There are countless ways and methods of how you can shape your electric guitar tone. And that’s the beauty of this instrument – it provides us with so many options, giving us versatility for pretty much any genre that we wish to play. So it’s no wonder that so many music enthusiasts wish to play it. And that leads to the question – what are the best overdrive pedals?
Of course, one of the most important aspects of it is the distortion effect. By amplifying the signal and deliberately clipping it, we get that easily recognizable tone. However, there are a few different types of distortion depending on the type of clipping. The one we’re interested in here is the overdrive.
Featuring smooth clipping, this effect emulates the old school kind of tone that you’d get from those vintage tube amps or just further enhances it if you’re playing through one.
Although the effect seems rather simple, both smaller and bigger companies are still competing in creating the best possible overdrive pedals for any genre. This is why we decided to get more into the matter and bring you the best overdrive pedals that you can find on the market today.
Last update on 2021-09-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Ibanez TS9 Classic Tube Screamer
Even after all these years of development, barely anything compares to the good old classic Ibanez Tube Screamer when it comes to the best overdrive pedals.
The TS9 version is still in production and brings those classic smooth tones to guitar players of many different genres. And, what’s more, pairing it up with a tube-driven amplifier is still the best way to go.
The circuitry on the TS9 has been changed a bit over the years, but the pedal’s old tone is still there. It’s all controlled using the three basic parameter knobs for volume, drive, and tone (treble roll-off).
It keeps things simple, just like in the old days, all while delivering the kind of overdrive that’s still desirable among the masses of guitar players.
Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive
Of course, Boss simply cannot be avoided when there’s talk of pretty much any kind of guitar pedals. When it comes to best overdrive pedals, we’d bring up their amazing SD-1 Super Overdrive.
Once again, we have a fairly simple pedal with three basic parameter controls for volume, drive, and tone. Also, it’s a pedal that’s been around for quite a while, which is a testament to its greatness.
What’s really great about this pedal is that you can create both those sharp “ice pick” kind of tones, as well as those smooth sounds. What’s more, if you’re using it with a solid-state amp, it will add some of that dynamic response and “growl” to the mix, just like you’d have with a tube-driven amp. It’s a simple and super-versatile pedal.
Fulltone OCD Obsessive Compulsive Drive
Now, for many years now, Fulltone has been making amazing gear, including some of the best overdrive pedals on the market. And they’re especially known for their quality distortions. For this list, we’re looking into their classic OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Drive.
Although we have the three basic controls on it, just like you’d see on most overdrives, the OCD has an additional switch for low-pass and high-pass filtering modes.
This can further help you in creating different tones and choosing between sharper and smoother overdrives. But what’s really interesting is that we also have an inside switch that lets us choose between true and buffered bypass modes. This can be extremely useful if you have different setups and rigs in mind.
MXR EVH 5150
Up next, we have one fairly versatile pedal made in collaboration between MXR and Eddie Van Halen. And this is more than just a regular overdrive, but rather a real tool for lead guitar players who prefer smoother-sounding distortion. The EVH 5150 is designed to replicate overdriven tones of the EVH 5150 tube-driven amplifier.
The pedal is equipped with a standard 3-band EQ, which gives players more options for tone shaping. Additionally, this pedal has two more very useful features – a simple +6dB boost that even adds some compression and a noise gate control.
It’s pretty clear that this overdrive is designed for lead players who want to add some contrast and cut through the mix for lead sections. Pair it up with a tube amp, and you’re in for a real treat with some very saturated distorted tones.
TC Electronic MojoMojo
It still surprises us how there are some surprisingly cheap but great overdrive pedals on the market these days.
And looking at TC Electronic and their MojoMojo drive, it becomes even more mind-boggling to see such an amazing pedal within the budget-friendly category. What’s more, Paul Gilbert himself uses one of these so it has to be good, right?
The pedal retains TC Electronic’s simple and compact design, all while bringing useful features. The pedal comes with volume, tone, and 2-band EQ controls on it.
Additionally, we have a simple voicing switch that can completely change its tone for different settings. It’s also important to note that the pedal has a true bypass which is what some guitar players prefer over buffered bypass. Overall, this one was a shoo-in for our best overdrive pedals list.
Boss BD-2 Blues Driver
Look, knowing how great Boss pedals are, it’s impossible not to include at least one more on this list. After all, when you take a listen to the BD-2 Blues Driver, it’s pretty obvious that it’s one of the best dirtboxes on the market today.
