 op amplifiers and popular MA150 distortion diodes. This gives the TO800 a great deal of power, grit, and expression. It’s remarkably similar to vintage overdrive pedals that were used by some of the great guitarists of the glory days of rock n’ roll.

There are three dedicated controls on the TO800 that let you shape the sound of the pedal. Firstly, you have Tone which is responsible for the overall color. Then there’s Drive, which ramps up the amount of distortion present in the mix. Finally, you have Level which acts as a volume knob. There’s also a status LED on the face of the pedal which clearly signifies when the pedal is turned on or off, and the signal integrity is protected by the high quality true bypassing.

Who This is Best Suited For: I’d recommend the Behringer TO800 Vintage Tube Overdrive pedal to any guitarists who like a classic stompbox design and simple controls that are easy to familiarize yourself with.

Bottom Line: The Behringer TO800 Vintage Tube Overdrive pedal is an affordable and reliable option. It is laid out in an intuitive way, with three adjustable controls on the face of the pedal. The tones produced by the TO800 are true to its name, pure vintage, tube amp-style overdrive.

13. EarthQuaker Devices Plumes

EarthQuaker Devices Plumes

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Estimated Price: $100

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 1 x Output
Power: 9 Volts DC

My Review: The Plumes by EarthQuaker Devices is a huge-sounding overdrive pedal that is sure to grab the attention of an audience. It’s a hellishly loud pedal, but not loud in the respect of unwanted noise. The issue with many distortion based pedals is that the increase in gain and compression can cause them to be noisy, but not the Plumes – it maintains consistency even when pushed to ear-shattering levels.

In their description of the pedal, EarthQuaker Devices said that the Plume was very “deliberate sounding.” I’d definitely agree with that statement. Although it sounds gigantic, you can still hear all of the slight nuances of your playing, and the character of your guitar still shines through despite the power.

The components that were chosen by EarthQuaker Devices when constructing the Plumes pedal are of the highest order. They provide a sonic quality that is both unique and familiar at the same time. If you don’t want your guitar to sound too overdriven, the pedals can be toned down using the various controls to promote its hi-fi tonality.

Who This is Best Suited For: If you love high-gain guitar tones then the Plumes pedal is a good option. It’s not overly expensive and is straightforward to use. I’d recommend this pedal for lead guitarists who need a big boost when the time to shred comes around.

Bottom Line: The EarthQuaker Devices Plumes pedal combines harsh gain with warm overdrive to create a versatile pedal. The inner circuitry was specifically chosen to push the gain to its limits whilst keeping any unwanted noise at bay. For around $100, it’s great value for money.

14. Fulltone OCD

Fulltone OCD

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Estimated Price: $130

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive, Distortion
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 2 x Output
Power:  9 Volts DC

My Review: Since it was first produced in 2004, the Fullsound OCD has been adjusted on numerous occasions. The result is the most recent version, released in the late 2010s. Offering the familiar overdriven sounds which popularized it, but with the addition of interesting modern improvements to further enhance its performance, the OCD has all the capabilities you need from an overdrive pedal. You get the standard drive, volume, and sound controls. There’s also a low peak/high peak switch. This switch transforms the pedal from a slight clean boost to a burning overdrive that is rich in sustain.

There’s a multitude of overdriven sounds that can be produced with the OCD. Everything from compressed cleans to powerful grit is well within the pedal’s realm of possibilities. You get the natural sound of a tube amp breaking up whilst retaining the sensitivity of your playing. It also features true bypass switching so your clean signal isn’t adversely affected by the pedal when it’s deactivated. There is also a newly installed output buffer in the OCD which stops it from being influenced by other pedals that are positioned after it in the signal chain.

Who This is Best Suited For: The OCD is one of those rare pedals that is well suited to all styles of guitar. Not only does it give you access to an array of overdriven tones; it can also act as a decent gain booster if you need it to.

Bottom Line: Pedals that stand the test of time usually do so for a reason. The OCD has been growing in popularity since it first burst onto the scene almost two decades ago. It’s filled with a multitude of distorted sounds than cal be adjusted using the simplistic controls.

15. Friedman Amplification BE-OD

Friedman Amplification BE-OD

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Estimated Price: $200

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 2 x Output
Power: 9 Volts DC

My Review: The BE-OD pedal by Friedman Amplification encapsulates the tone found in the legendary BE-100 amplifier, which has been used by world-class guitarists across multiple genres. Delivering authentic tube-amp style overdrive, this compact pedal has all of the necessary controls for creating unique rock n’ roll tonality.

The said controls consist of Volume, Gain, Tight, Bass, Treble, and Presence. The Volume control allows you to adjust the overall output when the pedal is turned on, the Gain affects the amount of distortion occurring when you play, the Tight control dials in some of the excess noise and compresses your signal, the Bass and Treble controls act as a 2-band EQ and finally, the Presence knob affects the prominence of the overdrive within the mix.

Friedman has impressively managed to capture the essence of the BE-100 in this detailed pedal. Its design is classy and understated, and it is constructed from durable metal housing to ensure its longevity. Whether you want to play lead lines at breaking-point or just add a touch of character to your guitar, this is the pedal to do so.

Who This is Best Suited For: A versatile pedal, the BE-OD is recommendable to guitarists across all genres. There are so many adjustable parameters on this pedal that you can tailor it to suit the exact style of your guitar playing.

Bottom Line: The BE-OD by Friedman Amplification is a brilliant recreation of their iconic BE-100 amp, and it features almost as many sound-adjusting qualities. For such a concise and compact pedal, it’s amazing how many parameters the manufacturer has managed to squeeze onto this pedal. Although it’s one of the more expensive options on this list, for such a high-quality overdrive pedal it’s well worth the cost.

16. Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini

Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini

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Estimated Price: $80

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 1 x Output
Powe:r 9 Volts DC

My Review: One of the most compact pedals on our list, the Ibanez Tube Screamer is a hugely popular option because of its simple functionality and high-quality sound-producing abilities. You can use this pedal in one of two ways, firstly it makes a great dynamic booster when you combine it with your dry signal, or if you crank up the parameters you get hot overdrive that is thick and full of character. The Tube Screamer has become an industry-standard overdrive pedal thanks to its compact size and notable punch.

Even when the dynamic is turned down to zero, the Ibanez Tube Screamer gives a noticeable boost to your dry signal while maintaining the characteristics of your guitar’s natural sound. This pedal isn’t made for overly distorted fuzz, but it will provide you with a smooth and hot crunch that gives your riffs and licks more flavor.

Whenever the overdrive is turned on, it gives you a slight boost in the midrange. By turning the down the sound parameter, you can minimize this boost, leaving you with a smoother distorted sound perfect for rhythm and lead guitar playing.

Who This is Best Suited For: If you’re the kind of guitarist who multi-tasks and plays both rhythm and lead, then the Tube Screamer Mini is a great choice. Its ability to switch between the two is what makes it stand out amongst the crowd.

Bottom Line: When it comes to adding touches of overdrive to your guitar, the Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini does a great job. It’s a small pedal, so it’s not going to turn your guitar into a fire-breathing monster, but it will add just enough grit to make it cut through the mix nicely.

17. Boss BD-2

Boss BD-2

Check Amazon Price

Estimated Price: $100

Type: Digital
Effects: Overdrive
Connectivity: 1 x 6.35mm Jack Input, 2 x Output
Power: 9 Volts DC

My Review: To conclude this extensive list of the best overdrive pedals available today, we have the trusty Boss BD-2. This popular pedal is both affordable and flexible in terms of the tones it produces. The stompbox can be used to push your amplifier to its limits, causing warm saturation that will make you stand out in even the busiest of mixes.

The tube-like overdrive sounds warm and inviting, with no artificial undertones that can sometimes be present on a digital pedal. If you want to add a slight edge to your guitar track, you can use the OD-2 as a booster. Alternatively, you can crank it up and turn some heads with the blistering distorted tones that occur towards its upper limits.

With the classic BOSS design, the BD-2 has three simple controls. Firstly, you can adjust the overall volume by tweaking the Level knob. Then there’s the Tone knob. This control is where the magic happens. When turned down, it produces a lo-fi, dull overdrive that would fit into a garage rock three pieces nicely. When you crank it up, your tone is transformed into a fireball that sounds like you’ve kicked a hole in your amp (in a good way!)