Coming in Boss’ classic sturdy and stylish metal casing, the Blues Driver has the three essential controls, just like the ones you’d find on the SD-2 Super Overdrive.
However, this one is designed to work the best in blues music. The pedal adds some smoothness and harmonic content that’s really useful for the genre. Additionally, it can also come in handy for lead sections in jazz music, or even as a simple booster in case you’re pairing it up with a heavier distortion pedal.
Wampler Tumnus Deluxe
While it’s a smaller pedal manufacturing company, Wampler sets an example as one of the most respected brands out there. As far as overdrives go, their Tumunus Deluxe pedal really stands out, not only due to its great tones, but also its ability to adapt to various different styles of music.
Packed in a very stylish, sturdy, and compact metal casing, this overdrive comes with all the essential controls that you need for shaping your tone. But aside from the 3-band EQ, volume, and tone knobs, we have a switch for “normal” and “hot” modes. What’s more, there’s a buffer mode switch on the right side of the pedal that chooses between true and buffered bypass modes.
But this pedal’s biggest strength is its very tight and “gritty” tone. Sure, you can also make it a bit smoother, but it works perfectly for those who like to add some controlled brightness in there, along with defined bottom-ends.
Friedman Amplification BE-OD
Although it’s one of the most expensive brands on the market, Friedman Amplification has earned their reputation for making some of the best guitar products on the market. Aside from their mind-blowingly great amplifiers, their pedals are also worth our praise, just like the BE-OD overdrive.
The pedal is packed with 6 knobs in total. We have the volume, gain, a 2-band EQ, presence, as well as a “tight” control. This last one helps you control the bottom-end and low mids of your tone, resulting in either a “looser” or “tighter” tone, depending on how you set it up.
Of course, it’s unusual to see the presence knob on an overdrive pedal, but this is another useful way for guitar players to add more dimension and “life” into their tone. It’s one of the best overdrives that you can find today.
Joyo Maximum R-05
We know that the electric guitar is an expensive sport. But in case you’re looking for a way to save up and still have more than just an average decent overdrive with basic controls, we’d recommend you Joyo’s Maximum R-05 pedal.
But despite its low price, the R-05 comes with some very useful and unexpected controls. We have volume, input gain, and clean boost on its front panel, as well as the tone knob.
The boost control is turned on using a separate footswitch, which is extremely useful for lead players. Additionally, we have two more switches, one of which selects between smoother and harder clipping, making the pedal very versatile. The other switch lets us choose between diode and MOSFET clipping modes, which gives even more tone-shaping options.
Now going all the way back to the old days, Maxon’s OD808 was a predecessor to Ibanez’s legendary Tube Screamer, along with all of its variants over the years.
The pedal is in production these days, with exactly the same circuitry that brings those impeccable vintage-inspired overdriven tones to guitar players. Of course, the most important component is still there, the well-known JRC4558D chip that fans of old school guitar tones still adore.
The pedal is as simple as the classic Tube Screamer. On the other hand, it brings a somewhat clearer tone with controlled high-ends and additional dynamic response.
Whether you’re looking for the main distortion pedal or an additional booster to your main one, Maxon OD808 adds its own unique flavor to the tone that comes in handy for many different settings and genres. A nice option for best overdrive pedals.
Keeley D&M Drive
Finally, we’d like to take a look at something a bit different. Formed back in 2001, Keeley Electronics has become one of the most prestigious guitar pedal brands on the market. They’re the final entry of our best overdrive pedals rundown.
The D&M Drive that we want to look into is a special kind of pedal. Yes, it’s significantly more expensive compared to almost all of the other overdrive and distortion pedals on the market, but it’s really worth every penny.
The D&M is a collaboration between two YouTube pedal stars, Dan Steinhardt and Mick Taylor, who fused together a booster and overdrive circuitry into one pedal with two stages.
The most important part here is that you can either use these two sections individually or pair them up together. However, it gets even more exciting – you can choose which stage goes first and which goes second. Just imagine the tone-shaping possibilities and how it can help you, no matter the genre that you’re into.
Best Overdrive Pedals – Conclusion
And that’s a wrap! We hope this article was useful to you, that you’ve learned something new and that you found your best overdrive pedals. Make sure you are staying safe and rock on, guys!