Boss pedals are renowned for their almost unbreakable durability, and the BD-2 is no exception. It’s sure to withstand to bumps and scraped of practicing and touring thanks to the robust metal housing and its wide-stompbox design.

Who This is Best Suited For: If you value simplicity and don’t want to spend much time getting to know a pedal, the Boss BD-2 is the perfect solution. It’s affordable, so tight-budget shoppers should strongly consider adding it to their rig. In terms of genres, it can do everything from grunge to blues.

Bottom Line: The BD-2 combines the famous durability of Boss stompboxes with a credible ability to produce versatile overdriven and distorted tones. Its output is warm and full-bodied, and the lack of compression means that it responds to nuances and playing styles with a good level of accuracy.

Choosing the Right Overdrive Pedal (Buying Guide)

There’s no doubt that overdrive pedals open up a whole new world of sonic possibilities to a guitarist. Although many musicians know what overdrive sounds like, an understanding of how and why the effect is used is less common. Overdrive often gets categorized as being the same as distortion and fuzz, but in reality, the differences are important.

Even within the realms of overdrive, there are many variations and different tones that can be produced. In some instances, the effect is used sparingly to add a touch of coloration to a guitar, bass, vocal track, or another instrument. Alternatively, when overdrive is used for dramatic effect, it can transform your original tone into an unrecognizable fireball of thick distortion.

In the remainder of this article, I’ll look at overdrive pedals in-depth, providing you with all of the information you need on the subject. Whether you’re only interested in pedals, or you want to learn more about overdrive from a production and mixing standpoint, I’ll cover it all in this extensive post.

What is Overdrive?

Understanding the way that effects are produced makes it easier to create your desired tones. Indeed, it’s possible to stumble across unique sounds purely through blind experimentation, but it’s unlikely that you’ll remember how to reproduce them in the future. Essentially, understanding effects and processing is a never-ending journey that reveals itself to you one step at a time, and with every piece of knowledge you attain on the subject, it becomes easier and quicker to translate the tones that you hear in your head into reality through your instrument.

So what is overdrive, and why is it so popular among guitarists? Technically speaking, overdrive is a variation of distortion. Although when discussing pedals specifically, it’s common that distortion and overdrive are used to refer to two quite distinct sounds.

So it’s fair to say that if we are to understand overdrive, we must first understand distortion. Distortion is an umbrella term that refers to the process when there is a deviation between two points of a signal path, within a sound wave. In many cases, distortion occurs unintentionally. When the gain of a waveform is too high, clipping occurs. Clipping is where the audio has to be compressed because it’s too loud. You’ve probably experienced this when standing too close to a microphone when recording, then when you look at the waveform its peaks and troughs aren’t visible, and instead, you can see a thick fuzzy block of audio.

Overdrive is a variation of the process I’ve just described. It’s fair to say that overdrive is a more subtle form of distortion, where the original tone is pushed harder to create a “break up”. When discussing pedals, overdrive is less dramatic than distortion or fuzz.

When overdrive is applied, you can still control the dynamic range of your instrument, whereas when distortion of fuzz is applied, the same amount of the effect is present no matter how hard or soft you play. Put more simply, overdrive pedals recreate your tone, whereas distortion or fuzz obliterates it! The more subtle nature of overdrive compared to other variations of distortion make it a popular choice for guitarists, especially if they want to keep some consistency between their clean tone and their wet signal.

How is Overdrive Produced?

Overdrive is produced when a certain amount of saturation occurs to the original sound signal. This can sometimes happen unintentionally, and unwanted forms of distortion can be a frustrating issue for musicians and audio engineers. For example, if you’ve recorded a guitar, vocal or drum take with the gain set too high on the channel, you might find that the audio has clipped a little, causing it to saturate. The issue with this is that the audio is then difficult to mix because there’s no headroom.

When overdrive is produced intentionally, it can transform the feel and tone of a sound source. One of the most sought-after sounds for a guitarist is the subtle “break up” that is naturally produced by the valves in a tube amp. When the amp is pushed to its upper limits, the tubes are forced to work harder and therefore overdrive is produced.

Overdrive pedals make the effect more accessible to guitarists, without the need for vintage gear or expensive tube amplifiers. These pedals utilize digital technology to recreate the overdriven effect, by causing the circuit to overload and therefore giving a guitar a crunchy undertone.

Unlike a distortion or fuzz pedal, overdrive produces what is known as “controlled clipping”. The result is a more malleable effect, which responds to the velocity and style of playing rather than just causing the signal to distort in one consistent manner.

Overdrive and Saturation

The term saturation commonly pops up when searching for overdrive and distortion pedals. Like overdrive, saturation is a form of distortion, technically speaking. Saturation is used for multiple purposes in music, whether on vocals, guitars, or as part of the mastering process. It’s often found in garage or lo-fi rock recordings of the early ’00s.

Saturation was first used as an effect back in the days of analog recording studios. Recording engineers during this period would monitor the signal level to check that it wasn’t clipping and remained within the safe window of dynamics. If the recordings were too quiet, hiss would be noticeable from the tape reels, whereas if it was too loud, it would result in saturation.

When the input signal reaches a high level, a point is reached where the tape can’t record anymore signal. This type of vintage saturation is quite random and hard to manipulate, hence the invention of digitally occurring overdrive, distortion, and fuzz pedals. The benefit of using digital technology to produce overdrive and similar effects is that the compression occurs suddenly as a result of the pedal being activated, causing an abrupt spike in the waveform, therefore altering the sound of the original sound source.

Overdrive vs. Distortion vs. Fuzz The Differences

As is the case with most audio processing effects, there are many variations that are labeled under the same term. In the case of overdrive, there are two other varieties that fall under the same category and are usually grouped together – distortion and fuzz. In this sense, I am referring to distortion not as the umbrella term that I described earlier, but as a standalone effect. It would be correct to say that overdrive and fuzz are simply different forms of distortion when speaking from a purely technical standpoint, but when discussing effects pedals, the three are seen as separate effects with distinct differences.

Overdrive pedals are perfect for producing natural amounts of saturation, replicating the warm sound of valves “breaking up” in a tube amplifier. Although nothing quite comes close to the authentic sound of this occurrence, the advances in music technology over previous decades have produced some pretty realistic representations. The most prominent difference between overdrive and its two sibling effects is that overdrive reacts to the human elements of your playing, in a similar fashion to a tube amp. The clipping that occurs isn’t too extreme, so the dynamic range is still within your control. Overdrive pedals add a warm, smooth layer to your clean tone without obliterating it.

Distortion pedals work in a similar way to overdrive pedals but in a more extreme manner. Commonly used in heavier styles of rock music, these pedals cause the signal to clip significantly, thickening the body of the waveform and therefore producing a screaming tone. Distortion pedals are available with both digital and analog circuitry. If you wanted to recreate tube distortion, there are pedals that actually contain vacuum tubes within their internal mechanisms.

Much like distortion but with even more bite, fuzz pedals take the original signal and cause it to clip at a much more aggressive rate. This results in a square wave being produced. If you imagine the shape of a square, this indicates the sharp peaks where the corners are at 90-degree angles. These peaks cause the signal to be saturated heavily, causing the resultant tone to be pretty much unrecognizable in comparison to the clean tone. Fuzz is commonly used for heavy rock riffs, blues guitar solos, or as a way to add coloration to a bass guitar.

Overdrive vs. Distortion vs. Fuzz Summary

Hopefully, now you’ve grasped the basic concepts of overdrive, distortion, and fuzz. These three effects are extremely effective tools to have in your arsenal. Which one’s you should implement onto your pedalboard really depends on the style of music you play, the style of your individual guitar playing e.g. lead or rhythm, and the other effects that you may intend to combine overdrive, distortion of fuzz pedals with. Here’s a brief summary of the main characteristics of the trio

Overdrive Pedals:

  • Occurs when the tubes of an amplifier are pushed to breaking point
  • Responds to the dynamics and velocity of your playing
  • Adds a warm layer to the dry signal
  • Causes small amounts of clipping in the audio waveform

Distortion Pedals:

  • First occurred with tape distortion in analog recording studios
  • Harsher than overdrive
  • The signal becomes consistent and doesn’t react to playing velocity

Fuzz Pedals:

  • Obliterate the original sound
  • Cause the audio to hard-clip
  • Creates a square waveform
  • Unresponsive to the dynamics of the instrument

Controls and Parameters that Commonly Feature on Overdrive Pedals

In your search for the best overdrive pedal to add to your setup, you’ve probably come across some staple controls that commonly feature. There’s some variation from pedal to pedal, but generally, the following combination will form the basis of most OD pedals.

  • Level/Volume
  • Tone
  • Drive
  • Filter

The Level/Volume control is featured on all overdrive pedals, and its function is pretty self-explanatory. Think of it as a wet/dry control, which adjusts the amount of overdrive that is present. The volume control is important when dealing with forms of distortion or overdrive because sometimes the overdriven signal can be significantly louder than the dry signal, so you can anticipate that and tweak the level accordingly. This stops dynamic spikes from occurring on stage.

The tone control affects the coloration of the overdrive effect. It causes the pedal to make certain frequencies more prominent and makes the sound thicker or thinner. In this respect, it’s very similar to the tone knob on an electric guitar.

The drive control on an overdrive pedal cranks up the gain of the effect. This parameter affects the amount of distortion present, so if you were to turn it all the way up you’d get more clipping and saturation, whereas with it turned down the effect will be less dramatic.

Filter controls aren’t featured on all overdrive pedals, but you’ll find them on the more expensive, detailed models. Similar to a tone knob, filters affect the frequencies produced by the pedal. This is a useful tool for removing harsh, unwanted frequencies from your guitar’s output or creating contrast.

Combining Overdrive with Other Effects

Due to the subtle nature of overdrive, it’s highly compatible with a range of other effects. There are so many options when it comes to combining pedals, but it’s important to consider where you’re positioning them in your signal chain, a topic I’ll cover in detail later in the article.

More extreme versions of distortion like fuzz can be difficult to mix with other effects without the sound becoming harsh and over-the-top. Of course, there’s a place for that kind of extreme tone, but if you want to experiment with combinations of different effects pedals, overdrive is an easy option in this respect.

One of my personal favorite FX combos is “space” and “dirt”. Space refers to timing-based effects like reverbs or delays, and dirt is any form of distortion. Adding some reverb to an overdriven guitar can sound incredible. There’s something elusive and alluring about the warm, breaking tone with some light dreamy reverb sprinkled on the top. The contrast between soft and hard really adds color to your guitar’s sound, without making it overly muddy,

Of course, it would be wrong to conclude this section without mentioning the magic combination of overdrive and wah-wah. Popularized by none other than Jimi Hendrix and later re-ignited by the likes of John Frusciante and Tom Morello, this mixture turns the guitar into an out-of-this-world instrument that is brimming with character and sounds so pleasing to the ear.

Where an Overdrive Pedal Should be Positioned in Your Signal Chain

It’s important to do your own “research” when it comes to positioning pedals in the signal path. Ultimately, it comes down to your own personal preference. The only way to figure out which orders you like the sound of is to dive in and start experimenting.

With that being said, there are some generally accepted advisories that most guitarists follow. If you’ve got no interest in being like “most guitarists”, feel free to skip this brief section! I’d recommend learning the reasons why certain combinations work though, so I’ll explain that now.

Usually, it’s accepted that a “dirt” pedal like distortion, overdrive or fuzz should be placed just after any dynamic pedals like compressors, toward the start of your signal chain. The main reason for this is that if you were to place an overdrive, distortion, or fuzz pedal toward the end of the chain, every single pedal that comes before it will inevitably be affected by its presence. For example, if you had a stacked pedalboard with numerous reverbs, delays, chorus, and filter pedals, then positioned you to overdrive pedal after them, the result would be that all of the aforementioned pedals are affected by the overdrive, creating pure chaos.

Don’t get me wrong, in some cases, chaos can be a good thing. But it’s better to have the option of keeping your signal nice and clean, then using the pedals for maximum effect, and that’s why most guitarists would place dirt as close to the start of the signal chain as possible, after dynamic-based pedals.

Overdrive on Vocals

Using distortion based effects on vocals is a tricky undertaking, but it can sound brilliant if done correctly. The issue with using guitar pedals to process vocals is that they often cause feedback issues, due to the clipping that they provoke.

One way around this is to use an overdrive pedal in conjunction with a feedback suppressor. This will limit the background noise produced by the effect, and make it sound cleaner on vocals. If you’re looking for that garage rock, rough n’ ready tone that sounds like a microphone running into an amplifier that’s had a hole kicked in, then using an overdrive pedal could be the perfect solution.

Overdrive Pedals and Signal Splitting

Signal splitting is a useful process to learn about, as it applies not only to pedals and amplifiers but mixers and other recording studio equipment too. So what is signal splitting? Basically, it’s where you send a dry and wet output from the same sound source into a pair of inputs, creating two signals from one source.

In the case of overdrive pedals, you might have noticed that some of the options I previously presented in this list were fitted with two outputs. This makes it possible to split the signal, and send the wet/dry into separate amplifiers.

The reason that guitarists and bassists use this trick is mainly to give them a thicker, more full-bodied sound. When using a dual-amp setup, your clean tone is constantly playing even when you turn on an effects pedal. So the dry signal forms the foundation of your tone, then when an effect is turned on the wet signal is sent to a separate amp. This gives the illusion that two guitars are playing the same thing with differing tones.

Splitting the signal is a great way to compensate for the lack of a second guitar in your band, or if you play the bass, you can use your effects channel as a replacement for a guitarist while maintaining the fullness of your low-end frequencies.

Using Overdrive in the Recording Studio

The great thing about purchasing effects pedals is that they’re not only a useful addition to your live setup but can be a great asset in the recording studio too. When recording with pedals, you have two choices. Firstly, you can run them into your amplifier to recreate a similar tone to when you play live shows. Alternatively, you can run them straight into a direct input on your audio interface and process them retrospectively.

Overdrive is a versatile effect, so using it in both of these manners would produce good results. The advantage of recording straight into your interface is that there’s no coloration of your tone caused by the capabilities and attributes of your chosen amplifier.

Recording with pedals can get messy if you don’t set the gain and tone controls accordingly before starting. A good way around this is to record your guitar with no effects, straight into the D.I, and then analyze the waveform. If it is small and there’s plenty of excess room, your pedal can be set to a high level/gain before recording. If the signal is already large and leaves little headroom, you may need to turn down the input or tweak the parameters on your overdrive pedal.

When recording overdrive pedals through an amp, you need to bear in mind that the microphone you choose will also have a significant impact on the overall tone. If you’re using a dynamic mic such as the Shure SM57, it will be able to handle much more gain and volume, but the tone will be less bright than a condenser alternative. Again, experimentation is the best way to learn and discover the ways to create your desired tone.

Overdrive Pedals for Bass Guitar

Most of the overdrive pedals listed earlier in this article are compatible with both electric guitar and bass guitar. There are some which are specifically designed for bass, focusing the overdrive on lower frequencies that are more prominent on that instrument.

If you do decide to use your overdrive pedal on a bass guitar, there are a few things worth taking into consideration. The frequency response of a bass differs from that of a 6-string, so using the onboard tone controls to highlight the warmth of a bass guitar is a good idea.

Combining the overdrive pedal with an EQ pedal will also help to tailor it to bass. The “sweet spot” of a bass guitar usually resides around 200Hz-800Hz, so you can boost these frequencies slightly to emphasize the warm tones of the instrument.

Finally, as I mentioned previously, using a dual-amp setup is the perfect way to add effects pedal to your bass guitar. This allows your dry signal to continue underneath the wet signal, making the overall sound thicker and preventing it from losing power when you activate a pedal.

Power Requirements

Almost all of the aforementioned pedals run off 9-volt power. You can choose whether to purchase the suggested power supplies that each model’s manufacturer recommends but to be honest, they all do the same thing. There are plenty of affordable power supplies online that will suffice.

There’s also the possibility to power an overdrive pedal using 9-volt batteries. The risk is that they may cut out mid-show, so I would recommend having a power supply but keeping fresh batteries in the pedal at all times. This way, if either the battery or the power supply cuts out, the other will take over and you won’t have a dreaded cut-out on stage!

Conclusion

Overdrive pedals are one of the best additions you can make to your pedalboard. The subtle warmth that they add to your tone can completely transform your solos, riffs, and rhythm playing. It’s also a lot of fun experimenting with the various parameters that feature on these pedals.

Hopefully, after reading through this comprehensive guide of the best overdrive pedals on the market today, you’ve got a good grasp on their functions and what to look for when purchasing. All that’s left to do now is create some unique tones with your new addition!

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